Tag Archives: West Midlands

Some sightings from this year

Here’s a bumper crop of interesting sightings from the Rowley Hills over the summer and autumn this year!

Andrew Cook photographed this Hummingbird Hawk-moth (Macroglossum stellatarum) on 20 June while he was doing a butterfly survey.

This Pyramidal Orchid (Anacamptis pyramidalis) was discovered on Portway Hill by Andrew Cook on 24 June. It’s the first record of this orchid at this site, and only the 10th record in the whole of Birmingham and the Black Country. A fantastic record! Photograph by Mike Poulton.

On the same day, this Bee Orchid (Ophrys apifera) was also photographed by Andrew Cook. One or two Bee Orchids usually appear somewhere on Portway Hill every year, but they are unpredictable!

A Buff-tip moth (Phalera bucephala) caterpillar photographed on 12 August by Mike Poulton.

On 2 September, 8 hibernating Herald Moths (Scoliopteryx libatrix) were found and photographed by Mike Poulton in an outbuilding in the Portway Hill area. This is another new record for the site.

On 10 September a local dog walker reported to the Wildlife Trust volunteers working on the hillside that he’d just seen a huge Elephant Hawk-moth (Deilephila elpenor) caterpillar walking across the path in front of him. We didn’t manage to find and photograph it, but here is a photo taken by Mike Poulton of the moth that the caterpillar would metamorphose into!

This Parasol Mushroom (Macrolepiota procera) was photographed on Portway Hill by Mike Poulton on 13 September.

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FORH at Top Church, Dudley Eco Fair this Saturday!

This Saturday (1st October), Top Church in Dudley are celebrating becoming an EcoChurch by hosting an Eco Fair to mark Great Big Green Week and the Season of Creation. The Friends of Rowley Hills will have a stall at the fair where we’ll be giving out copies of our new trail guide and chatting about the wonderful Rowley Hills to anyone who is interested!

The Eco Fair will also feature:

  • Eco-friendly, gifts and crafts – made from recycled, repurposed, or sustainable materials – including from Top Church!
  • Yummy vegan, locally made goodies.
  • Guerrilla gardening in the church yard.
  • Activities for children – crafts and face painting.
  • A film screening.
  • Information from local organisations promoting wildlife and sustainable living.

Hope to see some of you there!

New Rowley Hills walking trail leaflet published, plus fantastic paintings from local artist!

A new walking trail leaflet has recently been published, detailing some of the fascinating and intertwined geology and history of the Rowley Hills area. Copies of the leaflet are available from local libraries, Bumble Hole Visitors Centre, Lion Farm Action Centre, Dudley Museum and Archives and more. You can also download and print a copy at home – be aware the whole leaflet is A3 sized. The leaflet is a joint venture between the Black Country Geological Society, Friends of Rowley Hills, Sandwell Council and the Black Country Global Geopark, and has been made possible thanks to funding from Grace Mary to Lion Farm Big Local.

We’ve also recently been shown these beautiful paintings by a local artist, Tracey F, of the newly opened up section of Church Walk and a Rowley Church winter scene. We hope to see some more of Tracey’s work soon, it’s wonderful to see our local area depicted with such a good eye!

Narrow miss on Portway Hill

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!

Some recent sightings

Here are a few photos of some recent sightings on the Rowley Hills – a superb male Sparrowhawk photographed by Andrew Cook on his garden fence, a Ring Ouzel on a migratory stop-off en route to his breeding grounds also photographed by Andrew (from his house!!); and a Tawny Mining Bee and newly emerged male Orange Tip butterfly, both photographed by Mike Poulton.

2022 volunteer dates for your diary

Volunteer days with the Wildlife Trust for Birmingham and the Black Country start again in April. If you would like to take part, meet new people, make new friends, get fit, and help to maintain this fantastic wildlife site here on your doorstep, feel free to come along. We meet just inside St Brades Close, off Tower Road at 10:00am. All volunteer days for 2022 are listed below and on our Events page.

Conservation volunteer day, Portway Hill, Friday 22nd April 2022, 10:00am – 3:00pm. Join the Wildlife Trust for Birmingham & the Black Country at Portway Hill for a fun day out meeting new people, helping the environment, and learning new skills. Meet on St Brades Close; ensure you are dressed appropriately for the forecast weather conditions, and wear sturdy footwear. No need to book, just turn up!

Conservation volunteer day, Portway Hill, Saturday 14th May 2022, 10:00am – 3:00pm. Join the Wildlife Trust for Birmingham & the Black Country at Portway Hill for a fun day out meeting new people, helping the environment, and learning new skills. Meet on St Brades Close; ensure you are dressed appropriately for the forecast weather conditions, and wear sturdy footwear. No need to book, just turn up!

Conservation volunteer day, Portway Hill, Friday 27th May 2022, 10:00am – 3:00pm. Join the Wildlife Trust for Birmingham & the Black Country at Portway Hill for a fun day out meeting new people, helping the environment, and learning new skills. Meet on St Brades Close; ensure you are dressed appropriately for the forecast weather conditions, and wear sturdy footwear. No need to book, just turn up!

Conservation volunteer day, Portway Hill, Friday 24th June 2022, 10:00am – 3:00pm. Join the Wildlife Trust for Birmingham & the Black Country at Portway Hill for a fun day out meeting new people, helping the environment, and learning new skills. Meet on St Brades Close; ensure you are dressed appropriately for the forecast weather conditions, and wear sturdy footwear. No need to book, just turn up!

Conservation volunteer day, Portway Hill, Saturday 9th July 2022, 10:00am – 3:00pm. Join the Wildlife Trust for Birmingham & the Black Country at Portway Hill for a fun day out meeting new people, helping the environment, and learning new skills. Meet on St Brades Close; ensure you are dressed appropriately for the forecast weather conditions, and wear sturdy footwear. No need to book, just turn up!

Conservation volunteer day, Portway Hill, Friday 22nd July 2022, 10:00am – 3:00pm. Join the Wildlife Trust for Birmingham & the Black Country at Portway Hill for a fun day out meeting new people, helping the environment, and learning new skills. Meet on St Brades Close; ensure you are dressed appropriately for the forecast weather conditions, and wear sturdy footwear. No need to book, just turn up!

Conservation volunteer day, Portway Hill, Friday 26th August 2022, 10:00am – 3:00pm. Join the Wildlife Trust for Birmingham & the Black Country at Portway Hill for a fun day out meeting new people, helping the environment, and learning new skills. Meet on St Brades Close; ensure you are dressed appropriately for the forecast weather conditions, and wear sturdy footwear. No need to book, just turn up!

Conservation volunteer day, Portway Hill, Saturday 10th September 2022, 10:00am – 3:00pm. Join the Wildlife Trust for Birmingham & the Black Country at Portway Hill for a fun day out meeting new people, helping the environment, and learning new skills. Meet on St Brades Close; ensure you are dressed appropriately for the forecast weather conditions, and wear sturdy footwear. No need to book, just turn up!

Conservation volunteer day, Portway Hill, Friday 23rd September 2022, 10:00am – 3:00pm. Join the Wildlife Trust for Birmingham & the Black Country at Portway Hill for a fun day out meeting new people, helping the environment, and learning new skills. Meet on St Brades Close; ensure you are dressed appropriately for the forecast weather conditions, and wear sturdy footwear. No need to book, just turn up!

Conservation volunteer day, Portway Hill, Friday 28th October 2022, 10:00am – 3:00pm. Join the Wildlife Trust for Birmingham & the Black Country at Portway Hill for a fun day out meeting new people, helping the environment, and learning new skills. Meet on St Brades Close; ensure you are dressed appropriately for the forecast weather conditions, and wear sturdy footwear. No need to book, just turn up!

Conservation volunteer day, Portway Hill, Saturday 12th November 2022, 10:00am – 3:00pm. Join the Wildlife Trust for Birmingham & the Black Country at Portway Hill for a fun day out meeting new people, helping the environment, and learning new skills. Meet on St Brades Close; ensure you are dressed appropriately for the forecast weather conditions, and wear sturdy footwear. No need to book, just turn up!

Conservation volunteer day, Portway Hill, Friday 25th November 2022, 10:00am – 3:00pm. Join the Wildlife Trust for Birmingham & the Black Country at Portway Hill for a fun day out meeting new people, helping the environment, and learning new skills. Meet on St Brades Close; ensure you are dressed appropriately for the forecast weather conditions, and wear sturdy footwear. No need to book, just turn up!

Conservation volunteer day, Portway Hill, Friday 23rd December 2022, 10:00am – 3:00pm. Join the Wildlife Trust for Birmingham & the Black Country at Portway Hill for a fun day out meeting new people, helping the environment, and learning new skills. Meet on St Brades Close; ensure you are dressed appropriately for the forecast weather conditions, and wear sturdy footwear. No need to book, just turn up!

Recent news, including a big achievement

The Friends of Rowley Hills are celebrating a great achievement – the opening up of the lost section of ‘Coaching Road’ on Portway Hill. Over the years this 80m stretch of the old double-hedgerow, which we believe at one time continued all the way to Rowley Church, had been lost to encroaching vegetation. In October 2021 we made a start at clearing it, and the results of our endeavours can be seen in the below photographs.

In other recent news, we warmly welcome Senior Reserves Officer Jake Williams as our new Wildlife Trust representative on the Rowley Hills, and look forward to working with him on future volunteering days which will be announced soon. We also wish Natalie Norton all our best wishes in her new appointment with Butterfly Conservation.

Moth trapping on Portway Hill

We had very successful moth trapping event on Portway Hill last month, with 29 moth species recorded as well as 2 shield bugs – see below for the full list and some photos. Thank you to Richard Orton of Sandnats for organising the event and bringing along his moth traps, and to Dave and Wendy Yale at Portway Farm for giving us permission to use their field for the event.

Wainscot Smudge
Pied Smudge
White-shouldered House Moth
Brown House Moth
Dingy Dowd
Light Brown Apple Moth
Common Yellow Conch
Mother-of-Pearl
Yellow Shell
Grey Pine Carpet
Phoenix
Common Marbled Carpet
Green Carpet
Double-striped Pug
Brimstone
Dusky Thorn
Spectacle
Copper Underwing agg.
Vine’s Rustic
Lunar Underwing
Centre-barred Sallow
Common Wainscot
Flame Shoulder
Large Yellow Underwing
Lesser Yellow Underwing
Lesser Broad-bordered Yellow Underwing
Square Spot Rustic
Setaceous Hebrew Character
Yponomeuta sp.
Hawthorn Shield bug
Red-legged Shield bug