Monday, 24 June 2013

Practical Session Report - June - Birthday Celebrations

It was a very special session for us this month as it marks the 15th anniversary of the project at St. Giles.

Here's a fab present from Leslie, who generously donated a grass collector to the project. It was certainly popular with Lucy and Angela taking turns to collect the grass cuttings using our new tool.

We had more helpers than usual as we welcomed some family members of our regulars. They were a great help and not only raked, but some helped Liz with the invertebrate sample, which yielded some great records including four spiders, two butterflies, a bumblebee, a beetle, and a woodlouse:

Daddy Long-legs - Pholcus phalangiodes 
Cucumber spider - Arianella curcurbitina with the specific epithet, curcubitina, relating to cucumber, as the spider has a bright green abdomen.
Crab spider - Xysticus cristatus 

Common Fox spider - Alopecosa pulverulenta 
Click beetle - Athous haemorrhoidalis, which as Liz told me is best known for the ability to throw itself in the air when it finds itself on its back.
Speckled Brown butterfly - Pararge aegeria
Green-veined White - Pieris napi 
Early Bumblebee - Bombum pratorum 
Pill Woodlouse - Armadillidium vulgare

The invertebrate sample in action.

The stars of the show this month? Us. 
It's wonderful how we all come together to keep this churchyard not only looking good, but also as a great habitat for wildlife.

Our youngest volunteer, Archie, and his mum made this tasty chocolate and butterfly cake.
And here we all are having a break and a chat as the candles on the cake are being lit.

A plant to watch in the coming months is this Tutsan, located near the Yew on the side wall area, which even at the bud stage looks good.

Monday, 3 June 2013

Cherishing Churchyards Week 2013

This year the Cherishing Churchyards Week is from Saturday 8th June to the Sunday 16th June 2013. It gives us time to reflect on what a churchyard means to us as individuals and how it can bring a community together.

A churchyard is a place we can show our love and respect for those that have passed on in many ways. One such way is to cherish the churchyard by making it a place of natural beauty.

Come along and join us on during our practical session on the 15th June between 9:30 and noon.

Along with our monthly tasks of mowing and raking, we hope to be checking the small mammal and invertebrate traps that will be set out by our coordinators, Ivan and Liz, the evening before.

As with all of our practical task sessions gloves and tools provided as, of course, are tea/coffee/soft drinks and biscuits. There's no cost, we just ask that you wear sensible clothes if you would like to help. Our location and address can be seen on the column to the right.

If you're not near St. Giles, but would like to take part you can check the Caring for God's Acre website for events near you.
If you'd like to take part, but need some ideas, click here. You can also register your event with Caring for God's Acre by filling out the form here.

In the session report for June, I hope to be writing all about the little mammals and invertebrates and plants that we've seen during this event. To have our posts sent directly, enter your email address in the box at the top right of our blog.

Saturday, 1 June 2013

The Parish Life - June

June is our birthday month and we shall be celebrating another year of successful management of the churchyard.  We are in the process of updating our plant and invertebrate species lists.  This session, plans are to carry out an insect survey to link in with the national Butterfly day, which takes place on 1st June.  Our practical day is 2 weeks after this event, on 15th June, so we are planning to record as wide a range of insect species as we can find, including any butterflies to add to the national survey.  One easy way to check for insects in trees and bushes is simply to place a white sheet under a plant and then shake the branches.  Pitfall traps can be set up to catch any ground-roaming invertebrates, but these must be checked every 24 hours to record and release any captured animals. Sometimes on arrival, you may find a very well-fed Ground beetle and some chewed up remains! We shall have a good selection of identification sheets and books to help with the recording.

Sue and Tim have been monitoring the plants as they emerge each month.  We planted several plant plugs last year and in particular, I hope to see Ox-Eye Daisies make an appearance.  These were once used as a cure for chest problems.  Red Campion, Herb Bennet and one of my favourite plants, Viper’s Bugloss, should all be in bloom. The biennial Bugloss has the most attractive purple and blue flowers.  Another ancient remedy was to use the seeds, boiled in milk and wine to help the flow of a mother’s milk!

Our birthday party will be a chance for a mid-year review of achievements so far, as well as a chance to sample some birthday cake and perhaps a bacon butty for those who like savouries.  As always, anyone interested in our project is very welcome to attend.  We shall be carrying out our usual maintenance tasks, as well as the above.  Tools and gloves, and cake with refreshments will be available.  Please come and join us to help celebrate our birthday!  The date for your diaries is Saturday 15th June, 9.30 a.m. to 12 noon.

Contributed by: Liz, Coordinator