Saturday, 23 April 2016

Spring - A time to Get Out and enjoy Badock's Wood

The very mixed weather continues with it being very cold today (FridayApril 22nd) and this afternoon it has started to rain but we have had some glorious days. Last Friday I had a very pleasant walk through the wood and stopped at the Triangle to gaze up at the tree tops. It was a very still evening and I noticed something quite high up gradually floating down. I had to be patient but it gently floated straight down in the still air and landed on my outstretched hand. Somehow I felt very fortunate. It was a feather, probably from a pigeon.

 This is the feather I caught and you can see why it is so light and floated in the air. Feathers have 3 main functions; flight, insulation and display. Feathers have many barbs which hold its shape, cause wind resistance and this allows flight. If you pick up a feather and tease the flat part apart then you will feel that it tries to hold together. This is the work of the barbs.The downy part traps air for insulation and buoyancy for water birds.  The colour of feathers, including non-visible UV light helps in display and to attract a mate. There are several websites explaining the structure of feathers but they are all very detailed. This short video is quite interesting, particularly the second part: video here. If you would like more information then see here.

  Here is a male Greenfinch which has beautifully coloured feather for display. The female is rather more subdued. This one was singing and posing on Thursday. Not entirely for my benefit I suspect. It's ironic that there has been a decline in population because of a disease, Trichomonosis,which prevents it feeding properly. It is a protozoan which affects the back of the bird's throat and gullet. Ironic because the normal song of the Greenfinch is often described as having a wheeze: listen here.

Trichomonosis can also affect other species of birds and if you would like to know more see here.
 The Water Sampling event on Sunday 17th April was a great success. About 3 dozen people dropped in to see what organisms were swimming around in the water. We found mayfly larvae as well as fresh water shrimp, leeches and hog lice. Although there would be greater variety if the water was less polluted, there are clearly enough here to help support the grey wagtails and to be an added extra to the diet of crows and other birds. Here you can see Harriet Alvis from Bristol Avon Rivers Trust explaining the different creatures.

 Of course the youngsters, even those with no boots, didn't need much encouragement to get into the water to have a go with the net for themselves. Some of them clearly have a career ahead of them in water conservation.
We were pleased to also see an adult Mayfly. They spend a very short time as a flying adult, sometimes just one day and then the rest of the year as immature forms under water.... trying to keep out of the way of the grey wagtails !!

This is the adult mayfly on Harriet's hand.
To see a video of the Mayfly life cycle watch this.
The Mayfly in this photo might well be the first of the two adult stages.
To find out more about BART and its work in waterway conservation see here. 
The Friends of Badock's Wood monitor the stream monthly for water creatures as an indicator of pollution and soon we expect to start monitoring Nitrate and Phosphate levels.

Spring is a good time to see birds in Badock's Wood. The birds are calling to mark territory, there is less foliage and the birds more visible than they will be in a few weeks time and they are also very busy building nests and then hunting for food for chicks. However some of them are still very elusive. This Green Woodpecker was right at the top of one of the tall trees at the Triangle. It was calling with that laugh that suggests it knows we are having trouble finding it. Listen here. You can also hear various other birds in the recording including a chiffchaff. The woodpecker in the photo is probably a female because it doesn't have any red in its black moustache.
It is very helpful to be able to recognise some birds from their call because then you know what particular birds are around and you know what to look for. This is a great help. The FOBW have organised a Bird Walk on Sunday May 1st starting at 10am and meeting at the main Doncaster Road entrance. I believe the emphasis will be on bird song and it should be interesting.
 As the warmer weather arrives we will see more butterflies. They are cold blooded and need warm temperatures to be able to fly. Optimum lower temperature is 82°F (about 28°C). They can fly in cooler weather but might need to 'shiver' their wings or bask in the sun. This Comma butterfly was flying around and enjoying the aroma of garlic but stopped to bask every so often. We did also see Orange Tip and Brimstone butterflies. On cooler days you are unlikely to see many. If you have some questions on Butterflies you might like to look here.
This is the path that goes from the Totem Pole at the Lake Road entrance up to the Mosaic. There are often birds in the brush at the bottom of this lane. The brambles create a good refuge for them. As well as blackcaps, dunnocks and other small birds, there were a pair of Mallards here in the stream last week. The male is beautifully coloured in the sun. It's a pity to think that a mattress -like article was dumped very close to this site and has been here for at least a couple of months. I'm pleased to say that it has been moved to where the council will remove it next week.
I took the photo on the right last week. It's a part of the wood that isn't easily seen from the path someone has cut through the fence and dumped the rubbish from a path through Clover Ground. Unfortunately it gets washed and blown down the bank into the stream.
The goods news is that we have a great group of FOBW volunteers who regularly give up their time to clear the wood so that we can all enjoy the beauty and also to make the wood a safer place for wildlife. Unfortunately it is almost certain that more rubbish will be dumped but the only answer is for volunteers to keep removing it.... over and over again.

This is the rubbish we collected this morning (Saturday 23rd). Three tyres were collected from the stream near the Triangle and a television from the site in the previous photo.
I think the council will collect on Monday so it won't be an eyesore for long. As well as the volunteers who came today there are others who regularly turn out but weren't able to make it this morning.
A big 'Thank you' to all of them and certainly the 2016 Green Volunteer Award for the work done by all the members of the FOBW was well deserved.

Queen Anne's Lace
There are many plants in the wood whose name I don't know. But they all add something to the overall picture and are just a pleasure to look at.
The mallard is the one I saw in the stream.

  • Don't forget the Bird Walk on May 1st. Details above.
  • You can click on any photos to enlarge them.
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  • For information about the Friends of Badock's Wood see FOBW.
  • To join the Litter group email
  • To join the Work Group and help with conservation work email

mike townsend

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