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Posts Tagged ‘Mersey Valley’

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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For our last activity of 2019, we joined the Friends of Chorlton Meadows, this time to work in an area of grassland which (it is hoped) will return to being used for the grazing of cattle for part of each year from 2020.  Careful management and grazing at the right time of the year will help to maintain this important habitat. We continued work already started by the Friends to remove areas of bramble encroaching onto the grassland – and had fine weather until the very end of the day.

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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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Today we were in action at Chorlton Water Park.  We were working first on some path resurfacing following water damage, then repairing two sets of steps.

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Steps in Kenworthy Wood

Today saw our volunteers visit a new site in south Manchester. We were helping in one of the corners of Kenworthy Wood which lies alongside the complex of motorway junctions hereabouts. It gives quiet access to the meandering River Mersey and useful shortcuts between suburbs and also shelters the thread of the Trans Pennine Trail (National Cycle Network route 62) as it links Southport to Hull via the likes of Chorlton and Didsbury. It’s a great green space with remnants of a small orchard amidst the exuberant summer ovegrowth.
We were helping repair a long flight of wooden steps close to a reedy pond situated deep in a hollow ringed by trees at the edge of town.  The task involved scraping back the encroaching grasses and wild flowers which are slowly absorbing this track. All the rotten planks and pegs were levered out and hefted to the side to be taken away.  Six new pre-cut planks were inserted and levelled and pegged securely.  And finally we wheelbarrowed new hardcore down the steps (carefully!) and tamped it in to seat the planks.
What had been mooted as a two-day task was completed by mid-afternoon including time for a tea break and lunch! A good day with a helpful breeze.

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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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The wildlife area at Chorlton Water Park has been developed in conjunction with the RSPB over the last few years, mainly for educational purposes.  Today we helped with some maintenance: planting, mulching, laying new woodchip on the paths, and clearing debris from the dipping pond.  And there was plenty of spring wildlife to be observed while we were about it!

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Our first activity of 2017: some work on the willow groynes at Chorlton Water Park!  These groynes are important in protecting the banks from erosion and providing a valuable wildlife habitat.  There was only a small band of volunteers out today but a pleasant misty winter’s day and some good work done!

Update, March 2019: While back at Chorlton Water Park we’ve been able to see that the willow groyne is now looking well established!

Established willow groyne

Established willow groyne

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Today SACV members were out with the Friends of Chorlton Meadows.  We haven’t worked on this pond for the past couple of years, but as in 2012 and 2013 our task was to clear some of the reeds and overhanging willow in order to maintain an area of open water.  Without this, the pond will continue to close in and silt up, and might gradually cease to be the important habitat it is, including for the variety of birds – such as reed warbler, reed bunting, water rail and willow tit – which can be sighted here.

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