Visit of Sir James Bevan, Chief Executive of the Environment Agency
This area of land, managed by TWiG, was seeded by the Environment Agency following the completion of their work on the Mill Brook Flood Defence Scheme in March 2016.
Earlier this summer the site was visited by the Chief Executive of the Environment Agency, Sir James Bevan, who was touring flood defence projects throughout England and Wales. We were unable to report on this at that time because the visit took place during the general election period and rules of purdah applied.
Sir James commented that this ‘small-scale, value for money, community led project, was exemplary practice‘.
This project involved a partnership between The Environment Agency, The Bolesworth Estate, TWiG and the Tenant farmer.
25 Beavers from the two Beaver colonies at the 1st Sandstone Scout Group (the Hillside Beavers and the Woodland Beavers) interrupted their half term holiday and planted 40 Alder Buckthorn trees in the Flacca Wetland on Saturday morning.
In assisting TWiG, Tattenhall Wildlife Group, the Beavers were able to place their practical environmental skills towards the ‘My World Challenge Award’ as well as the ‘Community Impact’ activity badge.
Value to wildlife
Alder buckthorn and purging buckthorn is the sole food plant of the brimstone butterfly which is known for its ability to travel miles to find the bush to lay its eggs on. Look for very small light colored eggs on the young leaves it could be a Brimstone!.
TWiG wishes thank Thom Morton (owner of SPAR Tattenhall ), for his continuing commitment to the single-use plastic bag initiative within the village. Thom’s financial support is used to aid conservation work in the Parish including work in Jubilee Wood, the new Flacca Wetland and Glebe Meadow.
Mill Brook Restoration Project 2016
Tattenhall Wildlife Group (TWiG), the Environment Agency (EA) and the Bolesworth Estate working together to deliver the Mill Brook Restoration Project.
The new wetland improves by the day, here we have January 2016 (lower) and June 2016 (top)
The project has created new river channels along 230 metres of Mill Brook within the TWiG nature reserve. This will create a more natural, diverse watercourse upstream of Tattenhall. As well as enhancing biodiversity, the work may also reduce flood risk to the village, (where several properties flooded in November 2000) by increasing flood water storage.
The project will also help Mill Brook reach “good ecological status” under the Water Framework Directive.
As long ago as 1 June, Thom Morton decided that Spar Tattenhall would attempt to reduce the 3000 plastic bags issued every single week in store and that the monies raised from the 5p charge for single use plastic bags would be put to good use within the village; particularly environmental causes.
Following a period of consultation, ‘Tattenhallers’ voted that ‘TWiG’ should be the designated group that would benefit from Thom’s voluntary actions. That ‘Tattenhallers’ were actually using 3000 plastic bags every week seems almost impossible to believe.
And so it was that at TWiG’s AGM held in the Barbour Institute last Wednesday, Spar Tattenhall Store Manager ‘Lloyd’ presented our local wildlife group with their first cheque for £731.72; monies which had been raised from the 5p charge introduced 3 months ago.
For those mathematicians amongst us and after the deduction of reasonable costs on the part of Spar Tattenhall, our village has reduced its use of plastic bags by 50%. This is a terrific outcome but there is still much to be done to create a society free of plastic bags — keep up the good work!
Thanking Lloyd for the cheque, Andrew Hull, Chair of TWiG, said that ‘the money would be used to support conservation work in the Parish including work in Jubilee Wood, the new Flacca Wetland and Glebe Meadow. Apart from the direct benefit to local wildlife, the reduction in plastic bag use is a small but significant contribution to the six billion fewer plastic bags taken home by shoppers in England. He thanked Spar Tattenhall and particularly Thom Morton, for their voluntary commitment to this Defra initiative’.
Cheshire Wildlife Visit TWiGs
Several Trustees from the Cheshire Wildlife Trust visited Tattenhall last Thursday to view the conservation work undertaken by Tattenhall Wildlife Group (TWiG).
The Chief Executive, Charlotte Harris, commented that ‘the work being undertaken by TWiG in Tattenhall was very impressive and has made a significant contribution to nature conservation in the county’.
Formed in 1962 by volunteers, Cheshire Wildlife Trust is one of 47 independent charities which together form the UK wide Wildlife Trust movement. The Trust benefits from the support of over 13,000 members and 500 volunteers and is governed by an 11 strong Board of Trustees and currently employs over 30 dedicated staff. The Trust is passionate about securing a future for local wildlife on land and sea and also work as part of the Wildlife Trust movement to influence decision making for nature at the highest level nationally.
Otter Talk 2 March 2016
Thanks to all that attended the Otter talk. We will be keeping you informed with further updates as and when we get the information.
For your information here is copy of the Powerpoint presentation. Otter Presentation
Otters in Tattenhall, the story so far…
In 2014 it was brought to our attention that perhaps an otter had been seen crossing the road very early in the morning from between the Spinney and the War Memorial (culvert). We were rather sceptical, but at the same time hoping that it would be true.
Our first hard evidence came in January 2015 we spotted otter spraint (otter poo!) both on the stone block on the side of the culvert and on the out-let drain, a little further up towards the Mill pond.
More evidence came in the form of the sad photo of a dead otter found much further up stream towards the Bolesworth Estate.
With this in mind we decided to place a trail camera looking at the stone block on the side of the culvert. Although it took some time to occur we did eventually get our first pictures of an otter in December 2015.
Our first Sighting
December 1 2014 This photo was taken just after 6 in the evening, there must have been traffic and people about at that time of day.
January 6 2016 This time we have had sightings of a possible ‘two’ otters passing the camera it took a little working out but we think we have the evidence.
Looking at the time interval it seems like we have at least two otters visiting our stream. We will continue to monitor the Mill Brook for the near future, in the hope of getting video footage and to see how frequently the otters visit us.
Further information can be found at: http://www.mammal.org.uk/sites/default/files/factsheets/otter_complete.pdf
November Walk 2015
Neil Friswell, TWiG member and our regular bird expert, kindly jotted down his observations from his last walk around the Nature Reserve.
“There were lots of birds, about 100 Chaffinch mainly using the maize stubble but some flying into the reed bed, 1 Brambling, 12 Reed Bunting in the reedbed and about 25 Redpoll (specifically Lesser Redpoll) in the trees behind the hazel plantation.
The brook was flowing nicely along the proposed re-alignment with lots of water in both the reedbed and the field on the far side of the brook. There was a Grey Wagtail on the edge of the flood
Finally, I had a look for otter spraint and there was one newish spraint on the large pipe downstream of the Millpond.”
All in all a good morning’s sightings and so close to the village.
(Thank you Neil)
Just a note about the otter situation a dead otter was found on Bolesworth Road recently, very close to Boleswoth Castle at the source of Mill Brook where there are lots of water bodies so food/fish is close to hand. It is just a matter of time until we capture an image of one in the village.
Badger in Garden!
This came as a bit of a surprise! The nose of a badger must be pretty good, tempted by some left over cat food (kitty getting very fussy and rejected a good portion!) I am not sure where the nearest badger sett is but they obviously check out our gardens for treats.
Has any body else had badgers in their garden?
Badgers in the Wood
Through the magic of technology we have been able to capture these images. They may not be up to BBC standard but they are our first attempt, hopefully we will get more images in the future!
January, and February are arguably the two dullest months of the year. But then a bright blue sky, a sprinkling of white snow, a splash of blazing colour and the morning is transformed. The bullfinch has arrived!
Bullfinches are regular visitors to our garden at this time of year (late winter). Their stubby bills race against time to rip the newly formed flower buds off the ornamental plum tree before they can open. Satisfied that there are no more buds to eat the bullfinches depart elsewhere to search for insects, seeds and berries.
Sightings 10 January 2015
I had a walk around the Flacca a couple of days ago. Key birds were over 50 Reed Buntings in the reedbed and adjoining stubble. At one point (after pishing!) I counted 29 in the reeds looking quizzically at me!. This is the highest number I’ve seen anywhere in recent years. Obviously the habitat is good but in previous years there has been the reedbed and stubble so its difficult to know why this winter is so good? Maybe the stubble is ‘better’ – being unsprayed?
In late afternoon at least 150 redwing and a few Fieldfare were gathering in the oaks – presumably prior to roosting.
Finally I walked down the Mill Brook below the millpond and across the road looking for otter signs (partic after Tony’s recent email). Standing on the road looking towards the millpond I could see what looked (probably!) like two or three spraints on the concrete sides of the culvert. One seemed to have lots of fish bones in it. They were a bit washed out after recent rain but ……..!
Two new interpretation Boards
If you haven’t noticed we have 2 new interpretation boards. Both are in easy reach of the village and are taken in if you do the circular village walk.
Ten Years of Tattenhall Wildlife Group
On Wednesday 7 May the ‘Tattenhall Wildlife Group’ (TWiG) celebrated its 10th anniversary.
In recognition and celebration of our achievements during the last decade, there was an illustrated review of our ongoing commitment to nature conservation in the community. A gallery featuring our work was available to view, including the planting of the Jubilee Wood, the restoration of the old railway line, our contribution to the Neighborhood Plan, our commitment to flood defence along the Mill Brook, our volunteering programme, the management of Glebe Meadow, our working partners and our future plans and vision.
We had a very positive and favourable feedback from both members and guests following this most enjoyable evening.
February 2014 A great day for snipe
It all started with a break in the weather and a leisurely walk on the reserve to observe the floodwater, it really has to be mentioned that it is at its wettest and has the largest volume of water seen in a long time, as can be seen on this panorama.
The water has to find somewhere to go and what you see here is water that is coming directly off the fields and overflow from the Mill Brook.
Further down stream, our ponds have been overwhelmed and look like a river, however the reed beds take the full force out of the flow and provide the perfect habitat for snipe.
60 snipe flushed from the reed bed what a result.
July 2013 Wildflower seeding pays dividends
Not long after this photo was taken we sowed a woodland wildflower seed mix together with some cornfield annuals which acted as a nurse crop. The seed was spread onto bare soil that had been excavated during the digging of five ponds as part of the Leader project.
As you can see from the photo, we achieved a terrific success rate with the cornfield annuals and species such as Cornflower, Corncockle, Corn Marigold, Camomile and Red Poppy have flourished. To maintain the meadow it will need to be managed by cutting and removing the annuals once the seed has had a chance to set. This will take place in the late summer using a brush-cutter and raking the risings off by hand. We look forward to next year and subsequent years to see how much it changes as the woodland wildflowers (mostly perennials) start to flower. Seed from the cornfield annuals together with the risings will be spread on other bare patches of land under our management.
Summer Walk Railway Line July 2013
Not a a big turn out due to it clashing with the Wimbledon finals!! However Niel Friswell reported: Over 100 Orchids in the usual place.
With butterfly numbers building up after a poor start to the season. In the whole length that we manage he counted: counted 14 Meadow Brown, 10 Ringlet, 6 Speckled Wood, 2 Small Tortoiseshell, 2 Large Skipper, 1 Comma. Most noteworthy is the total of Ringlets. These are recent colonists into Cheshire and this is a significant number. Interestingly six of them were in the ‘orchid’ area. Large Skippers were well down as they are coming to the end of their brief flight season and soon to be replaced by Small Skipper.
Warblers still singing – Chiffchaff, Willow Warbler, Blackcap and Whitethroat
Dexters on Glebe Meadow May 2013
The cow parsley in Glebe Meadow might not be quite as “high as an elephant’s eye” but it is almost tall enough to hide the three Dexter cattle put into the meadow at the end of May. The cattle are on loan from Cheshire Wildlife Trust and due to their grazing habits and size are ideal for the small area of Glebe Meadow to encourage the biodiversity of plants there.
Conservation Dogs May 2013
If you get a chance to see Louise and her dogs working grab it.
Louise Wilson studied Animal Behavior at Chester University and is now a director of her own company Wagtail uk ltd. Conservation Dogs. She and her dogs are in great demand globally as qualified dog handler and dog trainer.
Twister one of her many her dogs entertained us with his doggy looks and his perfect behavior both in the Barbour institute and on Glebe Meadow were he correctly found randomly placed bat carcasses (his task for the evening). Twister will do anything just for a play with a tennis ball.
Twister is used professionally to look for bat carcasses when they have collided with the blades at wind farms, his performance is some 90% better than that of a human doing the same job. His nose is many times larger than ours and the part of his brain that is devoted to analyzing smells is actually 40 times larger than a humans! Which makes them 1,000 to 10,000 better than us humans at detecting different smells.
Louise has trained dogs to detect: Pine Marten/Otter Scat, Great Crested Newts and Natter Jack Toads, rodent infestations, invasive plants, bed bugs, ivory, and more. Dogs as such have yet to be fully exploited to their potential and there does appear to be some reluctance to trust dogs to do what comes naturally to them and implausible for us humans.
Another superb evening especially as the weather held out for us.
Spring Walk 21 April 2013
Well the weather was not exactly spring -like being overcast, and chilly with smatterings of rain. Despite this a small group of members led by chairman Andrew made their way to the Nature Reserve mainly to look at the ponds – new and old. The marl pit has been deepened and we were pleased to see frog spawn in it but perhaps not quite so pleased to see a pair of mallards serenely paddling around the edge. The newly constructed ponds are perhaps not quite so successful at the moment as a couple of them do not seem to be holding water and will perhaps need “puddling”. Even so there was evidence of water skaters on one of them and heron footprints around another. Reaching the ponds meant walking through Jubilee Wood and we were delighted to see the occasional primrose shyly peeping through the grass and a couple of cherry trees with a slight foam of pink blossom. On the whole the young trees look very healthy with good signs of growth. We then made our way to the ancient woodland where we had planted bluebell bulbs in December 2012. There are many dead and fallen trees here and indeed one had dropped very recently. As none of us are wildflower experts we were unsure whether the green leaves we were seeing were in fact bluebells! But there was a profusion of the delicate flowering wood anemones and a strong smell of garlic from the budding ramsons. All in all a pleasant walk even if the weather could have been kinder.
Traditionally we always have a walk following our AGM which this year is on Wednesday 26 June. The AGM starts at 7.00 pm in the Barbour Institute and the walk is usually somewhere of wildlife interest in and around the village.
Pond creation on the reserve March 22 2013
Despite the weather our contractor has been able to make 5 new ponds. As you can see they filled up with water as soon as they were put in. This further enhances the habitat especially for frogs, newts, dragonflies etc.
Bluebell Planting in Woodland Monday 3 December 2012
The Mersey Forest is working to re-establish greater numbers of native bluebells in the local area through the Cheshire Bluebell Recovery Project.
This project was set up in direct response to the decline of one of our most beautiful woodland wildflowers, due to habitat loss and bulbs being dug up for sale. Volunteers plant bluebell bulbs from seed in community woodlands all around the area. The process can take as long as seven years.
As part the TWiG improvement plan for the woodland with the help of the Bluebell Recovery Project, we have now planted 250 native bluebells in the fox covert.
To allow the bluebells to thrive we have chosen areas with least competition from other plants such as the wild garlic that we seem to have a lot of and giving then nice dappled light that they prefer.
Now we have even more to look forward to in the spring!
Sunday 25 November 2012
On a surprisingly sunny afternoon a group of TWiG members and friends went on a leisurely 2 hour walk around part of the Mill Brook Wildlife Corridor. Led by Andrew Hull, we left Tattenhall Recreation Club car park and made our way to Jubilee Wood. The paths were very muddy with quite significant flooding in the area. The marl pit ponds, which we are planning to restore, were as full as we had ever seen them. We continued on to Mill Field where the Mill Brook was thundering through and was almost spectacular in its speed and force. We took a look at the Spinney which meant crossing the gully bridge with the muddy, swollen Mill Brook flowing beneath. Then it was back past Glebe Meadow ending the walk at Barn Field.
Further seasonal walks are planned so do look out for information about the winter walk and if possible join us.
Neil Friswell Struck lucky. On the 24th November at 11.30 a flock of 30+ waxwings was seen in the Boughton Heath, Park & Ride.
They are their as long as the berries are!!
How to identify Ash trees. Diseased trees – what to look for. What to do next. Visit: http://www.forestry.gov.uk/forestry/infd-8udm6s