Join me in the search for our Lost Fens

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If you are not doing anything better next Monday May 12, then why not come along to next meeting of the Friends of the Botanical Gardens (FOBS) to hear my lavishly illustrated talk of the The Lost Fens. This will be an insight to the story behind my recent books The Lost Fens – England’s Greatest Ecological Disaster, and Yorkshire’s Forgotten Fenlands. Open to all, the meeting begins at 7.15pm. All the FOBS lecture meetings are held in the Demonstration Centre classroom near the South Lodge. This is located at the bottom of the Botanical Gardens and is easily accessed from Ecclesall Road. 
Visitors are welcome at a modest cost of £3 per person. If you then join FOBS (one of the most active of our regional community and environmental groups, dedicated to our most significant gardens), then you get your money back. 
There will be flower sales and my bookshop with books at big discounts – so bring your chequebooks and cash! 
Anyhow, come along and enjoy the evening and the group, and discover our lost fenland heritage.

n In the meantime, I had a request from Oliver Newham at the Woodland Trust to keep up the campaign for Smithy Woods. Natural England’s expert Emma Goldberg has come out in support of our assertion that Smithy Wood is ‘ancient woodland’, which is great news and counters the arguments of the developer’s consultants. (Incidentally, the logic of the Natural England evidence would support the whole of Bowden Housteads being ancient woodland too – and interestingly the Woodland Trust has also objected to the City Council’s decision to build on this site). The Woodland Trust are asking people to sign the on-line petition to save Smithy Wood. You can go on-line to find out more and respond in one go. This is at They need as many people as possible to oppose the application formally, and the standard consultation expiry date is May 16. Therefore, please do your bit and encourage others to do likewise. There is more on my blog if you want know my views on Boris Johnson’s claim that few of our woods are ‘ancient’ and almost no trees in Britain are over 60 years old. Check it out and feel free to add your comments. There is more on the blog about Smithy Wood and Bowden Housteads, and I will be posting up further information and useful links very shortly.

n Finally, for this week, my Wildside contact email has changed, so please see above for the new email in line with our current website. If you sent something recently and got no reply then please re-send! I like to hear from you and do my best to respond.

n Sightings: Chiffchaffs are back in good numbers and excellent voice. Swifts are also in their usual haunts and house sparrows at Sothall for example are already feeding young. Thrybergh Country Park had up to 130 sand martins with house martins and swallows. At Abney Moor, there was a meadow pipit nest with four eggs, with wheatear and curlew close by. Whinchats are present in the upland areas and three singing male common redstarts at Barbrook Plantation is a good record. Watch out for whimbrel with two at Orgreave Lakes and good numbers migrating through coastal areas.