Over the past month we’ve been busy on the Portway Hill site, cutting, clearing and burning hawthorn, bramble and ivy to keep paths open and reduce risks from fires. While we were up there on one of the days, the sky went dark, and the sun became encircled by a red halo. We later discovered that unusual atmospheric conditions had blown up a sandstorm from Africa, and a thin layer of dust from the Sahara Desert had been carried over parts of Britain, depositing a fine film of sand everywhere. Fortunately, one of us had a camera at hand to photograph the strange-looking sun.
If you would like to get fit and active and do something positive for your local environment, then why not come along and join us on one of our conservation days?
Our next volunteer day is this Friday; for more information and to see all of our forthcoming volunteering opportunities please refer to our Events page. We look forward to seeing you there.
We’ve added three more amazing aerial drone photographs of the Rowley Hills, taken by local wildlife expert and photographer Andy Purcell, to our gallery at https://friendsofrowleyhills.org/about/aerial-photography/. Follow the link to see them all!
As autumn approaches fungi and slime moulds are now appearing on the hillside. Look out for more as you walk across the hills this autumn and send us your photographs. Here are three that we’ve spotted so far:
- Bullers Open Space, Tipton
- Market Place, Tipton
- Merry Hill, Smethwick
- River Tame Corridor, Oldbury
- Whitecrest, Great Barr
- Woden Road East, Wednesbury
The designations provide up-to-date evidence for planners to protect local nature when making planning decisions. This could mean that Portway Hill receives better protection from any potential future threat of development.
For more information, visit http://www.sandwell.gov.uk/news/article/4424/seven_green_spaces_set_for_conservation_list.
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.
Once mating has taken place the female moths deposit small batches of brownish-coloured eggs on leaves of their food plant, in this case two small willow trees in their back garden.
Upon hatching the young caterpillars feed almost constantly for around four weeks and pass through several stages until fully grown.
In some years predation by birds, wasps and even Harlequin Ladybirds takes a heavy toll, but generally enough of them survive to maturity, ensuring there will be moths again the following year.
They spend the winter in a tough cocoon attached to tree trunks or wooden posts, then the newly-emerged moths seek out the food plant, and the cycle begins again.