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Monthly Diary


August 2018

posted 27 Aug 2018, 09:01 by Jane Arnold   [ updated 27 Aug 2018, 09:16 ]

cattle

Thank goodness that the Green is finally becoming greener! With the recent rain, the grasses have started to grow, which is a most welcome sight and something that the cattle are definitely appreciating. This got me wondering, how do grasses survive 4 weeks without any rain and are then able to bounce back and start growing? This led to a fascinating couple of hours on the internet. In brief, grasses, whilst they look dead and brown are in fact dormant. They are unable to photosynthesise but they are still alive and can readily regrow after rain. Factors such as deep root systems and having carbohydrate reserves (which can fuel growth), all help grasses to survive the conditions we saw this summer. I just find nature quite amazing!

hawthorn

The hedgerows are now full of ripening hawthorn berries, and are giving a reddish hue to the hedgerows. Apart from being an important food for blackbirds and redwings, I have recently discovered that they can also be added to gin to make hawthorn gin. I have already got some damson gin on the go for Christmas, but I might try this as well! Sorry blackbirds....!

willow herb

There is still a lot of willow herb on the wet side of the Green. Whilst this is a nectar source for invertebrates, we do not want it to spread too much and dominate the smaller plants (like the marsh pennywort). We have been trying to pull some of it out over the summer, but there is still a lot there! If anyone feels like a "green gym" moment, then please feel free to burn off some calories and pull some of it up (it comes out very easily). We will not be having a work party on the 2nd September, but instead it will be on Sunday 16th September, from 9.00 - 11.00, where we may tackle some more of the willow herb.

July 2018

posted 29 Jul 2018, 01:37 by Jane Arnold   [ updated 29 Jul 2018, 01:46 ]

cattle

It certainly is a relief to get some rain this weekend! I have never seen the Green looking so brown and dry, but despite the heatwave, the cattle seem to be coping. Whilst the grass has turned crispy brown, it is still edible, even though it probably tastes like dried Weetabix! There are also greener things to eat on the wet side, including iris leaves, which seem to be a favourite at the moment!

goldfinch

The marsh thistle is now flowering and it's seeds providing an excellent food source for the seed-eating birds. The goldfinch in particular, love the thistle seeds and flocks of about 20 or so goldfinch can often be seen feeding on the thistle heads. Other exciting bird news, is that the grasshopper warbler is back and being quite noisy. You may remember that we had one (if not a pair) last year on the Green. In fact the first time I heard it this year, I wasn't sure if it was a warbling grasshopper or a grasshopper warbler!

bridge

We have also had some maintenance work done this month. The bridge has been fixed, so the cattle (and humans!) can now safely walk over, without any of the planks breaking. We have also had the fence along the Maple Hayes boundary repaired and this will prevent the cattle from trespassing onto their land. At the end of the month, we were visited by the Heart of England in Bloom judges, as part of the Lichfield in Bloom entry. The judges made a short drive onto the Green and hopefully appreciated what the Green has to offer.

June 2018

posted 4 Jul 2018, 03:12 by Jane Arnold   [ updated 4 Jul 2018, 03:13 ]

cattle in stream

Well, the cattle certainly know how to keep cool in this hot weather! Whilst it is lovely to have some sunshine, the lack of rain has meant the grassland area of the Green has dried up at an alarming rate. Not only is the dry grass a worrying fire hazard, but it also means that there is a lot less food available for the cattle. Fortunately, there is still some grazing available on the margins of Leomansley Brook and on the damper side of the Green. Hopefully we will get some rain in the near future!

bee orchid

June has been a very busy month. Not only did we have our evening walk with Lichfield Discovered (very enjoyable it was too!), but Staffordshire Wildlife Trust spent two mornings this month surveying the plant life of the Green. I was lucky enough to tag along and it was very interesting learning about some of the less obvious plant species of the Green (hairy sedges and the difference between red fescue and sheep's fescue!). We did find some more bee orchids, which brings the grand total this year to 3! Whilst that is a bit disappointing, it was encouraging to know that the survey recorded just under 60 plant species on the grassland side of the Green, and 72 species on the wet side. There will be some overlap of some of the species, but even so it means that we have in the region of 100 plant species growing on the Green - a great result!

small white

Many butterflies can also been seen flitting around the Green at the moment. In particular, there are quite a number of small white butterflies and some of these can be seen congregating on the side of the muddy pools (provided your dog doesn't disturb them before you get to the puddles!) This behaviour is know as mud puddling and the mud is though to be an important source of salts, especially sodium. Seemingly butterflies loose a lot of sodium during reproduction, and so this mud puddling is important way for them to increase their sodium levels. They can also feed on dung and carrion to get their nutrients - haven't seen any on the cow pats - but I will keep a look out!

May 2018

posted 7 Jun 2018, 09:18 by Jane Arnold   [ updated 7 Jun 2018, 09:20 ]

orchid

What a difference a month makes! In early May, the grass was just starting to grow and by the end of the month it was 2 foot high! The Green is now teeming with insect and bird life and the plants are putting on a spectacular display, not least the orchids. There seem to be more than ever flowering and they are really looking lovely.

orchid close up

One of the species of orchids flowering at the moment is the common spotted orchid, and you can really appreciate the detail of the individual flowers on the spike by this close up photo. The three distinct and quite pointed lobes on the bottom petal of the flower is characteristic of the common spotted orchid and can be used to distinguish them from other orchid species. They are exquisite though aren't they?

damselfly

Towards the end of the month the damselflies started to appear and I was quite pleased to manage to photograph a pair of large red damselflies starting to mate. The male clasps the female's neck and then she is supposed to bend her body round to his reproductive organs and so form a "wheel" shape - except I don't think she is being that cooperative!

Twelve cattle were turned on to the Green at the end of May and have settled in really well. They are a very chilled bunch and are starting to munch their way through the sward (and hopefully leave the orchids alone!). To finish off this post, the Trust and Lichfield Discovered are joining forces on Friday 15th June at 7.30 pm for an evening wildlife and history walk around the Green. This will be followed by a few drinks and snacks (bring your own!) as the sun sets. We will meet at 7.30 pm by the bench alongside Leomansley Brook. It should be fun and hopefully see you there - I might even bring my bat detector along!

April 2018

posted 6 May 2018, 07:51 by Jane Arnold   [ updated 6 May 2018, 07:52 ]

orange tip

After a very cold and for the most part, a rather dreary April, it is a great relief to know that Spring has finally arrived. However, even with the cold weather, the birds have been busy nesting and the spring flowers, emerging, including celandine and wood anemone. The lady's smock (or cuckoo flower) has also started flowering and I was lucky to find an orange-tip butterfly (which obligingly stayed still, whilst I photographed it!) feeding on one of the flowers.

We were very fortunate, in April, to have Staffordshire Mammal Group visit and undertake a small mammal survey (ie survey for small mammals like mice, voles, shrews etc and not a small survey for mammals....!). Staffordshire Mammal Group are very experienced in conducting such surveys, so it was a great opportunity for us to find out if the Green is providing a suitable habitat for these animals. From the survey, a total of 9 individuals were recorded, including, 6 field mice, 2 common shrew and a field vole. This is great news as these numbers are 50% higher, compared to what would normally be expected from a survey on typical farmland. This means that the Green is providing a suitable habitat for these small, but very important mammals. A huge thank you to Staffordshire Mammal Group for doing the survey and for sharing their knowledge and enthusiasm. Their Facebook page can be found here. Some of the mammals recorded are shown below. From top left in a clockwise order - field mouse, common shrew, field mouse, field vole.

Image below courtesy of Staffordshire Mammal Group,

small mammals

March 2018

posted 2 Apr 2018, 09:12 by Jane Arnold   [ updated 2 Apr 2018, 09:21 ]

badger

It looks like a badger(s) has been on the Green this month looking for some food! There isn't a sett on the Green, so this will be a visitor from somewhere. Typically badgers will scrape the ground looking for earthworms and insect larvae. It is also possible that they are after the pignut tubers, which seemingly are quite tasty! I did put my trail camera up to see if I could get any footage. I didn't get anything , but....

I did get a brief glimpse of a Mr (or Mrs) fox!

Fox march 2018

primroses

There are many signs that spring is on its way,despite the cold weather. This clump of primroses on the edge of the Green, certainly is a welcome sight and puts a smile on my face. That being said, they did look a bit bedraggled after all the rain!

February 2018

posted 5 Mar 2018, 08:37 by Jane Arnold   [ updated 5 Mar 2018, 08:46 ]

catkins

For the first few weeks of February, you might have been forgiven for thinking that spring was around the corner. The birds were singing more loudly, the woodpeckers were drumming and the hazel catkins were starting to flower. A closer inspection of the catkins reveals some interesting details. The yellow catkins are the male flowers, which release the pollen, which in turn, will fertilise the female flower. So where is the female flower? Well, it turns out that the small pink buds that you can see on the twigs will open out and form a very small red flower, which once pollinated, will then go on to form the hazel nut!

plinth

I am sure that you will agree that the "beast from the east" certainly made its presence felt last week. For anyone who ventured onto the Green, it was absolutely perishing with a brutally cold wind. However, one result of the strong wind, was that the snow was blown across the Armour Brown plinth and filled in the words, making them much easier to read. Quite effective really.

little egret

A welcome visitor to the Green during the cold weather last week, was a little egret! You may remember, that we had one on the Green for about a month, last March. I have no idea if it is the same one, or whether it was just taking advantage of Leomansley Brook, not being frozen. The photo shows a little egret, which I took 10 days ago - not on the Green, but in Dorset! Still, I am sure they all look pretty much the same!

January 2018

posted 11 Feb 2018, 01:52 by Jane Arnold   [ updated 11 Feb 2018, 01:53 ]

snowdrops

A very quiet start to the year, with some very cold, wet and windy weather. There are some places which have become quite waterlogged and muddy. Hopefully things will start to dry out soon!! That being said, there are definite signs that spring is on its way. A small patch of snowdrops near the back fence are flowering and are always a welcome site. I even heard a greater spotted woodpecker drumming the other day - a sign that the the birds are starting to look for mates and protecting their territory.

5spires

I do love the view of the cathedral from the Green and in the winter it is quite easy to make out the "five spires" of Lichfield: three spires from the cathedral and on the right hand side of the photo, the spire of St Mary's and behind that (just visible) is the spire of St Michael's (at Greenhill).

December 2017

posted 27 Dec 2017, 03:03 by Jane Arnold   [ updated 27 Dec 2017, 03:08 ]

winter

The snow that we had a few weeks ago, turned the Green into a winter wonderland and gave a very different feel to the place. Hopefully you managed to get across there and enjoy the views for yourselves.

prints

An advantage of the snow is that animal tracks could be seen and I spent a couple of very interesting hours walking around the Green looking for animal prints. Apart from the inevitable rabbit tracks, there were also a number of fox tracks. One fox had walked quite away along Leomansley Brook and made good use of the bridge! Another interesting print, was that of a bird wing in the snow. It is too small for an owl, but is quite likely to be from a kestrel hunting for mice and voles under the snow.

snowman

A rather unusual visitor to the Green was also spotted having a rest on the bench! Maybe he was looking out for the kingfisher that has recently been seen along that part of the brook. Finally just to wish everyone Season's greetings. Thank you for all your support over the year and I hope you continue to enjoy the Green in 2018!

November 2017

posted 3 Dec 2017, 01:37 by Jane Arnold   [ updated 3 Dec 2017, 02:02 ]

ice leaf

The last week of November has certainly been a cold one, with frosty but sunny mornings. The frost produces some beautiful images, which I tried to capture the other morning. Here, ice crystals have formed overnight on some of the plants. The crystals form when the temperature of the vegetation is lower than the freezing point of water. So whilst it looks lovely, it must have been a rather cold night on the Green!

goldfinch

I also managed to photograph a goldfinch, that was obligingly sitting on a hawthorn branch, warming itself in the morning sun (normally they fly off the minute I get within photographic range!). Goldfinches can be seen all year round on the Green and are very sociable forming loose flocks. They like the hedges near the football field entrance, so keep an eye out for them next time you walk past.

 

fox on pipe green

I haven't put the trail camera up for a while and thought it would be interesting to see if any animals were around. I was delighted with this footage of a fox, sniffing around for some food. Whilst I had put some food out, the magpies had got there first, so I am afraid the fox lost out! I did get some other animals on video, but I am trying to get better quality footage - so you will have to wait for the next instalment!

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