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Some welcome visitors to The Wildlife Meadow

Posted on Wednesday 29th March 2017

Situated next to the Staffordshire and Worcestershire Canal, The Wildlife Meadow together with John’s Garden offer great opportunities for spotting Kingfishers as they flash past showing their striking blue and orange colouring.

The newly constructed perch and faggots along the water’s edge

To enable us and our visitors to admire them up close we have made some careful additions to the canal-side in the Wildlife Meadow in order to make it a more attractive place for the birds to fish.

In September 2016, after receiving helpful advice from The Canal & River Trust and The Wildside Activity Centre in Wolverhampton, we installed bundles of hazel faggots into the canal alongside the bank where it had previously eroded. Faggots are used to prevent bank erosion by trapping silt and allowing vegetation to grow.

The faggots and new vegetation provide great habitat for fresh water invertebrates and young fish to feed, hide and reproduce. The invertebrates and fish in turn provide food for larger animals, including Kingfishers, who will hopefully become more regular visitors as the vegetation matures and more food becomes available.

A Kingfisher is spotted on the new oak perch

A good vantage point

With our bird hide overlooking the canal we wanted to be able to see Kingfishers from the hide. To achieve this we have installed an oak perch which rises out of the canal bank over the water at a height of about 8 feet. The solid oak provides a steady vantage point for the birds to look out for fish.

When a fish is caught they return to the perch with the catch and kill the fish by bashing it against the perch before eating. Within a couple of weeks both male and female Kingfishers have been seen using the perch providing excellent opportunities for photography and giving us the hope of a new generation to come.

Hopefully some of our visitors will be lucky enough to see these amazing birds on our open days.

New: a nest box camera captures a Blue tit’s nest-building

As we say goodbye to winter, birds in The Wildlife Meadow are getting busy beginning the process of nest building. With this in mind we have set up a nest box camera which has quickly been taken up by a pair of Blue tits. The female has been busy filling the box with moss and nesting materials so it may be only a matter of time before she is sitting on her eggs with us watching. We have set up a TV with live footage in The Garden Shop in the bird food department so hopefully our customers will get the chance to watch too.

When to visit the Wildlife Meadow

The Wildlife Meadow is adjacent to John’s Garden at Ashwood Nurseries and is usually open to visitors on most charity Garden Open Days depending on weather and ground conditions. Please check our website for details on the day.

Tom Woodhall