Saturday, 25 June 2016

Midsummer bioblitz at Stirchley Park

21st June 2016

Graffiti mural
Stirchley Park 1 hour bioblitz and a very pleasant evening 
Check out the following link for a recent story of the above graffiti mural
Wood pigeon
Pied Wagtail
Woody nightshade
White clover
Red Clover
Broadleaf plantain
Ribwort plantain
Creeping buttercup
Rye Grass
Yorkshire Fog
Grass sp x1
Grass sp x1
Sheperd’s purse
Common Lime x 2
Plane x 6
Oak x1
Sea Buckthorn x 3
Rose sp
Rose sp
Russian vine
Bumblebee sp
Fly sp
Ichneumon sp
Ladybird larvae sp
Ladybird larvae sp
11 spot Ladybird
22 spot ladybird
Green orb weaver spider

Friday, 10 June 2016


"In 2001, a research paper in the Journal of Applied Ecology found that 80 per cent of the hawthorn plants supplied by the UK horticultural trade in 1997 came from Germany or Hungary where plants are adapted to substantially different growing conditions."

Hawthorn Beetle 

Wednesday, 8 June 2016

Hedgerow info for Cannon Hill

The Hedgelayer or Hedge Plasher
Hedgelaying is a grand old autumn/winter practice for managing a hedge and is applicable for most broadleaf hedge types.

 The stem of each tree/shrub is partially cut, or 'pleached' near the base, this allows it to remain attached to the root  and laid to one side, prevented from grounding by the previous stem or a stake. The pleacher remains alive and new growth begins from the base the following spring
Hedge laying demonstration at Cannon Hill in 2010
The hedge today is broad, dense and tall, supporting and harbouring many animals and plants. 

Up to 2010 the hedge had been routinely shorn each year forming a gappy condition at the base of the stems with a layer of entangled growth at 3 feet. Fair to say not great, if not useless, as a habitat.

6 years of growth and it has developed into a decent hedgerow with around 40 species of plant  recorded in this time, many herbaceous plants have been found at the base as a result of reduced grass mowing.

The hedge peasant

Tuesday, 7 June 2016

Beetles we have found and what do we know?

`Lesser Stag Beetle found at the base of a Beech Tree at Holders Woods

Information from


The Lesser Stag Beetle may be smaller than its famous cousin, but it is still a relatively large beetle with large jaws. Adults can be found in woodland, parks and along hedgerows during the summer, often resting in the sun on tree trunks. The larvae depend on old trees and rotting wood to live in and feed on, and both adults and larvae can be found in the decaying wood of Ash, Beech and apple. The adults can be seen flying about at night, sometimes coming to outside lights. They mate and lay their eggs in a suitable piece of decaying wood.

How to identify

The Lesser Stag Beetle is a large beetle with a broad head and large jaws. It can be distinguished from the male Stag Beetle by its smaller mandibles and distinctively knobbed antennae, and from the small-jawed female Stag Beetle by its all-black wing cases.

Where to find it

Found across England and Wales.

Rhinoceros Beetle found in old rotting trunk at Holders Woods

Name: Sinodendron cylindricum
Months seen:  May to October

Habitat:  Woodlands, hedgerows and parks

Food:  Tree sap.  The larvae feed on rotting wood

Special features:  Rhinoceros Beetles have shiny blue-black bodies which are glossy and very pitted.  The males are easily recognised by the rhinoceros horn-like projection on their heads.  Female Rhinoceros Beetles have just a small bump (tubercle).  They are eqipped with wings and are able to fly.

Although mostly nocturnal, they can sometimes be found in the daytime sunning themselves on deciduous trees or rotting stumps.  They have a preference for Beech trees.

Rhinoceros Beetles are sometimes called 'Least Stag Beetles'.

Monday, 6 June 2016

The River

'Canalised and sunken, hard edged and sterile'
 Rea at Cannon Hill outside the MAC

At Balsall Heath
At Digbeth

An interesting blog featuring rivers of the UK

Sunday, 5 June 2016

Holders Woods survey June 2016

Great day in the woods

Hot sunny day, nicley shaded under the canopy of Beech and Oak

Bugs and beasts in the undergrowth

A better day couldn't have been wished for - 
Plenty of activity in the woods to keep us enthralled, especially Tree Creepers and Woodpeckers.

Perhaps the star of the day was the Rhinoceros Beetle.

"Looking forward to further wildlife days in the woods" -

The lofty canopy  - "the woodland cathedral"

Rhinoceros Beetle in old well rotted trunk at Holders Woods
High rise dead oak, riddled with nooks and crannies, hollows and cavities;
ideal for bats, birds and many other beasts of the woodland


Thursday, 2 June 2016

Highbury Heritage

Exciting prospects for Highbury - 

The recently formed Chamberlain Highbury Trust is planning an event for Heritage Week, September 11th 2016.

Check out their Facebook

Also National Heritage Week details can be found here  -

More details to follow but I've been planning my contribution along the lines of the following (work in progress)

A Heritage Walk
The Oaks of Highbury Park
(evoking the past)

A mapping walk ‘Between the Oaks’ of Highbury, linking the park today to the estate of Joseph Chamberlain and beyond to England in the reign of William III and Mary II.
  • The Oaks in Highbury are the most common of the mature trees on site
  • The oldest tree in the park is Oak (Circa 1693)
  • There is a plantation of Millennium Oaks at Highbury Park planted in 1999-2000
  • The Oak is often reported to support more species than any other UK tree
The walk features trees over a century old that were either in their prime during the early years of the 20th Century or beginning life as mature trees. 
Our oldest tree, ‘the veteran’ is estimated to be over 300 years old and has witnessed the ravages of wind, rain, ice, snow and possibly a lightening strike in the mid 2000’s, together with a range of temperatures anywhere between -20 to 30+ degrees.
There are 7 oaks (over 350 cm in girth) listed in the Highbury Park Veteran Tree Survey thus-
  • Tree No 4, area 3 = 365 cm; Approx 196 years, Circa 1820
  • Tree No 59, area 3 = 370 cm; Approx 197 years, Circa 1819
  • Tree No 74, area 3 =370 cm; Approx 197 years, Circa 1819
  • Tree No 90, area 3 = 427 cm; Approx 246 years, Circa 1770
  • Tree No 251, area 3 = 374 cm; Approx 207 years, Circa 1809
  • Tree No 294, area 4 = 515 cm; Approx 323 years, Circa 1693
  • Tree No 296, area 4 = 417 cm; Approx 235 years, Circa 1781
Joseph Chamberlain lived in Highbury from 1880, therefore all trees over 136 years were present before his residency and the development of the Highbury Estate.
  • 48 Oaks are listed in total; it is the most common of the mature tree species listed on site
  • 20 Oaks over 280cm girth are listed (280cm = approx 136 years)
  • 28 Oaks are less than 136 years (approx 280 cm girth) and therefore began life during or since Chamberlain’s residency at Highbury.
  • The smallest Oak in the survey is 192 cm in girth (approx 90 years old)
  • The largest Oak is 515 cm girth (approx 323 years)
  • 8 Oaks are less than 230 cm girth
A 100 year old Oak growing in open park conditions is around 230-250 cm in girth.
192 cm = 1 Oak
193 - 229 cm = 7 Oaks (>90 years)
230-250 cm = 7 Oaks (>100 years)
251 - 300  cm = 9 Oaks (>115 years)
301 - 350 cm = 13 Oaks (>143 years)
351 - 400 cm = 4 Oaks (>177 years)
> 401 cm = 2 Oaks (>216 years)

> 500 cm = 1 Oak (>310 years)

Ok there are 4 missing!

Check out the new Highbury Park Friends website, featuring 2007 tree survey data

The Highbury Veteran (Circa 1693)

If you want a thorough account of Highbury Heritage refer to these  - 

 These documents can be viewed along with other excellent and informative resources on the Highbury Friends website - see link above