Sunday, 23 April 2017

Dawn over Moor Green 4.45 am on the 22nd April 2017

4.45 am looking east over Cannon Hill Park
A cool morning but not unpleasantly so, and dry. At precisely 5.00 am a north westerly breeze blows by adding some discomfort.

 5 of us wait at the gates, expecting more and thinking most have overslept - often the case with dawn chorus promises.

30 more eargerly awaiting souls are inside the gates - we meet up and early morning greetings are made.

'The Dawn' is a somewhat primitive time of day- and what a strange moment and place to meet, yet, although we mostly know each other, we are briefly strangers in the twilight - 
Sunrise by Sahira
 Dawn has no precise time, we figured, and is dependent on weather conditions; if the sky is full of dark clouds the daybreak may be thwarted for a while. 

By 5.15 am the day began to break, leading me to think that perhaps dawn is from the moment the light changes until Sunrise, which is predictable and today it was precisely 5.54 am
photo by Sahira
"We are here today to listen and then look"

The chattering continues and I don't wish to spoil their moment.

6.00 am at Centenary Woods (Carley Perry)

The Mistle Thrush is the first song on my list as I walk along the riverside, and a badger hovers across the path in quick succession. The legless form of the low lying badger is unmistakable, even in low light.

Eyes soon become accustomed to the dark and ears to the quiet.

The dawn chorus is mostly free from background city noise, but I realise that Sunday choruses are best with even less distant traffic. Saturday, perhaps more people are at work. A Sunday before a bank holiday is the prime time - therefore the International Dawn Chorus is held on the first Sunday in May. Indeed the 7th this year.

Check out the International Dawn Chorus Day web page with the following link -


International Dawn Chorus Day is the worldwide celebration of nature's daily miracle. 
The next International Dawn Chorus Day is 7th May 2017. 

Evening choruses likewise are polluted with the drone of distant traffic.

Today, Blackcaps and Chiffchaffs compete well with Wrens, Robins, Blackbirds and Thrushes.

7.00 am - time for breakfast in the pavilion. A good start to the day.

Thanks to Sahira Noor and Carley Perry for the photos.

Monday, 10 April 2017

Ten Acres Revisited- once again

The Ten Acres site is a historic backwater on the west bank of River Rea at Stirchley; a seemingly 'unloved' area with no immediate neighbouring human community, although, somewhat contradictory, a much loved site by those in the know.

In terms of wildlife, Ten Acres is a veritable haven, with much of the site receiving little in the way of footfall or disturbance - a single, unkempt and at times muddy path being the only option of traverse, with thorny blackthorn either side keeping walkers on track. Therefore there is little 'off the beaten track' exploitation.

East side of the River Rea
East bank
On the east side of the river we have another largely undisturbed swathe of land, containing grassland scrub and tall herbaceous vegetation, together with a number of planted fruit trees. Bullfinches thrive here, feeding on the early spring blossoms.

The site as a whole (east and west of river) is therefore rich in both plant and animal species, and a great asset to the neighbouring residents. The east side also contains the Rea Valley Cycle Route with many of the users passing by without a glance. There's not much scope here for loitering with the intent on wildlife, as attention is required on the speedy two wheel passers by. It might be that an 'off track' option for walkers would be desirable - just a thought. Management of the existing fruit trees together with the addition of other types has also been suggested - these ideas can be achieved with a rally call to volunteers and with little or no financial cost.

In my opinion, the site, presumably close to 10 acres to the west with similar to the east, is unique along the Rea Valley, having both heritage and wildlife appeal, with enough diversity of habitat to make it significant both locally and regionally. For much of its course the Rea is encroached upon right to the water's edge on one side or the other, either by buildings, other hard surfacing, pathways or mown grass, but here we have a substantial area of unmanaged floodplain, rich in riparian vegetation and little in the way of daily human impact.

Andy Slater of 'Eco Record', The Birmingham and Black Country Wildlife Trust's database, has recorded a few gems at Ten Acres and thanks to him we have the following images -
Flea Beetles (Andy Slater images)

A Bee Fly (Andy Slater)

Many invertebrate species thrive at Ten Acres

A variety of hoverflies at Ten Acres by Andy Slater

Looking downstream along the west bank
From west to east across the Rea Valley at Ten Acres we have a green span of around 150 metres at its widest.

Lady's smock

Looking downstream from Ten Acres footbridge

Butterflies of Ten Acres by Andy Slater

Sunday, 2 April 2017

Springing along in 2017

A Random mix of images from the Rea Valley, past and present - make of them what you will - there's not always a specific theme, other than -
  • the natural aspect of the area
  • changes over time
  • observation of small details
  • a world on our doorstep
  • discovery 
  • biodiversity
  • people 
  • together with a few urban gems, many of which will never get a mention - 

18th century River Rea near Digbeth- a big sweep on the river in those days rendered the land to the left vulnerable to flooding - 'Floodgate Street' is in that vicinity.
Ten Acres, Stirchley, Butterbur and Cow Parsley with a central sprig of Eucalyptus
Greater burnet on the banks of the Rea at Ten Acres
The guillotine lock at Lifford Lane
Coppice Regrowth at Moor Green
Mistletoe seems to be on the increase in the Rea Valley area, and we're encouraging people to send records to Eco Record
Spanish bluebells with Snowberry compliment between the CHP meadow and Queen Mother's plantation
Ten Acres Field (Late 19th Century)
Dog Violets at Queen Mother's Plantation, Cannon Hill
A path bordered by wild garlic
Five fruit trees for Selly Park Rec. x2 Apple, x2 Cherry, x1 Pear.
Thanks to the Selly Oak Community Wardens