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Volunteer Day – Sunday 5th August 2018

This morning’s volunteer session, not too surprising with Summer holidays in full swing, was very quiet on numbers, although we did welcome 2 new people who live in Seren Park Gardens for the first time.

The Glade’s grass was due for its annual cut. Andrew Slade and Kate Campbell did an excellent job in cutting the grass and removing weeds. The grass cuttings will form part of our newly proposed composting facility.

Andrew Slade with Scythe

Scythed Glade

Cut Grass

 

 

 

 

 

 

Unfortunately the pear and apple trees have lost nearly all fruit. Looking at what’s remaining on the trees, it looks like the local birds have been eating the crop.

Bird-eaten apples

One of the few remaining apples not eaten by birds!

Committee member Kate Campbell (Shade)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Recently planted trees by a local school on The Mound area were given a good watering. The long and hot dry period has also taken its toll on our pond, which we topped up with the remaining water from the water barrel at the entrance. Plans are in place for another water barrel near the bee hives.

School Planted Maple

Planted Oak Sapling

View of the pond – water required

 

 

 

 

 

 

Butterfly on a bramble leaf

Brambles in fruit

 

 

 

 

 

 

Usual projects of weeding were undertaken, including removal of ivy next to the path that leads to The Glade.  This year’s blackberries are in fruit (and taste delicious) but perhaps because of the very dry weather, they’re quite small.  Also in The Glade area, lots of the above butterflies were seen, does anyone know their name?

Volunteer Day – Saturday 7th July 2018

Last Saturday’s volunteer session was a thin on volunteer numbers at the start of the morning (World Cup Football with England winning, as well as Wimbledon), but more people arrived at the morning went on.

The last 2 or 3 weeks has seen really warm, sunny days, with the grass in The Glade area now in full seed. In the August volunteer session, it’s expected that the scythe will be used. There’s a nice photo of volunteer Frank Smith with his socks covered in seeds after weeding in The Glade area!

Seeds and Socks!

Glade View

 

 

 

 

 

 

As always at this time of the year, the bindweed and brambles are quickly growing, with 2 volunteers weeding The Mound, as well as the wild flower area in The Glade.

For the first time we also topped up our pond with water from the rain butt next to the shed. The water level didn’t look low, but surrounding vegetation is encroaching and will have to be dealt with next month. Additional watering of the tree saplings was also done.

The Spring flowers – red campion, bluebells and foxgloves have now seeded, which will hopefully allow for “free” plants in the local areas. Several clumps of red campion were also divided and planted along the footpath going towards The Glade, and in new “Mini Glade” at the top of The Mound.

Flower Bed

Bluebell Seeds

Fox Glove

 

 

 

 

 

 

Of course, no volunteer session is complete without a coffee break, the temperatures in the shade was almost 30 degrees, in the sun the chocolate biscuits melted!

27 degrees in the shade

Coffee Break

Coffee Break

 

 

 

 

 

 

There’s also a small video showing the entrance of the 3 hives, there was plenty of bee activity taking place.  Finally, there was a butterfly in the area while we were having our coffee break, which appears to be a “Comma” butterfly; can anyone vouch for this?

Bee Video

Butterfly, perhaps a “Comma”.

Open Day – Sunday 29th April 2018

Open Day – Sunday 29th April 2018

A week to the day after the hottest London Marathon Sunday on record, we held the Open Day in the Woodlands on one of the coldest days imaginable. No rain but a bitter wind and low temperatures.

So we were delighted and surprised by the number of people, and in particular families with young children, who visited the Woodlands.  Between 60 and 70 attended and a good time was had by all. Cakes and snacks were available from a stall in the glade under a tarpaulin which (erected without Rich’s assistance) it had taken other members of the committee a considerable time to erect in the morning. Luckily the wind was not that strong, or we might have lost it.

Kate setting up stall

The craft table

 

 

 

 

 

 

There was pond dipping with large amounts of mud, weed and the occasional tadpole being fished out by children and parents using our large nets.  The contents were transferred to dishes and microscopes enabled children to examine what they had found.

Pond water analysis

Pond water analysis

 

 

 

 

 

 

In addition, there was a stall where children were encouraged to colour cut outs of trees and make necklaces from things found in the woods.  Large numbers of worms were excavated and there were areas for children to dig (using the children’s tools acquired by the Friends last year) prior to being planted with a wild flower mix. Finally, there were the bees.  Posters set out the story of the Westcombe Bees and their hives, and Jeremy and Andrew (our two apiarists) were on hand to field the questions.

It would be over-stating things to say that there was a carpet of bluebells but clumps have now become established as have clumps of primroses. A pictorial quiz to find and identify flowers and leaves was prepared by Don and enthusiastically taken up by children with some 12 completed surveys.

Blue bell carpet

Clumps of Bluebells

 

 

 

 

 

 

What was particularly encouraging was the number of visitors who had not been to the Woodlands before and said that they would become Friends or volunteers.

Picnic in The Glade

Bugle

Honesty

Volunteer Day – Sunday 8th April 2018

Our 4th Woodland Volunteer morning this year got off to a bit of a soggy start, but somehow the wet weather brought out around 16 volunteers, most of whom stayed all the time. Although it feels still cool, and with the recent poor Easter Bank Holiday weekends weather in everybody’s minds, it was nice to see that trees were slowly starting to come in to leaf.

Hawthorn sapling coming in to leaf

View of The Glade’s fruit trees

 

 

 

 

 

 

One thing that hasn’t slowed down are the young sycamore seedlings, which are growing very well. The photo shows committee member Ruth Cracknell hard at work removing seedlings from our new “mini glade” area.  Other activities as well as weeding were the creation of more bird boxes. Volunteer Hazel can be seen sawing planks of wood to create the new bird boxes.  Other committee members include Donald Albrecht weeding one of the recently planted hedge areas.

Ruth Cracknell weeding sycamore saplings

Volunteer Hazel creating bird boxes

Don Albrecht weeding

 

 

 

 

 

 

Other projects started were the starting of installing steps to allow safer access to the beehives, as well as planting of more woodland plants at the main entrance with some small wood-garlic plants.

The longer days will hopefully allow more of our bluebells to flower in time for our Spring Open Day in 3 weeks’ time. Primroses were in full flower, and another woodland staple, Lords and Ladies, were all growing well.

Lords and Ladies

Primroses in flower

Young bluebells

 

 

 

 

 

 

Finally, the bees this morning were not active at all, and with cold and wet weather, who can blame them!

Volunteer Day – Sunday 4th March

We had our third 2018 volunteer day today – the first opportunity after the snow. Main activities were working on the new trench at the bottom of the mound, to develop a more varied habitat in that part of the wood, planting some native yews and building and putting up some new nesting boxes. Here are some photos of that, just to prove that it is not only a bunch of old folk doing this. Also a little video to show that our bees have woken up.
Thanks to all the volunteers for their hard work and, as always, to Frank for tea, coffee and biscuits.

Bird Box Installation

Bird Box Installation

Volunteer Day – Sunday 4th February 2018

Our second volunteer session of the year was very well attended with committee members, regular volunteers and new volunteers. This morning’s event started earlier than usual as the group undertook, under the leadership of local expert naturalist Joe Beale, an early morning bird survey. Full results will soon be available on the website, but the list included gold finches, robins and a sparrow hawk made their names to the list.

Regular tasks resumed later, including the general tidying up of the entrance area with further removal of fallen wood to be added to the existing dead-wood piles and removal of Ivy around the young hazel saplings that were planted last year in the entrance area. It’s a quiet time of the year in terms of planting, which allows the group to concentrate on more practical tasks. 

Clearing rubbish

Roofing felt being sized-up

Roofing felt being cut in to correct sizes

Roofing felt being put in to place

 

 

 

 

 

Roofing felt being put in to place

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This included clearing the area at the entrance and covering with felt our outside store unit. Not all items need to be stored inside, some items can be happily left outside, this extra storage space will be a welcome addition.

The other project started today was to did a small trench or ditch at the bottom of the mound. This will allow for water to build up, creating another water feature for the woodland. It’s hoped that when the lining is added next month, rain water will keep this new feature topped-up and therefore providing another small, local wet area for water-liking fauna.

New water feature being dug

New water feature being dug

 

 

 

 

 

 

Although we are only half way through winter, there were plenty of signs of Spring’s arrival including primroses and snowdrops in flower. Bluebells are looking much bigger than last month, and the good quality woodlandplant Lords and Ladies was seen in very good numbers. Hazel catkins we’re still plentiful, but all the trees were still without leaves, although next month’s volunteer event will start to have the first leaves of Spring on display.

A primrose starting to flower

A single foxglove in the “mini- glade” area

Young bluebells in the “mini glade” area

 

 

 

 

 

Young bluebells in the “mini glade” area

Snowdrops starting to be in full flower

Lords-and-ladies starting to strongly grow

 

Retirement of Committee Member Frank Smith – November 2017

November 2017

November 2017 – Earlier this year it was announced by our former committee member and vice chairman, Frank Smith, that he has decided to step down from his post.  Frank has been without doubt one of the key participants in driving the Westcombe Woodlands project forward from the early days of 2011, to its current status as now being part of the Woodland Trust.  Frank’s valuable contributions to the smooth running of the Westcombe Woodlands can not be underestimated, from the organisation of newsletters, funding opportunities, liaison with Greenwich Council for grants, setting up a bank account, to hosting the committee’s regular meetings, to being ever present with refreshments on the volunteer mornings and to being a regular member at our open days, it would be hard to think that without his skills and diligence the project would never have got this far.

Although he is leaving his position, Frank will still be joining us on our monthly volunteer mornings and appearing on the twice yearly open days.

In honour of his achievements, in mid-November, past and present committee members had an enjoyable dinner in a local Greenwich pub, and as can be seen in the photos below, a good time was well and truly had by all!

 

Frank Smith – Celebratory Dinner

Frank Smith – Celebratory Dinner

Frank Smith – Celebratory Dinner

 

Volunteer Day – Saturday 6th January 2018

The first volunteer session of 2018 took place last Saturday morning. Despite the temperature of just 4 degrees, several committee members and volunteers arrived. Today’s theme was to assess potential projects for later in the year, taking advantage of the dry weather and trees that have lost leaves to consider new places for new trees to be situated, as well as thoughts on new areas that can be planted up.

Although winter has only just started, already in places there were signs of Spring flowering plants already starting to appear, including the bluebells and primroses we’ve previously planted. We also found a foxglove which looks like it has arrived without being planted, a good sign of the potential seed-bank in the “mini Glade” area.

Wild Flower Area

Emerging Bluebells

Emerging Primrose

 

 

 

 

 

 

In the main Glade area, our 3 beehives showed no sign of activity, not too surprising given that the temperature was just above zero. The pond looks in a healthy state, the water level is very high, it’s quite amazing to think it’s never been topped up with additional water.

Bee Hives

Just 4 Degrees

Full Pond

 

 

 

 

 

 

The 2 elms trees planted in the area are both doing very well, we’ll continue to monitor and report on their progress at regular intervals.

Elm Tree in the Glade

Elm Tree in the Glade

Elm Tree in the Glade

 

 

 

 

 

 

The lack of leaves on trees and bushes has allowed us to see other items which often get overlooked, including a magnificent looking variegated holly tree in the Glade area, and a bright orange fungus too.

 

Variegated Holly

Orange Fungus on Wood

Fungus on Wood

 

 

 

 

 

 

Potential projects considered were hedge maintenance, Ivy and bramble removal and new planting areas.

While on our mid-morning coffee break near the entrance, there were several hazel shrubs with their catkins in full flower, as well as a very inquisitive robin, looking for some crumbs!

Robin next to the Shed

Hazel Catkins

 

 

 

 

 

Another exciting year is in progress!

Volunteer Day – Saturday 4th November 2017

Normally we are blessed by having such good weather when we do our volunteer sessions and open days, but today looked definitely wet! But despite the greyness, a dozen volunteers and committee members turned up this morning.

The leaves are finally falling and turning yellows, browns with the odd red here and there. When you arrive in to The Glade, the large lime tree immediately as you enter looked magnificent, leaves falling to the ground but still with plenty of colour.

The below photos show leave covered footpaths, along with the autumnal atmosphere.

Fungi on rotting wood can be seen now, a good sign that the local ecosystem is at work, recycling nutrients that can be found.

The pond, despite a bit of pondweed on top continues to look healthy, there was the sound of something jumping in the water when the pond photo was taken. It’s a tribute to how well it was built in that it’s never needed to be topped up with water in the 18 months or so it’s been in place. And despite the cold and wet weather, there was a fair bit of bee activity around the hives too.

The usual weeding took place, with bramble behind the wildflower area in The Glade taking a pounding, but also bluebells and 10 Solomon’s Seal bulbs were added. The cold an wet weather didn’t slow down the progress here!

Volunteer Day – Saturday 2nd September 2017

Last Sunday saw another very well attended volunteer session with over a dozen committee members and volunteers tackling this month’s tasks.

It was disappointing to see that all the pears and apples had been taken by, we assume, local squirrels. Last month we saw around a dozen potential fruits which were looking good, but others got there first!

Pear tree, but without the pears!

 

 

 

 

 

 

One of the main tasks was the weeding of The Mound area, which had become very overgrown with bindweed, plants working their ways around the small tree saplings. You can see in the photos the impact of 2 hours’ work on the area.

Tim Barnes and Richard Sylvester taking on teh bindweed

Two hours of weeding, showing the results

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

At the entrance area, some of the branches from the immediate area were moved and, if required, cut in to smaller pieces to create a new dead-wood habitat, while making the area tidier too.

A new dead wood habitat creation

 

 

 

 

 

 

With all the work taking place, it’s often we forget to appreciate the inside of the woodland, even the footpath in the dappled shade offering a little quietness despite housing being no more than 30 feet away from the paths. And it’s always appreciated that a coffee break allows us to chat and discuss new ideas and projects, especially with next month’s open day.

An internal footpath looking towards The Glade

Volunteers enjoying a mid morning coffee break

 

 

 

 

 

 

Finally, just before leaving, in the pond area, we saw what we think is a Southern Hawker Dragonfly, one of the more common dragonflies in Southern England and commonly associated with small ponds.

Southern Hawker Dragonfly