As has been widely reported during the recent heatwaves, there has been a big increase in wildfires around the country, and unfortunately this has included the Rowley Hills. Last month, a large area of felled trees on Portway Hill at the end of St Brades Close caught fire. These trees had been left by contractors who felled them in 2021, and despite the risk (not to mention the right of way that had become blocked by the trees) had not returned to remove them. The contractors were acting on behalf of the owner of that parcel of land.
Fortunately the fire was brought quickly under control by the fire service before it could spread to the nearby houses. Had the fire spread to the fences along the back of the houses where the trees had been cut down and just left in situ, and got a hold, the consequences could have been much worse. Following the fire, contractors are chipping the felled trees so the area will be much safer in the future. The Friends of Rowley Hills will be able to use the chippings to spread along the paths later this year.
Although we’ve since had some wet weather, further warm, dry conditions are forecast over the next week so if you’re out and about in the Rowley Hills and see anything that looks like a fire risk, you can report it. It goes without saying, please don’t use barbecues in the hills or discard lit cigarette butts. Thankyou!
With lockdown restrictions easing, we’ve been lucky to be able to start holding events again on the hills. First up, here are a few photos from our dawn chorus walk last month when, although we had a good range of sightings, the conditions were not all that great for photography:
And here are many more photos from the Wildflower Society-funded identification event from this month, when conditions were a little more favourable for photography! We spotted many wildflowers and insects, with Flower Crab Spider and Lime Hawk-moth being new records for the site; the spider was only the 2nd record for Birmingham and the Black Country. This spider is spreading up from the south so be on the lookout for it in your area.
Here are a few recent photos from the Rowley Hills taken over the summer. Our Bee Orchids returned once again, and we had a couple of new and notable insect sightings – Black and Red Squashbug (Corizus hyoscyami) which has only been recorded once before in the Black Country, and Long-winged Conehead (Conocephalus fuscus), the first time this species has been recorded on the Rowley Hills. Both of these species are thought to be spreading northwards, probably due to climate change, so sightings are likely to increase in coming years.
Don’t forget we have our annual butterfly walk in a few weeks’ time on Saturday 30th June, 10:00am -12:00am approx. Join us and the Wildlife Trust for Birmingham & the Black Country for a guided walk around the Rowley Hills. The flowers on the hillside should just about be at their best by this time and if the day is sunny we will see many species of butterflies, including Marbled White; Portway Hill is one of this species’ hotspots in Birmingham and the Black Country. Wear sturdy footwear and ensure you are dressed appropriately for the forecast weather conditions. Meet on St Brades Close at the junction with Tower Road at 9:50am. See you there!
Do you have willow or poplar trees in your garden? If so, it’s worth searching for the fascinating caterpillars of the Puss Moth. They are frequent visitors to a local garden on the Rowley Hills where the residents have regularly studied their progress from eggs through to adult moths.