Three new park videos

Check out these videos of the hedgerow laying event, time to get moving and the Bells Farm autumn festival.

Autumn Hedgerow Weekend:

Time to Get Moving:

Bells Farm Heritage Alive -,Autumn Festival:


New Wildlife blog and free nature resources for download

We have added a new blog to wildlife pages and draw your attention to the Woodland Trust’s wildlife initiatives for exploring nature and photography:

Use their nature exploration packs for natural play around Cannon Hill and River Rea Linear Parks: Over a thousand free activity sheets to use in woods and at home. Guaranteed fun for young people and families throughout the year. Or why not take out the camera and join in with their volunteer photography scheme? With dappled sunlight and fresh morning dew, Cannon Hill and River Rea Linear Parks have great places to take pictures. Add your thoughts and photos and help us inspire everyone about woodland, wild life, wildflower plants, gardens, rivers and pools.

Lastly, there are a suite of new identification guides for download for the National OPAL website. These are very useful guides to a range of wildlife. Oh and don’t forget iSpot!

Summer Solar Festival 2009 - a day in pictures

For our Solar Festival 2009 Birmingham Astronomer John Dee recreated William Herschel's experiment for the Lunar Society in 1800 with thermometers to show Infrared Radiation, and also the range of instruments used by the new scientists in homes such as Boulton's Soho House.

And the Shango Science Club of teenagers showed the plates they created specially for our solar picnic, revealing the summer triangle of stars and constellations most prominent in the sky from June to September.

Whilst others were happy to taste the range of Planets Suite Pancakes created by Cyrdric.

The Cannon Hill Camera Obscura, made by Tim Holgate's Pinhole Solutions, was very popular again....

...but what is that Green Planet floating over the Lake?

Most eyes were on the Sun all day using four Solar Telescopes, and other pieces of the Bham Astronomy Roadshow which will be at Sutton Park in August and back in Cannon Hill for our Winter Lanterns Festival on 12 December.

Further astronomical events in ITA 2009 are on and there is more photo fun from a shoe box to Camera Obscura at


Join Birmingham Astronomy Society, Ishango Sun-Trek Cadets and Park Friends to celebrate the Summer Solstice and Birmingham International Year of Astronomy.


Spring over the Rea

Today we held our spring festival celebrating the start of another ‘Friends Event Year’ and another year of patch people and wildlife activity. We were happy to be joined by the Rangers (Arthur and Alan), local friend Penny Moore who organised the great duck race (from Balaams Wood another River Rea local patch), the RSPB in the shape of Hollie and Jess who will moving on to pastures new as their Severn-Trent funding has expired (they will be greatly missed), Adam, Laura and Jon (from OPAL West Midlands), Tom and Nicky from Birmingham and Black Country Wildlife Trust (BBCWT) and famous ‘Bat Detector Van’.

Nicky (BBCWT), Tom (BBCWT), Jon (OPALWM) and Adam (OPALWM) with the OPAL WM Bee Hotels and literature,
OPAL worm survey kits and Evolution MegaLab snail tank.

The Bat Detector.

There were bee hotels and bat boxes to be made (courtesy of BBCWT) and lots of information concerning British solitary bees and OPAL West Midlands’ ‘
West Mildands Buzz’ bee project.

Adam and bees

Badges to be drawn.

The day started with a walk around one of the patch nature walks led by the Friends and OPAL (see
here for walk details) and concluded with the Great duck Race, started by Tony and refereed by Penny. In between we had lots of activity in the Queen Mother’s Woodland (or Rea Thicket) when Arthur and Alan ran a bug hunt, attended by a host of enthusiastic young naturalists and their parents.

Arthur organising the ‘bug hunt’.

45 minutes of rooting around looking on and around trees, under stones and logs, in brushwood piles, leaf litter turned up a vast array of different bugs including mites and spiders, woodlice, millipedes and centipedes, beetles, slugs, snails, flies, hymenopterans, adult caddisflies and the like.

Most were taken back to the stands for photographing and you can find these sitting on the ‘Bug Ball gallery’. Can you spot your bug? Wait for the pictures to cycle through!

The day culminated in the ‘Great Duck Race’. The ducks were released from the bridge at Second Avenue and the finish line was the ford down Rea Walk.

Penny allocated the ducks to their owners. Eventually 68 numbered ducks entered the race.

Ready, set go...........

And they are off........

The race is on downstream........

And the winner was......number 26! Thanks Penny (and Arthur and Alan for marshalling and collecting the late finishers).

It was a terrific way to spend a warm spring day. Thanks to all involved.

Tony (left) and Jon (right).