The 26th June must surely have been the warmest evening of the year so far, and we were delighted to welcome 18 shareholders and 13 members of the public to our 2018 AGM in the Redlake Valley Village Hall. Chairman, Mark Limbrick, reported a busy year, with work parties in the quillet, visits to other woods and, of course, last October’s highly successful Woodland Fair. Treasurer, Anthony Morgan, followed this up with a very positive financial report (available on request to those shareholders who weren’t able to attend), and suggested that we should now create a reserve fund for any contingencies that might arise. Shows of hands from shareholders present supported two proposals. The first was that the Society should register its objections to the scale of development proposed by the Forestry Commission for a holiday park in Mortimer Forest. The second was to reassure board members of their confidence in them to open negotiations on any future sale of a quillet in Brineddin Wood without repeated recourse to shareholder opinion.
The AGM was followed by a fascinating and well illustrated talk by biologist and author, Andrew Allott on ‘Woodland in the Marches from the last Glaciation and into the Future’. Andrew studied Botany at Oxford and entered teaching, first in Kent, then for 26 years as Head of Biology at Shrewsbury School until his retirement two years ago. In addition to authoring Biology text books, his major work, ‘The Marches’, No 118 in the highly regarded Harper Collins New Naturalist Series, is what he describes as his “Love letter to the Marches”. Andrew went to great pains to turn generalisations on how The Marches was affected by the series of ice ages and recolonised by tree species into very specific thoughts and authoritative speculations on how these would have manifested themselves in the Redlake Valley. It’s unlikely that anyone in the audience will now be able to drive up the valley without visualising the advance and retreat of successive waves of ice, and how, after each retreat, plants species would have gradually gained a hold on the stony terrain left behind.
A few shareholders who weren’t able to attend asked if we could film Andrew’s talk, which we did. We plan to show this later this year, so anyone else who is interested is most welcome to get in contact.
Andrew and Alison Allott with RVCBS Secretary, Karen Limbrick, at the top of the steps in Quillet 2879
Andrew visited the Society’s quillet earlier in the day and left us with some valuable advice on future management.
Our 2018 AGM will be held on Tuesday 26th June in the Chapel Lawn Village Hall. The AGM will start at 7.00 pm and will last for approximately half an hour. There will then be a short break before a talk by our guest speaker, Andrew Allott, on “Woodland in The Marches from the Last Glaciation and into the Future.”
Entrance fee is £4.50 although there is no charge for RVCBS shareholders. Members of the public are very welcome to attend the AGM; otherwise please arrive at about 7.30 for the talk.
“Regeneration of woody species is perhaps the biggest problem in Brineddin Wood with the two main factors being deer grazing and lack of light penetration through the canopy. Without recruitment of young trees, the wood is under threat in the long term.“
That is the conclusion of a survey carried out by the Shropshire Wildlife Trust which could only give the wood a ‘Satisfactory’ rating. For the summary report click here to be redirected to another page on our website.
Although long suspected, research at Aberdeen University shows that areas with growing pine marten populations have seen grey squirrel numbers fall because unlike red squirrels they provide easy prey for the predators. The article at this link describes the work of the Shropshire Wildlife Trust’s Pine Marten Project. Our Society has been pleased to work with SWT Project Manager, Stuart Edmunds. At the Woodland Fair last October, Stuart’s talk on the return of the Pine Marten was well attended, and a camera trap he placed in the quillet has produced a very good night time image of a pine marten as it passed through, no doubt tempted by the irresistible aroma of decomposing chicken liver pate which, apparently, is what they like best of all.
Last year we were delighted to see recently coppiced hazel regenerating vigorously inside the newly installed deer exclosure. This year we’re impatient to see how well those coppice stools spring into life again. To provide us with optimism, in a video clip from a camera trap that Anthony Morgan set up over the winter, you can just make out the shadowy uprights of the exclosure posts behind the roe deer.
To see the video click here. It’s a little hazy, so best watched in full screen mode.
After an uncertain start last Sunday morning, the rainclouds dispersed and eight willing workers turned out for the first working party of the winter at Quillet 2879. There was a lot to do. The hazel branches and miscellaneous bits of wood from garden sheds that we’d used five years ago for the lower section of the stairway are starting to rot, so we measured up for replacing them. More holes – presumably made by rabbits – have appeared low down on the lengths of plastic deer fencing that we’ve not yet protected with chicken wire. They had to be temporarily patched. Most rewarding, now that we are confident that the deer fencing is working and hazel is able to grow without being eaten, was making a start on the remaining, etiolated hazel that’s not been cut for decades and is nearing the end of its natural life without intervention.
From this ….. …. to this next year?
A pleasant surprise was that some of the hazel outside the deer exclosure that had been coppiced by children from Bucknell School two years ago, was still surviving predation by deer – but only just. To keep it alive until such time as we can afford more fencing, we reinforced the various Heath Robinson methods we’d used at the time.
Four ‘quilleters’ that morning were first timers to our working parties, so particular thanks go to Ros Patching, Gary Price-Hunt and Brenda Dyson from Clun, and to Dave Wright from the School House B&B in Chapel Lawn that looks out onto Brineddin Wood. In the picture, Ros can be seen gathering hazel wands for Clun schoolchildren to use to carry lanterns on their procession to meet the Snow Queen when she switches on the Clun Christmas lights.
And finally, an Oak Apple:
The Chapel Lawn Woodland Fair held on 7th October was a great success. For a full report with pictures click here.
One of the aims of the Woodland Fair on 7th October this year is to make people aware of the fact that lovely as it is, Brineddin Wood is not in the best condition for its long term survival as an ancient, semi-natural oak woodland. Here is a discussion paper inviting people to comment. All views are welcome, whether you are attending the Woodland Fair or not.