BCV News Snippets

Updated 12/04/21

Well we’re back at work again with our recent tasks at Firwood, but there have been a few other activities that you might not know about.

Blackleach Hibernaculum – we’ve finally got a digger in to finish the ponds and the hibernaculum. See the Blackleach Hibernaculum post for more info.

John Franklin – The Wildlife trust has created a memorial woodland to John at Seven Acres. See the John Franklin post for words and pictures.

Hip Dude – Rick is scheduled for a second hip replacement (sorry no pictures) in a few weeks, but tasks will continue with guest task leaders taking up the whip. Best wishes to Rick from everyone.

Firwood First

Firwood Fold 4th April 2021

After months of nothing but Zoom meetings and virtual conservation we’ve unboxed our voluntreers and put them back in the real world: wellies, mud, dirt, and aching limbs, happy days are here again.

Our first post-lockdown task of 2021 is in the same place as the last task before the first lockdown of 2020, Firwood Fold. We’re still limiting our numbers on task and keeping everything clean and safe, but in the coming months we may be able get a bit bigger if all goes well.

So, here we are, it’s the beginning of spring, and also Easter weekend, a time of rebirth and new beginnings and in keeping with that theme our first task was to clear away a year’s growth of gnarly bramble and to plant up some the hedge with some hazel whips to grow and thrive. And Easter wouldn’t be Easter without the Great BCV Egg Hunt, and as last year we didn’t get an Easter many thanks to Jane for picking up the goodies.

Hedges are great, they create wildlife corridors for all kinds of creatures to travel along, and also habitat for nesting birds. It’s estimated that a million miles of hedgerow has been lost since the 1950s, today’s little stretch might not fill that gap but a journey of a million miles begins with a single step, so we’re happy to keep on stepping up for as long as it takes.

Our next task will be at Firwood again and we will be doing some pathwork, words and pictures will appear right here after we’ve been there.

Blackleach Hibernaculum

Blackleach Country Park 29th November and 27th December 2020

This task falls under the category of pond work even though there was no pond to work on. Instead we were both clearing an area to create a pond and building a hibernaculum. A hibernaculum is a structure in which amphibians can safely hibernate. The word comes from the Latin phrase meaning a winter camp, originally used by Roman soldiers but now the word has been re-purposed for conservation.

This particular hibernaculum is made from a linear habitat pile made from brash with logs at either end. Ultimately the structure will be covered in yew branches (removed from a nearby hedge where it was causing problems), and finally covered in the soil that will be dug out to create the ponds.

Great Crested Newt
Great Crested Newt

29/11/20 – Today’s work involved our chainsaw operator cutting down some big old willow trees before the rest of the volunteers arrived. By mid-morning our chainsaw guy had finished work and left, leaving the site open for the safe six to come in and begin their work. This was mostly cutting up the brash for the habitat pile and stacking the logs for the hibernaculum’s entrance structure. The gaps between the logs will let the amphibians in but keep everything else out.

27/12/20 – Another team returned today to finish off moving the pile of brash and covering the the structure in yew branches. The structure had been widened a little to accommodate the remaining brash, well done Clayton.

10/04/21 – Finally, after several months, we were able to get a digger on to the site to dig out the figure 8 ponds and cover the hibernaculum with a layer of soil. This will both protect the amphibians from disturbance during hibernation and also protect the hibernaculum from vandals. So, job done. Photo of the the completed work supplied by Richard Marshall, the hibernaculum can be seen in the the final photo just next to the trees.

National Tree Week

Longsight Park, Bolton, 6th December 2020

The Tree Council Logo

The Tree Council first established National Tree Week in March 1975 to support national replanting of trees after the outbreak of Dutch Elm disease. Each year over 250,000 people join in and plant trees across the country. National Tree Week is the UK’s largest tree celebration, annually launching the start of the winter planting season.

This year BCV has gotten involved with an event at Longsight Park, Bolton. Kids of all ages took part and planted over 300 trees in a neglected corner of the park. Using the tried and tested ‘T’ cut planting technique a mix of field maple, silver birch and sessile oak were planted along pre-prepared lanes. The trees were then protected using a first for us, cardboard tree shelters. The shelter seem a lot more durable that you’d expect and will protect the trees from grazing by deer and short-tailed field voles.

All photos were taken with parents’ permission. Family groups arrived at pre-arranged times to maintain social distancing and Tools were sanitised between uses. Thanks to T&C for organising and all the families for participating. Don’t forget to check Norman’s Christmas Cheer after viewing the photos, no captions this time, the photos speak for themselves. Happy Tree Week.

John Franklin

December 17th 2020

No year should end with sad news but this year continues to take more than it gives.

Our friend John Franklin has passed away due to covid complications.

John wasn’t just a volunteer, he was a shoulder anyone could lean on. You didn’t even need to ask, he’d just be there ready to listen to any problem you had. He’d encourage and support, and not judge. You couldn’t know John and not like him, John found many friends in BCV.

He volunteered not only with BCV but also The Wildlife Trust, and the Trust’s Men in Sheds group, a group that helps isolated men find a place and a purpose in the community. John’s ability to connect with people helped these lost individuals open up and find themselves, he probably saved many men from lives of misery and despair with just a few simple words.

John was someone whose friendship and humanity should be aspired to by everyone. His loss is a tragedy for his family, friends, the community and all who knew him. Love and condolences to John’s family, we are all thinking of you.

John’s funeral was on 7th January, at 12:00 noon at the west chapel, Overdale Cemetery. Only a limited number of people was allowed to attend, 10 family and 9 from the volunteer groups John was part of.

The family has asked for donations to be made to the British Lung Foundation in John’s memory, if that is something you would like to do.

11/04/21 – Planting John’s Orchard
As a mark of remembrance the Wildlife Trust decided to dedicate part of Seven Acres Country Park to John Franklin. The site was one of one’s favourite parts of the Country Park and he would often visit it with his wife, Evelyn.

Eighty trees, including hornbeam and birch, and various fruit trees, were planted across 2 days by members of John’s family and members of the various groups John was a part of, including BCV. There are also plans to install a bench at a later date. Photos have been added below along with photos of John working with BCV.

Many thanks to everyone who has left comments below.

If I Had A Hammer

St. Michael’s School, Green Lane, Bolton 15th November 2020

It has been announced that a new GCSE in natural history is to be launched in 2022. Brilliant news, but one commentator claimed that it kids would choose it as an easy option as all it would involve would be going out and walking around fields. They need a proper science like geography. Hmmm…..

Any GSCE that would need to cover, at the very least, biology, ecology, geology, geography and human impacts on the environment is not an easy option, it is a multi-disciplinary science. Any one who has done an Environmental Science degree will tell you just how complex natural environments and our relationship with them are. So, thumbs up to the kids who will take up this challenge for a better planet. Having said that, many schools in Bolton have already embraced nature within their curriculum.

St Michael's School 2001
St Michael’s School 2001
St Michael's School 2014
St Michael’s School 2014

St Michael’s School, Green Lane, Bolton first started to develop their outdoor classroom before the term existed, in those days they were just called school gardens. In 1990 the school asked the newly formed Bolton Wildlife Project for help with designs and costings to improve their grounds. In 2000 extensive boardwalks and ponds were installed in joint tasks by The Wildlife Trust and Bolton Conservation Volunteers. BCV returned in 2014 to restore the pond and some of the boardwalks. In 2016 the school won a Platinum Green Tree School Award from the Woodland Trust after pupils planted hundreds of trees throughout the grounds. Which brings us to November 2020 and BCV have returned again to do a bit of a tidy up.

Over the course of the lockdowns outdoor classrooms have suffered from lack of maintenance. On today’s task one of the boardwalks had netting nailed into place to prevent slipping on the wet and slippery wood, and the pond was dredged of leaves. Part of the boardwalk was so unsafe it needed to be replaced, but that’s for another time. The biggest problem on today’s task was working in such a confined area, everybody who could wear a mask wore one, with exceptions on medical grounds. Still, the job got done and there’s plenty more left to do here and at other schools.