Wildlife Projects back in My Patch!
Projects back in my patch have been a little lacking of late. With lots happening at Yew View and other work commitments, my projects have been quite down the pile of things to do! I am also busy with a very exciting project that I hope to be able to share in the next 6 months or so. It is taking up quite a lot of my time and is one of the most exciting challenges I have been involved in! More about that in the coming year or so!
Whenever I am working from home and at weekends, I walk my dogs early in the morning, usually the same route that I can walk from my front door. This walk includes an area that we have always called ‘The Mogs’. Its correct name is Pipe Green and this extract from the website explains how and why this special piece of ground has been protected and preserved….
‘Pipe Green is an area of meadowland that is today enjoyed by many Lichfield residents. Since medieval times, it has been used for animal grazing and as a result, is one on the few remaining examples of unimproved meadowland within Staffordshire. Today it is managed under a Higher Level Stewardship scheme to maintain this rare habitat.
Many of the visitors to Pipe Green enjoy the tranquility of the Green and the unspoilt views to the cathedral; a perspective that must have hardly changed since medieval times. What maybe less obvious to visitors, is the variety of ecological habitats that exist on the Green, which support a wealth of plants, birds as well as invertebrates and fungi. This has led to Pipe Green being registered as a Site of Biological Importance (SBI).
Pipe Green also has a fascinating history. We are lucky that detailed records concerning the Green have been kept since 1793 (when the Pipe Green Trust was established). Through these we are able to gain an insight into some of Lichfield’s social and economic history.
The early history of Pipe Green is not well documented. It is inferred, from 18th and 19th century records, that the residents of Beacon Street acquired, possibly as early as medieval times, 37 acres of land, known as Pipe Green. The land was used for the poor inhabitants (widows) of Bacon (Beacon) Street to graze the land as pasture for their geese and livestock. The land was marshy with osier beds and Leomansley Brook ran across the Green. To this day, even after extensive draining, Pipe Green is often referred to as “the Mogs” (marshy land).
Over time, the grazing rights were abused and in 1793 a legal document was drawn up, in which the Pipe Green Trust was formed. Membership to the Pipe Green Trust was restricted to householders of Beacon Street. The Pipe Green Trust controlled access to the Green: it was closed for grazing between February and May each year, no person was allowed to pasture more than 2 head of cattle and a fee of 3s 6d was charged per animal per annum. Half of this money was used for improving the Green and the other half was given to the poor (widows) of Beacon Street as a distribution at Christmas. A constitution was drawn up and a committee was appointed. A Pinner was appointed to round up stray animals and an Inspector ensured that only householders who had paid their subscription, were allowed to graze their cattle. The original document resides in the records section of Lichfield Library.’
Visiting an area regularly means you get to know it quite well. From reed buntings, green woodpeckers, buzzards and jays, I see many birds here on my daily walks, but the early morning views of 2 kingfishers on a small brook running through the site, have been a recent highlight! The area is covered in wild flowers in early spring, before the cattle arrive and, at this time of year, the fungi start to appear both on the grassland and in the local Leomansley Woods. I took these shots on my iPhone this week!
I often post images from my morning walks and I feel privileged that an area like this has been preserved for so many to enjoy.
Back at home, there are lots of things I want to work on over the next few months. Firstly, my live stream feeder cams needed an update. With Autumn here, I start to ramp up my feeding and I get lots of visitors. My hub cameras are usually over the lane, but with an unstable bank, filling these feeders was becoming increasingly dangerous and I didn’t really want to fall the 12 ft down onto the lane. I moved this feeding station into the garden and hung three feeders in this new location. Within a few minutes, the birds were on it. You can watch this camera live on my website and I hope we get some great visitors this season!
The next feeding station was to extend a very popular one outside my upstairs office window. The advantage of this feeding station is that it is easy for birds to access from the nearby hedge and also the squirrels are unable to get to it! I decided to try to create a set up that would support a camera, so I could live stream it this year.
Using a range of materials, I wanted to create something that would be mounted on the wall, but it needed an arm on which to mount the camera, which is pre-focused at about 40cm.
After a lot of fiddling, we managed to mount the whole system up on the outside of the house. It will need some adjustment and I am going to make a dark background to improve the camera image. The white render on my house is a little bright when the sun shines. The camera image is looking good and the dunnock, a blue tit and a collared dove were on it this afternoon. This camera is also live streaming on my website. It will be good to see how many different species we can record this winter!
The weekend was over all too quickly, as usual! Other projects over the next month or so will be updating the cameras in my tawny boxes as I am hoping the tawny that nested unsuccessfully in there early in the year will have another go in 2017!