Friends of Dalby Forest

Volunteering in the Great Yorkshire Forest


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‘Seedhenge’ at Staindale

If you are visiting Staindale this Easter, then you will spot the new feeders and bespoke frame which have been installed at the bird feeding area – we are lovingly calling it Seedhenge!

Working to a vague idea from us, the frame was designed and then beautifully crafted by Nigel Watson from Wood With Heart just down the hill in Ebberston.

The Friends are not yet back to volunteering as we are awaiting new guidance from Forestry England, so the frame was installed by rangers earlier this week, with the fittings and feeders added today in a family bubble.

We hope birds like it as much as we do.


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Good to be back

This morning finally saw us return to the forest for a work task at the Enchanted Wood – the first task since February. The wind was gusting strongly first thing, so much so the rustling beech trees made it hard to hear my toolbox talk! We litter-picked, pruned, admired the fungi, built up some boggy paths with wood chip and rebuilt a section of wall with a stile.

It was definitely lovely to see some familiar faces after so long.

What has changed since the last time we met is that, for the foreseeable future, we will only have 6 people on our work tasks, tools are allocated for the duration of the task, not shared, and of course some tasks will not be possible if we are to maintain social distance – all of which make for interesting logistics for ranger and task leader.

It was something of a trial run this morning, but lovely to be back.

We’re not in a position to accept new volunteers just yet. I’d like to give all our existing volunteers a chance to return first but this is the first step towards opening up tasks again.

Like what we do? Please support our group – all our fundraising activities to keep us going have been severely affected by the pandemic. You can donate to the Friends of Dalby Forest via Paypal Giving or you can buy us a “coffee” (actually bird seed for the week!) http://ko-fi.com/dalbyfriends Thank you!


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September work task in the forest garden

Thank you to all the volunteers who came along to the work task this morning. There were only 6 of us but it felt like we achieved a lot.

We laid a membrane to suppress the weeds in the area behind the cafe at the courtyard (it’s very stony so that seemed the best way to kill off the weeds). We will work in this area next year as it is technically also part of the forest garden. We have lots of strawberries and currants to plant there.

In addition, we built a bug house (hotel?) with some pallets kindly donated by Mark from the maze . There are so many insects in the garden especially ladybirds and beetles at the moment, so we hope they enjoy their new accommodation!

 

 


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The Staindale lake feeding station

The Friends of Dalby Forest manage the Staindale lake feeding station and Lindsay Wardell takes on the bulk of the role . She recently became ill with a chronic pain condition and had to leave full-time work but this has given her time to come up to feed, study and enjoy the birds in this wonderful setting. Here is a little about what she does and what she sees there. 

I re- fill the feeders once or twice weekly with food which the Friends purchase and have delivered to my house where I can store the food and take just what I require each trip. I have 30 years’ knowledge and experience in all things nature especially birds and have been keeping a yearly diary of all species I record around the area including Dalby. My notebooks span 23 years so there is a lot of information on changes and species specific to Dalby in them and I apply this data whilst looking after the lakeside birds.

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Great tit, Staindale lake feeding station. Photo by Michael Hill

Over 2017, I’ve noted birds such as Great Spotted Woodpecker, Jay, Nuthatch and Siskin using the feeders alongside Marsh Tits and Finches, other members of the tit family, and also Goldcrest which was a first record for that area last year for me. I have also been providing surveys to the forest ecologist on plants and butterflies, other insects, and birds in areas of the forest including the lake. I have noted changes over the years in species that have moved in notably the Dabchick on the lake who have successfully bred in the last few years and increased in number, I’ve also noted many more Willow Warblers with evidence of breeding which seems to be helped by the land management around the lake, where leaving certain areas of grass to grow results in wildflowers such as Meadowsweet, providing rich insect life for the summer Warblers to feed on. Last summer I witnessed 12 Willow Warbler fledglings helping themselves to a bounty of insects from these meadow areas alongside Common and Lesser Whitethroats which are also now in abundance at the lake. In the autumn, I also noted 10 Bullfinches, 4 adults and 6 fledglings, around the lake area. It is even more pleasing to be able to give this information to walkers on occasion who ask me what I’m looking at. I love to share what I see with forest users if they ask and it hopefully encourages and sparks their interest to the great outdoors.

 

At the end of the year, I saw Wigeons stopping over on our lake too, a first for me in all the years I’ve been recording Dalby birds. This thrilled me and shows the importance of the site to wildlife. Recently a lone Heron and Cormorant have set up residence there too and can be seen on misty cold mornings; the former, standing on one leg, and the latter spreading his wings widely looking almost like a flying dinosaur rather than a bird!

I can see clearly how the lake area is helping our wildlife and by feeding the birds every week I can make sure they stay well cared for. It’s been a pleasure so far to help out and I hope to continue in this role for many years.

Thank you to the Friends for entrusting this role to me.

The forest environment can help health and recovery, and the peace and quiet of the forest can be great for all health conditions. We hope you too can come and enjoy the forest and watch the birds and find some proper relaxation too!


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How to create a wildlife-friendly garden

Some great tips from http://www.crocus.co.uk/features/_/articleid.972/ on how to encourage birds, creatures and insects into your garden, and the kind of garden features to incorporate.

The forest garden in the Lower Courtyard at Dalby where we have been working last Autumn has many of these features. Of course we are especially lucky because we have a built-in water feature flowing right alongside! Can’t wait to watch it grow back in the spring.

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The forest garden at the courtyard in Lower Dalby


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Nothing like a brisk walk in Dalby…

There is no work task this month but if anyone would like to join Peter and Hillary, they will be doing the Dalby Beck Yellow Trail this coming Sunday morning 18.1.15. Setting off from the main Visitor Centre at 10 am – just meet at the entrance. The walk is 3 miles long and there are initially some steep slopes but the second half of the walk is flat.

 

Dalby-Beck(c)  Pauline E. CC BY SA 2.0 http://www.geograph.org.uk/photo/2835091

Dalby-Beck(c) Pauline E. CC BY SA 2.0 http://www.geograph.org.uk/photo/2835091

Work tasks will resume next month on the third Sunday morning of each month.