Being There

Walmsley Unitarian Chapel 14/06/20 – 28/06/20

Our last normal task before lockdown was at Firwood Fold on 23rd March. Since then our volunteers have been busily doing nothing Zooming the whole day through, not to mention WhatsApp, Skype, and that quaint practice, telephoning. None of these are any substitute for being out in the open with the wind in your hair and the sun on your face, no substitute for being there. So, our first task after lockdown was Walmsley Unitarian Chapel.

Dactylorhiza species hybridise very easily, this is probably a spotted orchid hybrid.

We have been working at Walmsley Unitarian Chapel since 2010 and over that time we have turned the site, also known as Spring Meadow, from a swampy patch of willow carr into a wildlife wonderland, home to numerous species of dragonflies, amphibs, and orchids. However, like all things it needs looking after. So, over three weekends, between 14th and 28th June, three teams of socially distanced six tidied up the ponds, unblocked culverts and slashed the himalayan balsam to within an inch of its first node.

Pulling out excessive vegetation such as typha creates more open water for amphibians and dragonflies and stops the ponds succeeding to swamp then to dry land. Himalayan balsam is another species that displaces native flora, over the years we have knocked it back considerably but there is still a long way to go. The 28th was supposed to have been our big push against the balsam but rain (lots of rain) stopped play. What we did do you can see in the photo gallery further down the page.

Himalayan balsam is an invasive species brought to the UK by Victorians as an ornamental flowering plant.

Over the last few months many of our members have experience tragedies, illnesses and injuries, but despite the distances imposed by lockdown they have never had to endure their hardships alone, so a big thank you to all our members who helped out and gave their time to those in need. Thank you for being there.

To go with our new website there is a new gallery feature, clicking/tapping an image opens a lightbox where you can move through photos by swiping or using the arrows at the sides. Enjoy.

Hedge Wars 2020

Our 2020 Dr John Leather Memorial Hedgelaying Competition was held on 23rd February 2020 and saw us return to Blackleach Country Park, the last time we were here was in 2013. The competition is held in memory or Dr. John Leather, a retired Bolton GP and enthusiastic hedgelayer. Before Dr. John passed away in 2003 he was BCV’s hedge Jedi master, he taught us the ways of the pleach and billhook and how to be at one with the hedge.

The competition is intended to help bring new generations to the noble art of hedge laying. To help achieve this teams are usually made up of a novice and experienced hedgelayer, a master and an apprentice. This year we had 5 teams of 2 fighting it out with the dark side, by the end of the day 2 teams triumphed: the runners up were Steve Durbar and Neil Birtles and the winning team was Dave Moore and Anna Cocker. The teams win possession of the 2nd place prize, a kukri, similar to the one used by Dr. John, and the Fabled Silver Bill Hook of Blackleach for first place. Well done teams and may the pleach be with you.

Wildfest, I Think I Love You

In 2019 Bolton Conservation Volunteers, or BCV to our friends, organised Wildfest, a celebration of nature, wildlife and the work BCV has done over the years. Assisted by the Darcy Lever Gravel Pits Action Group, aka GPAG, the day was a ridiculous success and even had coverage in the Bolton News. Sitting in The Sweet Green Tavern after the day was done we decided that we would do it again and next time it would be even bigger. Planning started almost immediately with ideas on how to improve things and who else we could approach to be involved, as it turned out other groups were already lining up to be part of Wildfest 2019. So, we set the date 25th August 2019 bank holiday weekend, the place Moses Gate Country Park, and set the wild thing moving.

After weeks of rain we were blessed with the hottest August bank holiday on record and more stalls than you can shake a withy at. We had: Jane and Katrina at our welcome tent keeping the visitors moving through; Louise Bentley flying along with swift conservation; the Bolton-Bury Canal Society locked on with the public about their work; Paul and David from the RSPB scoping out the bird hide; Jayne Stott running rings around the dog training; Mike and the GPAG team made a splash with the pond dipping sessions and moth ID; Rick and Colin knocking together hurdles assisted by Barb and Trevor from Bolton Green Umbrella; Jo, Jaxon, Clayton and Floyd the ferret making dens in the woods; Sheena, Gill and Abigail creating flower filled willow crowns; and Caroline and Lynn making popcorn, pancakes and veggie hotdogs. And finally Tom did a great job filling in when people needed a break.

The free event was officially opened by long time BCV supporter Kath Martin, helped by son Phillip. The day’s format followed last year’s with visitors being provided with a map of the site. At each station they visited they got a sticker to put on the map and when the map was full they could claim free food at the food station.Throughout the day we had lots of positive comments from the public, how much they enjoyed it, how much the kids loved it, and what a fantastic job everyone was was doing, comments for which we are very grateful. Raising awareness about Bolton’s natural environment and the groups that care for it is what we aimed for and what we achieved.

Sitting in the Sweet Green Tavern afterwards, exhausted and worn out by the day, we had an idea: lets do it again next year… but bigger. Sadly 2020 brought Covid-19 which put an end to those plans… maybe 2021 will be different.

Welcome to the New Website

The BCV website has changed. Our previous site ran for 14 years but over time became harder and harder to maintain, so now we have something new. Unlike the old site this one is fully compatible across all devices, regular visitors will also notice some other changes. At the moment there are no photo galleries and many of the other pages are also missing, hopefully this will change over the coming months as we decide what to keep and what to compost. In the meantime task photos will appear on the Norman Newt’s blog along with write ups of each task and also other news items as they arise. There is also no contact form although contact details are listed on the sidebar, and finally the task page doesn’t have many tasks on it, this is due to the covid-19 pandemic, tasks are still being planned. Please see the Joining Tasks page and/or contact Rick for more info. This is also the last outing of Norman the Newt as our new logo is now in use. Norman will return for special occasions though.
As things are a bit bare I’ll be including some retrospective stories as I get better acquainted with the editing tools.