Category Archives: Ecology

Autumn 2015

As the days slip and the light changes, autumnal hues are starting to flush the trees in the woods. Birds which are summer migrants have moved on and native birds feed on berries and hips, making the most of this time of plenty.

At Chadkirk, as elsewhere, these glimpses of the connections between all things can bring a deep sense of pleasure and these delights are enjoyed by visitors, many of them strolling round Chadkirk daily, others visiting at weekends, some more occasional visitors, coming to the Chapel, Walled Garden, woodland walks and country park for some of the organised events.

Our calendar of events follows the rhythm of the seasons and reflects the community and the environment.

On Saturday 12th September we had our annual bird and bat box making event. This year drenching drizzle drove us inside. Snug in Chadkirk Chapel, visitors were ably assisted by John, who helped them to construct winter homes for bats. The nesting boxes for the birds will be ready when for small birds when spring arrives. This is an ideal opportunity for people young and old to learn about the life cycles of these animals from some-one who knows. Fascinating and fun.

Please be aware that this is our only bird and bat box day this year.

If you missed this year’s event, here’s a glimpse of some of the activity from recent years.

Bird and Bat Box making by the Chapel, Chadkirk. Photo: Artemisia

Bird and Bat Box making by the Chapel, Chadkirk.
Photo: Artemisia

The team of father and daughter finish their bat box       Photo: Artemisia

September’s here again…

Yesterday the team of gardening volunteers were at Chadkirk. A delightful few hours, in fine company, beautiful surroundings, fresh air and gentle sunshine.

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Pulling out brambles, weeding and pruning, gentle activity and time for a chat and a cuppa (and Pat’s home made biscuits). The first Saturday of every month is always a gardening afternoon at Chadkirk. The time spent is well rewarded, for this time and the gardening morning on the third Thursday of the month, are the times when the volunteers do plenty of good work so that the gardens at Chadkirk flourish.

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If you like pottering in the garden and would enjoy time in the gardens at Chadkirk, why not join us? Spend as much time as suits you, minutes or hours, on both or either of the gardening days each month. Our team is a mixed bunch. Some know more about gardening than others. Together we can usually decide if the plant is a weed or not. Just ask. It’s a team effort!

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This September one of the most beautiful features in the Walled Garden is the bed of annuals. It’s stunning. In Saturday’s sunshine, the glorious flowers attracted some of our honey bees from the nearby hives.

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In the gardens and meadows, woodlands and ponds, there is a rich variety of flora and fauna. The plants provide food for insects and the insects provide food for the birds and the bats. And if it’s birds and bats that you are interested in you may want to build your own bird or bat box. Or maybe both. If so, join us next weekend for our annual bird and bat box making afternoon.

Bird and Bat Box making with expert guidance from John Rowlands
Saturday 12th September 2015
1-30 – 4pm.

There is a small charge for materials.
Please bring your own hammer.
We’ll be outside the chapel when the weather’s fine.

Local democracy

Recent elections have seen a change in the political landscape both locally and nationally. Locally that means that the individual members of the Werneth Area Committee have changed.

For the recently elected councillors, they will be required to make decisions on a range of issues – including the future of Chadkirk Country Park.

The council officer responsible for gathering information and views about recent proposals is in the midst of a consultation process.

It has been decided that given the change in personnel on the committee, there is a need to ensure that councillors learn something of the landscape and views of different user groups so that they can evaluate the plans to rescind the proposal for a bridleway at Chadkirk.

As a result, I understand that the matter is unlikely to come before the first meeting of the Werneth Area Committee since the elections. This means that the matter will not be on the agenda for the meeting on Monday 8th June.

The Chair of the Friends of Chadkirk was informed of this in the last few days. At the time of going to press with this item, there is no information about a new date for the proposal to come before the committee. However, it remains true that elected representatives will be called upon to make a balanced decision in the interests of all local people and users of the Country Park and Estate, as well as the clearly defined conservation goals of Chadkirk.

Democracy in Stockport – latest on the bridleway

http://democracy.stockport.gov.uk/documents/s73091/Werneth%20Progress.pdf

It is anticipated that a report will be submitted to the meeting of the Werneth Area Committee on 8 June 2015.

Stockport’s website suggests that the report will be available before the meeting, perhaps a week before the report is considered by the Committee. It seems that the intention is that interested parties, keen to see how any new proposals affect them, will be able to view the report on-line on June 1st. This gives a week to consider and raise questions with local decision makers.

As in the previous meeting, questions can be submitted to the Werneth Area Committee Meeting about any new plans for a bridleway at Chadkirk.

Looking closely…

Early May 2015 has brought a mixed bag of weather. However for those fortunate enough to be able to visit Chadkirk on Bank Holiday Monday, there was plenty of pleasant sunshine and an opportunity to enjoy Chadkirk at a lovely time of the year.

Visitors to the Walled Garden

Visitors to the Walled Garden

In the Walled Garden, a family from Macclesfield were delighted to find the Chapel and Walled Gardens, hidden away within a short distance of a busy main road. Seats in the sun, in a beautiful sheltered place of tranquility gave them an ideal spot to sit and stare.

Time to sit and stare?

Time to sit and stare?

Like many of the visitors, they were surprised to learn that these beautiful gardens are largely maintained by volunteers.A small team of gardeners from the Friends of Chadkirk had been in the gardens on Saturday. For those in the know there were telltale signs of the work that they had done.

The Herb Beds, Walled Garden, Chadkirk

The Herb Beds, Walled Garden, Chadkirk

The herb beds had been weeded, and a seedbed prepared for the annual plants and flowers. In other areas of the garden, borders had been top dressed with compost and well-rotted manure so that plants can flourish, allowing the vibrant growth and colourful displays of flowers which give so much pleasure to visitors in the months ahead.

After some TLC from the Friends of Chadkirk volunteer gardening team.

After some TLC from the Friends of Chadkirk volunteer gardening team.

further evidence

further evidence

A discerning eye might also spot signs, not just of the care of the gardening team, but also of the cooperation between volunteers and the local authority. Not that you need look too hard…

evidence of cooperation

evidence of cooperation

These bags , clustered by the gate from the gardens into the lane, are just a temporary feature. Soon, someone from the local authority will pick them up and take the material away for re-cycling. In addition, employees of Solutions SK, will from time to time mow the lawns.

Together we create a special place. And for those with time to sit and stare, there’s also an opportunity to observe and enjoy some of the biodiversity which Chadkirk supports. One of the herb beds is frothing with forget-me-not flowers.These nourish and feed butterflies and honey bees.

Food for bees and butterflies

Food for bees and butterflies

Honey bee feeds on forget-me-not flower

Holly Blue?

Holly Blue?

Holly Blue feeding on forget-me-not flowers

Looking closely when you visit…what will you see?

March meeting

Many of the joys at Chadkirk come with watching the seasons unfold.
And many of the rewards of being a Friend of Chadkirk are in knowing you’ve done something to allow people to enjoy so much more here, throughout the year.

For gardening volunteers, there’s the joy of the gardening and then the satisfaction of contributing to this unique location’s special attractions. But also there’s the awareness that the garden brings joy to so many of the visitors. For others, they make an invaluable contribution when it comes to organising and taking part in the events we plan. The calendar of events at Chadkirk, in their way, celebrate the passing seasons too.

Our March meeting is the AGM. While it is a business like meeting, it is also cheery (this time there was chocolate cake too!) and it gives us a chance to see all that there is to celebrate at Chadkirk.

We started by thanking all those who had enjoyed some shelter from the weather a week ago. On the first day of spring (meteorologically speaking!), our St Chad’s Day celebration involved sharing cream scones in the chapel. Delicious and convivial. And another £50 raised towards the upkeep of Chadkirk. These funds will contribute to maintaining our gardens and enhancing the environment, as well as offering social events for visitors and the local community.

On Saturday 7th March, an improvement in the weather and a chance for our team of gardening volunteers to continue preparing the Walled Garden for a spring and summer of growth. The third Thursday of the month – on 19th March- volunteers will be continuing this work.

Other activities were discussed at the AGM as we considered the organisation of our Easter Egg Hunt and thought ahead to Well Dressing for the festival.

Friends of Chadkirk also have the opportunity to get involved in active conservation work. In May and July, there’s the possibility for Friends to learn more about our meadowlands here at Chadkirk. As part of the Coronation Meadows project, volunteers will be learning to identify plant species so that they can collect seeds and grow new plants. This will enable the benefits of the rich biodiversity of Chadkirk’s Coronation Meadow to be shared with other sites in the area.

Being able to make a difference at a local level, and knowing that others get pleasure from what you do, is deeply satisfying. It might not be the reason I signed up and joined the Friends group, yet it is a very real – if unforeseen- benefit.

A-Z of Chadkirk: B is for Biodiversity

Chadkirk is an attractive place to visit, whether you come for a daily walk, or enjoy family time, visit for the Festival, Bat and Bird Box making or one of the other events. Part of the pleasure of this unique place is intangible: the beauty of the landscape, the buildings, the walled garden, all contribute.

However the Country Park at Chadkirk has another key aspect. Conservation. It is a place where wildlife habitats are managed to enable flourishing biodiversity. It was set up , in part, as safe place for wildlife. Whereas hedges and meadows, ancient woodlands and ponds have been disappearing from the British landscape, here there is a strong intention to protect and enable wildlife to flourish, to manage and protect.

In recent decades Friends of Chadkirk, Stockport MBC, the Ranger Service and other environmental groups have made significant contributions. During that time, there have been many projects, big and small, that have enabled the biodiversity of Chadkirk to increase.

Each of these projects has played it’s part in making Chadkirk the special place that it is today. None more than the Coronation Meadow.

Meadows

The Coronation Meadows Project is led by Plantlife in partnership with The Wildlife Trusts and The Rare Breeds Survival Trust. By establishing a meadow in every county as a way to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the Queen’s Coronation, each meadow is a living breathing link from the past to our shared future.

Here’s how Plantlife describe the project:

97% of the UK’s wildflower meadows have been lost since the 1930s.

Inspired and initiated by HRH The Prince of Wales, the Coronation Meadows Project is:

Celebrating our surviving meadows – identifying a flagship Coronation Meadow for every county in the UK.

Creating new meadows by using the seed or green hay from these Coronation Meadows at receptor sites in the same county.

Increasing the area of this valuable habitat provides new homes for bees, butterflies and other pollinators and helps to secure our wild flower heritage for the next 60 years and beyond.

There is only one Coronation Meadow in Greater Manchester. It’s here. At Chadkirk. This 13 hectare site is a rare gem in an increasingly urban environment. With so many green spaces trampled or degraded because of a variety of pressures, this site is unique in the area.

Friends of Chadkirk have been involved in it’s growth and development. In 2015 volunteers will work closely with staff of Stockport MBC Ranger Service to collect seeds, so that plug plants can be grown and planted out in other locations.

Volunteers monitoring species richness in this part of Chadkirk have noted an increased diversity. They say:

The diversity of Coronation Meadow is growing year on year and in the past couple of years a large colony of Six-Spot Burnet moths has developed and plants such as Birdsfoot Trefoil have helped support Common Blue Butterflies.

In the autumn and winter months Coronation Meadow at Chadkirk provides winter grazing for cattle. The sight of a small herd of cattle grazing on meadow land is rare. A reminder of traditional links between wildlife and farming practices which allow rich biodiversity.

The three wildlife ponds in Coronation Meadow also support a large variety of aquatic wildlife including water beetles, dragon flies, frogs, toads and newts.

The successful management of the Ancient Woodland of Little Wood and Kirk Wood, the ponds and meadows at Chadkirk are testament to the careful and wise stewardship of a few which enables the many visitors to enjoy all this precious gem has to offer.