Thursday, 17 December 2015

Planting Heathers

November 13th 2015
The Trustees asked if our members could help clear bracken that had been cut prior to the planting of heathers on the hill. Around 15 of our volunteers turned up to assist the Trustees ecologist and the clerk to the Trustees. Wheelbarrows raced up and down the hill all morning. At lunchtime everyone returned to the church hall for a well earned soup and a roll.

December 7th 2015
The Trustees put out another request for our volunteers to assist them -this time with spreading the heathers on the newly cleared slopes of the hill. Pitchforks at hand, our volunteers spent a morning working on this project. Once again the ecologist and the clerk to the Trustees were present guiding our members in the correct technique. The autumn tints on the hill made a wonderful backdrop for the activity. Next year we hope to see signs that the heather has started to return.

Following this the group has received a letter of thanks from the Trustees for all the hard work put in by our members. The activity has brought the two groups together and we hope to be able to assist the Trustees with further projects in the coming year.

Sunday, 13 December 2015

Further news from the year

13th June 2015
We planned a litter pick for this day- but in true British style there were awful downpours of rain. We felt we had to cancel the event but 15 people turned out before we were able to get the message round to everyone.  This included our newly appointed MP for the area - Amanda Milling who came prepared for yet another wet litter pick!

11th July 2015
This date proved dry for our rescheduled litter pick and we had a good turn out. One member spent several hours clearing broken glass. The paths were also trimmed back by our group, to allow ease of access. Overall the quantity of litter collected was less than on previous litter picks so the message seems to be getting through!

Mid Summer
Our new Facebook page was launched. This is being managed by Sian Brockhurst and we offer her our sincere thanks for taking this on. Look up Facebook Friends of Etchinghill. This is an open site so you don't need a Facebook account to view it and to read comments, although you would need an account to add any comments yourself.

24th September 2015
We held an additional meeting as a quiz night. This was as a result of a suggestion put to our committee to engage anyone who wanted to join us for a fun evening. We provided refreshments and tried to have a good mixture of questions to encourage people who do not normally attend quiz nights to come along. Those who did attend had an entertaining evening and we met some new people. We charged £1 per person and raised £20 which we donated to The Church of The Holy Spirit as they have supported our group.

26th September 2015
This was our last litter pick of the year and path clearance. The weather was good and we had enough volunteers to carry out the work. The kitchen services were manned by two of our volunteers Jean and Bridie, as Chris had a prior engagement that day - so they very kindly stepped in. All hands to the deck!

26th October 2015
This was our final meeting for this year and we had a speaker who talked about badgers. We heard about their lifestyles, social groups and habitats. They face many threats from humans 50,000 are killed on roads each year and they are sometimes treated cruelly in illegal badger baiting. Our speaker explained the conservation work that is done to help them relocate if their habitats are threatened by building work. The Badger group can also support people who have unwanted badgers prowling in their grounds. They can help the badgers move on to other areas where they are wanted.

Tuesday, 8 December 2015

Updates since the last postings on the website

30th October 2014
We had Dr Peter Coxhead from Sutton Park as our speaker. He drew many similarities between the habitats of the park and our hill. Peter explained how when land use changed, species disappeared. Peter said that although SSSI status enables species to be recorded it does not necessarily offer protection, however scheduled ancient monuments do have protection. Cattle grazing can help but invasive trees have to be cut down and woodlands need managing with regular coppicing to prevent birch from growing excessively tall. Peter said that it is difficult controlling invasive growth in areas of heathland and maintaining heathers. Dr Coxhead stressed the importance of preserving habitats and retaining biodiversity through actively managing areas with conservation. The Friends Of Sutton Park are a group of citizens who have encountered many obstacles but they continue trying to preserve the area.

21st February 2015
This was the first litter pick of the year. It was a rather cold Saturday which ended in a downpour of rain before the litter pickers returned to the church hall for their refreshments. The amount of litter on the hill has reduced significantly since our group started clearing the hill on a regular basis. The message is getting through that there are bins for rubbish and dog poo bags. We are always fortunate to have the support of local councillors at our events and Ray Jones has been on every litter pick since our group started, but on this occasion we were also supported by Amanda Milling who was the prospective Conservative candidate. She became soaked through with everyone else!

26th March 2015
Our meeting on this date was quite a hoot! We were fortunate enough to have the Owl Rescue Centre from Red Lion Farm, Haughton, Staffs. Andrew Campbell entertained the group. He was supported by a colleague and three rescue owls. They described the problems caused when people keep owls as pets. They discussed the different features of the owls and the ways they hunt. Members of the group were then invited to hold the owls on a gloved hand. Andrew used humour throughout his talk and tested what the group could remember at the end of the evening. One fact that he reminded us of is that the most common owl is the Teat - this is because every household has a teat-owl (teatowel!).
Geoff also announced at this meeting that the Trustees have been very positive and encouraging and that they said our group could clear the paths on the hill this year along with the litter picks.
Geoff also told the group that he had been to No.10 Downing Street along with other representatives of community volunteer groups in recognition of the work carried out by Friends Of Etching Hill.

14th May 2015
Our AGM was held and John Portman stood down from the committee. He was thanked for all the good work that he had done over the past few years. Phil Brockhurst agreed to replace John. The full list of committee is now- Geoff Brookes, Pam Owen, Phil Brockhurst, Don Heath, Mike Mottershead David Bowden, and Christine Travers Brookes.

28th May 2015
Dr Ian Stimpson gave us a very thorough and interesting talk on how the area of Etching Hill was formed over the last 570 million years through movement of continents and plate tectonics. The result for us has been an outcrop of Bromsgrove Sandstone that forms the hill. Land is constantly changing as continents crash into each other, volcanos erupt and temperatures change. Although this is a very slow process it forms the landscape we see today. Dr Stimpson described how the coal (from equatorial swamps) and pebbles (from the Budleighensis river) came to be present in Cannock Chase as well as informing us about the whole formation of The United Kingdom. Our country has moved northwards. One of the most intriguing facts was that Scotland was part of a different continent until two continents collided. Avalonia contained England and Wales and Laurentia contained Scotland. When they collided hills formed that became the highlands. This was an enjoyable and informative evening and created a lot of discussion!

More on the past years activities to follow.................