Friends of Dalby Forest

Volunteering in the Great Yorkshire Forest


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Sprucing up Staindale

 

This month’s work task saw us working at Staindale Lake. We were joined by members of the GoodGym running group who are a group of runners who “run to do good” via community work. They were racing at the Dalby Dash 10k race but offered their services for an hour before the race so they were put to work pruning the accessible trail around the lake. We greatly appreciate their help and hope they had a good run afterwards!

Regular Friends of Dalby welcomed new volunteer Judith F, newly arrived in the area,  and our work focused on the area around the bird feeding area. A thick humic soil had built up around the feeders and it was getting very muddy during the winter and made access difficult. As we discovered, a lot of this was simply a build-up over tarmac and so the water just had nowhere to go. Hopefully having clearing it back will make things easier. In addition we dug out a ditch behind the feeders to further help with drainage and the birds immediately sprung into action to get at all the newly uncovered worms!

We also moved the feeders that were hung in the trees (almost impossible to get at during the summer when the trees are in full leaf) and hung them on a newly installed arch and have made room for two new bird tables we’ve arranged to be made.

We have further plans for this area, not least to install a bench to enable more comfortable bird watching. Watch this space!

Thanks to Jeni for the pics!

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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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Birdsong in the forest

After a meeting in the forest this morning, I stopped by the bird feeders by the lake, which the Friends keep topped up. I just had to share the beautiful birdsong.

In 10 mins I saw Coal tits, a Woodpecker, Chaffinches, Great tits, a Robin, Blue tits, Dunnocks and a Blackbird.

 

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