Monthly Conservation Group Meetings
A small committed group look after the various aspects of the churchyard throughout the year.
General conservation meetings undertook the following: -
March saw the checking of the tree works and remedial works planned for reinstating the damaged path;
May continued this work;
June meeting - too wet to meet;
July - annual recording of the condition of the gravestones and further recording measures.
September - early fruit collecting and general ‘green gym’ works including some removal of moss and ivy from the moat walls.
October - foraging for fruit and cones/dried sticks.
November - mainly a planning meeting but further dead wood and path edging; cone and sticks collection took place.
December - decorate church and take some foliage away to decorate at home.
A bat count took place every first Wednesday of the month during the year. The August count was particularly pleasing as passive bat detectors left in church overnight recorded 73 ‘mothers’.
Two ‘desiccated’ bats were found on the floor in July – probably dislodged from the beam above, and a small dead bat was found in the nave in August – probably an unsuccessful fledging. Another young bat was helped successfully back to its maternity roost on 5 August following a phone call from a visitor to church.
Consideration is being given to getting a passive detector, something like an Anabat Express which could be left in the church or positioned around the churchyard to collect data over a period of time.
Visual checks on bat droppings are being recorded over the winter season in addition to help build a picture of bat activity at St Andrew’s.
We lost one hive over the winter so were down to two as before. One hive resorted to robbing the other hive, early in the season, to save the bother of foraging. Recommended measures were put in place to stop this, including covering with a damp sheet and stuffing the entrance with dry grass. (Apparently the bees in the hive quickly learn to circumvent these barriers but it confuses the intruders.)
The robber hive swarmed, and lodged 60 ft. up a tree making it impossible to recover. However, the remaining hive more than made up for the loss of the swarm, having reared a new queen and the robbing faded out.
Both hives are very active now and the bees are visible in numbers on the heather on the moor. Each now has three supers (the boxes which contain the honey storage comb) which is more thanlast year.
Honey has been extracted and is being sold in church and in the village pub.
We are working with the Yorkshire Dales National Park ‘Young Rangers’ Project Officer, to work on identifying and logging the birds and encouraging them by creating and maintaining habitats in the churchyard. We hope to grow this area of work in 2018.
The planned pruning and removal work on the trees in the churchyard took place in early 2017. 9 tonnes of wood and tree material was removed, and this has opened up the churchyard to light, which will benefit plants, wildlife and access. Two new native fruit trees, a damson and a dwarf apple, were planted in the Spring.
We have designated two areas where we will aim to create good conditions for wildflowers (one for Spring, the other for early Summer species). The YDNPA Wildlife Officer has provided advice to help with these plans. Agroup member, has continued to record details of the flowers seen each month, so we can compare year to year changes.
Balancing Biodiversity and Access
We've agreed areas to leave “wild”, plus some wildlife corridors in sections not needed for grave access. We will prioritise work to help the front section of the churchyard look tidier for wedding photographs (and “best kept village” competitions!).
Gravestones & Family History
A local group member has collated records for many of the graves (though some of the more recent ones still need to be recorded - any help much appreciated!), and added them to the churchyard map. Details of churchyard monuments, including photos and inscriptions, can be found on this website: www.2Dales.org.uk
This work is in conjunction with the Upper Dales Family History Group
The Conservation Group now has a Google Group for sharing information and activities.