March in the Forest

Around about this time of year a small number of people take part in the Wyre Forest frogspawn survey. For me this involves setting off through the forest to find my allocation of 10 ponds, some easy to find, one mysteriously evasive despite my having done this for the past 9 years. When there I gaze intently into the water at various points, counting clumps of frogspawn. A few clumps are easy to count but in favoured sites I resort to desperate estimates: 200? 500? On a warm day there may be obvious frog activity (“croak”, “plop”) and I will know that I’ll have to repeat the exercise when they’ve finished. They may even stop due to cold weather and start again when it gets warmer. I may look too early (nothing there) or too late (clumps of spawn sinking and starting to merge into each other).

A friend keeps a log of the first day of spawning each year. The dates range from February 24th in 2011 (after the coldest winter in 25 years) to March 12th in 2005. She doesn’t have a date for last year – probably gave up, though it wasn’t too bad a year for frogs or us in the end.

The data are collected by the Wyre Forest Study Group, who were recently featured on BBC 1’s “Countryfile”. The survey doesn’t tell us how many of the eggs survive to adult frogs but should indicate trends in population numbers.

Forestry Commission events this month:

3rd to 9th March - Climate Week. A family-friendly trail takes you see how trees and forests can be part of the solution to climate change. The Wyre Forest Discovery Centre is offering a discount for schools to who come on their ‘Trees and Climate Change’ programme that week. Also see www.climateweek.com to see how this nationwide occasion will be encouraging all of us to do our bit, small or large, to help create a secure future.

Sunday 30th March - Forest Discovery Day. This will include a forestry and timber trail accompanied by forest-themed activities for families in and around the Community Discovery Centre at Callow Hill.

The regular Health Walks continue to meet at the Forest Cafe at 10.30am on Tuesdays or Sundays to register before the 11am walk. These walks are led by volunteers and there is no charge. Forest Friends meet at 10am each Thursday for an hour of forest activities for pre-school children and their carers. On the first Thursday of the month this is led by the Discovery Centre team and 6th March will see the creation of works of Forest Art (see www.forestry.gov.uk/forestry/infd-6frek4 for the themes for other months), while Forest School practitioners from“Step-Up” will run play-based sessions on the other Thursdays. There is a charge of £3 per child (plus £1 for other participating siblings).

Linda Iles