Friday 30 December 2011

Winter Walk

An SWWG committee walk through Brook Wood generated some interesting ideas yesterday. Yet it was even nicer to see about 45 redwing flying around, and hear the robins in full swing, as well as calling bullfinch and grey wagtail. There are already hazel catkins growing and spring is not far away!  - George

Saturday 5 November 2011

Birds about!

At last week's family event (below), 15 sorts of bird were counted, including two Goldfinch overhead. Today many birds are moving. Having already (on the Environment Trail blog) recorded 29 Lapwing and 5 Buzzards flying towards Brook Wood, I headed down valley to see if the Buzzards or more birds were there. At both ends of Brook Wood were parties of Long-tailed Tits. Not only did I see these, I probably saved a life! At Townfields I had just started listening to them when a big female Sparrowhawk flew up, with great views, and away! Oops - no breakfast for her here today!  - George

Monday 31 October 2011

Saturday 29th Brook Wood Family Event

It started out as a beautiful autumn morning and there were plenty of birds flitting around the woods; which means I'm sure it won't be long before the plentiful supply of bird feeders that were made are being put to good use!

Another popular activity was putting up the bird boxes that had been built at the Eco event in the summer.
This included the children using a compass to ensure the boxes were facing the optimum direction...

During the morning the weather deteriorated and we had a little rain so we spent some time huddling under the gazebo...

But it didn't dampen anybody's enthusiasm for artwork and we had a real gallery by the end of the event, some of it from the youngsters, some from the young at heart!!!

Look out for our next family event early in the New Year.

Monday 10 October 2011

Saturday 29th October Brook Wood Family Event

SWWG are holding another family nature event in Brook Wood, accessed via Townfields. between 10 and 12 on Saturday 29th October.

Children must be accompanied by a parent or guardian for the duration of the event.

All activites are free.

Confirmed so far: a guided walk suitable for children, making bird feeders, natural arts and crafts.

More details closer to the event.

Look forward to seeing you there.


Sunday 2 October 2011

On the trail

A cheerful party of walkers today set out to walk along Brook Trail from Brook Bridge, but had not left the stone parapet of the bridge before they realised it was crawling with ladybirds and their nymphs. Unhappily most appeared to be the invasive Harlequin Ladybird, though one native Seven-Spot was among them. Further on there were distant glimpses or sounds of Jays and a Grey Wagtail. Near Dancing Bridge one of the valley's rarer flowers, Water Chickweed, was still in flower  - George

Tuesday 20 September 2011

Autumn and Brook Wood walk Oct 2nd

By popular demand another walk has been arranged for Sunday 2nd October along the new Brook Wood path and further if desired. Please see panel on right for more details. The summer insects and flowers have gone, so bring your binoculars and think birds!  - George

Friday 5 August 2011

Loud complaint!

Walking through Brook Wood, I paused for a few moments, then was startled by a sudden loud chattering behind me. Turning, I realised a (probably young) buzzard had landed in a low tree without seeing me, only 15 yards behind me! Moreover, it was being mobbed furiously by a very angry sparrowhawk, which obligingly perched in view so that I could identify it. Presumably the hawk had young nearby; the noise continued for a minute or two as the combatants moved away. Any other sightings?  - George

PS I apologise that owing to work, holiday and illness I have not led any guided walks recently. The next possible date for me is Saturday August 20th; please email me at the address of this blog if you are interested in a walk on that date; I will reply during the week before that.

Butterfly bonanza

Has everyone else been as busy? Anyway, a summer survey of the Town Fields meadow found an excellent eight species of butterflies. The most common, Gatekeepers, reached 39 (one more than last year). Others were: Large White, 6; Speckled Wood and Green-veined White, 3 each; Small White and Peacock, 2 each; Meadow Brown, 1; and nicest of all, my favourite, a Small Copper. Also quite a few 7-spot Ladybirds  - George 

Monday 4 July 2011

Brook Wood Family Event Saturday 2nd July

What a fantastic day! Lovely sunny weather, we were glad of the shade by later in the morning...

We had brought litter picking equipment but apart from some picnic leftovers from the previous night there was very little rubbish to be found...

As usual one of the biggest attractions was hammering! Dick and this group of young people created a new bug hotel in the woods, some guests were seen booking in even before it was finished!!

Whilst the hunt for minibeasts in the long grass continued throughout the morning...

 And occasionally the prize was caught for a few seconds before making its escape!

Thanks to everyone involved, and keep looking at the blog for further dates of events in and around Brook Wood.

Sunday 12 June 2011

ECO Family Fun Day

A great time was had by all...

with lots of new homes for us to hang in the woods...

and lots of interested new families keen to explore Brook Wood!

Ugh! What are they?

In the Mill Hill valley, there are lots of nettles to sting you. But some things eat nettles! What are these?
 They are the spiky black caterpillars probably of the Peacock butterfly - like the ones the Blackbird at the top is taking to her chicks - so we need them to give beauty from ugliness!  - George

Monday 30 May 2011

New bird!

A new bird (so far as recent records go) for the Sandbach Wildlife Corridor is singing at Sandbach Park pond! It is a garden warbler, found by members of the Sandbach A Rocha Group. For more details, see link to the Sandbach Environment Trail blog part way down column on right (also picture of a baby nuthatch there).  Note walk on Jun 5th (details on right) if you fancy watching a new bird? - George

Monday 25 April 2011

Seen on Brook Trail walk today

A mixed party of 15 today had a glorious sunny walk through Brook Wood (beautiful colony of Large Bitter-cress, 2 Speckled Woods, 3 Blackcaps, Chiffchaffs, Jay; down the Mill Hill valley (3 stunning male Orange-tips, one Red Admiral, Bluebells, Marsh Marigolds) and along the canal (2 Mallard families, one Stock Dove, calls of Nuthatch and Woodpecker). Also one Holly Blue among the houses. Best, though, was the lady who called out to say that her children could now play safely in Brook Wood below their house! Well done, all!  - George 

Tuesday 19 April 2011

Dawn Chorus and Easter Monday walks

Apologies for the late notice, but (free) places are available on a Dawn Chorus birdwatch organised by the Sandbach A Rocha group for this (Easter) Saturday 23rd April. We are meeting in Brereton Heath Country Park car park at 5am sharp, and one of the rangers will be accompanying the group. Please contact Andrew Bailey on 764076, or email this blog.  Also note the Easter Monday afternoon walk along the whole of the Brook Trail route, details on right. - George

Mill Hill valley

All sorts of wildlife are emerging down the valley from Mill Hill Lane. The first Bluebells are out, as are the first Orange-tip butterflies and the first Red Campion. Nuthatches are singing.  Any more firsts?  - George

Brook Wood charming!

After the great litter clear-up, Brook Wood looked charming today. In particular if you walk the path, look out for a large patch of the uncommon and beautiful Large Bitter-Cress, which has lovely white flowers with (tiny) purple anthers. - George

Saturday 9 April 2011

Birds of Prey

I thought I'd had a good day on Friday watching 4 Buzzards circling above Wheelock for around 30 minutes, but having lunch today in Ettiley Heath a Red Kite flew right over the house! We couldn't have had a more perfect view, it just soared over the top of us and was gone.

Having travelled to the Chilterns several times to see Kites it was amazing seeing them in our own back yard, I suspect now we're all going to have neck ache from looking up to see if we can catch another glimpse...

Sunday 27 March 2011

Brook Wood Survey

A survey of Brook Wood on Sunday found good patches of marsh flowers and celandines; birds included sparrowhawk (within feet!), greenfinch, mistle thrush, bullfinch - and probably three singing chiffchaffs! However, no blackcaps yet . . . and plenty of seedlings of Himalayan balsam by the stream   - George

Thursday 24 March 2011

Waxwings still around!

Hot news - our Waxwings, or at least a couple of them, are still around Wheelock! - and (we're told) have been all month! They may move around - check your own garden! Here are pictures taken by Roger Foden    (on private land, so location not given):

Monday 7 March 2011


Walked the Wheelock Rail Trail and along under Dancing Bridge to Mill Hill Lane over the weekend. Miserable weather but the woods were alive with birdsong, and we caught a glimpse of the buzzard as we headed back up to Crewe Road. Spotted several large clumps of frogspawn and several frogs making more!

Sunday 6 March 2011

Early spring survey

Our survey walk today had 5 walkers. Snowdrops were lovely: St Mary's Wood (viewed from edge) - c5 small patches, heavily ivied. Better in Churchyard (see picture) - one large area, many small. Lesser Celandine leaves along the stream throughout, extensive above Brook Bridge, dominant over c 350 sq metres in St Mary's Hollow, small patches in Brook Wood. More, see Comments  - George

Thursday 3 March 2011

Events soon

Please click the Events tab above for a list of all forthcoming SWWG events (except walks which are listed on right)


A hot bird sighting! 12 waxwings were in a tall berry bush and are now on wires beside 1 Marriott Road, Wheelock. I can see them as I sit here typing!   - George         STOP PRESS: birds flew, returned and are now gone again though they first let me wheel my bike within 10 yards of them! Watch all tall berry bushes, rowans, crab apple trees and wires around town (waxwings love urban places) for a flock of birds like colourful starlings with spiky crests . . .

Sunday 27 February 2011

Brook Wood doings

Brook Wood is full of mud and green shoots! We have protested about the drainage work that has blocked a footpath. Meanwhile, spring approaches apace - a surprisingly nice number of Lesser Celandine leaves are emerging in clumps both in the wood and along the streamside, plus a few Bluebells.  - George

Valley birds

A walk down the lower valley on Saturday found a Buzzard circling low near Dancing Bridge, plus 40 Redwing. Also the unusual sight of a pair of Jays flying over the flooded River Wheelock above the village bridge - rare to see them in the open (except in October when they collect acorns)!  - George

Saturday 19 February 2011

Explorers finds! (& see pics below)

Our explorers today were surprised not to find the (now demolished!!) Fairfield Avenue garages, but found quite a few early season creatures: Garden and Brown-Lipped Snails, shoots of Pignut and Yellow Iris, Hazel catkins; and birds - Blue-Tit, Robin, House Sparrow, Dunnock, and an odd glimpse of Goldfinch and Bullfinch for one or two!  - George

Brook Wood Explorer Session-19th Februrary

The weather was grey and overcast, but that didn't stop several volunteers and two families joining together in Brook Wood to explore the area. Numerous bags of litter were removed throughout the sesssion as well as several larger pieces of rubbish.

The families made some bird feeders to take home and hang in their gardens...

Before heading off to explore more with George and Andrew...

Returning very muddy but with lots of enthusiasm for building a bug hotel with Dick...

Many thanks to everybody who attended the event, we will be holding similar sessions in the near future so follow the blog to keep updated.

Sunday 30 January 2011

Great Trees!

A walk to Filter Bed Wood and nearby areas found some great trees! Huge old Crack Willows are a feature of FBW, and some have magnificent Bracket Fungi on them. Here are pictures of each. How about people photographing their favourite trees in the Wildlife Corridor and posting the pictures here? - George (+ Dick M)

Saturday 8 January 2011

Fairfield Avenue birds today

I had a look for birds around the open "meadow" below Fairfield Avenue today - Chaffinches, Goldfinches, Robin, Blackbird, Great and Blue and Long-tailed Tits, all in 15 minutes. A good spot! Better still, a singing Nuthatch and - wow! a perched Buzzard that flew right in front of me  - George

Winter thrushes - Redwing

Those little thrushes in flocks whistling in the tree tops this month are mostly Redwing. This was one in Sandbach Park in Jan 2010 [picture: Sandbach A Rocha Group]. There are ones both there and in Brook Wood today. - George

Brook Wood sunshine

I only realised this morning what is the thing I like most about Brook Wood. Its slopes face directly into the winter morning sunshine. The birds also know that, to judge from the number around today. It would make a fine footpath on a fine morning  - George

Sunday 2 January 2011

Snipe on Arclid Brook!

A rare sighting beside Arclid Brook during the deep freeze on 26th December was a Snipe (a brown wading bird with a long bill) which flew up from the partly iced stream just above Dancing Bridge on the Brook Trail route. Usually seen at the Flashes!  -  George

Saturday 1 January 2011

Brook Wood 12th Dec sightings

On the planning walk a flock of Siskins (little yellow-green finches) was a nice find, new for Brook Wood. No count made. Also Goldfinches, a Bullfinch and a Great Spotted Woodpecker were heard but not seen  -  George

Brook Wood Planning Walk report

On 11th December a small group examined Brook Wood. Conclusions: 1) the suggested path was very viable & not too wet; 2) habitat was attractively varied; 3) start with the first section and the grassland (family friendly here?); 4) the existing path on to Mill Hill Lane was fine  -  Thanks all, George