Monthly Diary 2016

Monthly Diary 2016

  trust@pipegreentrust.org . Please like / share.

December 2016

composite photo

A short post this month to wish everyone a happy New Year. Thank you for your continued support and hope that 2017 turns out to be a productive and successful year for the Green. I have put together a composite picture of a “Year on Pipe Green” which I hope you enjoy and illustrates how the Green changes throughout the year. Hopefully see you soon.

November 2016

oak tree

I have always been aware that some trees drop their leaves much later in the Autumn than others, but have never thought that much about it. However, after a bit of reading, I now realise that there is a lot more to this. The condition is known as marcescence and whilst the leaf is dead, it still stays attached to the branch. Oaks and beech are especially prone to this and if you look along the boundary hedges on the Green, it is only the oak that still are holding onto their leaves. Why? A good question and one that doesn't seem to be easily answered. There may be some advantage to the tree for doing this, but personally, I just enjoy seeing their colour on a cold November morning!

youtube placeholder

I know this is not directly related to Pipe Green, but myself and local wildlife enthusiast, Georgia Locock have been monitoring some badger activity at a local site. We have managed to get some badger footage as well as an interesting interaction between a fox and a badger! It would be interesting to find out if these badgers are also visiting Pipe Green.

October 2016

Autumn cattle

The cattle have been soaking up the Autumn sunshine this month and doing some last minute grazing. They have now been taken off and thanks to Richard for choosing some of the most laid-back cattle I have ever seen. I think you will agree, have done a fantastic job this year!

workparty

We had a work party at the beginning of October and managed to cut back one of the big bramble bushes, which are capable of growing at an alarming rate. So thanks to everyone who came along. Bramble does however give protection to nesting birds and are an important food source for insects and the berries do taste good! So whilst we are happy to have some bramble on the Green, it does need to be kept under control. We won't be having an official work party on 6th November, (a lot of people seem to be away), but I will probably go over around 10.00 ish and do some bramble chopping, provided the weather is OK. So please feel free to come and join me!

Leomansley pond 1981

Another picture from the early 1980's, again kindly sent to me by Nigel Homer. This time it is of Leomansley Ponds. I am still trying to work out where exactly it was taken from and if you have any suggestions, then please let me know. It does however show how much the trees and vegetation have grown in the last forty years!

September 2016

South staffs water

Earlier this month we were fortunate that 8 volunteers from South Staffordshire Water spent the day clearing the vegetation from Leomansley Brook. They did a brilliant job and managed to clear a good section of the brook, which had become quite clogged up with watercress. Thanks to Caroline for organising this event and hopefully they will want to come back for more stream clearing next year! More photos can be seen on our facebook page

scabious

The farmer has also cut the dry bits of the Green this month, with his tractor. This is excellent for keeping any thistle and nettle under control, as well as thinning out the rush. Thanks Richard!

One of the plants that is flowering now, is the devil's bit scabious, which grows in the damper parts of the Green. These purple headed, pin-cushion flowers are a very important food source at this time of year. The good news is, that it seems to be spreading!

Leomansley house

Earlier this month, I was contacted by Nigel Homer, who used to live in Lichfield in the 1980's. At the time, he was an enthusiastic young photographer and took some interesting pictures of Pipe Green and Leomansley pools, which he has kindly shared with me. So to start us off, here is a picture of Leomansley House, taken in 1981, when Mrs Armour-Brown was resident. It looks a bit different now, but I do remember it looking like this when I first started going to the Green in the early 1990's! I will get round to doing a “then and now” comparison, when I have worked out where all the photo's were taken from. If anybody else has any old photos or memories of the Green, then I would love to hear about them. You can contact the Trust via email on trust.committee@pipegreentrust.org.

Finally we will be having our last work party of the year on Sunday 9th October from 10.00 - 12.00. We will be cutting back some of the bramble that seems to have grown well this year! Hopefully see you then!

August 2016

berries

The berries are definitely ripening in the hedgerows, reminding us that Autumn is not that far away! Many of the birds will enjoy feasting on these and it illustrates how important the hedgerows are for wildlife. Not only do they provide shelter and food for birds and mammals, but they also provide nectar sources for many invertebrate species.

cattle

Throughout this month, we have been strimming some of the areas where the nettle is stopping the cattle from grazing the grass. Judging from this photo, the cattle certainly seem to appreciate it! Interestingly, once the nettle has been cut, the cattle are quite happy to eat them - presumably they don't sting as much. Nettles, however are a valuable habitat for many insect species, so we won't cut them all down!

Just to remind you that we have another work party on the 4th September - 10.00 - 12.00. We will be tackling Leomansly Brook and starting to remove some of the watercress that has grown over the summer. Wellies are essential! A three pronged hoe is very useful, but I will bring some spare along as well.

July 2016

harebell

The common names of wild flowers always intrigues me. Now take harebells (also known as Scottish bluebells). These plants have a lovely delicate blue flower and we are lucky to have a few patches growing amongst the grasses on the Green. I always assumed harebell is so called, because the flower is bell shaped (pretty obvious) and it grows in a habitat often associated with hares. So when I started reading about this plant, I began to realise that this is not the whole story. Seemingly, according to some sources, they are so called because the juice of the flowers can be drunk by witches, who will themselves be turned into hares! In fact the more I read about harebells the more I realised they are steeped in folklore and are considered unlucky. They are closely associated with fairies and witches and can help humans see into the spirit world. Hmm, I think there is more to these plants than meets the eye - might give them a bit a wide berth from now on!

meadowsweet

There are also some quite large clusters of creamy white flowers clearly visible by the brook at the moment. These belong to the herb, meadowsweet, which likes to grow by the brook and in damp places. It is another intriguing plant, which has been used over the centuries, due to its sweet flavour and its medicinal properties.

cattle

An early(ish) morning shot of the cattle grazing on the Green. It is always so peaceful over there at that time of day when the light is lovely and soft.

Just to remind you that we have another work party on the 7th August - 10.00 - 12.00. We will be down the Abnall's lane end of the Green and will be cutting nettle and dock and the odd thistle. Be great to see you!

June 2016

orchids

I am delighted how many orchids we have had flowering this year and what is even more encouraging, they seem to be more widespread. The only problem with orchids, as I have found out, is that apart from bee orchids, some of the others are quite difficult to identify at the species level. Is it a common spotted orchid, or a southern marsh orchid or a heath spotted orchid? Hmm, not that easy and it is made even more complicated by the fact that some can hybridise! So far I have counted 10 bee orchids and 60 - 80 other orchids (mainly common spotted orchids and I think southern marsh orchids). Have a look at the photos below and please let me know if I am wrong!

We also had a site visit this month from the ecologist at Natural England. She was very pleased with how the Green is looking and how it is being managed. I spent about 3 hrs with her looking at the various habitats that are present on the Green. I just need to work on my sedge identification, as we have quite a few different species in the fen habitat!

Just a reminder, that we have another work party this Sunday 10 - 12. We will be concentrating on the ragwort which is still growing near the blackberry bushes on the far side of the Green.

May 2016

youtube placeholder

This month you can certainly see why the Green is classified as a species rich grassland - there are just so many plants flowering! I could not make up my mind which photos to use for this month's post, so in the end I made a short slide show. It does illustrate the wide variety of plant species growing, as well as demonstrating how beautiful it all is looking at the moment. The cattle will shortly be turned on to the Green, so just bear that in mind as they can be a bit frisky to begin with!

Just to remind you, there is a work party on Sunday 5th June at 10.00 - thistle and ragwort pulling! Details are on the announcements page.

April 2016

water shrew

One of the joys about having a local patch, is that you never know what you are going to find. This was most certainly the case the other day, when I spotted a dark object lying amongst the grass. Initially I thought it was a dead juvenile mole, but closer inspection (and confirmation by both Wildlife Kate and Georgia Locock) confirmed that it is a water shrew (unfortunately deceased). I have never seen one of these before so was really thrilled to get to see one so close - they really are beautiful creatures. Water shrews are semi aquatic and are found near to streams, fens and seemingly are quite common in water cress beds. Well, we certainly have all of these on the Green, so hopefully there will be others around. Will have to have a close look along the stream!

bluebells

Despite the cool April, spring is certainly with us. The hedges are all starting to leaf, the grass is growing and the birds are very busy! Slightly further afield the bluebells in Leomansley woods are starting to look glorious. If the weather gets warmer this week (which it is supposed to), then I reckon they will be almost perfect by next weekend.

Again, slightly off our patch, but still brilliant news, is the story of peregrine falcons on the Cathedral. They are very active at the moment and last Saturday, Georgia Locock organised a very successful peregrine watch in the Cathedral Close - so keep your eyes and ears open, if you are walking near the Cathedral.

On a historical note, there is a walk organised by Lichfield Discovered on May 9th at 19.00 on The lost estate of Beacon Place. This should be a fascinating walk as the history of Beacon Street and its environs is closely linked with the history of the Pipe Green Trust.

And finally to finish and warn everybody, the cattle should be turned out onto the Green in late May!

March 2016

Doreen

Doreen loved Pipe Green and loved to get involved with working parties and activities associated with the Trust. Doreen always had a smile and would talk to anyone she met on the Green. She will be sadly missed by all those who knew her.

Bob Smith

Some very sad news, as Doreen, wife to our vice-chairman Bob Smith, passed away earlier this month.

I couldn't agree more. I have some lovely memories of Doreen from enthusiastically tackling the thistle on a work party, to enjoying a walk on the Green with her family as well as attending and hosting some of the Trust's social activities. Rest in peace Doreen, and you will be in my thoughts when I walk on the Green.

Bridge

Other news, on a happier note, is that we have a newly repaired bridge! Some of the planks on the previous bridge had become dislodged and were starting to rot, which made crossing the bridge quite an interesting venture (yes, I have nearly fallen into the brook on a couple of occasions)! Hopefully the new improved surface, will provide a safer traverse. However, you will still need a good pair of wellies to get to the bridge, as the ground on that side of the Green is very boggy.

stream

Well Spring is definitely in the air. On an early(ish) morning walk this week, I heard the green woodpecker calling, the greater spotted woodpecker drumming and saw a number of reed bunting flitting through the rush. This was on top of a lovely background noise of birdsong. In addition the trees are starting to leaf and the celandine are flowering with their bright yellow flowers. However, with Doreen in mind, I thought I would finish this post on a more reflective note, where the soft morning light gives the Green a timeless feel on a Spring morning.

February 2016

crocuses

I know that daffodils and crocuses do not form part of the natural meadowland of Pipe Green, but they always bring a smile to my face and make me feel that spring is almost here. They are found in the corner of the Green, near the Maple Hayes deer park and from here you get a beautiful view across to the cathedral and in the other direction, up to Maple Hayes. The daffodils and crocuses grow above a stone, in memory of Peter and Eilidh Armour-Brown, who lived at Leomansley House (before it got upgraded into a Manor (and after it was a Mill!)), until 1994. Eilidh is well remembered as an accomplished artist and poet and she was also the great niece of Dr Barnado. She is still well remembered by local residents; some as being a friend, whilst others remember her as the person who shouted at them for walking on the public footpath that went past Leomansley House! (Eilidh had unofficially diverted the footpath onto its existing route and so did not want people walking past her front door!)

land drain

Having spent some time looking into the history of Pipe Green, I have come to the conclusion that how we manage the Green today has not changed that much over the last 200 years! This was highlighted this month, when one of our members kindly dug a ditch near the back gate in an attempt to drain the water away from the new(ish) path. Whilst doing this, he came across an old land drain - obviously previous Trust members have had the same problem as us! I don't know how old this land drain is, but the pipes are glazed and look to be in a pretty good condition - any ideas anyone? What is interesting though is that the Trust has been trying to drain the Green since the 1820s, when they bought and laid thousands of soughing tiles. The drains in the photo look much newer, but I would love to find one of the original soughing tiles - I wonder how deep I would have to dig?

January 2016

ivy berries

A brief fall of snow in January bought a wintery feel to the Green. I did manage to get some snowy pictures before it all melted, some of which can be seen on the Trust's facebook page (January 17th post). Something that did catch my eye, was the ivy berries covered in snow. Now, I know ivy is not always the most popular plant amongst gardeners, but its berries are a very important food source for birds, especially at this time of year, when food is getting quite scarce. So it is good to know that there is still something for the birds on the Green to eat, even at this time of year.

youtube placeholder

Over the winter I have put my trail camera out a few times in the hope of seeing if the foxes were still around. On a number of occasions I did not get any fox footage, so I was very pleased to finally get some shots of a fox visiting the Green. He/she looks to be in good condition, so hopefully I will be able to get some more footage over the next few months.

sunrise

Whilst the weather has been a bit grotty, I have taken the opportunity to add a page to the website on some of the fungi that we have on the Green and in particular the importance of the waxcap species. I hope you find it interesting. Finally, to end this month's post with a fantastic photo of a sunrise over the Green, kindly sent by the talented Steve Martin of Longbow photography. Another of Steve's amazing photos can also be seen on our facebook page (21 January post).