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Wild Issue 143 Spring 2013


IN THIS ISSUE 01 or ck vi cov E si e V to r E ur for N w ev T eb en S si ts 2 te a 0 fo nd 13 r m ac or tiv e itie de s ta in ils 2

... and much more



Tasker’s Meadow Nature Reserve Ratty’s welcome return to Nuneaton Phase 2 of HS2 Announced Help for Hedgehogs Campaign Princethorpe... a living landscape Combrook Village saves the Leys

Se e

• • • • • •


Contents 4

New Reserve Tasker’s Meadow


Phase 2 HS2 Announced


Help for Hedgehogs Campaign


Geology that shapes the Princethorpe woodlands

Warwickshire Wildlife Trust is a registered charity (Number 209200) and a company limited by guarantee. Registered in England, Number 582247. WildWarwickshire Magazine is produced three times a year for Trust Members. Views expressed in this magazine are not necessarily those of the Trust. Warwickshire Wildlife Trust Brandon Marsh Nature Centre Brandon Lane, Coventry CV3 3GW 024 7630 2912 Parkridge Centre Brueton Park, Solihull, B91 3HW 012 1704 0768 Warwickshire Wildlife Trust is always looking to limit its carbon footprint and we are now able to Carbon Balance the paper we use for many of our print jobs. This is done through our paper supplier along with the World Land Trust (TWLT). The World Land Trust has calculated that by using this paper for the production of just one issue of WildWarwickshire, we can save 2190.8Kg’s of carbon and the World Land Trust will be able to buy and conserve 431.6 square metres of land in the South American rain forests. Look out for the logo on our publications.



Design and Production Steven Cheshire Marketing and Social Media Officer Warwickshire Wildlife Trust

Printed by Centreprint UK Ltd

Cover photograph Bluebell at Ryton Wood by Steven Cheshire © 2013 (WWT)



Love your River West Midlands


Help for

Hedgehogs The humble and unassuming hedgehog is an enigmatic but much-loved friend of gardeners everywhere – it is said to be one of Britain’s top ten most favourite animals. Hedgehog numbers are difficult to monitor but all the indications nationally show a rapid decline: in the 1950s there were an estimated 30 million hedgehogs but by the mid-1990s it was 2 million and the most recent estimate is down to a shocking 1 million*. We have no reliable figures for Warwickshire, Coventry or Solihull but all of the anecdotal observations suggest they are in similar decline here too. Many parts of our county now seem to be ‘hedgehog-free’ areas.

The hedgehog is in trouble


Whilst there has only been a limited amount of research, it seems that there are a number of problems. Farmland has become increasingly inhospitable with less food or shelter available – due to the loss of hedgerows, rough habitats and use of pesticides. Hedgehogs primarily eat insects, slugs and worms and they need to travel a long way every night to fill their stomachs. Over the last 60 years, our rural and suburban landscapes have become more and more inhospitable to hedgehogs with barriers in the shape of roads, development and fences alongside a massive increase in the road traffic levels. Spines and the defence of rolling into a ball may be great at repelling most natural predators but they’re not much good against an on-coming car or lorry! In fact the decline in hedgehog numbers over the

last decade were first noticed because fewer dead hedgehogs were being seen on the roads. The best remaining areas for hedgehogs seem to be suburban areas where connected garden ‘mosaics’ still provide for many of their needs for food and shelter. Even here there are problems with increasing trends towards tight fencing which form barriers to wandering hedgehogs even if the gardens behind have lots of ideal food! The news may be depressing - but we can do something about it! That’s why we’re launching a hedgehog campaign this summer to raise awareness and encourage everyone to take a few simple steps to help hedgehogs. Hedgehogs urgently need friends! A series of sponsored walks is planned in the autumn – and all donations, large and small, are welcome and important! Notes *Figures collated by British Hedgehog Preservation Society and Peoples’ Trust for Endangered Species.

Help for Hedgehogs Campaign See page 12 to find out more...

Stephen Trotter Chief Executive 3


NewTasker’s Reserve Meadow Warwickshire Wildlife Trust is delighted to announce that we’ve have secured the future of one of the best grassland sites in our region. The site comprises two ‘fields’ sandwiched between the Grand Union canal and our existing reserve at Stockton Cutting. This is a rare habitat for Warwickshire and is already highly regarded by local naturalists as a rich and outstanding site – well known for a number of rare species. Warwickshire now only has 224 hectares of old species rich meadowland and it’s our most vulnerable habitat.

Dr Andy Tasker

The meadows will also benefit the Trust’s existing interest at Stockton Cutting – by adding a buffer to the reserve and improving our management options for the existing SSSI.

Mike Bunney, Chair of the Trust said: “This really is a superb site and we are very pleased to have been able to save it thanks to a number of significant legacies. The Trust has decided to name it in honour of Dr Andy Tasker, our former Chief Executive who died in 2012 - in recognition of the major contribution he made to nature conservation during his 30 years with the Trust.”

Tasker’s Meadow was probably used in conjunction with the nearby Blue Lias quarries and as a result has a distinctly ‘calcareous’ character. Amazingly it has five species of orchid including the largest population of greater butterfly orchid (Plantanthera chlorantha) in Warwickshire. Other species include large numbers of bee orchid (Orphys apifera), common spotted orchid (Dactylorhiza fuchsii), twayblade (Listera ovata) and pyramidal orchid (Anacamptis pyramidalis). The meadow also contains four of Warwickshire’s six nationally rare farmland butterflies. Three of these, the grizzled skipper, dingy skipper and white-letter hairstreak are nationally designated as biodiversity priority species. It is hoped with the correct interventions that the other two rare farmland butterflies, the small blue and dark

Tasker’s Meadow from Stockton Cutting © 2013 Kay Reeve

Pyramidal Orchid © 2013 Steven Cheshire (WWT)

Sites like these can easily be lost to development, fertiliser or reseeding or inappropriate management – and the Trust looks after more than 50% of the surviving examples.


WildWarwickshire green fritillary could establish colonies in this field. Both of these species are nationally designated as biodiversity priority species. One corner of the field is lower than the adjacent Grand Union canal and has developed into a wet grassland / dry reed bed adding interest to the site.

Appeal We urgently need to raise £15,000 to secure and safeguard the long term management of the reserve. We have a number of vital tasks which are essential to conserve and improve its wildlife value. • Annual cutting and grazing in late summer - just like the hay meadow at Draycote - and some modest but regular scrub and bramble control. • Investigate the promotion of some patches of early successional habitat (bare ground!) for invertebrates and plants. • Improve the wetland areas and pools. • Fencing and boundary repairs. To achieve all this we need to acquire some new equipment, renew fencing and gates around the site so that we can graze both this new site and Stockton Cutting with cattle and sheep. Donate online by credit/debit card or Paypal or scan the QR code on your mobile device. Donate by text - text code WKWT04 and your donation e.g. WKWT04 £10 to 70070 Donate credit/debit card or cheque Alternatively you can fill out the form on the back of the letter enclosed with your magazine.

Thank you The Trust would like to thank those who made this acquisition possible. Miss Lee, Dr A Tasker and the staff and board of Middlemarch Environmental Limited. Dingy Skipper © 2013 Steven Cheshire (WWT)

Grizzled Skipper © 2013 Steven Cheshire (WWT)

A Lasting Gift Legacies provide an important source of funding for the Trust and enable us to carry out vital conservation work across the county. They have enabled us to secure the future of vulnerable sites across the county through the procurement of new nature reserves like Tasker’s Meadow and Ryton Wood SSSI. We are indebted to the many individuals who have chosen to remember the Trust in their Wills. Their final acts of kindness have helped to secure a future for our county’s wildlife and have ensured that future generations will be able to enjoy the wildlife and wild places of Warwickshire as they did. The Trust received £32,472 from gifts in wills in 2012 – thank you. If you would like more information on leaving a legacy to Warwickshire Wildlife Trust please email or call Pip Vigor on 024 7630 8992. 5


Tame Valley Wetlands Landscape Partnership Scheme Warwickshire Wildlife Trust is currently working in partnership with a wide range of governmental and non-governmental organisations, local groups and landowners between Birmingham and Tamworth to develop the Tame Valley Wetlands Landscape Partnership Scheme. In 2012, the Partnership received an earmarked first round pass of £1.8 million funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund. This includes £86,500 of funding for 2013 to develop the scheme ready for the final stage two application submission. It is hoped that the four year delivery phase will begin in mid-2014. The scheme aims to restore the Tame Valley and the surrounding floodplain landscape in North Warwickshire and South Staffordshire. This will be achieved by conserving and enhancing built and natural heritage features within the landscape, whilst improving access to the river and other sites of interest. In addition, the scheme will seek to engage and inspire local people, providing exciting training and volunteering opportunities, events and activities.

This is a scheme that has the interests of local people and their local heritage at its heart. We would like to hear from anyone who would like to get involved that live or work within the Tame Valley area, especially during this important development phase of the scheme.

• Tamworth

For further information on how you can get involved, please contact Tim Haselden or visit the scheme’s web site. Map showing the Tame Valley Wetland Landscape Partnership Scheme area.

• Kingsbury

• Curdworth

• Birmingham

• Coleshill

Aerial view of the Tame Valley and M42 motorway in 2008 © 2013 John Ball (WWT)


Tim Haselden Development Officer Tame Valley Wetlands Landscape Partnership 024 7630 8995 077 0319 2200


Project Update The Wild:LIFE Project has now reached its final year but there is still plenty to do across all 4 sites. Its aim is to create four Local Nature Reserves in North Warwickshire using £225,249 of funding from Natural England as part of its £28.75 million Access to Nature Programme, part of the Big Lottery Fund’s Changing Spaces Programme. WildPlay and Training Courses: Over the summer of 2012, the WildPlay team ran activities in Polesworth and Coleshill. Sessions were run in local schools and nurseries during termtime before being run at the local parks during the school holidays. Activities included outdoor cooking, scavenger hunts, wildlife trails and outdoor art. In total 431 children took part, with many attending more than one session. This means that over all 4 sites (including Arley and Kingsbury), 911 local children have taken part in our WildPlay activities. We have also held, and continue to hold, free training courses for local people at Polesworth and Coleshill. So far we have run Winter Tree ID and Bat Walks. Both were very successful.

Practical Conservation: There has been a great deal of progress made at Daffern’s Wood, where members of the local community assisted with widening part of the main path running through the wood. Two new bins have been installed at the wood to replace the dog and litter bins that were previously in place; the old entrance barrier to the woodland has been removed and replaced. A noticeboard has also been installed at the top of the woodland by contractors and in November 2012 a group of locals (including children) helped us with some wild flower planting. Work has continued at Kingsbury Meadow. It has taken longer than expected due to the wet weather this winter, but progress is being made. Work on site has included the bridge being widened, some of the paths being surfaced, a scrape being dug and some stepping stones being installed. A noticeboard has been installed at the entrance of Kingsbury Meadow. Work is soon to commence at Abbey Green Park (Polesworth) and Cole End Park (Coleshill). For more information please contact the project co-ordinator Philippa Truman. Philippa Truman WildPlay and Communities Co-coordinator 024 7630 2312 078 0764 7041

Noticeboard and new bin at the Morgan Close Entrance of

The Conservation Volunteers

Daffern’s Wood © 2013 Philippa Truman (WWT)



Ratty’s welcome return to Nuneaton Anyone who has read The Wind in the Willows will be familiar with ‘Ratty’, a cultured, relaxed and friendly character who loves the river. Of course Ratty wasn’t a rat at all, he was in fact a water vole. The name given by Kenneth Grahame, first published in 1908, has sadly caused some problems for the long suffering water voles of Warwickshire. Over the last 12 years, successive surveys have recorded a rapid decline in the County’s once thriving water vole population, a decline which mirrors the national picture. Numbers have fallen by over 90% making the water vole ‘highly endangered’ in the UK. Although predation by non-native American mink is a factor, unsympathetic watercourse maintenance, indiscriminate use of rat poison, flooding and predation by domestic animals have all played their part in the downfall of ‘Ratty’.

It only seemed a matter of time before the water vole was extinct in Warwickshire.

During an otter survey being undertaken near Nuneaton last year, we noticed some tennis ball sized holes on the waterline of a stream. The location was only a few miles from a known historic site for water voles which were believed to be extinct. Could it be, we wondered? Had the voles managed a come back against the odds? It was winter with none of the usual field signs around. We would have to wait till spring to find out! Spring came and sure enough all the tell-tail signs were there. Feed stations with the neatly stacked remains of the last meal. Reed sweet grass stems nibbled at a 45 degree angle. Some latrines with fresh guinea-pig like poo on the top. Best of all, a very obliging vole swam across the stream right in front of us. A magic moment.

Why did ‘Ratty’ Return? Flushed with success we decided to broaden the survey area to include as many watercourses in the vicinity of the Ashby and Coventry Canals and River Anker as possible. To our great surprise even some of the smallest ditches contained positive signs. The reason for the recovery is probably due to a combination of factors. The strength and proximity of the existing colony on the Ashby Canal with its excellent habitat is certainly one. Another is the mink control programme started in the Wolvey area a few years ago. The return of otters seems to have played a part. Our surveys show a marked decline in mink activity when otters are around.

Identity Crisis Water voles face many dangers from predation and a high winter mortality rate which in especially cold winters be as high as 70%.

Water Vole © 2013 Elliott Neep


As more new housing is built near watercourses domestic cats can also be a problem. So too can mistaken identity. This was well illustrated years ago when water voles were still common in


like a guinea pig.”Oh, and they have orange teeth”, the resident said. Sadly, mistaken identity can also lead to water voles being poisoned with rat poison.

The future The news of Ratty’s return to Nuneaton is certainly a welcome one but we must not get complacent. In Warwickshire we only have a small isolated colony in the south of the county and small numbers of voles in Coventry. However the Nuneaton recovery does create a degree of optimism unimagined a few years ago. Water Vole feeding © 2013 Elliott Neep

Coventry. A resident living near the River Sowe was proudly boasting that her cat was a good ‘ratter’. The ‘rats’ the cat caught turned out to be water voles, with little furry ears and tails and blunt noses

Pete Sanders Wetland Volunteer 024 7630 2912

Nature in rhyme

Bittern © 2013 Geoff Haynes

I’m forever smitten with the bitten, its rarity I crave, When it booms I’m so excited I go into an ornithological daze, It’s secretive and so tricky to see but I think it’s the bee’s knees, Oh bittern don’t keep me hanging, Brandon Marsh’s reed bed’s banging. The nu mbers are dropping it’s sad to say, come back bittern it’ ll be ok, We can make you nice and fat, in this perfect habitat, We promise to stay quiet in our hides with our binoculars ready at our sides, Just one job for you, do some booming there’s ladies to woo. Vicky Worthington Senior Education Ranger 024 7630 2912

Send us your wildlife inspired poems to along with your name and age and the best will be published in our summer edition of WildWarwickshire.



More concerns for Wildlife as

Phase 2 of HS2 In January, the Government announced its proposals for the second phase of the controversial high speed rail project known as High Speed 2 (HS2). The initial proposals for a new rail link between London and the West Midlands have now been extended northwards in a ‘Y’ shaped route towards Manchester and Leeds. This would require the creation of a new section of high speed line in Warwickshire, adding to that already proposed in the county as part of the first phase. The Government’s announcement reveals for the first time the full implications of HS2 for Warwickshire’s wildlife. The Trust’s initial assessment has identified a further 12 sites of wildlife importance - either on, or in close proximity to the line of the second phase route. This raises the total number of wildlife sites in Warwickshire that could be directly or indirectly at risk from HS2 to 102 (see map).

announced Whilst the Trust is not opposed to high speed rail in principle, based on these initial findings, we remain extremely concerned about the damaging impacts that the current proposals are likely to have on the natural environment in Warwickshire and Solihull. We believe that the Government has significantly underestimated wildlife impacts throughout the HS2 assessment process of phases 1 and 2. Our view is that a much more in-depth analysis of the effects on the natural environment should have been undertaken before pursuing the project further – and greater efforts to avoid these sites should have been made. This issue was recently heard in the High Court as part of one of five judicial reviews into HS2 - which the Wildlife Trusts supported.

The Trust is working with other affected Wildlife Trusts along the route to undertake a more detailed analysis of the risk to these sites from the second phase of HS2 over the coming months.

Route of HS2 Phase 1 Route of HS2 Phase 2 County Boundary Urban areas Atherstone

Sites of potential importance for Wildlife Sites of County Importance for Wildlife Ancient Woodlands River Crossing Sites of National Importance for Wildlife

© Natural England copyright. Contains Ordnance Survey data. © Crown copyright and database right 2013 Reproduction from the Ordnance Survey mapping with the permission of the Controller of Her Majesty’s Stationery Office. Crown copyright. Unauthorised reproduction infringes Crown copyright and may lead to prosecution or civil proceedings. Licence No. 100018285 Copyright of the data remains the property of the Habitat Biodiversity Audit for Warwickshire, Coventry and Solihull 2012. While every effort has been made to ensure that the data is accurate in accordance with Phase I habitat survey standards the project cannot guarantee its accuracy or accept responsibility for any changes to land use or habitat that may have occurred since the survey was undertaken.





Rugby Kenilworth Leamington Spa Warwick


WildWarwickshire The results were announced in March and whilst most challenges were not upheld, an appeal was allowed on the environmental issues. We will keep a close view on any future legal developments. Meanwhile, the Trust is continuing to campaign and lobby HS2 to ensure that excessive damage to Warwickshire’s natural environment is avoided and, where possible, positive outcomes for wildlife are achieved within any scheme that goes ahead. During 2012 we held several meetings with HS2 Ltd to press for the highest standards of survey and assessment to inform the forthcoming Environmental Impact Assessment for phase 1. We also invited a number of local wildlife experts and partners to outline the key areas For more information about the Warwickshire Wildlife Trust’s HS2 campaign visit

of wildlife interest along the route - and to set out expectations for avoiding, mitigating and compensating for the adverse effects. We will continue to use these local opportunities to influence the HS2 proposals for wildlife gain as well as campaigning nationally as one of 14 affected Wildlife Trusts along the route.

Alvecote Pools SSSI vulnerable to hydrological impacts from the HS2 Phase 2 proposals © 2013 Caroline Temple (WWT)

Richard Wheat Planning and Biodiversity Officer 024 7630 2912


THE BIG EVENT IN 2013! Sunday 19 May - 10.00 to 16.00 at Brandon Marsh Nature Centre near Coventry

Join us at Brandon Marsh for a special family WildDayOut. There will be a talk about our Help for Hedgehog campaign and hedgehog themed activities for the kids, or join Nicholas Watts MBE as he talks about how we can all help our endangered farmland birds. Take a guided walk around our nature reserve, walk among the reed beds, visit the bird hides and hunt for bugs and butterflies in the meadows, then head back to the visitors centre for a relaxing lunch in our cafe. Quench your thirst with a bottle or two of the Trust’s own beer produced by Tunnel Brewery. Be the first to taste our new beer which will support our Help for Hedgehogs campaign. The kids can take part in a range of children’s activities including pond dipping, lantern and flowerpot painting, face painting and badge making. Wild Flower Sale - Don’t forget to buy a few native wild flowers for your garden!

For more events and activities, visit our web site



Help for

Hedgehogs Campaign

Hedgehogs are a great example of why we need a landscape scale approach to conservation – they need a wide mosaic of hedgehog-friendly habitat to thrive. More than that it needs to be connected – so that hedgehogs can move around and make use of that space. Suburban areas are vitally important to hedgehogs. Increasingly gardens are being covered by hard surfaces – usually to park the car. And after the wet summer the gardener’s war against slugs and snails continues unabated with the widespread use of slug pellets.

Hedgehogs are generally nocturnal so you are most likely to see them late at night in the spring and summer months. During the winter, they spend their time hibernating under log piles in a nest of dry leaves before emerging in the spring to feast on worms, beetles, slugs, spiders and grubs while searching for a mate.

Wanted, dead or alive! Have you seen a hedgehog this year? We want to know where and when, dead or alive! We urgently need to identify hedgehog hot spots around the county so that we can target conservation efforts where populations are still present and encourage local groups and communities to become hedgehog friendly. Please send your records to

Take action Why not encourage friends, family, neighbours, your local community or school to take action and turn their gardens and open spaces into hedgehog friendly places. Celebrate the wonderful hedgehog and appreciate the joy they bring to our lives.

Raise funds We need to raise funds for hedgehog conservation - to provide support to individuals, groups and communities. If we raise enough money, we’d like every school in Warwickshire, Coventry and Solihull to have a wild, hedgehog-friendly area within their school grounds.

Hedgehog © 2013 Gillian Day


Surveys show that some populations of hedgehogs have dropped by almost 50% over the last 25 years.

British Hedgehog Preservation Society


Species Information Common name Hedgehog

Hedgehog nest © 2013 Pete Sanders

1 Make a log pile A small log pile in a quiet corner of your garden is great for hedgehogs. It provides a place to shelter and hibernate and also encourages insects which the hedgehogs love to eat.

2 Don’t use slug pellets

Latin name Erinaceus europaeus

Average Lifespan Size/Weight 2-3 years 25cm long, weight 2kg Conservation status UK Biodiversity Action Plan Priority Species

3 Support our campaign Anyone can help by making a small donation towards our hedgehog campaign. Donate online, just visit

Hedgehogs can accidentally eat slug pellets or poisoned slugs so its best to try and avoid the use of slug pellets in your garden. Instead, you could try alternatives such as beer-baited slug traps. Don’t forget, hedgehogs love to eat slugs and other garden pests, encourage hedgehogs and you will have no need for slug-pellets!

You can donate via your mobile device. Send a text with the code WKWT04 and your donation amount e.g. WKWT04 £5 to 70070

We have lots of exciting hedgehog related activities and events planned for 2013. To keep up-to-date with our hedgehog campaign, visit our web site.

Make a

hedgehog mud

Collect lots of short sticks and twigs and find some small round black stones for the hedgehog’s nose and eyes. Y ou now need to find some mud and shape this into the shape of a hedgehog. Have you made a mud hedgehog? Send a photograph of your hedgehog to along with your na me and age and the best will be published in our su mmer edition of WildWarwickshire.



Re-Use Centre Sofas, stereos, bicycles, a hammock and a front door! Just some of the things that have been donated and sold at our new Re-Use Centre on Coventry’s Foleshill Road since opening in December. We’ve also been trying to live up to our name as much as possible – non fire compliant chairs and stools have been reupholstered with foam and material from a sofa whose frame had come to the end of its life. It’s not just customers who are finding bargains either. Look out for a 42” TV appearing in the cafe at Brandon. This will be showing photos and films from Trust projects and reserves, plus events and special offers, whilst Living Landscape Officers George and Pete will be making use of donated rolls of weld mesh fencing on our reserves.

256 Foleshill Road, Coventry, CV6 5AY Open Tuesday to Saturday 10am to 4pm

Fancy volunteering? We need volunteers to help at our Re-Use Centre. Contact Ben (see below) for more details.


Ben Moore, Re-Use Centre Manager © 2013 Lucy Hawker

Ben Moore Re-Use Centre Manager 07796 380771


off all bug, bee or ladybird boxes at Brandon Marsh Visitor Centre Shop Offer closes 30 April 2013 14


Princethorpe... a living landscape

A male orange-tip resting on garlic mustard © 2013 Steven Cheshire (WWT)

Using a SITA Trust grant of £92,503, the Princethorpe Living Landscape Scheme is now beginning to make a real difference to the landscape around Ryton-on-Dunsmore and Princethorpe. Volunteers and contractors are working to improve the habitat quality of both the area’s woodlands and the surrounding hedgerow network. Ryton and Wappenbury Wood are examples of ancient woodlands, noted for their ground flora as well as a remarkable variety of butterflies and insects. Hedgerows are a valuable semi-natural habitat in their own right and provide food, shelter and cover for many breeding birds together with a whole variety of insects and small mammals. In early spring, garlic mustard and lady’s smock in the base of a hedge are vital food sources for orange-tip butterfly caterpillars (accumulations of mustard oil obtained from the plants makes them distasteful to birds!) Uncut, dense hedges are also an important resource for birds in winter; flocks of redwings and fieldfares rely on hawthorn berries, whilst bullfinches take seeds from any remaining, withered blackberries. An intrinsic element of the Warwickshire countryside, hedgerows in the southern and eastern parts of the county would have been planted following the Parliamentary Enclosure Acts of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries

and are dominated by hawthorn, with oak, ash and English elm planted as hedgerow trees. Further west, an area of more ancient countryside (the Arden) contains hedges that are considerably older (possibly even Anglo-Saxon); hedge-banks are a feature of these hedges with herbaceous plants more typical of woodlands (e.g. Wood Anemone), a feature that provides a hint of hedge origin. Habitat surveying by volunteers will continue into this summer, whilst restoration projects, finishing in March, will begin again in earnest as we move into autumn and winter. If you are interested in the work of the project, please contact Chris Redstall. Further Reading Steven J. Falk (2009) Warwickshire’s Wildflowers: The wildflowers, shrubs and trees of historic Warwickshire. Brewin Books. (Available from the Brandon VC shop) John Andrews & Michael Rebane (1994) Farming and Wildlife: A practical management handbook. RSPB.

Enriching nature, Enhancing communities

Chris Redstall Woodland Restoration Officer 024 7630 8998 15


Geology that shapes the


If you had been standing, half a million years ago, where Ryton Pools Country Park now is, looking north westward to where Coventry airport stands, you would have been looking across the 4km wide, flat flood plain of a north-eastward flowing, multibranched river1 cutting channels into the underlying Mercia Mudstone bedrock2. The 20m deep Avon Valley did not exist and the ‘you’ would not have been modern man but Heidelberg Man, possibly one of our distant ancestors, and the Lower Palaeolithic hand axes they used have been found in the sands and gravels known as the ‘Baginton Sand and Gravel’. It is these deposits that have been quarried in the Bubbenhall area. The climate was cool temperate and remains of straight-tusked elephants and freshwater molluscs are found in the old river beds.

The landscape of the river as it may have appeared ½ million years ago looking NW from where Ryton Wood now stands towards Coventry Airport © 2013 Steven Cheshire

The coming of the ice Then the climate began to deteriorate! Heidelberg Man retreated and a large ice sheet, dating to circa 480,000 - 400,000 years ago, advanced into the area laying down sticky, pebbly boulder clay or till (Thrussington Till) on top of the sands and gravels. This pebbly clay consists mainly of the local Mercia Mudstone scraped up along the base of the advancing glaciers, giving the till its pale orange colour. The ice melted intermittently depositing a relatively thin, but persistent, layer of sand and gravel (Wolston Sand and Gravel) along with a more extensive area of stoneless clay and silt (Wolston Clay) which accumulated in temporary meltwater lakes. When the ice retreated, yet more gravels (Dunsmore Gravel) were deposited by meltwater streams, remnants of which can be found on the eastern edge of Wappenbury Wood. 16

Thrussington Till

Baginton Sand and Gravel

Thrussington Till overlying Baginton Sand and Gravel © 2013 Jon Radley

WildWarwickshire Lower Palaeolithic hand axe from Bubbenhall © 2013 Warwickshire County Council

Vertebrate material of a Palaeoloxodon limb bone excavated in May 2005 at Wood Farm © 2013 Jon Radley

A more significant effect of the ice melting was that this old river pattern had been disrupted, providing the opportunity for new rivers and valleys – the Avon and the Leam – to develop. In the case of the Avon at Bubbenhall this could be as recently as 60,000 years ago. The ridge which runs north-eastwards from Cubbington towards Wolston between the Avon and Leam Valleys is capped by these glacial deposits. These deposits underlie the woods along that ridge – South Cubbington, Waverley, Wappenbury, Bubbenhall and Ryton, the core of the Princethorpe Project.

Notes 1

The river flowed into

Leicestershire and then into the North Sea. Exactly where is uncertain. 2

Mercia Mudstone is a thick

deposit of brick-red clay, that

It is easy to overlook the part that the, often unseen, geology plays in affecting nature conservation sites. The geological history has had a profound effect on the topography of this area and the land use. Here the predominantly clayey nature of the glacial deposits produces stiff soils with poor drainage which were intractable for farming. Rather the land was retained as a woodland resource along the ridge on the margins of the parishes in the Avon and Leam valleys.

originated 220-230 million years ago as wind-blown

The woods we see today are a hint of a medieval land use pattern.

desert dust when central England was 15-20 degrees north of the equator.

Brian Ellis Warwickshire Geological Conservation Group If you would like to find out more about the geology of Warwickshire, visit the Warwickshire Geological Conservation Group web site for more information.



The Wildlife Trusts Regional News

Shropshire News that a local farmer had put in an application to remove 7 miles of hedgerow on the Shropshire/Welsh border spurred us into campaign action in the new year. More than 350 objections were lodged, many from our members. The farmer has since withdrawn his application, though a revised one is expected later this year. We are deeply concerned about the weakness of the Hedgerow Regulations to protect this cherished and highly valued feature of the landscape. Please support this e-petition, which seeks to strengthen the regulations. Chirbury hedgerows Š 2013

Worcestershire Worcestershire Wildlife Trust is currently raising funds to secure the future of 42 acres of grassland, Hollybed Farm, in the historic Malvern Chase Living Landscape. The highlight of the site is Starling Bank; a SSSI filled with wildflowers and grasses. Meadow vetchling, sweet vernal grass, yellow rattle and burnet saxifrage mix with cowslips and wild onion to support bees, crickets, butterflies and a myriad of other insects. In turn, these are food for birds, bats and other wildlife moving through the patchwork landscape of the commons. If you fancy a walk through this beautiful landscape to help us raise funds then visit sponsored-walk for information about our sponsored walk. Six-Spot Burnet Š 2013 Steve Bloomfield



FUNdraising You can help Warwickshire’s wildlife in many ways. Fundraising can be as easy and fun as holding a coffee morning for your friends please contact us for invitations.


ne searche

your onli search for

Use easy

search y s a e . t w k ttp://w


ft You might fancy an art and cra sale or hosting a quiz - visit our web site for more ideas.

Could you ask local shops and businesses to have a collection box or to collect stamps?

Use easyfundraising for your online purchases Visit our web site for more information or contact Kate Sugden.

Kate Sugden Fundraising Manager 024 7630 2912


Yourself Entertain

Over the last couple of years we have had some wonderful challenge champions raising money. • George ran 100 miles in 100 days in distances not less than a marathon. • Matt and Sam endured the Tough Mudders trail. • Wes, Matt and Nanu the dog walked the 100 mile Warwickshire Canal Ring in a week. • Ian and Darren rowed from the source of the River Nene to the sea. • Adam and Ian ran the Coventry Half Marathon. • Barry ran the Two Castles Race. If you’re inspired and fancy a challenge in 2013, then let us know. We can provide publicity, support and of course the t-shirt. Alternatively, you could join in with our ‘Walk for Wildlife 2013’ in the autumn to raise money for our ‘Help for Hedgehogs’ campaign.

Did you know there’s a new way to raise money just by having your friends round to dinner? Visit our dedicated warwickshirewildlifetrust page. All the work is done for you. It’s simple to invite your guests and easy for them to accept and donate on-line, so you don’t have to worry about asking people for money. Dinner4good then takes care of claiming the Gift Aid and sending the money to us. Not a contender for Masterchef? There’s some easy recipes on - including one-pot dishes and recipes you can prepare in advance - that leave you free to entertain your guests and have fun. What could be simpler?! 19


A Wild Career Now in its second year, the Skills for the Future programme, ‘A Wild Career’ has proved to be hugely successful in helping future conservationists develop the knowledge and skills required for a career in the environment sector. Since their placements began, the trainees have been involved in a wide range of activities, ranging from leading volunteer groups on conservation activities, assisting with children’s activities and events and consulting with the public on the future of their local reserves.

Ceri Rapsey May 2012 to May 2013

After completing an Environmental Science Degree and Environmental Strategy Masters, Ceri realised that employers wanted job applicants who had hands-on, practical experience. “I needed an opportunity that would give me the much needed work experience alongside developing my skill set in the conservation sector. “I noticed the traineeship advertised, nine months at Warwickshire Wildlife Trust and the remaining three months at Middlemarch Environmental Consultancy. I could trial two different areas of this sector, a charity and a commercial enterprise.

Ceri has a go at hedge-laying © 2013 Peter Thorne (WWT)

“I was interested by the training programme, a training budget to spend on vocational courses, an NVQ qualification and much needed conservation based work experience, so with such a great opportunity, I leapt at the chance to apply” Ceri has now completed her time with the Trust but her training continues until the end of April with Middlemarch Environmental. Ceri adds, “I’ve had a fantastic time at the Trust; working with dedicated colleagues and volunteers, I have gained valuable experience in practical conservation skills, such as hedgelaying. My training budget allowed me to undertake courses on tractor driving, pesticide and chainsaw use.”

Ceri gets stuck-in © 2013 George Green (WWT)


In 2011 Warwickshire Wildlife Trust, in partnership with Shropshire, Staffordshire and Birmingham and Black Country Wildlife Trusts was awarded a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) under its Skills for the Future programme for the ‘A Wild Career’ project.


Nicole Jackson

George Green

Nicole joined our first cohort of trainees in 2011. “I was brought up in rural Yorkshire. My passion and enthusiasm for wildlife and nature came through my Grandfather who worked for the Forestry Commission. I decided on a life and career change so applied for the Trainee position.

“Like a lot of people, my interest in conservation was sparked as a young child. I remember many happy hours catching great crested newts in my Aunt’s pond in Coventry! At the time, it didn’t cross my mind that there were such things as jobs in conservation.”

“I have had the most amazing year! I learnt a lot of new practical skills, met and worked with very knowledgeable people. I’ve had the opportunity to lead my own placement and learning which was invaluable.”

“I found myself in a career at the sharp end of social housing. In 2007, I enrolled on a part-time course in Environmental Management, finally I was on the path towards a new career. Four years, an HNC, several unsuccessful job applications, and a lot of volunteering later, I realised that I wasn’t going to get that elusive job in conservation without some really solid practical experience.”

May 2011 to May 2012

Nicole completed her year as a Wild Career trainee, successfully achieving her City & Guilds Certificate in Work Based Conservation and is now moving onto Sunnyside Rural Trust in Hertfordshire.

May 2011 to May 2012

“Fortunately around this time I was offered the trainee role at Warwickshire Wildlife Trust. I found that working in conservation didn’t mean getting away from it all, it involves working with all sorts of people from different walks of life with different opinions and experiences. This was fantastic because I was used to working with people from my previous working life, and was able to draw on that experience.” “I have found it particularly rewarding working with volunteers with additional support needs, a smiling volunteer is worth a thousand words.”

Nicole Jackson presented with her City and Guilds certificate at Shropshire Wildlife Trust HQ © 2013 (Shropshire WT)

George now works full-time for Warwickshire Wildlife Trust as one of our Reserves Officers.

Hannah Dalton May 2011 to May 2012

Hannah Dalton, spent the year at Highgate Common with Staffordshire Wildlife Trust and said “The scheme made me much more easily employable as a ranger as I was offered the first job I applied for. Prior to the placement I had applied for 40 similar roles without even reaching interview stage, which I think shows quite how beneficial doing the placement has been to me. I would recommend it to anyone who wants to get into the sector, as it has been a massive “leg up”.

Hannah Dalton © 2013 Martin Elliot (Staffordshire Wildlife Trust)



Combrook Village

saves The Leys for people and wildlife

Surely designating it ‘for nature’ would mean that nobody would be allowed to do anything? Residents were delighted to learn that this was not true.

The Leys is an area of grassland, flanked by ancient woodland, dropping steeply into the village of Combrook. It has remained free of pesticides and herbicides for many years; one of the very scarce examples left in Warwickshire of unimproved species-rich hay meadows.

This means that residents can seek expert advice from the Trust so that things are done correctly to improve its biodiversity. With the formal Local Wildlife Status designation, the village was able to obtain substantial funding (£55,000) from the Heritage Lottery Fund to add to money raised within the village to purchase The Leys. It is important to note that the LWS designation was important as it confirms that The Leys is rich in biodiversity and needed protection.

The Leys Meadow © 2013 Elizabeth Bates

When The Leys was put up for sale in 2011, people in the village of Combrook really wanted to keep it as a meadow. With only 60 households in the village, seeking funding for this use required it to have some designation to prove to others that it was special. This is where Warwickshire Wildlife Trust played a key role. Several years previously, the Trust had surveyed the meadow, and recognised its value in terms of the diversity of plant species and butterflies. The site was surveyed in June 2011 as a potential Local Wildlife Site by the Habitat Biodiversity Audit (HBA) local wildlife sites survey team who recorded around 120 plant species and many butterflies. Due to the combination of rare types of grassland, plant species, and its value to the community, The Leys was designated a ‘Local Wildlife Site’ (LWS) in January 2012. The Leys was selected for its nature conservation value and support will now be given to help protect threatened species and habitats. 22

Now that it has been purchased by the village, in the care of the Parish Council, a whole raft of activities are planned including: • • • • • •

Developing a Biodiversity Action Plan Ecological field studies A history project Young person’s weekend Arts and Crafts event Photo activities and evening talks More information about The Leys can be found on the Combrook Village web site.

Liz Bates Combrook Resident 07891 370231 Chris Talbot Habitat Biodiversity Audit Manager 01926 412197



Love Your River

The Love Your River West Midlands campaign has been off to a flying start, raising the profile of individual household impacts on water quality, notably the growing problem of misconnections in the home which cause damage to local brooks, streams and rivers. Misconnections can happen when household appliances, most commonly washing machines, are plumbed into the wrong drainage system, which carries discharge from the machine straight into a river rather than via sewage treatment works. What’s positive about this whole problem is that misconnections are generally easy to put right. Matt Cox from Warwickshire Wildlife Trust reflects on the impact of the campaign so far, “Generally members of the public aren’t even aware that this type of pollution can happen. However those we have spoken to are genuinely concerned. When given the right information they are happy to check their homes to make sure everything is all right, which is encouraging to know.”

Litter at Bell Green, Coventry © 2013 Environment Agency

Several months of online and face-to-face awareness raising is helping to bring this pollution issue to the front of people’s minds including a 10 point plan which offers 10 easy steps that anyone can take to minimise their impact upon their rivers and water courses.

The campaign has also brought the Love Your River message to local primary schools in pollution hotspots. This has allowed the Trust to work with the children and raise their awareness of water pollution. They have even produced posters of a perfectly plumbed house, which will be displayed at their local community event. By working with all areas of the community we can hopefully have a bigger impact and make a real difference.

Matt Cox Youth Engagement Officer 077 455 38159 Grey Water entering Canley Brook © 2013 Environment Agency 23

Events 2013 WildDayOut

Sunday 19 May - 10.00 to 16.00 at Brandon Marsh Nature Centre



Join us at Brandon Marsh for a special family WildDayOut. Find out more about our Help for Hedgehog campaign with hedgehog themed activities for the kids, Nicholas Watts MBE will talk about how we can all help our endangered farmland birds. Take a guided walk around our nature reserve, then head back to the visitors centre for lunch in our cafe. Quench your thirst with a bottle of the Trust’s own beer while the kids take part in a range of children’s activities including pond dipping, flowerpot painting and badge making.

Pick an option from below and text the code and your donation amount e.g. WKWT04 £5 to 70070

In memoriam


WKWT01 WKWT04 Help for Hedgehogs Campaign

b Appeal

cination BT

Badger Vac

WKWT13 WKWT15 Tasker’s M

eadow App


Wild Flower Sale - Buy some native wild flowers for your garden! d Appeal

Newlands Reedbe



Activities include wildlife activities and craft sessions for children and families. Guided walks of the reserves by trust staff and/or local experts where you will have opportunities to ask questions about the reserve, and learn about its wildlife and how you can get involved. LEAM VALLEY PARKRIDGE UFTON FIELDS SWIFT VALLEY

Sunday 28 April - 14.00 to 16.00 Sunday 23 June - 14.00 to 16.00 Sunday 14 July - 14.00 to 16.00 Sunday 22 September - 14.00 to 16.00

WildlifeTasterSessions at Brandon Marsh


You can donate via our web site using your credit /debit card or via Paypal. Scan the QR code below or visit org. ildlifetrust. ickshirew rw a .w w ww uk/donate

£5 each for non-trust members, £4 each for members. Price includes light refreshments and free entry to Brandon Marsh Nature Reserve for non-trust members. Booking Essential. BAT WALK with Jennifer Jones Friday 10 May - 20.00 to 22.00 Saturday 11 May - 20.00 to 22.00

HEDGEHOGS with Stephen Trotter Wednesday 03 July - 10.30 to 12.30 Saturday 13 July - 10.30 to 12.30

BUTTERFLIES with Steven Cheshire Wednesday 22 May - 10.30 to 12.30 Saturday 25 May - 10.30 to 12.30

POND LIFE with Vicky Worthington Wednesday 7 August - 18.00 to 19.30 Saturday 10 August - 10.30 to 12.00

DRAGONFLIES with Philippa Truman Wednesday 5 June - 10.30 to 12.30 Saturday 8 June - 10.30 to 12.30

BUG HUNT with Philippa Truman Wednesday 14 August - 10.30 to 12.30 Saturday 17 August - 10.30 to 12.30

SUMMER TREE ID with Gina Rowe Friday 14 June - 10.30 to 12.30 Sunday 30 June - 10.30 to 12.30

Visit our web site to send us your hedgehog sightings or contact us about our campaign.

WildlifeWorkshops at Brandon Marsh £10 per person. Booking Essential.

BIRD WATCHING with Colin Potter Saturday 6 April - 10.00 to 12.00 BIRD SONG with Colin Potter Saturday 11 May - 10.00 to 12.00 BUTTERFLIES with Keith Warmington Friday 17 May - 10.15 to 16.00


DRAGONFLY WORKSHOP with Peter Reeve Sunday 16 June - 10.15 to 16.00 ORTHOPTERA (CRICKETS) with Garry Farmer Sunday 28 July - 10.30 to 15.30

www.warwickshirewildl uk/hedgehogs


You can send your rare or unusual wildlife sightings to us via our online sightings form. uk/sightings

WildWarwickshire Magazine Issue 143 Spring 2013  

Warwickshire Wildlife Trust Members Magazine Issue 143 Spring 2013

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