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NEWSLETTER, June 2017

Wednesday May 31st, 2017 | Stephanie


Impressions of the Past at Poles Coppice

This beautiful sculpture, echoing the outline of Earl’s Hill and representing a hillfort palisade fence, has just been installed at the picnic site in Poles Coppice.  The sculpture is the result of a series of workshops, walks and events which started last autumn and has involved over 150 local people.  Children from Minsterley Primary School, Pontesbury Brownies, Woodcraft Folk, and a Home-Education Group created the clay tiles, having taken inspiration from visits to Earl’s Hill and Callow Hill.  They etched Celtic symbols and drawings into the clay and created over 200 tiles.  As well as decorating the palisade the clay tiles are being used to waymark an ‘iron-age trail’between Poles, Earl’s Hill and Callow Hill.  Poetry was also part of this project and some of the poems are being carved into benches.  A celebration event is being planned, and a field-guide to the Helping Hillforts & Earthwork Castles sites will be published in September.

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CurlewCam launched TODAY – watch live footage from our camera http://www.stiperstonesandcorndon.co.uk/curlewcountry/

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Curlew Country Update

Our nest monitoring got off to a slow start, with the sudden drop in temperature through April delaying the season.  The dry conditions meant the ground was too hard for adult birds to probe their bills into, and grass not high enough to make a nest in without vulnerability to predators. Fortunately, May’s wet weather has made the birds more active and we have been busy locating nests, fencing and monitoring progress.  To date 22 nests have been found. 8 have since failed due to crow predation and not having the fencing in place, whilst waiting for a full clutch of eggs to be laid.  Thank you to everyone who has been in touch with curlew sightings.  We have also hosted a series of visits from other organisations who want to know more about the Curlew Country Project, including British Trust for Ornithology, Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust, and the southern Call of the Curlew Group.  For further information about the Curlew Country Project, see http://www.stiperstonesandcorndon.co.uk/curlewcountry/

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National Meadows Day is approaching, celebrate with us…


A typical meadow can be home to over 150 species of wild plants and flowers.  These attract and support other wildlife, including the vital pollinator insects, which are in decline.  To celebrate local wildflower meadows and their wealth of wildlife we’re holding a Hay Meadow Festival on Saturday 24th June at the Bog, Pennerley.  We have a packed programme of activities planned.  These include guided meadow walks, family bug hunts and the launch of the new Stiperstones Butterfly Trail.  Try your hand at scything, or show off your scything skills in the competition arena, along with hay bale lobbing and hayrick building. There’s also an arts ‘n crafts tent with lots of hay to play and create with, BBQ, Jazz Band and Charlie, one of the heavy horses from Acton Scott Historic Working Farm is with us for the day!  Members of the Marches Meadow Group will be able to advise you on how to restore and better manage fields for wildflowers.   We look forward to seeing you there!

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***Get ready for the Hay Meadow Festival and make your own Hay Rake***  Saturday 10th & Sunday 11th June, two-day course with craftsman Neill Mapes to learn how to make a hay rake. 

Cost £65, 9.30am – 4.30pm at Community College Bishop’s Castle.  For details of this and other Skills in the Hills course follow this link http://www.stiperstonesandcorndon.co.uk/events/category/courses/

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Patch for pollinators in Churchstoke School playground

Buzz in the Borders in back and working with Churchstoke Primary School this summer.  The children have been finding out about pollinator insects and the important role they play in our food production.  By kind permission, they recently visited Annie Frost’s wildlife garden and wildflower meadow in Hyssington.  More trips are planned to nearby Roundton Nature Reserve and the beautiful gardens of Hurdley Hall.  Plans are also underway to create the perfect pollinator patch in the school playground, with the children helping to select the best flowering plants for the insects they want to attract.

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From the Shropshire Hills to Switzerland

Next month, two of our Young Rangers, along with Education Officer, Jon Bielstein, are taking a trip to Habkern in Switzerland.  They are one of 14 delegations from 10 different European Countries invited to the Europarc International Junior Ranger Camp.  This year the camp is hosted by the Swiss Rangers Association and is focused on the role that we all play for nature protection, as users and conservationists.  This is a great learning experience for our two Young Rangers as well as a chance to make new friends, play games and tell stories by the bonfire.  They have homework to prepare; a short video introduction about the Shropshire Hills and to bring along typical food from the region to share with others.  Suggestions welcome!  The Stiperstones & Corndon Young Rangers continue to meet monthly.  They are monitoring dormouse boxes on Hope Common at their next session and will be clearing nearby footpaths.

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1784 Pontesford Engine House

The engine house is one of the few remaining coal-fired engine houses of its kind.  The work to preserve this nationally-significant Scheduled Ancient Monument is complete and we are leading a guided visit to the site on Wednesday 14th June at 2pm. Numbers are very limited and booking is essential.  Please contact the office for more information on 01938 561741 or email info@stiperstonesandcorndon.co.uk.  There is no public access to this site.

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Wildflowers and Winged Wonders

This is survey season for wildflowers and some of our winged wildlife.  Take a look at our events page for the list of guided wildflower walks, moth trapping sessions and how to get involved in butterfly surveys.  We will be launching the new Stiperstones Butterfly Trail at the Hay Meadow Festival, leading a wildflower walk and showing some of the magnificant moths, which will have been surveyed the previous evening.  http://www.stiperstonesandcorndon.co.uk/events/category/events/

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“The singing was wonderful, but the experience offered so much more as well…”

“…The warm relaxed inclusive feel of the afternoon made it easy to get to know new people and reconnect with old friends.  I learnt of the plight of the curlew, how to spot a red kite, the call of a sky lark, the flight of a swift.  The stone circle as a trading post was a new idea to me and having us trading words was perfect.  The history and the stories brought the area to life and I especially liked knowing about the things around us that inspired the songs we sung.  A stunning part of Shropshire that I haven’t explored before.  I will return, and maybe sing a song on Stapeley Hill!”  A note from someone attending the singing workshop at Mitchell’s Fold.

As you can see, the Heartland Project is in full swing with singing workshops, sculptures on the slopes of Carding Mill Valley and plans underway to set up camp ‘Iron-Age’ style on Earl’s Hill in July.  Details of all the events are on our website at http://www.stiperstonesandcorndon.co.uk/events/category/events/ 

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