Archive for September, 2011

Fungal Foray, Saturday 15th October

Meet at the Rangers’ Cabin for a Fungal Foray in Marbury Country Park with Fungalpunk Dave.

Families: 10.00 – 11.00/11.30am

Adults: 1.00 – 3.00pm

Booking is essential. Phone Frances Findlay 01606 44727


3rd It was very humid, so any energy quickly drained away. Jim and I sorted through the last charcoal burn, but it yielded less than half a dozen bags. We turned our attention to the prospect of a bonfire before a change in the weather brought rain. There was ragwort waiting on the burning site, but we needed some timber to build up the necessary heat. There was a load in the yard that Amanda had brought from a makeshift construction at Marshall’s Arm. It needed all the nails removing before it could be handled safely. We hammered and yanked 6-inch nails from an assortment of doors, kitchen worktops and off-cuts. Steve and Sandra returned from litter-picking at Furey Wood and helped us to load the timber onto the trailer ready for a bonfire in the afternoon. Elna, Jim and I had our fire and were actually glad of the ragwort to reduce the heat.

4th It began to rain at about 6.30am, but not heavily until we prepared to leave the yard at Marbury. Dave and seven volunteers donned waterproofs and collected forks and lazy dogs. We drove up to Furey Wood, where a field of ragwort awaited our attention. The wet grass was at least knee high so it wasn’t long before we had soggy feet as well as other damp patches. Dave called us for a photo shoot after about an hour and we assembled on the car park. Andy had come from CWAC to take a celebratory picture for the Green Flag Award. We removed our waterproofs and hats, so that we were identifiable, hardly what we wanted in this bedraggled state. There was still half an hour left to continue ragwort pulling in the rain. We squelched back to our vehicles and returned to Marbury to steam up the windows of the cabin. None of us dared take our boots off to tip out the water for thoughts of putting them on again. The skies cleared for a while. Jim and I went to Ashton’s Flash with Amanda to do a fencing survey before sheep are brought in to graze the scrub. It was pleasantly warm and the lime-bed flora was still of interest. Between us we walked the field boundaries and met up again to compare evidence of injuries. Amanda and I had both got scratched. I hadn’t seen a bramble trap and had sprawled full length on the ground as a result. It hadn’t been a good idea to try to break my fall by grabbing the top strand of barbed wire.

10th Vernon and I sorted out the fine grade charcoal for Bartington Forge and then several of us were involved in other tidying tasks around the yard. Jim, Jon and I prepared the ground for reinstating the charcoal burner. Six of us started to fill it after lunch, by which time the rain had arrived and it came down heavily. Jon was the lucky one to get inside this time, but being young and fit, he had no need of the ladders. We left it ready to light tomorrow. I was one of five, who toured the usual areas with litter-pickers for an hour before seeking shelter in the cabin for a cup of tea.

11th The charcoal burner was already lit when we arrived at Marbury. In spite of the miserable weather I was determined to have a bonfire, as the pile of ragwort was growing fast and Amanda was taking Liz and Frances onto Ashton’s to pull even more this morning. Jim and I found plenty of cardboard, but newspaper and kindling were in short supply. We were up against it, especially when the damp wind blew out the matches before they made contact with the paper. We gradually added the epicormic growth that had been cut from the base of the trunks in the lime avenues last week. The twigs were still very green and it was raining hard, so we had a smoky fire. One by one we placed the ragwort plants on top, only increasing the smoke. Amanda left the morning’s collection of ragwort at lunchtime along with six old fence posts, which helped to give some flames. Another group had spent several hours hacking off the rest of the epicormic growth. We layered lime twigs and ragwort alternately and left it to smoulder away when we went for our tea.

17th One group of volunteers went off to Anderton cutting back overgrown paths. Another group went into the orchard picking fruit. Jim and I were left in the yard to empty the charcoal burner. It had been a much more successful burn than the last one, yielding more than 30 bags of charcoal. It took us well into the afternoon to get it all bagged and tidied away. We were filthy and ready for a change of activity. We had a walk to the first cattle field to check the fencing around the copse. We found about a dozen rotten fence posts, but the cattle had already been moved to the other side of the track. Unfortunately we also came across discarded cans and bottles, but we had not gone equipped to collect litter. There’s a job for another day.

18th Diana, Ian, Elna, Jim and I took our instructions from Chris on Dairy House Meadows. Ian was put in charge of the windrower to flick the hay, which Chris had cut yesterday. The hay was then in neat piles the length of the field. The rest of us raked and tossed the hay onto the trailer, which was then tipped in the corner of the field where the nettles still grew. We kept an eye out for frogs and toads and removed a couple of dozen toadlets to the safety of the field edges. It was very warm and it gave us some idea of what haymaking was like for farm-workers before sophisticated machinery took over. We left the field ready for the next process in its conversion to a meadow to support seed feeding birds. Back in the yard we put our tools away and turned our attention to the repaired picnic table. We loaded it onto the trailer and followed Chris to the Ply Area to reinstate it. On our way back to the yard we picked up litter.

24th Amy and I carried loppers and litter-pickers to Carden Ferry Bridge in Carey Park. We cut back the encroaching growth along the length between the Zig-zag Path and the bridge. We collected litter as we worked but then we focussed on the litter around the bench as we walked towards the town. We filled a sack, which Dave volunteered to carry back to the van while Amy and I took charge of the tools. After lunch Elna and I set off on another litter quest at Marbury. We found plenty on our way to the cattle field, where Jim and I had seen rubbish last week. We had as much as we could carry back to the yard. We then sorted it for recycling.

25th Elna and I folded flyers for Dave’s events at Furey Wood next week. Elna drove us up to Beswick Road and we systematically pushed them through every letter box. We delivered more than 200 flyers to houses in the surrounding cul-de-sacs.

 31st Dave persuaded me to help on his bug-hunting and pond-dipping events at Furey Wood. I did some litter picking before five families arrived to take part in the morning’s activities. The nine children ranged in age from 2 to 7 years. On our way to the river Dave introduced the children to tree shaking over the blankets, revealing the bugs living in the overhanging branches. We negotiated the eighty odd steps down to the riverside and trailed along the boardwalk to the platform. Dave waded into the river with a net and put his catches into the trays for the children to examine. They were excited by a water scorpion amongst the finds. I was the one puffing back up the steps, whilst the children had plenty of energy left to sweep nets across the meadow to find more bugs displayed on the blankets. We repeated the activities with two more families in the afternoon and I swear there were more than 100 steps the second time.