Thursday, 3 November 2011


All the cutting for the season is now complete in the RSPB woodland and further work between now and the end of March will involve path access work over the muddy patches.

Cockshutt hill School are currently constructing a small section of Hazel corded pathway near the coppice 2011-12 area and this will continue on the 5th March.

Following this we will monitor and record the re-growth in the coppice area and hopefully witness an increase in the number of invertebrate food plants, it will be interesting to see what appears.

Following the CHP Friends meeting on 4th March, the Rangers and Friends will be recording the flowering species in the wildflower meadow and collecting seeds locally to enhance the meadow throughout the year.

Although not a brilliant profusion of colour last year, the meadow is nevertheless valuable for providing nectar food plants for bees and butterflies. I'll be asking local naturalists and wildlife recorders to keep an eye on the meadow and to report on plant and animal species.

Progress at the Plantation 
Following two further productive days at the plantation with Bournville College and a public work day, the cutting for this year is near completion.

Most of the understory has now been cleared, just a cover of dogwood and blackthorn to go and then a few selected trees to open the canopy and allow for crown development of the remaining standard trees; this to increase longevity of the standards, mainly oak and alder, and also to maximise light levels for ground flora.

Birds noticed this week - 
Great Tit
Blue Tit
GS Woodpecker
Green Woodpecker (heard)
C Crow

Karen, Pasang and Naima taking a well earned rest and, of course, a pose for camera. "watch the birdie". Now where did that saying come from?

No birds up that tree boys

Friday, 21 October 2011

RSPB Plantation

Woodland workday and consultation

On Saturday 29th October we are holding a consultation and workday event at the RSPB Woodland.

This will be an opportunity to see and discuss the work taking place on this 22 year old plantation.

So far we have had work parties from Bournville College and the Bridge Centre to coppice an area of woodland consisting mainly of Oak, Hazel and Blackthorn in a practice that will see a rejuvenation of the ground vegetation in spring-summer 2012.

Volunteers will receive training in tool use, health and safety and woodland management procedures and will be able to discuss plans for the rest of the plantation.

The event is between 10.30 am and 3.00 pm
Meeting at 10.30 at the Tea Rooms
Wear clothes and if you have any bring gloves and a packed lunch, I will bring the storm kettle to make tea.

Call the Rangers for more details on 0121 675 0937

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

During the past week two groups and a work experience student have been busy with the Rangers at the RSPB plantation, one of the groups from HSBC and one from the Bridge Centre in Moseley, both of whom will be there again this Thursday.

Work has begun at the top of the site, cutting back overgrown laurel and blackthorn and also along Spencer's hedge and more coppicing work continued to provide dead hedge habitat and a variety of other products.

Woodland work experience student Tommy gets to grips with 'snedding' using a 'southern counties' billhook

These photos show the current barrenness of the woodland floor, no ground cover at all, and this will change next spring as increased light levels encourage new ground growth. This particular willow shaded out a large part of the area. The willow has been pollarded rather than coppiced, thus adding a mid layer of new growth also to be revealed next spring.

There's light

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

The strength and energy of 16-21 year old men can be invaluable when considering the labour involved in the management of our woodland.

Half a day coppicing at the RSPB plantation, in fact it was 1.5 hours as we struggled to get going, followed by heavy rain which cut the day short, witnessed tumbling overgrown hazel and the development of a dead hedge, achieved by lads with 21" bowsaws.

Ten level I students were given woodland management guidance by four level II students, overseen by Rangers and College staff to provide means and method allowing important interaction between young men and the land.

The most important factor in all this is that these young men have a strength and vitality, whose recognition is long lost; some thrived, some were enthusiastic, some asked questions, some just got on with it, some messed about, one worked with his arm in a sling and barked orders when the College tutor was 'talked over' and all went away hungry and wet.

Their achievement is great, however, little recognised and mostly ignored.

They have now contributed to, and interacted with the RSPB plantation achieving much and hopefully they'll all be back in a couple of weeks, 4th October.

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

The RSPB woodland at Cannon Hill Park was planted in 1989 to mark the centenary of the
RSPB and the City of Birmingham

Further site details can be found in the Cannon Hill Park site conservation plan from 2008

Two trees within the woodland plantation predate the 1989 plantings, these being a 150+
year Oak and a 100 year old Sycamore, other than these all trees were either planted in
1989 or have developed from self sets since that date.

According to a report from 2008 the area is said to be approximately 5 hectares.

Canopy species includes stands of -
• Oak 10%
• Hazel 10%
• Ash 25%
• Scots Pine 10%
• Silver Birch 25%

Other significant canopy cover consists of -
• Aspen 5%
• Alder <5%
• Cherry <5%
• Hornbeam

Other species include -
• Lime
• Prunus spp. (Blackthorn, Plum) <5%
• Willow spp
• Wayfaring Tree
• Yew
• Larch
• Sycamore

• Spindle
• Rowan
• Apple

Re-growth and self set species include -
• Ash
• Hazel (from previous coppicing)
• Cherry
• Oak (nothing older than about 3 years)

Previous management according to Allan Watkins (Ranger Warden)
• Selected hazel cutting
• Selected Scots pine lifting
• Dead hedging
• Thinning

Understory species, woodland structure and accessibility -
The understory is sparse over much of the site creating open woodland with a couple of
dense bramble thickets in the centre and around the perimeter.
Previously coppiced Hazel stools provide some shrub layer but these are few and far
There is some oak succession in the Birch area in the north-east corner but nothing older
than three of fours years.
Ash regeneration is prolific on the northern side but again nothing more than about three
to four years growth.
Nettles are found to the north and grasses are found in some areas depending on canopy
type, grasses grow well in the Birch stand in the northeast corner and to some extent in
the ash plantation in the north.
A network of paths compartmentalise the site and seem to follow the boundaries of the
original planting stands with certain species dominating particular compartments.
Some paths are unused and overgrown due to wet conditions.
A dead hedge was created in memory of Spencer Reid, a Park Warden who died in 2008.
The hedge provides a valuable dead wood habitat and a number of frogs were found on a
Family Learning Day in august 2011.

Evaluation of diversity and species
Because of the network of pathways and lack of structured management to date the area
is of limited value to nesting woodland birds.
On previous visits during July and August flocks of mixed tits were seen in the canopy.
RSPB Woodland Plantation Management proposals for 2011-2012
Phase 1 Survey, 13th September 2011
Sunny glades and woodland edge to the east allow for grasses and flowers to flourish as
well as bramble and Speckled Wood butterflies were witnessed at the time of survey.
A flock of about six Jays were seen cavorting through the Ash canopy at the northern
A Green woodpecker was seen between woodland and allotments to the south
Two Spot Ladybird and Shield Bug spp seen on a Hornbeam.
Badger and Muntjac Deer are evident in the surrounding park and woodland
Grey squirrel was seen on the ground near the large Oak
The large Oak, south west of the woodland centre is the most significant tree and is
probably a remnant from a late 18th or early 19th century hedgerow.
A flowering plant, possibly Soapwort and probably a garden escape or introduction is
growing amongst the Birches in the south east corner.
Around a dozen Spindle trees, found along the pathway near Spencerʼs hedge, were in
flower and provide a valuable contribution to the woodland diversity.
Poor ground cover over much of the site is a result of closed canopy and shading.
There is plenty of character to the woodland as a whole with the species stands adding to
the diversity and creating a particular and varied atmosphere throughout. On the day of
the survey, for example, the Rangers were impressed by a green hue as the sun shone
through the Ash canopy in the north of the site.
The northern section is largely undisturbed in recent years because of the wet conditions
and this provides something of a sanctuary for fauna preferring little or no disturbance.
Much of the Hazel is overdue for cutting and therefore of limited value for products.
However a certain amount of Hazel has been identified for use as hedging stakes, hedging
binders and for wattled hurdles, and at the recent Cannon Hill Park heritage event
enquiries were made for a supply of Hazel rods for gardening purposes.
Further, enquiries are to be made with the adjacent allotment holders to see if any of the
materials could be of use to them.

The proposal for autumn/winter management 2011-2012 is to coppice a quarter acre hazel
stand near the southern edge of the site consisting of around 10-15 stools.
The cut materials will be used for the following -
• Hedging Stakes
RSPB Woodland Plantation Management proposals for 2011-2012
Phase 1 Survey, 13th September 2011
• Hedging Binders
• Wattling Rods
• Weaving Rods
• Dead hedging habitat
• Other
Survey carried out by Alf Dimmock and Allan Watkins (Birmingham Ranger Service)
Report made by Alf Dimmock; 13th September 2011