Notes from the Stiperstones: July 2017

Although the weather has broken recently and it is pouring with rain as I write this, generally it has been quite dry and warm. The insect life has been even better than I reported last year with lots of butterflies, moths and dragonflies on and around the hill. We have even been noticing dragon and damselflies in some of the pools that have been created by blocking some of the forestry drains at the recently felled Pennerley plantation.
The birds are obviously benefitting from the insect abundance and possibly from the mild winter. Stonechats fledged some time ago and their young are already well grown, and there seems to be significantly more tree pipits calling around the hill and in places where I have not heard them before. The tree pipit is very similar in looks to the meadow pipit although it is a sleeker bird and tends to be paler. However it is its superb song that picks it out. Both birds carry out a parachuting song flight, although the tree pipit tends to start and finish in a tree rather than on the ground. The tree pipits song is strong and loud with a long series of notes that end in three loud slow notes that sound like sweee-sweee-sweee – quite distinctive once you get your ear tuned in.
Well we did it! – and I must offer a huge thank you to all those that have so generously given donations for the purchase and restoration of Bergum Wood (although I have been corrected by the Shropshire Mines Trust, as they have told me that it should be Bergam Wood, as it was Bergam Mine). I have unfortunately been prevented from announcing anything until after the election, but can now tell you that we have reached and exceeded the purchase cost for the land, and the extra funding will go towards the restoration costs. A thank you must also go to Lara and Phil at the Stiperstones Inn for running a raffle to help raise funds. The land is now in Natural England ownership and we are hopefully looking at clearing the conifers in the late summer, early autumn, so there may be some temporary disruption when trees near to the roadside or footpath are taken down. We will then run an event in the autumn to collect acorns from our oak woodlands at Resting Hill. I am keen that any trees that are planted are not only native but are from the local area.
In order to raise funds for the running of the National Nature Reserve we are launching a number of products for sale, which will mostly be available through the Bog centre. To this end we are having a product launch on Sunday the 9th July 11am-3pm where there will be Hebridean rug making and needle felting demonstrations and kits to buy along with the artist who has designed the Stiperstones mugs. There might not be much wool on sale though as we have almost sold out, and are awaiting the next shearing. So do come along and have a cup of tea with us.
Other events coming up are the Whinberry Wander where we will be walking up from Snailbeach to learn about and pick the delightful whinberries followed by a cup of tea and a scone at the Blakemoorgate cottages 11.30-3.30 on 6 August (cost £4, book your place now), and Sticks and Stuff will be carrying out a mega-art activity session from the 3 – 6 August at Blakemoorgate, more details to follow. For more information you can contact us on 01743 792294 or, or look out for posters or see the Stiperstones NNR Facebook page.
Finally a quick plug for the curlew cam, a camera showing live footage of a curlew nest in the area. Spring watch on your doorstep and a must see!
Simon Cooter and the Natural England staff at Rigmore Oak

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