Thursday, 11 September 2014

Giving Nature a home at Greenacres

Busy morning at Greenacres
Saturday 6th September was  the RSPB’s Giving nature a home day at the 65 acre Greenacres woodland burial ground in Rainford, St Helens.
Following on from the success of previous RSPB led woodland explorer events, it gave us a further opportunity to raise awareness of this wonderful new woodland   burial ground and to work in partnership to help improve the site for nature and people and hopefully inspire future generations to help nature flourish. The main aim of our shared event was to show local children  some nature on their doorstep, and what they could continue to do at home to attract and help wildlife.
Despite the early rain  over a thirty intrepid explorers - children, their parents and Sam the dog  made it to  the site. RSPB staff volunteers  Katie, Helen and Jayne helped them make bird fat  cone feeders to take home,  search through leaf litter piles in search of small beasties and enter the day’s colouring competition . The children were introduced to Homes for nature that could be built or bought  i.e bird boxes , butterfly, bee and  insect houses, hedgehog and frog  homes, and  various bird  feeders.
Chris Tynan from RSPB Liverpool leading wildlife walk 
Chris from our group led two walks around the grounds identifying flora and fauna along the way. The children were kitted out with loaned binoculars, to assist them in spotting some of the wonderful bird species in the woods including more less well known birds such treecreepers, nuthatches, woodpeckers and long tailed tits.

What bugs that?!

Hardworking Keely and Richard from Greenacres led the children  with their magnifying glasses on a bug hunt in the woods,  and got them  busy tree bark rubbing.  Doing this meant the children had the  chance to earn the much coveted Greenacres woodland explorer badge. 

Back at the hall  we were well looked after by Greenacre’s  Angie who supplied us with the tea, coffee and jammie dodgers from the café hatch. Anna busy with burial ground visitor enquiries all morning  managed to join us later in the afternoon for chat about the site and to see what was going on.

Greenacres  was formally opened in April 2014 and is already the resting place of many souls. The ceremonial building is large modern wooden building that fits in with its surroundings, the chapel area  having  a cathedral high ceiling with large glass windows/doors  overlooking the rich flower meadow.

Ceremonial building

This building and the attached  car parking are situated between 2 woods, Emma and Grace woods, down in a natural dip the area has been landscaped with wild flower meadows  and specimen trees such as silver birch, rowan, and alder. There  are wide  paths, wide enough for a complimentary golf buggy, used to ferry prospective visitors.
The woodlands are mainly mature broadleaf trees including impressive oaks and sweet chestnuts, inside there are bluebell glades and an orchid walk.
A berry heavy well established mixed hawthorn and elder hedge  acts as a screen for the estates (Lord Derby owns the land) Emma wood cottage. Many small birds were flittering  through it and using it as jumping off point to the cottage’s bird feeders!  We observed the ‘ red listed’ tree sparrow( blackcaps,  chaffinch,  blue, great and coal tit and willow warblers. A bird table has been positioned next to the woodland boundary and 2 seed feeders are currently  by the car park, foragers  included robin, gt tit and a grey squirrel –after it had stopped raining! (*Evidence of Red Squirrels on site have been reported)
There are several ponds on site, one of which has a healthy population of fish; a Heron visitor can’t be far away!  Moorhen, shelduck and  breeding oystercatcher  were recorded this year by one of the ponds.
Other/Woodland birds noted at our event Sparrowhawk, jackdaw, jay, nuthatch, kestrels, wren, buzzards, wood pigeons, collared dove, robins, mistle thrush, and crows. Butterflies, whites, red admiral and speckled wood.  A large solitary rabbit was mooching around the back of the ceremonial building.
The weather wasn’t particularly kind on Saturday and many other birds, insects can be found on site, please, see the monthly Wildlife watch reports on the Greenacres website

Future plans working with the RSPB should include the supply of a barn owl platform for the barn (healthy owl pellet found by ceremonial building at event - full of little bones!) and tree sparrow boxes.

The site is open to the public to roam. As long you report to reception, be respectful and keep your dogs on a lead.

Go and a have a look around, autumn colours emerging.

On the bug hunt


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