Here are the latest observations from Neville, from his regular walk around the reserve:
Swift Valley in spring.
The Winter program of hedge laying is looking fantastic with the hedges greening up nicely. Lush grass growth in the meadows (but no animals to graze them) Red Campion has been brilliant and Ragged Robin in the marsh looking good, Bluebells just going over. Over the past couple of weeks Song Thrush, Blackcap, Chiff Chaff, Robin and Common Whitethroat singing everywhere, Willow Warblers were present in good numbers but now gone through, Sedge and Reed Warblers now taking up residence in the marsh’s and the balancing ponds between the old canal and the new housing.This week saw the first Swift’s overhead, with their screeching calls as they journeyed northwards looking for food on the wing. Always a joy to see them, you know summer is just around the corner when they arrive. 10 species of Butterfly so far, Orange tips seen in good numbers with Large, Small and Green-Veined Whites now taking over. There have been more and more visitors using Swift for their daily walk over the lockdown period, quite a few people finding the reserve only recently. All i’ve spoken to have been complementary about the work the volunteers have been doing, so well done for all your hard work. On the down side, since the local refuse Tip has been closed we’ve had a number of Fly-tipping incidents to report at both ends of the reserve, the local Council, environment agency and the Police have all been supportive, both clearing up and tracking the perpetrators down. Some of our undesirable visitors managed to burn through one of the meadow bench’s and tried to set light to one of the old grass piles on the edge of the woodland, fortunately that didn’t catch light.
Volunteers have been laying a hedge in two parts of Field 3. They have been working with scrub/trees that have gone way beyond the ideal growth stage for laying. The task is worthwhile, as the end result will provide some much needed dense low level cover for nesting birds. There will be an additional benefit of wildflowers emerging in the space between the wire fence and the base of the hedge.
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.
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.
The view will improve in the coming weeks when all the surplus material has been removed and new growth in the hedge emerges.
WOW!!!!! What a fantastic job, I’m amazed at your efforts and achievement today. Well done to you all. I can’t wait to see the finished job.
Quote form Nev
Yes we were well pleased to have finished this overgrown hedge.There’s plenty of brash to dispose of in the ditch but that can wait for another day. Attached are my pictures taken as we were getting ready to go after a busy day.
The late winter hedge laying has now finished. Today, with the sun out the Valley looked busy and great. There were Chiffchaff, Blackcaps, Sedge Warblers and many more birds singing, Peacock, Brimstones, Orangetip & small Tortoiseshell butterflies all on the wing. Lovely.
As the photos show there was blossom out, snakes head fritillary, celandine, and wood anemone looking good.
Swift Valley reserve is receiving a number of trees, which were ordered through Brandon Marsh Nature Reserve. They are arranging a tree planting session at Swift on Sat 21st of March, meeting at 9.30am in the car park.
They would welcome more help – bring planting tools, gloves & refreshments if you are able.
Swift Valley is a wildlife trust reserve on the North side of Rugby near Brownsover Hall Hotel.
Recent winter work by the “Friends of Swift Valley” volunteers consisted of continuing the thinning of the woodland trees so opening up the canopy and giving space to allow selected trees to mature, creating wildlife habitat with dead hedges and log piles.
The team also have carried out the first section of our site hedge laying project at the entrance to the reserve.
With so much more work to do, the team would always give a warm welcome to anyone thinking of doing environmental volunteering.
Pics & report from Neville Weston, volunteer friend