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The time of year

The Time of Year - April-May

The 'finest' time of year in fact - the all too brief period from the peep of a snowdrop to the wilting of daffodils - a period of yearning for the end of winter, the slight, but significant lengthening of the day, the Blackbird's early morning regale, a tentative suggestion of comfort and warmth, although frost, wind and rain give frequent reminder of the time of year, changeable weather conditions persist.
Highbury and bluebells
Then we think on to the dawn chorus, the first bat night, eyes on the ground, impatiently identifying the meadow plants, inspired by the bluebell displays and talk of bees, hoverflies and the strange  territorial behaviour of our garden and woodland birds.

Springing forward - May 12th - there's talk of drought, but today it rains, "much needed", the gardeners insist - It's raining in Spain too, as George and his school chums head there for a five day football feast. (I miss him already, for the routine daily process of parenthood is disrupted for now)

 A positive and optomistic time as nature predominates; paradoxically distracting us from society's perils, with wonderous daily discovery - highlighted for me so far with great views of nesting Treecreepers at Holders Woods, and yet uncompromising in its cruelty, with predators all around. We are all at the mercy of ill intent, disaster and personal strife.
Here I pay tribute to a family friend whose life ended on Bank Holiday Monday, at the age of 36, killed in a hit and run incident in Halesowen - 
RIP Benjamin Morse The Gunner
 Holders woodland
Spring never fails to impress or affect the animal kingdom, the impression is recorded by 60 million UK individuals, either in the primitive realm of the brain or in a variety of artistic impressions.

The greening

 Whether one realises or not, this changing time affects how we think and how we behave, how we cope and how we suffer.
But the greening continues today and it's important to recognise the 'shifting' and 'repositioning' - the reaffirmation.
 The Oaks seem to be well ahead of the game this year, some in bold leaf before the Ash has barely burst the first bud.

A pollarded Oak at Highbury

The interesteing mound in front of the pollard has formed following the deposition of cut branches around the base of the tree, thus protecting vegetation from the grass cutter's

 Cannon Hill Meadow

An early Wildlife Trust 'Eyes on the Ground' event revealed a 'Green Winged Orchid' (above)

Apple blossom

A 'million' natural settings are there for discovery and it is essential to young lives that daily exposure to nature is made possible, and becomes part of everyday life - sadly the school system generally doesn't allow for this.

'Wild discoveries' generate emotions with lifelong impact and aids resilience in later life.

A flower, an insect, a spider, a bird observed in its natural repose, should be daily encounters for all of us essentially but especially in early life.

Down To Earth at Holders

Family Learning
Highbury Park

Bridging the gap and reconnecting parents and children to earthy settings

Ribwort Plantain at Cannon Hill Meadows
with Knapweed adding dimension


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Highbury Park Friends January 2017 newsletter

Join Highbury Park Friends to get up to date information about this wonderful park - follow the link above for the latest newsletter.

There's so much going on already and this is set to increase as the Chamberlain Highbury Trust look to bring many new and exciting ideas to the Highbury estate and adjoining park land. Check out their website on the links below

Weekly and monthly activities incuding 'Woodland Wednesdays' with the Rangers and B&BCWT, supported by NIA (Nature Improvement Area) funding.

Woodland Play after school club, every Wednesday at the Orchard - Highbury Orchard Community Interest Company oversee this -

A visiting student from Virginia asks -

Q1 What do you think are the biggest benefits of teaching and using traditional woodland management techniques in city parks?
A1. The essence of a Ranger’s role is to engage the community at large with the aim of encouraging more people to use parks and green spaces. Therefore a range of themes, topics and activities are employed to meet the broad interests and diverse nature of the public, involving people of all ages, abilities, ethnicities etc. 
The ‘woodland’ theme seems to have universal appeal and is steeped in history, ecology, science, spirituality, mythology and culturally, much more.
So generally we can assume people want to learn something new, make something using natural resources and have an involvement in their local green space, so that a few basic skills, some knowledge and a morsel of understanding related to ecological principles allows people to feel good about themselves and enables them to share these good feelings, acquired skills and gained knowledge with…

Ecotones and Succession = TENSION

The term 'ecotone' cropped up this week as a Tree Officer colleague and I looked at Holders Woods in an exercise to describe the woodland structure, composition and current management.
The word ecotone was coined from a combination of eco(logy) plus -tone, from the Greek tonos or tension – in other words, a place where ecologies are in tension. (Wiki)

Ecotones are generally recognised for ecological richness and a good place to observe the 'tensions' and interactions between certain animals and plants.

A woodland edge for example is often regarded as the richest part of a woodland, especially if the edge is bordered by grassland meadow or water.

The Rea Valley in this regard is a wonderful mix of urban ecosystems and ecotones, and one of my favourite locations is the developing oak woodland at the edge of Holders Woods. Undoubtedly the result of acorn planting Jays, we find oaks ranging from year 1 to year 50, but with a majority of young trees around 10-20 years, sugge…