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Note:  We do not accept comments on this site.  Also, if local people wish to contribute please contact either Steve Batt or Phil Parr.  To view information about pictures, please hover over the slide.

Farewell to chairman Steve

An informal get together was held @ the Fighting Cocks to say a fond farewell to Steve Batt and wife Belinda who are off to pastures new.

All the best from the rest of the local group.

Picture by Phil P

Farewell do for SB 13-10-17 122

Congratulations

Both Steve’s are to be congratulated for their well-deserved Sean Lawson Special Awards for an ‘outstanding contribution to Rugby in Bloom’,

Also, to our Swift Valley team for receiving a Gold yet again

Plus, Ashlawn for Gold and First in the same category.

Official Pics to follow

 

Note what a good area this is.  I found Warwickshire rarity Calamint at Hunters Lane footpath to the Black Path bridge and lots of other good stuff. The viaduct has locally uncommon Kidney Vetch though it was pretty burnt out this year.

The canal and Hunters Lane embankments hold Wych Elm and one of the few local colonies of White-letter Hairstreak.

At the time the Sustrans route was created I liaised with RBC and the contractors to avoid too much damage to the flora on the viaduct and Hunters Lane embankment.  I got RBC to remove recently laid top soil from the shallow cutting at Consul Road, and Malcolm Hall and I seeded with wild flowers.
Some all the way through to the Newbold road.  I also seeded with Calamint and a bit has taken on Hunters Lane rise. This should be out of harm’s way when new road put thro.

The Ivy Bee, new to UK in 2002, arrived at Consul Rd from Devon and set up what still might be the only colony in the borough, if not the county.  It should be on the wing in September.
I got the site surveyed and it is now an LWS.

Mike Slater and his Small Blue team have also helped and cut back the brambles on Hunters Embankment but they have regrown since.  Mike may also have seeded.  I think RBC (Steve Cook) is controlling some of the docks that tend to invade.

I had hoped to get local people to help, but though some were interested nobody came forward. I check it out from time to time but it would be good to get it regularly monitored.

Common Blue has established well on the BFT we seeded, We got Warks Flora Group to pay a short visit to Hunters  recently.  See….Hunters Ln LWS plant survey July 2017

A new road is due to be put through from Hunters Lane and I have been working with Warks Ecologists to try to save the important Wych Elm near the abutment. Mike has also met RBC (Colin Horton I think) to look at the newly disturbed area by the new houses.  I haven’t seen an actual management plan for the route tho I have offered advice. (Most important to rake off after an annual cut, which I don’t think they do.)

Report by Phil Parr

July oddments

Fuligo septica,a slime mould looking like it is a character in Ghostbusters or Casper!

Plus, a nice Small skipper and a Carline thistle about to flower.

Pictures from Steve W.

Recent moth news

Early July has bought out the moths,  see pictures by Phil.

Here’s a couple of better photos of Silverwashed Fritillaries, taken south of Ashlawn Bridge on Sunday 2nd July. They were out in good number, but I was still quite a long way away from the ones that were willing to pose for me! Also a photo of a Small Heath taken on 19th June. Small Heaths were out in very good number (I could see as many as four at once) among the grasses on the land immediately east of Ashlawn Cutting and south of the crematorium on that day.

Report & Pictures by Max Amos

 

One of the challenges of the Trust in protecting and enhancing our nature reserves and the wider landscape is the control of invasive plant species.  Often choking out our native wildlife, non-native invaders can have a serious impact and reigning them in is always a difficult task.  Manually pulling or treating with herbicides are often the normal approach to the vegetative vagabonds but it can be back braking and time consuming.  However, to help in tackling one particular invasive species – the fairy fern or floating water fern Azolla filiculoides which originates from the Americas, a small weevil has come to our rescue.  Mass reared by the Centre of Agriculture and Bioscience (CABI) the tiny 2mm long North American weevil Stenopelmus rufinasus will chomp its way through the infestation at Ashlawn Cutting Local Nature Reserve, Rugby where the Azolla has a grip on the old station pools and ponds.  Fully tried and tested, once the weevil has eaten its way through the Azolla it dies off and is no threat to any other native wildlife or plants.  So fingers crossed, the weevils have a healthy appetite and will do the hard work for us, munching their way to helping protect our wild spaces.

From Carl @ Warwickshire Wildlife Trust

Here’s hoping for a great outcome, will be about twelve weeks before we really start to see how effective they are and will take a while before they eat it all, probably into next year but will be great to have life back in the Marsh and surrounding area, It has taken us two years to get this far what with research and obtaining various permissions and then CABI having enough weevils to fulfil our order. And with the weevils costing about 50 pence each and being the size of a pin head, we have had to buy nearly £1000 worth of weevils to hopefully sort the issue, likely caused by an idle moment of someone emptying their fish bowl without due consideration to the impacts.

From Chairman Steve of Local Group

Orchids @ Station Pool

Good numbers of Southern Marsh Orchids appearing @ the pool.  Heathland butterflies out and around now.

More pictures by Ken Monk.

 

Lovely day for a morning stroll, with highlights: two Grasshopper Warblers ‘reeling’ between Pytchley and Ashlawn Bridges, a young fox at the bottom of the zig-zag path, 30+ Early Purple Orchids in the Station Pools, Beautiful Damoiselle, Four Spotted chasers, Large Red Damselfly, eleven species of butterfly including Brown Argus and Small Heath, and of course loads of emerging wildflowers.

Pictures & report by Steve Batt

Spring has sprung

Ashlawn update 4th April

Steve proved spring has truly sprung, with a find on our 2nd April workparty to tidy up the Onley Glade and embankment.

Steve proves its spring

The embankment top was raked to clear years of leaf litter, and patches of a variety of wildflowers including Bird’s-foot Trefoil seeded.

Red Admiral, and Brimstone butterflies were seen, and further up the reserve Orange-tip, Green-veined White and Speckled Wood were on the wing for the first time this year (see pics). The first Holy Blue appeared the following day.

Flowers included Coltsfoot, Dandelions, Violets, and glorious Blackthorn.

Tadpole’s in the new pool at Pytchley Bridge NE are growing fast.

Early wasps were noted and a strange fungus like blob found by Steve Battt on a dead willow prompted  research to  find it was “False puff ball”, Enteridium Lycoperdon, a “slime mould” that can be capable of movement!!

It starts off as a white globular mass about the size of half a golf ball, and then develops a silver-grey papery skin beneath which the brown spores develop. When the spores have been dispersed all they leave behind is a faint brown ‘spore print’ patch on the tree bark.

We also found St. Georges mushrooms, Calocybe gambosa fruiting near Onley lane.

 

Ashlawn update March

We were pleased to get a lot of favourable comments from people, many new to the reserve, out enjoying its delights now that the new path is completed.

Birds were starting to set up nesting territories, so in the first few days of the month our workparty tasks changed. We finished tidying up the most recently coppiced scallop near Pytchley Bridge and moved on to seeding and planting areas disturbed by the creation of the new path.

We also cleared a small area of Tennis Meadow near the courts, to sow seeds supplied by the national Grow Wild project.

We planted Alder Buckthorn tree whips, provided by Butterfly Conservation Warwickshire, in a number of places on the reserve to provide the Brimstone butterfly with more of its larval food.

Pussy Willow started flowering attracting the first Comma and Brimstone butterflies on the 9th, and the first Coltsfoot and Marsh Marigold flowers were showing.

Ashlawn’s Frogs

The contractors had completed the job a few days before the first frogs were found to have already spawned on 23rd Feb.

The frogs were not too put off by the variable weather despite some cold mornings, and most had completed spawning and left for home by the 14th March.

A very satisfactory 1203 clumps of spawn were laid on the reserve, very similar numbers to last year.

Most were set in Reservoir Pond (436), Pytchley Marsh (312), and Station Marsh (200).

They had even spawned 60 clumps in the new pool created as part of the path drainage work just north of Pytchley Bridge, even though it had no vegetation.

We were most surprised to see the first tadpoles in this pool on 19th March.

Pictures and report from Steve B, Steve W, and Phil P.

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