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Archive for the ‘Ponds and lakes’ Category

It is with great sadness that we have learned of the death of John Agar on 17 April 2020.  John was a very committed and enthusiastic member of SACV and right up until recent weeks he was a stalwart of the group, for many years our most frequent volunteer.  John was out with us most recently at Chorlton Water Park on Sunday 1 March, where he busily got stuck in to the construction of a willow arch.

John had a passion for the natural world and conservation and he especially enjoyed having more time to indulge these interests in later life.  In former years, John was a fixture on our residential weekends in the Peaks, until he “retired” from weekends away in 2013.  On those weekends, John continued his working life’s habit of very early starts, so by the time the rest of us were up John would inevitably have been for a walk to listen to the local birdsong as well as got the breakfast porridge, tea and toast on the go!

John was a founder member of the Friends of Chorlton Meadows, a group we have worked with many times over the years.  Having lived in Chorlton all his life, John was a source of fascinating memories of the changing local environment.

Since the loss of John, tributes have come in from the volunteers who have worked with him over the years: it is clear he was held in huge affection and warm regard, a vocal advocate for the natural environment, infectiously enthusiastic and always willing to share his knowledge with others, warm and welcoming to volunteers of all ages, good-humoured and good company.  He will be greatly missed.

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Today we were back at Chorlton Water Park.  There was a good crowd of us so we were able to work on a couple of different things, but mainly some maintenance of the willow groynes at the edge of the lake which we have worked on several times over the years.  These groynes are important in preventing erosion of the lakeside and in providing a habitat for birds and for spawning fish.

We also cut encroaching saplings from among the reed beds and used some cut willow to strengthen and maintain the arch by the wildflower area.

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Yesterday we were back in a familiar pond in Chorlton Meadows and with familiar company: members of the Friends of Chorlton Meadows, of course!  We’ve worked here several times in the past, and once again were clearing reeds to maintain an important section of open water, in order to keep this habitat as diverse as possible.

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Only a hardy few volunteers made it out in today’s rather dreary grey weather.  We were working at Chorlton Water Park on willow groynes at the edge of the lake.  These groynes provide an important wildlife habitat and help to prevent lakeside erosion.

We harvested willow from an existing groyne on one part of the bank and used that to create a couple more small groynes at the far end of the lake.  We also had a chance to see how the groyne we worked on a couple of years ago is now looking very established! 

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For our first weekend away of 2019 we were treated to a a beautiful sunny and snowy landscape on the edge of Tittesworth Reservoir!  Working with the Peak Park Conservation Volunteers, on Saturday we were coppicing willow in an area being managed as an important habitat for willow tit.  Then, on Sunday, we returned to the willow hedge that we began in October 2018, and extended it further along the shore.  This barrier, created by a combination of dead hedging and the laying of living willow, is to discourage disturbance by walkers and dogs of an area of the shore important for ground-nesting birds.

Update, May 2019: Back in the area for another weekend, we were pleased to see our hedge thriving and sprouting well!

 

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Well, our activities for 2018 are now over. Our last two outings have been with the Friends of Longford Park on 25th November and with the Friends of Chorlton Meadows on 9th December.

In Longford Park, we helped the Friends with a number of activities for the maintenance of the wildlife garden including seeding wood anemone, foxglove and yellow rattle; coppicing hazel; removing blackthorn which was invading the grassland area; and managing areas of dogwood, rose and flag iris near the pond.

At Chorlton Meadows, the Friends are currently in the process of trying to restore the only remaining area of old grassland. The aim is to re-introduce cattle grazing once the new fence has been completed. Sadly, many years of neglect has resulted in several species invading the field, not least bramble. The cattle will keep the invasive plant species down and allow the rarer plant species to thrive once again. SACV members spent the day working with the Friends in removing the bramble.

Hard work, but well worth it and our efforts were rewarded with an early Christmas soirée after the task, kindly hosted (as in previous years) by Elaine. Thanks to Elaine for the perfect end to the day!

And of course big thanks to everyone who has come out to volunteer with us in 2018!

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Our last two activities have been in Chorlton Meadows (Sunday 28th October) and Birch Moss Covert (Sunday 11th November). The first of these was to help the Friends of Chorlton Meadows with their work on the reed beds, maintaining an area of open water which is important for wildlife.

Next, at Birch Moss Covert, we worked with the Cheshire Wildlife Trust volunteers to prevent woodland encroaching on an important area of low heathland heather. 

For our next activity, we look forward to joining the Friends of Longford Park on Sunday 25th November!

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