Hedgehog Awareness Week runs from 30th April to 6th May 2023 and is organised by the British Hedgehog Preservation Society. It takes place every year and aims to highlight the problems hedgehogs face and how you can help them.
Click on this link to take you to the Society’s web page for this awareness week. It will give you valuable guidance on what you can do to help. If you have a garden, the number 1 priority is to ensure that hedgehogs can get in and ideally be able to move to your neighbours gardens as well.
Please do all that you can to help these much loved creatures!
Our conservation work has now completed for the season. Our last few sessions have focused on the area adjacent to the Oxford Canal. There used to be a house sited here and a variety of fruit trees would have been there. Most/all have been lost to the vigorous growth of scrub and ivy. The volunteers have been clearing this ground and will restore to semi-shaded flowering grassland.
Over the last few weeks, a lot of our conservation effort has gone into removing non-native and invasive species. Some passers-by think we are destroying bluebells, but the only ones in Ashlawn are the non-native Spanish variety. If left unchecked, they would spread rapidly, to the detriment of more valuable native flowers. It is the native wild flowers and grasses that are of paramount importance to invertebrate life.
Frogs were observed to be on the move into the wetlands of Ashlawn Cutting on Friday 17th February 2023. On the 23rd, around 50 clumps of spawn were present in the marsh south of the station platform. Hopefully, there is more to come here and in other suitable pools over the coming days.
During a work party on Thursday 2nd March, the spawning activity commenced in the southern end of Pytchley Marsh. A few pictures are shown here but you will need to zoom in to see the full detail!
Latterly, spawning activity has also commenced in Reservoir Pond which is very welcome news. The pond was restored during the summer drought and now has much more open water.
On the 14th February 2023 a number of ash trees were felled on the southern side of the quarry. The primary purpose is to allow more light in, which will allow the adjacent grassland to support a wider range of native flora. In turn, this will be beneficial to the wider wildlife within the park. It will also make the site more welcoming to the public. The aim is to open out the corridor from where this cut took place through to the Egerton Close entrance. Unfortunately, the second planned cutting session could not take place due to the temporary access closure put in place by Warwickshire Police.
We had a very prolonged dry spell in summer which was generally not good news for a nature reserve. However, it did give the volunteers an opportunity to restore Reservoir Pond while the water level went from low to virtually non-existent.
The pond is an important breeding site for the common frog. The pond had become severely choked by flag iris and reedmace. The resulting encroachment meant very limited open water for the frogs to mate and spawn.
Grass cutting and raking off of the arisings has been on the go for the last two months. We have maintained a very good pace this season, with usually three brush cutters in action, with an energetic crew completing all the clearance. We expect to be finished by the end of November. The unimproved grasslands of the cutting are its core asset and deserve the full attention of the volunteer group.