York’s St Nicholas Fields Nature Reserve & FoHW AGM – Wednesday 24th May 2017


Jonathan Dent is the Nature Reserve Manager of the St Nicholas Field Nature Reserve, which has claims to be “the Green Heart of York”.  It is 24 acres of unique green space just a mile from York city centre between an industrial zone and a housing estate. It became a Local Nature Reserve in 2004 to conserve and maintain a diverse range of habitats to sustain wildlife. It now contains a great variety of trees, plants, shrubs, birds and butterflies. Current projects include improving the management of water courses in York’s becks, including the conservation of local water voles.


First Friday Cycle Group – Outing to Hagg Wood on 5 May 2017

14 riders with the First Friday Cycle Group set off from the Millennium Bridge at 10.15 am, via Walmgate Stray, Heslington and Dunnington to visit the bluebells in Hagg Wood.

On arrival they were provided with light refreshments by two FOHW committee members, before being taken to view the bluebells.

Tea, coffee & biscuits in the “Drumming Circle”


The bluebell display
Time to leave


Conservation Work Party – Saturday 6th May 2017

Our next work party is on Saturday 6th May and we would be delighted to see any new volunteers. We meet at 10.00 am at the top of Intake Lane and work until 1.00 pm with a break midway.  If you wish to come later check the “Welcome to Hagg Wood”  notice board at the entrance to the wood,  where a note will indicate where we are working in the wood.  Bring gloves if you can, and wear stout shoes or wellies.  All the necessary tools are provided.



Our new Hi-viz vests to be worn when working in the wood


Muddy Paths in the Wood

Many visitors to Hagg Wood during the winter period, complained about the muddy paths. This was caused by the frequent heavy spells of rain that we experienced. This raised the water table level in the wood and resulted in flooding of paths.  There is a need to create more ditches alongside the major paths to ensure that water can soak away more quickly.  The Forestry Commission has been made aware of this problem and hopefully can provide a resource for the work to be carried out.

In the meantime, we have carried out some remedial work on raising the path levels in flood areas along the Millennium Path and Crater Track.  We have also created an alternative “dry” track which runs alongside Crater Track to the junction with Keepers Way.

Here are some pictures of the work that was carried out during February and March 2017

Removing the surplus mud on the Millennium Path
Dry base ready to be back filled with surplus logs


The finished raised path


On the Crater Track


If you are visiting the wood to view the bluebells most of the paths are relatively dry so there is no need to wear wellington boots.

The Grapevine Parish Magazine entry for May 2017

Over the Easter period the wood took on all the joys of the Spring season. The wood anemones have flourished in recent years and are now quite stunning. The bluebells have spread to many different areas of the wood as a result of the thinning of the wood and the ongoing work of the volunteers. Primroses, foxgloves and cherry blossom are also adding colour to the wood.

In early April,  18 members of the Friends of Hagg Wood had a fascinating day out to Drax power station and the Skylark nature reserve. The latter is managed by the power station and provides a huge area of woodland where  plant and animal life is a priority. In the reserve one can find  one hundred species of wildlife on land that previously was wasteland. The visit to the massive power station gave us all an insight into the use of biomass fuel  which  is shipped from USA on a regular basis.

Our AGM takes place on Wednesday 24th May at 8pm in the Reading Rooms. Following the AGM we will have a talk by Jonathan Dent who is the Manager of St Nicholas Field nature reserve in York. This consists of a site that covers 24 acres and is only one mile from the city centre and is located between an industrial zone and a housing estate. Admission is free for members and a £1.50 charge for non- members.

On Saturday June 3rd we will be having a cycle ride to Ellerton church down the quiet lanes beyond  Elvington. Meet at 11am at the play area on Intake Lane. Please bring a packed lunch.

Working parties continue as usual on Saturday  mornings  and will take place on May 6th, June 10th, July 8th and August 5th.  Please meet at the end of Intake Lane at 10am – if you wish to come later check the notice board for a note that will indicate where we are working in the wood.

Visit to Drax Power Station and Nature Reserve – Saturday 8 April 2017

A group of twenty “friends”  enjoyed a fantastic guided walk around the Skylark Centre and the adjacent Nature Reserve at Barlow Mound, which is a unique ecological setting with over 100 species of wildlife in the new natural environment which has now been transformed into an area of natural beauty.  This was followed by an excellent lunch at the Comus Inn in Camblesforth,  before starting a guided tour around the Drax Power Station in the afternoon to understand how electricity is generated.





At the Mound viewing area



At the Drax Visitor Centre for a briefing on the workings of the power station

A supply of bio-mass arriving by rail for off loading into the storage containers

On the tour bus






At the bio-mass storage containers

Up close at the cooling towers

The Grapevine Parish Magazine entry for April 2017

In troubled times it was heartening to hear our young speaker, Guy Mandziuk, recount his interesting experiences as a volunteer in the recent disaster areas of the Philippines and Nepal.  It requires openness and generosity of spirit.  Guy convinced us that it was very worthwhile and he hopes to work again with the charity, ‘All Hands Together’, which spends 94% of its donations on getting work done, a great example for other charities to follow.

We continue our conservation work in the wood and with Barbara Pyrah’s bequest we are creating a woodland glade in her memory, Barbara’s Glade, situated at the top of the wood, off Styron Way.  Please check the map on the Welcome leaflet in the Library if you want to find the exact location.  We have planted lots of pollinator species such as Lady’s Smock, Meadowsweet, and Wild Angelica provided by Andrew Cutts on the Urban Buzz Project to provide good habitat for Butterflies, Moths and Bees.

Several years ago the group commissioned Barry Wright to survey the hedgerows of Dunnington.  He has been awarded his PhD and part of his work was the ‘Historic Hedgerow Heritage of Dunnington’ project.  The work has been summarized with the full details contained in a DVD at the beginning of the report.  A copy has been left at the Library and all the Dunnington farmers are to be given a copy in thanks for their support and encouragement.  Barry would very much welcome comments and feedback, telephone 01423 358791.

We’re planning a visit to Drax Power Station on Saturday 8th April.   First we’ll walk around their Nature Reserve, called the Skylark Centre followed by lunch at the Comus Inn at Camblesforth, then drive to Drax to be collected by electric buses for a guided tour around the power station.  Everyone is invited to attend all or part of the planned programme.  Please confirm with Linda Maggs, York 489127 if you’d like to join us.

Working Party dates are April 1st, May 6th, June 10th, July 8th and August 5th.

The Grapevine Parish Magazine entry for March 2017

When did we last have 200 twitchers trying to view a rare bird in Dunnington? The Pine Bunting should not have been here at all. It breeds in Siberia and usually winters in central Asia with a few coming further west but very rarely this far.  So we were fortunate to have one mix in with a local flock of yellowhammers, especially if you happened to see it.  What has this to do with Hagg Wood?  We expect that the establishment of some groves in the wood, and the planting of suitable vegetation will green the floor of the wood and attract insects, butterflies and birds.  Not necessarily rarities but more the usual woodland birds that are becoming scarcer in the UK.  It will not be long before the first of the summer migrants arrive, so keep your eyes and ears open.  Some are more often heard than seen. There might be a rare one among them!  Urban Buzz York, the Butterfly Conservation, and our ecological adviser Martin Hammond have been very helpful in suggesting the vegetation that would be suitable in the glades.

During our next Hagg Wood working party on March 4th we shall be planting in the glades, so come along and plant a tree.

As mentioned in our Spring Newsletter, the Conservation Volunteers have cleared further areas of invasive brambles in the Bluebell area that should create an even more magnificent display of bluebells than previously.

On Monday March 20th at 7.30 pm in the Reading Room, Terry Weston will be giving his popular annual photographic show, this year entitled  “Namibia & Its Wildlife”.


The dates for our next Woodland Working parties are March 4th and 11th, and April 1st. Meet at  10am at the wood end of Intake Lane. We aim to finish at 1pm. Strong boots or wellies and good gardening gloves are recommended.  Please join us and help make the wood better for us all.