Bodymain Right

Habitat Creation

Jubilee Wood

We planted 1500 native fruiting trees along the towpath of the Trent & Mersey canal to create a lasting celebration of Queen Elizabeth's Diamond Jubilee. Rowan, crab apple, wild cherry and guelder rose trees were planted in November 2012 by villagers, Findern Parish Council, 1st Findern Brownies, staff from the Canal & River Trust and members of the group. The trees have been donated by the Woodland Trust as part of their Jubilee Woods Project and Derbyshire Wildlife Trust as part of their Value In Trees project. We are one of 60 jubilee Woods that have been planted across the UK.

This project will bring great benefits to the community, who will have a new woodlannd to enjoy as well as the promotion of a greater species of wildlife that this project will bring.

We are looking forward to developing this project in the future by underplanting the trees with wildflowers and by the installation of an information board.

Cote Close Bird Sanctuary

This bird sanctuary has been created on land, which was used for growing cereal crops, prior to the A50 trunk road being built in 1996. The Cotton family, who lived at East Farm, Stenson, farmed the land. It was ultimately purchased by the Highways Agency as part of the road-building programme.
Following the completion of the road, the land was leased to Findern Parish Council by the Highways Agency for this project.

Cote Close is the old-field name, which dates back before the Enclosures Award Map of 1781. It is believed that it was named after the cotes, or small wooden huts, that were used at the time to give shelter to shepherds.

Close was the name of a small enclosure. It is possible that there were a number of such ‘closes’ on this land.

On a section of this field was a marl pit, from which clay was dug when the Trent & Mersey Canal was constructed through Findern in 1773. Over subsequent years, villagers filled the hole with anything they wished to dispose of, and so consequently crops were less successful on this spot!

Findern Footpaths Group began work on this sanctuary in 2006. Paths were mown and access gates were installed. Fruiting trees such as hawthorn, blackthorn, guelder rose, dog rose and crab apple have been planted in clusters. They are maintained in mixed age structure by cutting in rotation, as this is more attractive to birds.

The surrounding grass is left to grow long. It will provide nesting sites for some birds and feeding areas for others.

The wild flowers in the site are a nectar source for insects and the seeds will provide food for birds and small mammals. Dead wood and leaf matter is vital for the survival of many insects and fungi.

In addition to many familiar resident and migrating breeding birds such as thrushes, robins and chaffinch which may be seen here, you may be lucky enough to spot less expected species, such as lesser whitethroat, willow warblers and goldfinches.

What is a cote?
Cotes, or small wooden huts, were used to give shelter to shepherds. His work was hard and physical with flocks having to be moved daily and the shepherd had to have somewhere to eat, rest and sleep, especially during the lambing season.

The Shepherd's Hut was basic accommodation with one room in which the shepherd ate, slept and stored his equipment. It had a stove in one corner for warmth and cooking, and a window on each side so the shepherd could see the flock. The hinged stable door, which never faced the prevailing wind, enabled him to hear the sheep. The hut had strong axles with cast iron wheels, which enabled the shepherd to move the hut from field to field as he needed to. It also had to be strong enough to withstand constant movement.

A wildflower planting programme and the installation of an information board and seating completed the project during 2007. We were delighted to welcome Mark Todd MP South Derbyshire when he came along on October 5 2007 to formally open the site for us, in the presence of Cllr M Bale, Chair South Derbyshire District Council. This happy occasion completed a successful project!

Ballast Hole Pond

The pond lies between the canal towpath and the railway line near the Nadee Restaurant. When the railway line was built in the 19th century, ballast was required for its construction and this was dug out of suitable sites beside the railway lines. Many of these holes filled up with water and developed into ponds, the largest of which in our area was opposite Findern School. When the power station was built in the 1950's, the company required sites to deposit the ash from burnt coal. Landowners were paid to allow it to be deposited in these holes, so most of them disappeared, including this large one. It was a beautiful spot, a large pond surrounded by trees and wildflowers with an old railway carriage as a summer house. A small boat was kept there for fishing or drifting about in. Older villagers talk about the picnics and the Sunday School outings that were enjoyed beside the pond! All that remains of the beautiful area is a large grassy mound and some happy memories.

The restoration of this Ballast Hole pond was made possible by British Waterways, who cleared all the undergrowth away and dredged the pond of decaying leaf matter. Several willow trees from around the pond were removed. The Group then undertook to replace the trees with wild fruiting trees such as crab apple, rowan, hazel and oak. The chippings from the felled trees were used to lay woodland paths.

Large stones were installed as a feature and for the public to sit on. It is believed they were part of the old canal wall before they were replaced by modern shuttering.

We have planted loosestrife, water avens, bistort, burr reed, water violets and dock in the pond.
Funding from Biffaward has enabled us to add a pond dipping platform that the school, other youth organisations and the public can use. It has also enabled us to install more seating. The project has been completed with the planting of wildflowers, ferns and heathers. We are very grateful to Biffaward for their support.

Bat and bird boxes have been put in the trees.

Please take time to visit and enjoy this beautiful area.

Stanhope Hole Conservation Area

This newly created conservation area can be found alongside the sewage treatment works in Commonpiece Lane, Findern. It was created from a piece of land which was deemed unsuitable for farming after the A50 trunk road was built. The Group are grateful to the landowners, the Cox family for their help with this project.

Our first task was to clear the site. At this point the grass was shoulder high! We were delighted to discover a small pond at one end of the field. A mown path was marked out, and native trees and shrubs were planted. Later, we planted wildflower bulbs and plants under the trees.

Bat and bird boxes were put in the trees and an insect hotel and a mammal cairn were added.

Although the pond is small, we have developed it to create a habitat for mammals, birds and insects. In the autumn of 2004, we enlarged it using machinery and then carefully shaped the edges using hand tools. The pond has been planted with a variety of native pond plants, including arrowhead, flag iris, forget me not, smock, marsh marigold and water mint. A pond dipping platform has been installed by the BTCV, and we are grateful to them for their help. It has been built from plastic wood, which is in fact made from plastic milk cartons!

We have put a bench seat alongside the pond and have installed a gat and pathwayse which will allow walkers and wheelchair-users to enter the area more easily.

The final touch was an information board which we hope will promote the diversity of wildlife in the area. Please enjoy this conservation area and remember the countryside code.

Stanhope Wood

Stanhope Wood was planted on disused farmland following the building of the A50 trunk road. The Forestry Commission funded the scheme for us. They planned the woodland to look as natural as possible in its surroundings, using trees which are native to South Derbyshire. In November 2003, the Chair of South Derbyshire District Council, Cllr M Bale planted the first tree for us. We then planted 1100 oak, ash, hazel, willow, spindle and dogwood. Two protective hedges were later planted by the young people in the village, and a further 500 native ornamental trees were added. In April 2005, the Lord Lieutenant of Derbyshire, Mr John Bather, kindly planted the last tree for us, thus marking the end of the first phase of the project.

The Group have put a bench in the glade to help people who may want to spend some time there. There is also an information board which explains the history of the area.

We have sown a wildflower bank at the entrance to the wood and have planted wildflowers under a mature hedge which lies within the wood.

Cardales Wildflower Meadow

Our newest project! Cardales Meadow can be found down Commonpiece Lane, Findern. It is adjacent to Crow Park Way (footpath 11). This field was purchased by the Highways Agency when the A50 trunk road was built in 1996. Now surplus to requirements, it is leased to us for this conservation project. With help from Findern Historical Society, we discovered that the old field name for this site is Cardales Close. 'Close' means a small enclosure. We have sown a traditional wildflower meadow on the site, and intend to manage it by a programme of structured mowing in the traditional manner. This project is vital as it is estimated that 91% of species-rich natural grassland has been lost in Derbyshire between 1984 and 1999. It will promote diversity as we do not have this habitat here in Findern, and it will compliment existing woodland, hedgerow and wetland sites. We have already recorded several priority species on the site, brown hares, grey partridges, skylarks, pipistrelle bats, kestrels and lapwings and are hoping that it will attract further priority species of mammals, butterflies, plants and birds.
The project was planned in conjunction with Derbyshire Biodiversity Project Officer and Derbyshire Countryside Service. A local farmer ploughed a test strip of ground for us. We sowed five different seed mixes, foundation meadow mix, herb mix, spring meadow mix, foundation + meadow mix and summer meadow mix on the site. After determining which was the most successful, the meadow was sown in Autumn 2008. We also planted wildflower plugs, which were donated by Warburtons. We are grateful to the Naturesave Trust, who have funded the installation of access gates to allow easier access for the less mobile. We have installed an information board which will inform people about the wildlife on the site.

This site is manged in the traditional manner. Hay is harvested and removed from the site in late summer.

Homes for Bats and Birds

It is a concern to us all that declining habitats are affecting the bat population. We are fortunate that 6 species of bats have been sighted in Findern. To encourage them to breed, we have put bat boxes in trees. These boxes are made from woodcrete, which is very strong and designed to be long lasting. Each box will accomodate many bats, as they like to live together!

The boxes have to be carefully sited, as the bats do not like flying through other branches to reach the box. The boxes must not face the sun, or they will get too hot! You will notice that the boxes have been numbered. Derby Bat Society will be monitoring each box and keeping records as to how well it is used!

We hope that the bird boxes will similarly encourage a wide variety of birds to nest and breed. We are grateful to Toyota, The Payback Team and the Environment Agency Action Earth project for helping us with this project.

Wildlife Corridors

The Group is concerned about the continuing loss of hedgerows. These are a valuable source of food as well as providing a safe haven for many animals and birds. Over the last few years we have planted three new hedgerows. One has been planted behind the wildflower banks in Crow Park Way, two others have been planted along the sides of Stanhope Wood. These will act as a windbreak to protect newly planted trees and shrubs, as well as to provide shelter and food for many species.

The hedges are a mixture of blackthorn, hazel, hawthorn, field maple, dog rose and spindle. This will create a traditional South Derbyshire hedgerow. As they reach a certain size, they will be laid in the traditional manner. This will ensure they grow thickly. This project was funded with the assistance of a Greenwatch Action Grant from Derbyshire County Council.

Wildflower Restoration Project

We are working on a long term project to reintroduce some of the wildflowers back into our countryside. With support from Andrew Laxton, from Derbyshire Countryside Service, we have researched wildflowers that are traditional to South Derbyshire. We have drawn up planting plans for various habitats including wetland, hedgerow, woodland and meadow. The group are maintaining a database which monitors the success of the project. Diverse species of wildflowers encourages bees and insects which are vital to the eco structure.

The community are very appreciative of this project. We believe that by enhancing our rights of way, they become more attractive and people will be encouraged to use them more.

Wetlands Rescued and Revived!

We are removing a large number of willow trees from the wetland site along Crow Park Way. These trees are very thirsty and remove water that the wetland site requires.

We shall shortly also be removing rose bay willow herb and some of the bullrushes. This will create the areas of open water that dragonflies and other insects need.

We are continuing this programme by planting more varieties of plants in this wetland.

Findern Flower Power!

We are working with South Derbyshire District Council and Findern Parish Council to promote biodiversity in Findern. We have reviewed the mowing arrangements in Findern, and identified sites which would benfit from less frequent mowing. This willl lead to more wildflowers which we hope will help to halt the decline in butterflies and bees. We intend over the coming years to add further wildflower planting, together with berrying shrubs and trees to these sites.

These sites will all be kept under review over the summer and all wildlife sightings will be recorded.