Monday, 15 January 2018

Bird Species Number 53, The Nuthatch



In early December last year a bird song not heard in the gardens before was recorded and it is only now that the bird behind this song has been identified, a Nuthatch. For a few weeks this bird was seen and heard in the trees at the bottom of the Provost's garden, up high, it could not be seen enough to identify and the pattern of notes the bird was singing had not been heard before. The bird was eventually identified by a member of the BTO (British Trust For Ornithology) who knew the song as soon as they heard it. This Nuthatch has become the 53rd different species of bird recorded in the college grounds since the list began in 2007. (The Nuthatch photographs above are from online sources).   

Goldcrest  (Male, Orange Centre In A Yellow Crest Stripe)

A bird seen easily in the gardens at the moment is the Goldcrest. The UK's smallest bird, they are regularly seen moving quickly in the fir trees looking for insects, rarely keeping still, this male, orange centre in a yellow crest stripe, was captured on camera by Ali. 


Worcester College Bird List – 15th January 2018

1.       Blue Tit 
2.       Great Tit 
3.       Coal Tit 
4.       Blackbird 
5.       Song Thrush 
6.       Mistle Thrush 
7.       Redwing 
8.       Fieldfare 
9.       Robin 
10.   Sparrow  (Tree and House)
11.   Dunnock 
12.   Long Tailed Tit 
13.   Chaffinch 
14.   Greenfinch 
15.   Goldfinch 
16.   Goldcrest 
17.   Treecreeper 
18.   Reed Warbler 
19.   Blackcap 
20.   Chiffchaff 
21.   Wren 
22.   Great Spotted Woodpecker 
23.   Green Woodpecker 
24.   Pied Wagtail 
25.   Grey Wagtail 
26.   Jay 
27.   Kingfisher 
28.   Magpie 
29.   Goosander 
30.   Mute Swan 
31.   Mallard (inc Domestic Ducks, Muscovy, Crested Duck) 
32.   Grey Heron 
33.   Canada Goose 
34.   Greylag Goose 
35.   Moorhen 
36.   Coot 
37.   Cormorant 
38.   Wood Pigeon 
39.   Collared Dove 
40.   Jackdaw 
41.   Crow 
42.   Rook 
43.   Starling 
44.   Sparrowhawk (Nesting 2007-2009) 
45.   Little Grebe (Spotted 2009) 
46.   Rosybill Pochard (Escaped from captivity, visited April 2012) 
47.   Greylag Goose X Canada Goose (Visited March 2016) 
48.   Grey Parrot (Escaped from captivity, visited 2009 ) 
49.   Parakeet (Spotted January 2012) 
50.   Oystercatcher (Spotted Friday 4th August 9.00am on the sports field) 
51.   Black-Headed Gull 
52.   Herring Gull 
53.   Nuthatch (6th December 2017)

Thursday, 11 January 2018

Pruning Climbing Roses And Wisteria

Three Ladders Needed

The first full week at work has been a busy one for the team from turning the leaf pits; aerating the large lawns; cutting down ornamental grasses; removing ivy from trees; strimming down stinging nettles; raking up the last of the autumn leaf fall to pruning the many climbers that adorn the walls at the rear of the 13th century cottages.

Pruned Wisteria

Starting with the large wisteria at the top end of the herbaceous border, three ladders of different shapes and sizes are needed to access this awkward giant that, over many years, has climbed around windows and an arch. Once pruned the next climber to be tackled was the rather scruffy, somewhat unruly, climbing rose.

A Unruly Climbing Rose

A Lot Of Top Growth

For many years this rose has caused a problem and, not wanting to prune it too hard, the team have given it time to behave. In the past new wires have been added to allow it to climb up and along the wall, pruned lightly and pruned semi hard but still the top half insists on exploding and filling the corner with top growth and very little flower. 

Pruning The Climbing Rose

Nearly Finished

The decision was made to renovate this rose and prune it hard. The oldest, woody stems were selected, cut down and, following them through the rose and along the wires, were carefully removed. Next the dead was cut out and then the remaining vigorous, young stems were untied from the wires, untangled and then retied along the wires. Any side shoots along the newly tied in stems were then shortened and the lengths of the stems reduced by cutting of the tips to encourage branching. Pleased with the resultant shape created by the hard pruning it is now a case of just waiting to see if the rose behaves itself and stays tidy and flowers well.


Wisteria and Climbing Roses Pruned

Working their way along the back of the cottages, another three wisteria and three roses were pruned before reaching another wall with a campsis and yet another wisteria that need pruning. These wisteria underwent a hard prune a few years ago so now the strongest, young growth, produced in response to this hard prune, are tied in to the wires and shortened to create new flowering spurs as well as cutting back the older flowering spurs to two to three buds.
After four days all these climbers had been pruned and, next week, the pruning will continue with the largest wisteria that inhabits the long black railings at the far end of the quad. 

Pruned Wisteria

Pruning Another Wisteria

Friday, 5 January 2018

Country Life 'Behold The Flower Of Town And Gown'

 January 2018, Galanthus elwesii 'Maidwell L'

The college's display of snowdrops are featured this weeks Country Life, page 78-83, six pages entitled 'Behold the flower of town and gown' written by Mark Griffiths with acompanying photographs by Julian Nieman. Here is a link to the online version, enjoy!

Wednesday, 3 January 2018

A Windy Welcome Back From Storm 'Eleanor'

Happy New year and welcome back to the readers of the blog.

Back with a bang, or a crash in this instance, the Gardens and Grounds team returned today from the College's Christmas and New Year shut down and were welcomed back by the strong winds of storm 'Eleanor'.
The storms are now named by the Met Office and Met Eireann and are based on the National Severe Weather Warning Service, helping to raise awareness of the severity of the winds and their potential impact. Working through A-Z from the beginning of September to the end of March, in 2015-16 there were 11 storms from Abigail through to Kate, in 2016-17 there were only five storms, from Angus through to Ewan, but since last September there have already been five, from Aileen through to Eleanor which arrived over night and blew through the county of Oxfordshire most of the day. 
Eleanor had an immediate impact on the returning team having caused one of the beech trees to shed a rather large limb bringing it crashing to the ground. This had to be cleared, cutting it up with a chainsaw, then splitting the wood into logs and stacking them in the log store where they will dry out ready to be used as firewood.
A windy welcome back to work, it is hoped that storm 'Fionn' never arrives!


Thursday, 21 December 2017

Merry Christmas And A Happy New Year

Gardens and Grounds Team Christmas 2017, 21st December

The college has now shut down for the festive period and the Gardens and Grounds team are having a deserved break. This year has been an extremely busy one from the get go with the planting of the borders around the new Sultan Nazrin Shah Centre, the triennial commemorative ball in June right through to the royal visit in October.
The team would like to thank you all for your continued support through the reading of this blog and for the many positive comments made through it and in person when visiting the gardens. Next year, 2018, will be the 10th year of the blog, and the final year that Ali will be writing it so please join her and the team when they get back in January to see what happens in the gardens and grounds, as well as revisiting blog entries from the last 9 years. Merry Christmas and a very Happy New Year.  

Tuesday, 19 December 2017

The Pruning Of The Rose Garden Completed Before Christmas

The First Rose To Be Pruned, A Climbing Rose

The pruning of the many wisteria, campsis and the numerous climbing and shrub roses in the college gardens began during the first week of November. It continued through November and in to the middle of  December with the pruning this week of the roses in the Provost's rose garden.

The Second Rose

Pruned Campsis, Climbing Roses and Wisteria On The Top Terrace

Pruned Climbing Roses On the Cottages

Pruned Wisteria, South Facing Wall Of The Provost's Lodgings

Due to the morning frosts this week the team had to wait for it to defrost before they could walk on the grass that surround the ten rose beds. Whilst waiting for the sun to rise high enough above the buildings, and shine sufficiently to melt the frost, they used this time to prune the wisteria that adorns the lower section of the south facing wall of the Provost's lodgings.   

Pruning The Roses In The Provost's Rose Garden

Once the frosts melted sufficiently the team ventured on to the grass and, over two days, pruned the seventy roses in the rose beds. The rose garden, now 10 years old, its redesign and replanting were completed in the Spring of 2007, has many different types of old fashioned roses Alba, Moss, Gallica, Damask, Bourbon, Rugosa, Hybrid Perpetual and China, all helping to create a beautiful, fragrant display in the summer, it is at its best in June.
A great achievement to have the rose garden pruning completed by Christmas but, with the Chrstmas break starting on Thursday, the pruning of the remaining wisteria will have to wait until January when the team return from their well earned rest. 


The Roses The Ten Rose Beds Are All Pruned

Tuesday, 12 December 2017

A Cold, Snowy Few Days In Oxford

The Top Orchard
Snow! Love it or loathe it, it is the Garden and Grounds team's responsibility to clear the paths, apply the rock salt and make the college safe to walk around for the staff, visitors, alumni and students. 

Pavillion And Practice Wickets

Three to four inches of snow fell on Sunday so yesterday morning, armed with snow shovels and wheelbarrows full of rock salt, the team worked together to clear and treat the pathways, cold work but a necessity. Once the work is done the snow can then be appreciated for all its beauty.
This morning the cleared pathways had to be treated with rock salt again but by the afternoon the snow and ice was beginning to melt, hopefully that is the last of the snow before the college shuts down for the Christmas break.


View Across The Sports Field to The Lecture Centre


Snow Rabbit