Tarantuala brought by Carl Portman to Sun Rising Nature Talk on Spiders

Spiders and Tapas

Our nature talk on Saturday evening was a great success.  70 people came along to hear the talk on spiders given by Carl Portman – which was a wonderful mixture of fascinating and funny.  Carl brought along a couple of his furry friends, including this beautiful tarantula, but there were also plenty of pointers about spiders we might find at home, and at Sun Rising.  Even those who were nervous of spiders at the start admitted that they were now able to think differently about the little creatures.  Thank you so much, Carl!

Tarantuala brought by Carl Portman to Sun Rising Nature Talk on Spiders

One of Carl’s Beautiful Tarantulas

There was a feast of savoury tapas, with Spanish wine and other drinks, for which we are also enormously grateful to the Friends and trustees who contributed.  In total, with the raffle, we raised just under £725 for the Friends.  Thank you to everyone!

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Jamie, Tom, David and Chris, with our Bales at Redwings

Feeding the Horses (and Donkeys)

As mentioned in the previous blog, hay cut and baled in the summer is usually used for winter fodder for farm livestock.  At Sun Rising, our hay is taken to the local horse rescue centre, Redwings at Oxhill.  This feels very much in keeping with our ethics.

Cut late in the season, it’s rich with wildflower seedheads, and so much better for animals than hay made solely with grasses.  Where it’s a bit too chewy for the horses at Redwings, we’re told, the donkeys are more than happy to polish it off.

With another year’s haymaking over, we’d like to give a big thank you to Michael who has kindly cut the hay for the last few years, using his wonderful old tractor (with Ben, the dog).  And thanks to Chris and Jamie, our gravediggers, who helped take the hay up to Redwings.  As we donate the hay, instead of selling it, these kind folk have equally given their time without charging.  Thanks too to Tom, Helen, and all at Redwings for their valuable work.

Jamie, Tom, David and Chris, with our Bales at Redwings

Jamie, Tom, David and Chris, with our Bales at Redwings

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The Myddelton Quartet playing in the Roundhouse

A Perfect English Afternoon

There is something idyllic about a sunny English afternoon, the temperature in the early 20s, a soft breeze, mown grass underfoot.  Add a wildflower meadow, birdsong, young trees, butterflies and dragonflies, a cup of tea or cold punch, a slice of home-made cake, and nothing to do for an hour or two …

Our Open Day, graced by the wonderful music of the Myddleton Quartet, was held last Saturday, and we were blessed in so many ways: the weather was lovely, the refreshments stall heavy with delicious fayre, and gentle easy company.  The roses around the roundhouse came into flower so perfect it could almost have been planned.

The Myddelton Quartet playing in the Roundhouse

The Myddleton Quartet playing in the Roundhouse

Thank you to all the volunteers, and the Quartet, who made the day what it was.  Nearly £650 was raised from the refreshments stall, over £550 from the raffle and tombola, and the last of our 2017 honey was snapped up, along with plenty of our new tea towels and increasingly famous ‘bunny badges’ (our Friends’ hare lapel pin).  A very positive day in terms of fundraising for The Friends, a valuable day all round.

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The Sun Rising Tea Towel (autumn/winter)

Cakes and Tea Towels

First of all, a big thank you to all who came along to our Cake Sale last weekend.  We raised £180 for The Friends of Sun Rising, and as importantly it was a lovely opportunity to people to meet and talk.  Thanks to all who donated cakes and helped out on the day.

The Sun Rising Tea Towel (autumn/winter)

The Sun Rising Tea Towel (autumn/winter)

As those who came along on Saturday will have found out, our new Sun Rising tea towel is now printed and available to buy.  The beautiful artwork is by Philip Bannister, and it’s all organic cotton.  They are £10 each, with all profit going to The Friends.  If you would like a tea towel or two sent by post, get in touch and I’ll let you know the postage and packing.  We are hoping Philip will do one for us with a spring/summer theme as well …

Tea towels will be on sale at our Open Day on Saturday 9 June, when there’ll be a string quartet playing in the roundhouse between 3 and 5 pm.  Do come along on the day – put it in the diary, and I’ll post more information about it in the coming week!

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Volunteers at the Mulching Day

Caring for Trees

Yesterday we held our spring volunteer day, mulching all the little saplings – both those planted in memory of a loved one, and those planted as part of the nature reserve.  Around 30 lovely people came, full of energy and enthusiasm, with wheelbarrows and buckets, and around 700 little trees were mulched.

Volunteers at the Mulching Day

Volunteers at the Mulching Day

With climate change, while we may grumble at snow and grey skies, actual rainfall has decreased over the last ten years.  Indeed, for the first time at Sun Rising, last summer some of the youngest trees suffered from drought.  The mulch of composted bark will help retain moisture in the soil, while also suppressing some of the grasses and other plants around the base of the trees.  It looks very smart for a while too, especially with the spring flowers coming through – the wild daffodils, primroses and cowslips, and the first lesser celandine.

Saplings Mulched along Eastern Boundary

Saplings Mulched along Eastern Boundary

A big thank you to everyone who came along, and to all who contributed to the refreshments table too.  As one of the volunteers said, the whole place looks very ‘smart and loved’.  It is loved – very much indeed!

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SVWAG Talk Poster

Wildlife Hospital Talk

This is a post to support a trio of local charities: Stour Valley Wildlife Action Group, who are hosting a talk about the Vale Wildlife Hospital and Rehabilitation Centre, in aid of Shipston Home Nursing.  Here’s the information …

SVWAG Talk Poster

SVWAG Talk Poster

Do head along if you can.  Not only will it be interesting, but all in a good cause.

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The 50+ Festival

On Saturday this week, 30 September, we are at the 50+Festival in Stratford upon Avon: An A-Z Guide to the Second Half of Life.

Organised by Engage, this is an ‘Information Day at Stratford-upon-Avon’s first Festival for those from 50 to 100+. There’s a lot going on in our town and surrounding area for people from 50 to 100+ but it’s not always easy to discover who’s doing what and where. If you’d like to expand your horizons, learn a new skill or hobby, volunteer or simply acquaint yourself with what’s going on that might be of interest, this is the Fair for you! 60 or so exhibitors, workshops and talks and a great café too. Easy, free parking and disabled access. Come along with family and friends – or make new ones over a cuppa – and add oomph, gaiety and a sense of purpose to your life. No need to book – just turn up on the day.’

The event is in the Levi Fox Hall at King Edward VI School, Chapel Lane, Stratford-upon-Avon CV37 6HB.

Do come along and have a look at what’s on offer.  Come and find us, and say hello.  We’d love to see you there.

It begins a week of activities and opportunities.  Check the website at https://www.engagefestival.org.uk/.

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Gold Spot Moth recorded at Sun Rising Moth Night 2017

Stars, Bats and Gold Spots

On Sunday last we held a moth night here at Sun Rising and what a beautiful event it turned out to be.  There are regular surveys of moths at the site, run by local enthusiast Alan Prior, but only once a year do we open these up to the public.  Around 25 attending the event, some staying until the early hours of the morning.

The sky wasn’t ideal for moths – not quite enough cloud to bring them down to the light boxes – but that meant it was a glorious night for star gazing.  With barely a whisper of wind, and the temperature staying in the mid teens, there were bats flying – we estimated up to 40 individual pipistrelles in one area.  A barn owl was out hunting, and I heard a tawny owl in the distance.  Hares and rabbits were seen too.

Gold Spot Moth recorded at Sun Rising Moth Night 2017

Gold Spot Moth recorded at Sun Rising Moth Night 2017

As for the moths, some 1259 were counted in the light traps, of some 78 different species.  Along with Alan, we had the comprehensive knowledge of Scott Hackett, John Finlay and Peter Smith on hand, and those attending were given the chance to learn a huge amount about these little seen – and seldom appreciated – beautiful creatures.  A big thank you to all who made it such a great event.

 

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Staff at Redwings Horse Sanctuary with Sun Rising Volunteer Robin dropping off the Hay Bales

Baling for Redwings

The cutting of the wildflower meadow is always a marking point of the turning tides of the year.  There are of course, almost certainly, warm and tranquil days ahead, September offering golden evenings and lazy moments in the sunshine, but the summer has become harvest and is now clearly moving towards autumn.

At Sun Rising, the long golden grasses and seedheads of the wildflower meadow are now mostly cut.  The woodland burial areas and plantations of young trees are tidied and the saplings mulched.  The meadow is now cut and, where a month ago there was the floriferous profusion of summer colours there is short grass and stubble.  It’ll green up again over the coming month, but stay short now until next spring.

We’d like to thank all the lovely volunteers who came on Sunday to help out with the raking.  We’d like to thank Michael Gibbs who came with his marvellous 1969 Ford tractor to cut the meadow and bale it.  We’d like to thank Colin Locke for lending us his trailer.  20 bales of delicious (apparently) wildflower hay was delivered to Redwings Horse Sanctuary yesterday, which it is a pleasure to support.

Staff at Redwings Horse Sanctuary with Sun Rising Volunteer Robin dropping off the Hay Bales

Staff at Redwings Horse Sanctuary with Sun Rising Volunteer Robin dropping off the Hay Bales

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The Volunteers for the Woodland Burial Areas, August 2017

Raking and Mulching

The work of clearing and tidying for autumn has now begun, and on Sunday morning two dozen wonderful individuals headed over to Sun Rising to help out with the tasks.

The Volunteers for the Woodland Burial Areas, August 2017

The Volunteers for the Woodland Burial Areas, August 2017

It was the woodland burial areas that we were focusing on.  All the grasses and flowers had been strimmed through the week, and the job was to rake up the hay and use it to mulch around the saplings.  As you can see (below), we had one volunteer who did most of the important work all by himself …

Showing everyone how to do it ...

Showing everyone how to do it …

Thank you to each and every one who came, not just for the great work accomplished, but for wonderful conversation, support and care, the delicious lunch shared and everything else that made the day so hugely worthwhile.

Next week we’ll be doing the meadow burial areas, and the wildflower meadow itself will be cut as soon as we have three days of clear dry weather ahead.

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