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On Sunday October 28th, the regular Ashlawn Volunteers were joined by a large group of volunteers representing Sewa. The official date for Sewa Day was 2 weeks earlier, but that day was a complete washout and we could not have effectively and safely conducted the work in the cutting.

I have directly copied this overview from the Sewa Day website to give the readers a flavour of Sewa:

“Sewa is a universal concept, which involves performing an act of kindness without expectation of reward. It is performed selflessly and without ulterior motive.

Sewa is a sanskrit word and is embedded in the Dharmic traditions of ancient India. It means to sacrifice your time and resources for the benefit of others without wanting anything in return.

On Sewa Day, thousands of good-hearted people across the world come together to perform Sewa and experience the joy of giving in its truest sense. By participating in this collective endeavour, we hope that the seeds of Sewa are watered so that acts of kindness and public service are performed more often. Sewa Day is a catalyst in making this happen.

Previously, participating groups have organised Sewa Day volunteering projects in old people’s homes, homeless shelters, schools in disadvantaged areas, hospitals and hospices, country parks, conservation areas and city farms – all with an aim of making a positive difference to someone else’s happiness and prosperity”.

For more information, please go to: https://sewaday.org/

Autumn and early winter is the time that we cut and rake off the grasslands within the cutting. This maintains the correct growing conditions for the native wild grasses and flowers, which in turn supports the invertebrate life within the cutting. The largest physical effort is in raking off the cut grass, to minimise the return of nutrients into the grassland. The Sewa volunteers moved a mass of cut material. This ensures that the regular Ashlawn volunteers can keep on schedule with this key work.  Many thanks go to Raj Mistry for organising this day and for the exceptional work that the Sewa Volunteers performed.

The pictures and video clips will give the reader a flavour of the day.

Rake it off………..


……..and carry it away


The most visible wildlife on the site this month are butterflies. All species of “whites” have been very numerous. We are also seeing Silver-Washed Fritillaries in greater numbers.

The movie clip shows a frenzy of whites on a mud puddle.



The Silver Washed Fritillary (shown below) gives the volunteer group some enjoyable challenges.

The adults that can be viewed now come down from the tree canopy to feed on bramble flowers. Those same brambles, if left unchecked, would crowd out the Common Dog-violet that is the food plant of the caterpillars. A lot of our work in recent weeks has been in selective bramble control where the violets are growing. It is just another confirmation of the need to maintain a mosaic of habitat within the reserve.


The Fritillaries are most frequently seen between the Ashlawn and Pytchley Road bridges.

Our efforts over the last few weeks have involved controlling of invasive plant species. We have dug out whole hawthorn bushes in some of the prime grasslands so that the grass and wild flowers can continue to flourish. This is very beneficial to the invertebrate life. Don’t worry, the hawthorn is still very strongly represented throughout the reserve! We have also been been keeping bramble in check, for the same reason

There is much to be seen in the reserve right now. You have to keep your eyes peeled for small movements low down. There are a significant number of day flying moths around right now and some examples are in the slideshow. Dragonflies and Damsel flies are also becoming prominent. There is substantial and very visible butterfly activity when the sun and breeze conditions are right. The species visible will change as the season progresses.

We are now seeing the benefits from the buckthorn that we planted a couple of months ago. They were almost immediately used by Brimstone butterflies for egg laying. There is a series of pictures in the slide show that show the progression from egg to full sized larva.




On Saturday 21st April, the last of the brash from the hedge laying was cleared by burning. Now you can see the entire line of the hedge in an uninterrupted view. The opportunity was also taken to put in some more primrose plants, so hopefully we will seem them in bloom in the spring of 2019.

The pictures were taken a few days prior to our work session. The view now is already very different as the buds swell and open on the hedge. It has already become a favoured line of exploration for butterflies.

SV Hedge 160418 (1) SV Hedge 160418 (2) SV Hedge 160418 (3)

The warmer weather is making our wildlife more visible, The slideshow has pictures of the Orange Tip butterfly and newts in the path-side pools

Brimstone butterflies are also very visible. The male of the species has upper wings that are all yellow and therefore very recognisable. There is a picture in the slideshow showing a deposit of Brimstone eggs, so successful pairings are happening!

Hedgerow Completed

On 24th March, another full length of hedge was completed. This has required extensive effort from many volunteers. The original tree line was typically too high and tangled, but the volunteers  made a valiant effort to thin it out and bring it down to workable size.


The pictures show the pleaching of the last standing hawthorns by Martin and Peter.

240318 Last pleach . Swift hedge 2 (2) 240318 Last pleach . Swift hedge 2 (1)

The view will improve in the coming weeks when all the surplus material has been removed and new growth in the hedge emerges.

There is an organised litter pick of the Great Central Walk  between Clifton and Pytchley bridges on Sat 3rd.March. This is the annual one organised by local councillors from Eastlands ward and obviously welcomes all hands!

The meeting point is opposite the church on St.Peter’s Rd and the start time is a relaxed 10:30.
Litter grabs, Hi-Viz and bags will be provided. The skills of the Rugby Wildlife volunteers will be invaluable in scrambling up the banks to pick the litter out of the denser vegetation!

28th Dec report

The snow had brought down many trees but the ones blocking the path have been cleared near Ashlawn bridge. 6 of us turned out in the bright sunshine and got stuck in to making the path walkable once more. An excellent advert for our group and satisfying.
We’ll meet at Ashlawn car park again to carry on tidying up. May walk further afield to cut back some fallers that partially block the path too. Mother nature has helped us with a bit of thinning out so we’ll capitalise on it !!
message from Steve W following Thursday’s workparty

28th Dec report

It certainly was a good work party, the path was impassable South of Ashlawn and difficult to the North. Good that so many walkers could see us in action. There are still partial obstructions but at least the GCWalk is passable through the reserve and all is safe. And all in glorious sunshine.

Pics from yesterday showing both bits after the snow attacked, showing a couple of bits of the blocked path plus a silhouette of what might be some sort of raptor looking over the pony club field.
Report & pics by Steve Wright

Owl Boxes

Here’s our Christmas present to the Owls, 2 potential new nesting boxes.

Due to “circumstances beyond our control” we put one facing into the DJ plantation on a hedgerow Ash tree near to the one on our embankment. Not our land but a good site and something to interest walkers.
Karl Curtis to advise Chris Worman. So also a gift to a walkers in the new “wood”.
Report from Steve Wright

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