Birdfeeder Glade Done

A big thank you to those who have given us a little to keep the show on the road via our Patron link on the right. If enough people give us between £2 and £5 a month it means we can keep the bird feeders full and the benches stained, as well as the path full of wildflowers and all the other little things that make it special.

This week we got our birdfeeder clearing seeded with loads of locally harvested seeds and some bought specialist seed mix.

It’s a case of raking, seeding, raking and walking all over the ground to get as much soil contact as possible.

There will be a huge amount of seed in the soil already, but it is good to add new stuff and just move the ground about to kick start germination.

It is also useful to clear away the year’s bramble growth or very few wildflowers will grow next year.

Once we finished this area we had a cuppa and cookie, and then moved south to start on our Potford Dam glade. Much the same really with just clearing out this year’s growth. It is nice doing this one because David, the old ecologist from Sustrans, helped us to set it up a few years back. He even gave us a load of Lady’s Bedstraw and Hedge Bedstraw seeds to sow into it.

A quick look up and down and that was about it for this week. It will be fantastic to have our three statement wildflower glades with benches and enough going on to do a bit of wildlife monitoring and recording next year.


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All about the trees today…

We had a tree pack a couple of years ago from the Woodland Trust. Tiny whips and the protector to go around them. Some have survived and make the edge of our wildflower clearing.

What is not to love… In the summer this will be absolutely full of wildflowers and the wildlife will follow.

A few fungi finds

It’s all about that balance between scrubby bramble, decent wildflowers, a path for walkers and cyclists and catering for the wildlife. I haven’t got a clue if I have this balance right, but we keep trying to do the right thing for everyone and everything. However, we are following what our Management Plan suggests and also what Warwickshire Wildlife Trust is doing.

One of our picnic benches is in this clearing…

Having a week off next week and then seeding the week after. After that, we move on to our wildflower clearing at Potford Dam. Same thing really. Just clear it out and let it come back next year.

Lastly, we found a bloody-nosed beetle at Potford Dam. It was reluctant to get off me so probably enjoying the warmth of my skin.


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This is our MEGA wildflower clearing

This is the big one! Kinda the centre of what we are trying to create.

All of this has to go.

We need to rake off as much of the cuttings as possible and pile them up out of the area. The pile will be used by a vast amount of wildlife for nesting. We remove the cuttings because wildflowers don’t like soil that is rich in nutrients.

We repositioned the birdfeeder stands so there is one on each side of the clearing, cleared all the litter and got the grass around the picnic bench really short with our new electric strimmer, so it is comfortable to sit at.

So why is this at the centre of what we are trying to create? Well, we don’t just want a green path going from A to B. I mean, how boring would that be! What we want is clearings that are bursting with colour and wildlife, plenty of places to sit and enjoy the wildlife, or have a picnic with friends or family, or just a simple cuppa and biscuit. A place to contemplate stuff or just get away from the grind of life for a bit, a place that does not feel too hemmed-in and intimidating. Great views across the heath. Snowdrops and bluebells at the start of the new year to help people to think about the warmer months just around the corner.. Somewhere that is uplifting and relaxing.

To sit at the bench in this clearing and watch the great tits and long-tailed tits darting back and forth to the feeders is just magical.

The path continues at either end of the clearing. Northwards for a more wooded or forestry feel and southwards for a more open grassland feel.

Everyone welcome to join in, and if you like what we do and enjoy the greenway you can click on the Patron link on the right-hand side and help to keep the show on the road. Any amount helps – £2 a month, the cost of a cuppa, anything will be appreciated and gives us a warm fuzzy feeling knowing that we are adding value.


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This is where the magic is made

Normally muggins here is too quick to get going so forgets to take before and after photos. Today I remembered.

This is our biggest wildflower clearing and we need to get rid of all the plants now that the seeds have dropped. The cuttings need to be removed from the area because wildflowers do not thrive well in soil full of nutrients, however, nettles, docs and all the thuggish stuff does.

We managed to clear the south side. Next week we will clear the north side.

The clearing will be twice the size of what we see today. We have our large round picnic bench in the centre and our bird feeders. It’s a good place to be and because it is in a cutting it is pretty much protected from wind and noise.

We will put some more seed mix down on any bare earth just to keep adding to the diversity.

So to recap – we have a statement wildflower clearing on the north side of the underpass, an absolute suntrap and we will put benches in before summer next year. This one, which is the birdfeeder clearing, and Potford Dam which is on embankment so gets good views across the heath and is next on our hit-list to triple in size.

North side of the birdfeeder clearing

All this will be gone next week.

Remember – if you want to join in you are more than welcome. If you just want to pop down and chat about what we are doing, or how you are feeling, or just want to share a coffee and cookie (normally about 11 o’clock), just do it. You can even bring us cookies, biscuits or cakes if you are feeling super generous.

And if you like what we do and enjoy the greenway you can click on the Patron link and help to keep the show on the road. Any amount helps – £2 a month, the cost of a cuppa, anything will be appreciated and gives us a warm fuzzy feeling knowing that we are adding value.


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We Have Merchandise

It is true – we have merchandise that is 100% exclusive to Cawston Greenway and if you enjoy the path you can buy a little memento. So far we have a fridge magnet. I will sort out the shop part of the blog over the weekend.

I quite like it. It is just over 11cm long. It would be great to get a bit of feedback on your thoughts. Next will be Cawston Greenway mugs, hopefully.

This week we cleared the bluebell bank with our new electric strimmer. We have controversy about the bluebells. They are not pure English ones but they maybe are hybrid. They are not pure Spanish ones as far as I can tell. This is a debate that will rumble on and on…

Whatever the bluebells are, it will look nice in the New Year and maybe we can make a call on what we do.

We have proper English bluebells at the snowdrop bench so we are able to make a more informed decision.

Next week we are clearing out the huge wildflower section around the birdfeeder bench and whilst a huge amount of seed will have dropped, we will add a load more to keep it varied and attractive to pollinators.

Quick look up and down, and our coffee break…

If you love what we do, or love the greenway, become a patron and gift us £2 a month or the price of a coffee. Anything, to keep the show on the road. If people chip in a tiny amount it all adds up and we can keep improving the greenway, rather than just cutting back bramble and nettles. The link is on the right hand side…


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A New Way To Support Us

We haven’t done any fund-raising for a while and looking in the Cawston Greenway petty-cash tin, all I can see is a few random pennies and a button that popped off my trousers after the first lockdown!!

We have teamed up with and anyone who loves what we are doing can support us with a small monthly amount. A couple of quid, the cost of a coffee, anything that you won’t really notice. Honestly, it really helps to keep the show on the road and, allows us to invest in wildflower seeds, snowdrop and bluebell bulbs, preservative for the benches and all the other stuff that requires cash.

There is a link on the right-hand side and trust me, we will be so grateful for the support.

Loads of stuff going on at the moment. I will cover off the workday first, and then try and summarise what we have planned over the next few months.

As you know, we have made a new wildflower clearing. This week we seeded it.

The seed mix has 27 native wildflower types and we added what felt like a million poppy seeds (tiny black things) that I had harvested from a field about a mile away, also some vipers bugloss and field scabious that a chap had harvested from a similar project to ours in north London, which weirdly, is about a ten minute walk from where I come from. It is the disused Harrow to Stanmore Railway, locally known as the Belmont Line.

We have plenty of seeds left for the other clearings.

This is the wildflower mix

We then walked south and looked at the jobs that need doing over the winter. We are going to have just three statement wildflower clearings. This one, the one at the birdfeeder clearing and the one at Potford Dam. However, we are going to keep increasing the length of these clearings over time.

So what else is happening:

He have hit 60,000 views on the stats counter (my wife keeps telling me that people must be very very bored).

Mental Health – just to remind people that we are here for this. If you see us, come and talk to us. We love talking almost as much as we love coffee and cookies. Bring us some biscuits or come with a pair of loppers and join in.

Dino Trail – about to relaunch this. The first go was really to see how it looked and what problems we needed to overcome. The upgrade will hopefully work really well (still need someone artistic to do a decent map (hint, hint)).

Geocaching – Dino themed again and almost ready to go. Just need the stickers and log sheets.

The path to Leamington – work starts on the 8th October at the Leamington end. There is planning permission for the whole line to be made into a decent cycle path and also a branch off from Marton Junction to Long Itchington. The Bear pub is reopening so will be a convenient coffee stop and another coffee stop is planned around Marton or beyond. Exciting times.

And lastly – by this time next week our first bit of Cawston Greenway merchandise will be available. I am almost overflowing with excitement!!


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More Work on the Wildflower Clearing

Bit of a shaky video of our new clearing. I have a ton of poppy seeds to sow, along with a lot of other locally-sourced wildflower seeds.

Mick, Marcus and me today and it was hard, hard work, which is probably why the video is a bit wobbly. However, we grubbed out a load of bramble roots and raked it over. It looks pretty good already.

We have to be careful not to get carried away. Making the clearings is one thing but maintaining them is a whole different game. We have learnt in the past that it becomes impossible to even recognise some areas that we cut back and seeded.

What we decided today is that we are going to create four or five statement wildflower clearings. We already have one at the Potford Dam end and the one at the bird-feeder clearing. This one will be fantastic and we can drop in another couple, in-between.

I think keeping on top of four or five wildflower clearings will be enough and over the years we will be pushing them out along the path so they become longer and longer.

Really looking forward to seeing how this all looks in summer next year!


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We are now at the start of the cutting back season

This is where it gets to be fun!!

Five of us today so Lizzie and Grace did a huge litter-pick, Mick tackled the scrub on the south side of the underpass, and Marcus and me cleared the suntrap to the north.

What we want is certain points along the path that open up into glades and are full of wildflowers, and attract a lot of wildlife. For this to happen we need full sun. We have learnt to our cost that wildflowers and shade don’t really go hand-in-hand in the look that we are trying to get.

We just pushed back the scrub by about two metres on each side. Plenty left for existing wildlife. Next week we will rake it off and grub out the bramble roots.

It’s all about making the path as interesting as we can, and encouraging as much biodiversity as possible.


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The R168 Paths

The R168 network of paths are a series of Public Right of Ways that criss-cross between the Dunchurch Bridleway, Cawston Greenway and Cawston Spinney. The land that these paths cross is about to be developed.

This is what we will lose.

This is from the Dunchurch Bridleway looking ahead and then back at the start, middle and where it joins the greenway. We snipped back to this point along the greenway, last week.

I would urge everyone to get out on these paths before all this disappears. It really is a fantastic place to be.


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Double Workday

We did our usual Wednesday workday going from the snowdrop bench to Berrybanks. This was litter-picking and snipping back bramble. We then did our weekender, which was from the snowdrop bench but this time heading the other way. We got to where we planted the hedge in the glade with the round picnic bench.

We are doing our best to keep it wide enough so that people can walk two-abreast. Everything is starting to go over and die back. It feels like we will be into autumn very soon.

We also chopped back the Dunchurch Nature Trail path last week, so a decent walk and a good path connecting to Cawston Greenway.

A couple of things in the pipeline –

Dino Trail gets an upgrade so new map and dino pics more secure and blending in better.

Geocaching Trail for families with older children, or adults who are into this.

We have named the benches so people have a better bearing of where they are. Will put on map.

Mark all the entrance and exits on the map so people can plan walks better.

Loads of seeds collected so able to create new glades in the autumn.

Hopefully getting an information board that tells people about the history of the path and the wildlife.

That’s about it for this week.


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