Rev. Kath McBride:  01904 489349
Email the Office

Church Street, Dunnington

York, YO19 5PW

9. Out & About

Friends of Hagg Wood

Despite the Friends not being able to carry out our usual Conservation Working Parties in the Wood because of Covid-19 and the disruption caused by the continuing path blockage from Intake Lane, the lovely local amenity of Hagg Wood is not out of mind. We still need to be able to enjoy this local natural habitat which is beneficial to so many people’s physical and spiritual well-being, and even more so in these difficult times. The difficulties caused by the pandemic have forced us to appreciate simple pleasures and reflect on what is important to us, including the joys of our local  natural environment. Despite the lockdown this year we have had much pleasant weather with a good mix of sunshine and rain, that will be memorable to us despite the difficulties. Earlier in the Spring, the author heard a cuckoo coming from the direction of the Wood, so the natural world carries on.

The Forestry Commission have been busy contracting out work clearing the main ditches in the Wood to create better drainage. Poor drainage can result in trees dying and boggy paths, though slower flowing ditches also can create attractive habitats for amphibians and attractive native plants.

We are looking forward to a happier future when our Conservation Working Parties can be resumed, as well as our trips to beautiful destinations and meetings with interesting talks. We always welcome new members, including young people wanting to protect and enhance our local environment for everyone’s future. Please visit our website for further detail of how to join us. 

If you have not already been in touch with us about the path blockage from Intake Lane, please get in touch via our website or by writing to FHW, 5 Church Lane, Dunnington, YO19 5PT. But even if you have contacted us in this way, you still need to fill in a User Evidence form that we can present to the Planning Inspectorate, so to do this please email in order to play your full part in achieving a successful outcome. 

2nd Tuesday Rides from Dunnington

The small group of local cyclists who had not been going out on the second Tuesday of the month at 10.30am from the Cross Keys in Dunnington have recommenced their regular meetings. Given the current restrictions, we cannot cycle in a group of more than six, but if there are more, then we can split into two groups. We normally cycle about 10 miles, The destination for Tuesday 8th September will be a circular ending at Field and Fawcett on the A64 roundabout. We are a group of friends who cycle at their own risk. Helmets and bright jackets are recommended and please bring a spare inner tube with you in case of puncture. Please come and join us. Any queries to Alison Holmes 07581149056

Our Wildlife Community – Sparrowhawks & Sparrows

We have been lucky to see sparrowhawks visiting our garden. As the name suggests, these are hawks that predate sparrows – though our first sighting was of a male chasing a blackbird. The RSPB notes that they catch a range of small birds and some even catch bats. Alex had a front row seat for the best sighting:

“I was sitting in the kitchen when I heard a loud bang at the window. I turned around and spotted a sparrowhawk a metre or so away on the patio! I stared at its big, yellow eyes and it stared back. I noticed it was holding a dead starling. I realised that the starling must have crashed into the window in a panic, and the sparrowhawk got it neatly”. 

We love our starlings and sparrows - they are on the red list and we are trying to help them with regular food and water, and nest boxes. However, sparrowhawks need to eat too. Anyone who has played Top Trumps British Birds will know that there are far fewer sparrowhawks (as an apex predator at the top of a food pyramid) than there are sparrows and starlings. You might think the small birds don’t stand a chance (“if you can see my shadow it’s too late” from ‘Bird of Prey’, a shape poem by Roger Stevens) but from our observations they are not always successful – one in four sightings for our sparrowhawks! According to the RSPB, “long-term scientific studies have shown that sparrowhawks generally have no or little impact on songbird populations”.

It seems ‘our’ sparrowhawks have decided our garden is a rich hunting ground. Indeed we have seen an increase in our sparrow numbers this year. In August our regulars even brought some friends round to enjoy a dust bath in a newly-created bed, as you can see in our video here!

Fancy some food chain gardening yourself? Making invertebrate shelters with piles of leaves, stones, sticks, bark for mulching and logs will encourage minibeasts to set up home. If you’d like a bigger project, how about planting a native hedge? 

Alex & Mum 

Petition the Church of England to plant more trees!

You may be interested in signing this petition by Friends of the Earth calling on England's biggest landowners, including the Church of England, to plant more trees on their land. The Church’s investment arm – the Church Commissioners – has just 3% woodland cover on its estates, well below England’s national average of 10%, and  tiny compared to the EU average of 38%. Increasing tree cover (in the right places and in the right way) is a very important part of tackling the climate and ecological crisis.


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