We held our AGM at Churchstoke Community Hall on 12th February. After the requisite AGM admin covered the Group’s Chair, Mary Napper, we had reports from Leo Smith and Rob Rowe on the respective activities of the Bird and Plant Groups.
After a refreshment break, we were treated to a talk by local wildlife photographer and writer Andy Fusek-Peters. His amazing photographs of birds, hares, dragonflies and other wildlife kept all those present enthralled. All the pictures Andy chose for our event were taken locally, showing just what spectacular images are to be had on our doorstep – if you have as much patience, skill and imagination as Andy (unlikely on all counts, sadly for the rest of us!).
If you couldn’t make it to the event, it’s worth visiting the gallery of Andy’s images on his website: www.andrewfusekpeters.com/gallery
Bird Walk, 26 May 2019
Leaden grey skies and the occasional shower did not deter the twenty people who joined our birdwatching walk around Roundton Nature Reserve. In fact, the weather had more of an impact on the birds we hoped to see, as they were generally staying sheltered and being consequently hard to spot!
Led by our local bird expert, Leo Smith, we explored the different habitats the Reserve has to offer — woodland, wild flower meadow, fields and open hillside — and searched for the different bird species each one holds.
The absence of swallows, martins and swifts, even over the wild flower meadow where they would normally expect to be seen, was noted and reflects an apparent national scarcity. Hopefully, they will turn out to be late arriving in the UK this year rather than simply down in number.
Chiffchaffs were heard loudly ‘chiffchaff-ing’, and occasionally glimpsed in the pockets of woodland around the reserve, and a great spotted woodpecker was heard then seen. The undoubted highlight of the walk, though, came towards the end as we descended from the shoulder of Roundton Hill: a pair of peregrines flying around the summit.
During the walk, Leo described the work being done by our group and others to monitor the numbers of curlew and lapwing, both of which species have been in sharp decline for some time. He explained that collecting the data was vital to identifying the scale of the problem, knowing where birds were nesting (and therefore where protective measures should be deployed) and understanding the reasons behind their fall in numbers.
Roundton Nature Reserve is owned and managed by Montgomery Wildlife Trust, with whom we jointly hosted the event. The Trust’s Living Landscape Manager, Mike Winstanley, explained the work done by the Trust at Roundton and how it is developing relationships with landowners across the county to preserve and improve the habitat for wildlife. Reserve volunteer Steve Wright was also on hand to identify which bird species were in the many nest boxes across the site.
Everyone who came really enjoyed the walk, and given its popularity we are already thinking of it becoming an annual event.
The full list of birds seen and/or heard was as follows.
Great spotted woodpecker
Bird Group meeting, 18 March 2019
The Bird Group met at the Horse and Jockey in Churchstoke to plan this year’s survey of curlew, lapwing and other bird species.
The survey is carried out by volunteers being allocated a tetrad made up of four kilometre squares. Volunteers for most of the Camlad Valley tetrads were found on the evening, but five tetrads still need a surveyor. If you would be interested, there is more information on our ‘Future events‘ page.
River Health Training, 16 March 2019
Our group combined with the Upper Clun Valley CWG to host a ‘River Health’ training session at Clun Valley Memorial Hall.
The training was provided by Jenna Shaw of Shropshire Wildlife Trust, who hopes that as many people as possible will get involved with sampling the water quality of rivers and streams across Shropshire.
Usually, the training would be done largely in the field, but the heavy rain in the days leading up to the session had left the River Clun running very high and fast, and there were strong winds on the day itself. Undeterred, Jenna ventured into a stream running alongside the Clun to disturb the stream bed where most invertebrates live, returning to the colonial hall with samples to be tested.
Jenna showed how to record the different types of invertebrates, as well as how to run different tests to check for nitrate, nitrite and phosphate levels. The samples collected showed the water to be clean and supporting a healthy range of species.
Ben Osborne talk, 13 February 2019
Following the Group’s AGM, we were treated to a superb talk by the acclaimed photographer, Ben Osborne.
He shared his experiences of working on South Georgia and in the Antarctic, with wonderful pictures of their wildlife and starkly beautiful landscapes, as well of visits to Greenland and Botswana. And just to show that you don’t need to visit such exotic locations to be able to appreciate nature, he rounded off with some cracking shots of South Shropshire and Montgomeryshire and a look at the inspirational ‘Curlew Country’ project.
Thank you, Ben, for a thoroughly enjoyable evening!
Bird Box Workshop, 12 January, 2019
The usual peace below the Kerry Ridgeway was temporarily shattered by the sound of many hammers hammering as around 20 people spent a couple of hours on a Saturday afternoon constructing enough nestboxes to provide the equivalent of a decent-sized bird housing estate.
The materials, tools and instruction were provided by Paul Roughley, with around half the boxes made going to his projects supporting local birdlife.
The speed of construction improved rapidly as people became more familiar with the construction method, leading to 40 boxes being made in all, with even a couple of owl boxes thrown in for good measure.
Fungi Foray – Saturday, 20th October 2018
Led by fungi enthusiast Rob Rowe, the group found plenty of types before we had even left the car park! Moving up on to the hillside, we learned that there are around 15,000 species of fungi to be found in the UK alone, and that many are associated with particular trees: oak, beech and birch often host several different types, while ash and sycamore tend to offer little for the fungi hunter.