Upper Onny Wildlife Group

Bird Walk 2020

Unfortunately the heathland bird walk planned for 3rd May has been cancelled due to the continuing Covid-19 health measures.

Public Meeting 2020

The 2020 Upper Onny Wildlife Group’s Annual Public Meeting was held on Monday 17th February. Our guest speaker was Peter Carty of the National Trust who talked about the special qualities of the area covered by the Stepping Stones project, and how the project will seek to maintain those special qualities, including restoring links between habitats where possible.

The annual reports on Bird Group surveys, Plant Group visits and other activities were presented at the Public Meeting and these reports are available on the Bird Group and Project Results pages.

Curlew Recovery Project Appeal

The Upper Onny Wildlife Group has launched an appeal for funds to continue the monitoring of curlew nests to determine the fate of eggs laid and the causes of losses of eggs and chicks. Please see the Curlew Recovery Appeal page. UOWG supported the Curlew Recovery Project set up by the Stiperstones and Corndon Hill Country LPS and seeks to continue the work when the LPS comes to an end. The above page also has the summary of the results of nest monitoring, which provide a disturbing insight into the decline of Curlew in our area. Results for 2017 are on the UOWG Project Results page. Please support the appeal as generously as possible.

Windy Corner Appeal Success

Thank you to everyone who helped to raise over £10,000 to buy 1 ha (approx. 2.5 acres) of grassland adjoining the existing Stiperstones National Nature Reserve. Although only a small extension the area is strategically placed between the heathlands of The Stiperstones and Nipstone. The plan is to convert the grassland to heathland to further the ‘Back to Purple’ vision of a continuous stretch of heathland along the entire Stiperstones ridge. The money raised is enough to fence the land and pay for the conversion to heathland as well as the initial purchase.

Invasive Plants Project

In each year between 2015 and 2019 the Upper Onny Wildlife Group has been awarded a grant by the Shropshire Hills AONB to survey the Rivers East and West Onny for two species of invasive exotic plants: Himalayan Balsam and Japanese Knotweed and then to implement measures to control these plants. This funding has been supplemented by the Severn Rivers Trust to fund the project in 2019 and 2020.

Rob Rowe completes the annual survey. Himalayan Balsam, which was initially far more abundant than anticipated on the R. West Onny, is now far less prevalent. However, isolated Himalayan Balsam plants continue to be found and must be removed (by pulling up by the roots) if the work of previous years is not to be in vain. Although the entire length of the West Onny must be searched the process is becoming quicker, enabling the volunteers to extend the length of river cleared each year. More volunteers are needed – please contact Rob Rowe via e-mail to UOWG@shropscwgs.org.uk

Fortunately the River East Onny is much less affected, but the plant was found along the Criftin Brook which is a tributary of the R. Onny just after the confluence of the East and West Onny.  A report of the 2015 and 2016 surveys and Himalayan Balsam control measures can be found on the Project Results page.

Japanese Knotweed is a more difficult proposition and specialist techniques involving herbicide are needed. No Japanese Knotweed was found on the Rivers Onny, but a few patches have been reported away from the rivers. Trained personnel from Natural England will implement the necessary control measures.

If you see either species, especially near the Rivers East and West Onny (or any of their tributaries), please e-mail UOWG@shropscwgs.org.uk giving precise details of the location and the landowner if you know the name and address. Information on the plants can be found on the web and a link to a poster can be found here.

Bluebells carpeting part of a County Wildlife Site surveyed by Plant Group members in May 2014

Bluebells carpeting part of a County Wildlife Site surveyed by Plant Group members in May 2014


 Introduction to the Group

The Group was formed in 2003 to work within the local community to find out more about local populations of Lapwing, Curlew, Skylark and other wildlife and to help in their conservation. We cover a total area of about 126 square kilometres, between the Long Mynd and the Welsh Border (from just north of Bridges, Pennerley and Shelve, as far south as Horderley and Bishop’s Castle), including the parishes of Ratlinghope, Wentnor, Norbury, Myndtown, More and Lydham. Most of this area is within the Shropshire Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), and the Shropshire Hills targeting area of the new Countryside Stewardship scheme (see https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/411683/NCA065-Shropshire-Hills.pdf )

We have around 60 people on our e-mailing list, mainly local people who live or work in the area. The group is managed by a Committee. If you have any matters that you would like the committee to consider please e-mail UOWG@shropscwgs.org.uk or come along to a meeting. The Committee needs a volunteer Publicity Officer – if you would be willing to take on this role please use the e-mail address above.

We have carried out a Breeding Bird Survey each year since 2004, concentrating on Curlew and Lapwing. Farmers with nests on their land are contacted, advised of the birds’ presence, and encouraged to take appropriate conservation measures. This includes joining one of Natural England’s farm payment schemes, so farmers are rewarded financially for conservation. We are very willing to advise farmers on the wildlife on their land or to help with Farm Environment Plans – see advice for farmers page.

The Bird Group also runs nest box schemes for Barn Owls, Dippers and small woodland birds. Further details can be found on the Bird Group page and the results of the bird surveys and annual reports can be found on the Project Results page. The meeting of the Bird Group on 21st November reviewed the results of the 2016 surveys and agreed to continue surveys and bird walks for 2017; details are on the Bird Group page.

UOWG volunteers recording nest box use. Image copyright Tom Perkins

UOWG volunteers recording nest box use. Image copyright Tom Perkins.

More recently a Plant Group has been established. This has a programme of Wildflower Walks and informal plant identification workshops suitable for everyone and organises plant surveys of sites that are designated, or may warrant designation, as a Local Wildlife Site. See the Plant Group page and the Project Results page.

Green-veined White butterflies on the stream bank at Bridges. Photograph copyright Richard Small.

Green-veined White butterflies on the stream bank at Bridges. Photograph copyright Richard Small.

Many of our members are interested in all wildlife, so they try to note other groups such as butterflies, dragonflies, reptiles, amphibians, mammals etc. while out walking or surveying for birds and plants. If you would like to contribute to the group’s recording of groups other than plants and birds, or would like help in recognising any group of organisms please let us know.

Great Grey (or Leopard) slug (Limax maximus) recorded without leaving the house! Photograph copyright Alyson Small.

Great Grey (or Leopard) slug (Limax maximus) recorded without leaving the house! Photograph copyright Alyson Small.




More Information

If you want any further information about events, or about the Group, or have information about the species that are found in the area, please contact:


The Upper Onny Wildlife Group received financial support from the Stiperstones & Corndon Hill Country Landscape Partnership Scheme, which is funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund. The lead organisation for the Scheme is the Shropshire Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) Partnership, and the Scheme is hosted by Shropshire Council. Please see www.stiperstonesandcorndon.co.uk

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Page updated: 08/04/2020 by RWS