Ooh – Something New…

I have rehashed the menu bar above to include a couple of new activities. Spotting and recording wildflowers, and the same with bug life. There is a brilliant smartphone app called Seek that makes identifying things easy and fun, and recording them using the iRecord menu tab keeps the national database up-to-date.

For us lot, it’s something new to do as a family or with friends, or by ourselves if we want. We can take a flask of coffee and a bite to eat to make a morning of it, and it is totally free.

Now if someone came up to me and suggested going on a butterfly hunt or wildflower spotting, I would more than likely decline, thinking, it’s not my cup of tea at all. However, it’s incredibly addictive, great exercise, fantastic for mental health being out and about getting ‘green time’ with a purpose, and it’s educational.

Dame’s Violet

And we get to fill in our list of finds in the Wildflower and Bug Life tabs in the menu above.

The Workday was snipping back bramble runners to keep the path clear, and a litter pick on the southern end. I have updated the Rugby Litter Busters site (right side menu).

Great views, great company, lots of laughs, and great to be outdoors with a purpose. Same time and place next week but working northwards.

If anyone can think of any other activities that we can build into the path, just let me know and we can see if we can do it. We have the Dino Trail, Geocaching, wildflower glades and benches galore, circular walks going north, east, south and west, mountain biking connecting to NCN 41/Draycote, jogging, picnics, quiet ‘green’ time, feeding the birds and squirrels, monitoring nesting birds and watching the chicks fledge, wildflower and bug spotting. We can even hop off at The Bear pub for refreshments.

The thing that makes all the above happen though, are the workdays and the generous Patrons who support us…

Until next week!

Paul

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First Attempt at Bug Hotel

What is going on with the weather!!! We seem to be forever waiting for those warm spring mornings and a flush of wildflowers. Slowly things are turning green, but taking time to do so. There is white blackthorn blossom, purple ground ivy and the bluebells are about to bloom, so we are getting there!

We finally got a pallet onto the path (long story!!!) and made it into a “bug hotel”. It is just a densely packed space with the ability for insects to travel up and down as well as back and forth.

We can see how it goes. Whilst it’s not the prettiest thing, it serves a purpose and hopefully, more insects means more birds and other larger wildlife. If it works, we can do some more.

We enjoyed our coffee and cookie break, the view is brill and there is no litter!! I picked up a small amount earlier in the week.

As I do this sort of thing, I am always on the lookout for wildflowers nearby, where I can collect seeds and add them to the path. Last year was huge for poppies, viper’s bugloss and ox-eye daisies. Hopefully, they will come up and spread. This year I am watching and waiting for green alkanet, orange hawkbit, red dead-nettle, wild mustard, and common fumitory to name but a few… Some might suggest that we are encouraging thuggish wildflowers, but the fight against nettles, bramble and ivy is what we are up against.

Well, that’s about it for this week. Become a Patron from £2 per month (right-hand side menu) to support the green space. I know things are becoming incredibly hard for people, money-wise. Just remember that the greenway has the dino trail map (in the menu bar above) for youngsters and the geocaching for older kids and adults. Picnics with amazing views or cheeky squirrels and birds to watch and enjoy. It’s all free and as soon as the weather gets warmer the wildflowers start to pop up, which is our next off-shoot – we want to record as much flora and fauna as possible this summer. It really is good fun using the phone app called Seek, which is part of iNaturalist, and gets quite addictive as well as a little bit educational.

Here’s a YouTube of the view to finish.

Until next week when we’re at the snowdrop bench working south!

Paul

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Weekender Plus

We had our weekender where youngsters can get some of their Duke of Edinburgh Award volunteer hours under their belts. We did a bit more clearing of ivy, seeding with a wildflower mix, and litter picking.

The wildflower seed mix contains cornflowers, flax, forget-me-not, chamomile, shrubby hare’s ear, marigold, safflower, bullwort, corncockle and honesty. We have used the same mix for years now and nothing peculiar or unwanted has ever grown.

There is a group called Trash Free Trails that encourage litter picking along paths like ours. I have logged our litter pick for this week.

The weekday work party saw us getting a bench in our underpass wildflower clearing. We feel it’s important to provide seating of some sort, so people can enjoy the wildflowers and watch the bug life.

This whole area is going to be so full of wildlife in a few months. Because it’s in deep cutting it becomes an absolute suntrap. We can push the scrubby edges back over the next few years.

We need to do something with the underpass. If we just paint it white, it will get graffitied again. Any ideas?

Flora and fauna identified and recorded on iRecord this week.

Next week we are creating bug hotels with the pallets that people have kindly given us. Cycle-of-life kinda stuff with wildflowers – pollen – insects – seeds – birds – small mammals. We will start at Potford Dam.

Until next week!

Paul

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Oh Dear…

Oh dear… It looks like we’ve created a naughty bench for misbehaving Cawstoners!!

But actually, it’s a view to sit at and absolutely adore. I love it and always have done.

Here is our YouTube of the view.

I hope you all enjoy it as much as we did creating it.

As you can see, all good fun!!

The two Toms, who are doing their Duke of Edinburgh Gold Awards, put up the robin nesting boxes. We are catching the season so late but hopefully, we can strike lucky.

We have twelve lovely Patrons who are driving all the good stuff that is happening on the path. I really wish that I could fast-forward into the summer and show you what is coming. This is not going to be just another green corridor.

I would like to see us double our Patron numbers over the next month or two, if you’ve been sitting on the fence, or fancy investing in the greenway, go for it. There is no long-term commitment or anything like that, and just £2, £3 or £5 a month makes such a huge difference. It’s our green space that is quite unique in that it offers so much for so many.

Click on the link and go for it!!

Next up, we have Duke of Edinburgh youth getting some more volunteer hours done this weekend, and a new bench in the underpass clearing next Wednesday.

Thanks for reading and until next time!

Paul

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Another day up the ladder…

We have eight bird nesting boxes up on the section south of the birdfeeder clearing. Two are rescue boxes that have been attacked by woodpeckers, and six are new boxes. They are high up and all face a north to easterly direction to keep the blazing spring sun from cooking the inside of the boxes and, the harsh south-westerly winds at bay. RSPB suggest nesting boxes are at least eight metres apart.

We have five nesting boxes around The Bear pub access. Two to the north and three to the south. They have been wrecked by the woodpeckers so we needed to get our metal plate protectors in place. Easier said than done!!

Working at the top of a ladder whilst needing two pairs of hands is quite a challenge!!

Luckily, no accidents (the ladder is attached to the tree) and nice to see a pair of great tits checking out the first nesting box as we worked on the others.

We spotted fungi (scarlet elf cup?) and violets today whilst enjoying our coffee and cookie break. Spring is definitely on the way.

I have recorded the finds on iRecord.

Other stuff…

I have ordered the seeds for orange hawkbit in the area where we have cleared ivy. We will put down an annual mix to get instant colour this summer, as the hawkbit gets established and then fights the ivy.

We still have robin nesting boxes to put up. Against the clock a bit but we can only do what we can do.

Loads of people passing today. Nice to chat. Always welcome to share coffee and cake.

The cycle path at the Leamington end is continuing to work its way towards us. There will be a new cycle bridge across the Fosse, a replacement bridge at Marton and a drop-down ramp at Potford Dam to hook up with the Western Relief Road cycle path.

Thank you Patrons for allowing us to make the path so much more than just a mono-green corridor.

Geocaching is nearing 350 finds and apparently, the geocaching season has not even started yet!!

Next week we are post-fixing our bench near the old gate, and also need to think about a bench for the wildflower clearing at the underpass.

If you want to come along and help, there is plenty to do. From identification and recording flora and fauna, to snipping back bramble and ivy, which in about a week or so is about to go utterly crazy!! Feel free to pop along and check us out as a group. If anxiety is getting the better of you, just work on the edge of the group for a bit until you get to know us a little better. Cake is always a great icebreaker and we have all been there.

Until next week!

Paul

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Reschedule

Waiting for the metal plates to go on the front of the nesting boxes around The Bear pub. They have been despatched but no sign of them so we had to reschedule. The plates have a 28mm hole and the next batch will have a 25mm hole. This will give us a range of nesting boxes with 30mm, 28mm and 25mm, so will cater for a wider range of birds.

This week we tried to steady our new boxes with a bracket. It works really well and the pictured nesting box is as solid as a rock.

We have capacity for more nesting boxes in this area. RSPB suggests 20 to 25 feet between boxes for territorial birds.

Moving to the birdfeeder clearing. The pesky squirrels have worked out how to open the top of the squirrel proof feeders!!! I don’t mind feeding the squirrels but the amount of fat balls that they get through is utterly ridiculous. To counter this I have wired the feeders shut. It is easy enough to untwist the wire and then retwist it after refilling. We can see how we get on.

I also restained the bench. Because we are always working on it, it tends to get a bit of a hammering. I might look at a varnish maybe in the future?

On the workday, we carried on with pushing the ivy back. It is just about one metre so plenty left for existing wildlife.

What we want to do here is clear as much as we can along the length of the path, and put something in that is thuggish enough to give the ivy a good run for the money. I am thinking orange hawkbit and something blue or white to contrast…

It is really trying to get the area buzzing with pollinators and looking vibrant and interesting.

Other stuff…

Geocaching has had well over 300 finds now. Someone is doing the trail as I am typing this (it comes up on my feed every time a cache is found).

Visitor numbers are looking good on the blog, more and more people are discovering the blog and the path.

We have coffee and cake at 11am on a weekday workday. Anyone is more than welcome to come along and share cake or just say hello.

Patron if you wanna drop us a couple of quid a month. Hopefully, you can see the improvements that the Patron scheme is driving forwards.

That’s about it for this week.

Until next time!

Paul

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Thank You Patrons

Our generous Patrons are making a lot happen on the path at the moment. The big things are the new bird nesting boxes, the new bird feeders and food for the feeders, the stain for the benches, wildflower seeds that you will not see until the summer, and generally keeping the show on the road.

Sunday was our weekender with quite a few youngsters getting their volunteer hours under their belt for their Duke of Edinburgh award.

We will clear the ivy next to the path and sow with a wildflower mix that works with dappled shade. Really looking forward to seeing a bit of colour in this area, rather than just green ivy.

Wednesday was us against the clock. We need to get our new nesting boxes up as quickly as possible or we will miss the season. It was wet and cold and the boxes, whilst looking great, just didn’t have anywhere near enough of a solid fixing.

We put eight new ones up, six traditional boxes and two open boxes for robins. The difficulty is, we need to get them down at the end of the season and clean them out. Fixing them too firmly means we cannot get them down without damaging them. We need engineering brains to sort this out!!

Thursday I shinned up the ladder again and just did what I could to make the nesting boxes as secure as possible. It’s not ideal, but the more we mess about with them, the less likely the birds will use them. Hopefully this will see us through.

You will notice the hole protector in the last picture. I have ordered a load more of these and we can try and save the boxes that have been attacked by squirrels and woodpeckers around The Bear pub area.

We have loads of older nesting boxes along the edges of the path around the birdfeeder clearing. This is probably why we have such a healthy population of blue tits, great tits and long-tailed tits. I will be mapping all the nesting boxes and ensuring that they are all fit for purpose, over the next week.

Other bits-

There is an app called Seek that is very good at recognising wildflowers. We will be using this and recording what we find on iRecord this year. Just another off-shoot to help people to engage and get involved.

The Geocaching Trail has been updated with more robust boxes and the Dunchurch Bridleway trail is working now. We have had over 250 finds in the short time that it has been working and people have come from far and wide to do the two trails.

Thank you to Andrew, who made most of our nesting boxes. I will do my best to save as many as I can. So far just two have had to be scrapped. I am going to make the nesting birds a huge priority from here on in.

Please consider becoming a Patron. Just £2, £3 or £5 a month makes such a huge difference if enough people sign up, and it makes the path so much more interesting. The summer is going to be out of this world. By May it all dries out and bursts into colour.

A quick 360 of the path…

Thanks for reading if you got this far.

Until next week!

Paul

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Nesting Boxes

We are way behind the curve with the nesting boxes. Mainly due to stocking issues, not having a ladder, and generally with everything getting pushed back due to the restrictions in place last year. But mostly to me having a phobia of things dirty and maggots and things crawling about!! Pledge to do the nesting boxes in early Autumn from now on!!

However, we are catching up. We are starting to get replacement boxes for the ones that have been attacked by woodpeckers and squirrels. We have open boxes for robins and wrens. And we have protectors to go round the holes of the new boxes and the ones that are salvageable. New boxes have a 30mm hole and older boxes have a 32mm hole.

We will start replacing and repairing next week. Tom has made a load of open-fronted boxes and Andrew, who made a lot of our original boxes, has made some more for people’s gardens, and is offering them for sale with profits going towards new boxes on the path (details further down).

This week we cleared ivy and self-seeded tree whips around the snowdrop bench. Ivy is great for wildlife and we have left 90% of it. It is just the 10% next to the path that we need to knock back so other stuff like violets other wildflowers can grow. I would like to see orange hawkbit and forget-me-not if we can get enough sun on the ground in the summer.

Ivy is not massively welcome if allowed to get high up in the trees. It makes them top-heavy and prone to blowing over. We made little habitat piles with the cuttings and enjoyed a welcome cuppa and cookie in the clearing.

Our usual 360 of the area…

Our snowdrops are getting trampled on the west side of the path. We thought about digging them up and moving them, but the sheer number makes it a tough task. What we will try instead is two spurs so the snowdrops will be in a scallop and people will naturally drift into the centre of the path.

Over the summer, we can let bramble grow over the piles and help them follow the existing edge of the path to feel a bit more natural. They will make wonderful habitat for a host of insects and small mammals.

Here is a quick look at how the path looked when we first managed to cut through some 13 years ago.

The constant cuts from bramble were awful and if someone on a bike came the other way, we needed to send out a search party to find you, after you were forced to jump into the jungle on either side.

Other stuff:-

Dunchurch Bridleway, via Right of Way R168, has a geocaching trail. It’s half published and should be fully ready after the weekend. Great to get up there from Cawston Greenway and watch the development unfold if you’re into engineering and construction, or just enjoy a walk to Solstice coffee shop or Dunchurch centre.

We have t-shirts with our railway logo, on the way (possibly go for a lighter green for better contrast??)…

Family workday this Sunday 12 to 2pm. A good opportunity to get Duke of Edinburgh volunteer hours in the bag. Litter picking and cutting back ivy and tree whips north of the snowdrop clearing. Bring loppers and garden shears, decent gloves and clothing. Weather looks dry.

Andrew’s robin nesting boxes are £5 each if you would like to encourage robins into your garden.

The bird nesting season starts next month so we change tack. The main focus is getting as many of the nesting boxes replaced or repaired in March and hope that we have a few visitors.

Our information board maybe can look something like this? Work-in-progress at the mo…

Thanks for reading if you got this far.

Until next week!

Paul

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The Vision

Sometimes it is good to pause and remember the vision that we had some 13 years ago. The railway line was not a path back then. It was an unofficial dump. We spent hours, days, weeks and even years just pulling out 40-odd years of rubbish.

It was back-breaking and seemingly there was no end to it. We could not even think about creating a path and every time we did, we just uncovered loads more junk.

But we persevered and kept pushing on with that vision that was so clear in our heads. And once we made our two-mile stretch good, our secondary vision was to push on southwards from Potford Dam to connect with the NCN41 at Draycote. That will be a story for another day.

So with this in mind, it was very encouraging to receive a note last week from Tom, the Sustrans Volunteer Coordinator, (West Midlands | Midlands and East), thanking us for our hard work keeping the path accessible and maintained.

This week five of us made it and we started on the bit just south of the snowdrop bench. There are loads of wildflowers that come up in this bit and also a lot of self-seeded tree whips that needed removing.

We don’t want loads of trees growing in uncontrolled clumps. They stifle each other and because they are all rubbing against each other, means there is a higher chance of disease.

It’s much better to let the trees stand proud and give them the space to grow.

The path needs to be wide enough for a lot of reasons, but the main one, in the summer, is so that cyclists and walkers can both use it in harmony. Leaving it narrow means some people start being rude to others. That’s not really what the path is all about.

The usual 360 of the workday.

A few other bits-

Tree down on the Dunchurch Bridleway – now sorted. I have pulled away from the Sustrans overlap on this and now just go up to where it connects with NCN41. Waiting for an exciting geocaching trail to be published and should prove popular.

Geocaching on the greenway has now hit 144 finds since the end of January. We are going to replace the containers very soon. Never in my wildest dreams did I think it was this popular. We have people coming over from as far as Nottingham to do the trail!!

Snowdrops are getting trampled a bit in their clearing. We need to move them to the side or define the path with straight branches staked into the ground. Considering how many we put in, I am thinking it would be easier to define the path a bit better.

Weekender at the end of the month – we will split into two groups. Litter picking or pulling up the ivy. Both are pretty horrid jobs but great for the character. We had a load of violets that have been swamped by the ivy so need to knock it back a metre or two so we have a bit of balance.

We have new bird boxes and are waiting for metal protectors to go around the hole. As soon as we have them we will start to replace the ones that have been attacked by squirrels and woodpeckers.

The Etsy shop is doing a reasonable trade and that is my next stop in terms of making it look a bit prettier. I am in talks with someone about T-shirts with our Cawston Greenway railway sign logo. Watch this space!!

Well, that’s about it for this week. Please subscribe to Patron if you feel we are worthy of a couple of quid a month. We have a lot of costs coming up like replacing the fat ball feeders, food for the birds, stain for the benches, postfix to reset the fallen down benches, replacement bird boxes, wildflower seed, and the real killer in terms of cost – Public Liability Insurance.

Thanks for reading and until next week!

Paul

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A Path For Everyone

The path cannot be just a nature reserve, or just a dog walking route, or just a mountain-biking trail, or just a walkers’ ramble. It has to be able to cater for everyone, hence the tagline – “more than just a path”. I cannot change that and I do not want to. We have kept ourselves in the middle of all the different needs and resisted going down one, at the expense of the others, ever since we started some thirteen years ago. There is no point in people being angry at me because the path does not cater for what they specifically want. We all have to share.

This week there were five of us. Victoria went ahead to stain the rest of the benches.

Super job and they look very inviting. Sustrans suggest a bench every 500 metres or so. I think we have done OK.

The rest of us carried on widening the path as it goes from cutting to embankment. We do not need to go anywhere near as wide now, because the path naturally drains. However, people still need to be able to see a good way ahead of themselves to feel at ease whilst using the path.

Before…

After…

This is our Snowdrop clearing starting to come up. We are always behind other snowdrops for some reason.

And just listen to the noise from the birds!!

The geocaches have been found 111 times since going active at the end of January. We are now replacing the containers with something a little stronger and more suitable.

Painted rocks go out for Valentine’s weekend so have fun searching for them.

Had to postpone the Adventure Workshop next week. Double booked with a day out in the Cotswolds.

We have had over 64,000 visits to the blog and we are starting to sell our merchandise (hence day out in the Cotswolds to pick up).

That’s about it, I think. Patron if you want to help us with fat balls and other bits. We do actually need new fat ball feeders. Sends a little bit of fuzziness down our spines when people care.

Feel free to join in or just pop along for a chat and a coffee.

Until next week!

Paul

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