Archive for July, 2013

Creation of a Scrape and Scrub Area at Marbury

The idea for the project developed out of a woodland management seminar run by the Forestry Commission and RSPB at Quarry Bank Mill in 2008, which Alan Garner and I attended. Part of the session discussed the benefit of softening woodland edges by planting scrub species to provide shelter and nest sites. With support from Marbury Ranger Chris Moseley, we started the project to create a shallow scrape, surrounded by scrub planting at the edge of Big Wood.

A successful application was made to Vale Royal Borough Council and the project was funded through a grant of just under £1000 from them. Part of the field next to Big Wood, which had previously been grazed, was given over to the project and volunteers helped Chris move the fence line.

The grant paid for hire of a contractor to dig out the scrape itself and this work was carried out at the end of 2008.

Starting to dig

Taking shape

The grant also paid for purchase of native scrub species, which were planted around the scrape by volunteers and Rangers early in 2009.

Planting

It was never expected that the scrape would contain water all-year round, but initial results were disappointing, with the scrape drying out very quickly during summer months. Over the next year or so, we persevered finding and blocking old land drains which ran away from the area and the scrape now holds water as planned.

The planting has matured well and the area is now unrecognisable from where we started.

Scrape Area - Summer 2013

Scrape Area – Summer 2013

Summer 2013 has seen a large number of dragonflies patrolling the pond.

Emperor Dragonfly at the Scrape

Emperor Dragonfly at the Scrape

Brown Hawker oviposting

Brown Hawker oviposting

The project has also attracted butterflies and, if you look carefully, large skipper butterflies can be found in the grassy areas and vegetation by the scrape. The large skipper often flies in the company of small skippers, but is bigger, brighter and has more variegated wing markings.

Large skipper butterfly

Large skipper butterfly

Small skipper butterfly

Small skipper butterfly

Alan Redley – Updated July 2013

June

6th I worked at Anderton near the ‘road gang’. Last week I noticed overhanging branches that needed cutting back. I started near the out-of-hours car park and trimmed back along the path to the main car park. It meant that I stayed in the shade. When that was done I walked up the track past the ‘road ‘gang and then I continued cutting back along the path at the back of the fishing ponds to end up at the noticeboard on the main car park just before lunch.

Inauguration of the new Hall Panel

Inauguration of the new Hall Panel

13th I made sausage rolls for the buffet lunch that would follow the Inauguration of the new interpretation Panels before leaving for Marbury. Chris had decided that the gusts of wind forecast weren’t favourable for the erection of a marquee, so we were to lunch in The Lodge. Jim and I swept it out and I put a cloth over one of the tables. It was already very breezy so I had to anchor it down with bottled water and cartons of fruit juice. Donations of food for the buffet were accumulating in the cabin. Elna and I began sorting sweet from savoury and slicing quiches and cakes. Frances and Joanne arrived with more goodies and the activity intensified. Soon after eleven people started arriving for the ceremony and I went out to play host. Holly Mawdsley and Councillor Norman Wright agreed to reveal the new hall panel. I made my speech just as it began to rain, but about 40 people stayed to listen before the big reveal and Nick Jones’ camera work for the Guardian. We all went down to the Mere Hide and sheltered briefly in front of the new bird ID panel before braving the rain to get to The Lodge for lunch. There was a fine spread, which was much appreciated.

sandra26th Dave suggested that I did some more cutting back at Anderton, along the Fisherman’s Path. It suited me as I was preparing for a guided walk that would use that path on Saturday. Sandra joined me and we walked down from the car park, trimming back a few bits and pieces along the way and making a mental note of some of the wildflowers. We started lopping and sawing in earnest once we reached the Fisherman’s Path. Anything that encroached got the chop, or was meant to, but we gave some dog roses and apples a reprieve. Elna became part of the team after lunch and we parked on Marbury Lane to pick up where we’d left off and work towards Carden’s Ferry Bridge. It was a good day for a walk and we apologised to passers-by for obstructing the path, but they all assured us that we were “doing a grand job”. It had been a lovely sunny day, which was fine, but there was very little shade at the foot of the south facing slope and no seat. We just about made it to the bridge before the thought of a cup of tea was too much.

27th I’d arranged to meet Elna at Anderton Car Park to do a proper survey of the wild flowers ready for Saturday’s walk. I was prepared with field guide, notepad and pencil. The unusual spring weather meant that there was a lot of top growth and we had to search for some of the flowers. Luckily we had a good idea where to look. Inevitably some were yet to come into flower, but I noted more than 70 species, so there will be enough to look at on Saturday. We met a man who was very interested in what we were doing and he questioned us about flowers that he’d seen. It was very difficult to give a positive identification based on his descriptions. We took about two and a quarter hours, so it’s likely to be a little bit longer on Saturday. We felt the first spots of rain as we got into our cars to go to Marbury for lunch.