Thursday, 21 May 2009

Google Car in Penkridge - Before Wolverhampton?

There are rumours that the Google Car was about in Penkridge today taking 360 degree photographs around the streets of our community. I have had one report and I briefly saw a car travelling south on the A449 late afternoon which looked suspiciously like it with a large pole on the roof of a black car with what looked like a camera system on the top. Perhaps Google have heard that Penkridge was the Capital of England many years ago so it deserves to be seen by the world at close quarters!

Rain creates floods which creates Sewage problems - BUT DAZ AND KEITH FROM Severn Trent Water COME TO THE RESCUE.

What a morning! Woken by next door neighbour who informed me that our drains were blocked and it wouldn't be long before the sewage was over the top and, well, you can guess the rest! So up quick, no breakfast, out to lift manhole covers and confirm that all three were up to the top. Now, as we are the lowest house in this area we always get it first so we checked with those opposite who hadn't gone to work and then investigated to find out whether the blockage was on private land or in the main sewer. (Did you know that from next year, new legislation will mean all properties having sewer problems will be able to call on the Severn Trent/South Staffs. to solve the problem - whether public or private sewers. At the moment, if the blockage is not in the main sewer, then you have to solve it and pay for it. Only if a blockage is on private land built before 1937 is the Water Authority responsible for clearing it at present free of charge.)

So out with the drainage rods, mine and my neighbours, and I rodded from my manhole just 3 metres from my boundary and then out into the road. I used 16 rods before I reached the main sewer where it came to a stop. Then went on the phone to the emergency number and after listening and tapping in numbers I eventually got a lady who listened to my problem and took down details. I had great difficulty in persuading her that the problem was in the main sewer as she repeatedly kept saying that as the sewer was on the opposite side of the road, then the house on that side would get a problem BEFORE me and they should phone up. I said "NO", our house and land is lower than theirs so, from previous experience, we get all the backup water and sewage BEFORE anyone else. In the end she said reluctantly, I thought, that they would investigate the main sewer ONLY but that it might be 24 hours before they got to us.

I said thank you - but not very enthusiastically - and started organising my campaign to get things done. Neighbours opposite phoned up and I got another neighbour (also affected) to phone as she is a Child Minder and the last thing you want is problems with toilets and sewers with young children in the house. By jove! - it worked - within an hour the Severn Trent Water van was outside with 2 very amiable and co-operate men. They listened to what I had to say, and then went about their work, explaining what they were doing and why. They had problems as it would appear that STW do not have accurate plans of where all the drains are and in fact they were unable to find where our drain goes to. However, with 100 metres of hose jetting the main sewer, it eventually solved the problem. Putting dye down to ascertain where the drain led to did not work. There seemed to be more storm drains in our road than sewer drains - "has a sewer manhole been buried somewhere?" one thinks.

They agreed with me that a thorough investigation is needed - with cameras - to trace where the sewer goes and where the continual blockages keep occurring. AND WE NEED MORE REGULAR SERVICING AND MAINTENANCE OF OUR PUBLIC SEWERS. WE ARE IN SERIOUS TROUBLE IF THE PROBLEM GETS WORSE.

But a big thank you to Daz and Keith from Severn Trent Water for being so cheerful and solving our problem in Haling Road this morning. I wish there were more people like them around.

Penkridge Town Crier

Sunday, 17 May 2009

Bats in Penkridge

A small group of us are attempting to survey the bats of Penkridge Parish this year. Not an easy job - but we have acquired a more modern Bat Detector and a Recorder which should help us with identification. What do we do? The Detector can scan from 20 Khz to 120 Khz which is the range in which all bats make their echo location calls to help them fly in the dark and home-in on insects. So we scan the airwaves and when a bat is heard calling, the detector microphone picks up the echo location calls and turns them into sounds that the human ear can hear. With the recorder we can now record the calls on a disc and when we return home, we can analyze the calls with special software on the computer which produces a sonogram. Examining the sonogram closely we are able to better identify the different species that have passed over and that we have recorded.

On a visit to Gailey Pools recently we recorded much activity over a 2 hour period after dusk. On returning home and examining the sonograms we were able to confidently say that we had recorded 4 different species of bats that evening - Common Pipistrelle, Soprano Pipistrelle, Daubenton's and Noctule bats.

We would love to hear from anyone in Penkridge who knows of good areas for bats. Pipistrelle bats are common in the built up area (I have two or three regularly feeding over my garden and house as I have trees and a pond which means lots of insects here). What we are particularly wanting to establish is where our bats roost and breed so we can produce a picture of the different species we have in Penkridge and their preferred habitats and their breeding, roosting and hibernating sites.

Bats frequently change these sites throughout the year, depending on the weather, the humidity of the sites they use and the time of their breeding. They are found in cavities (sometimes only very small) in many types of buildings, old and modern, as well as in holes in trees, under bridges, in caves, as well as in bat and bird boxes, etc.

So if you ever see bats emerging from a particular spot in a tree or in a building (perhaps from under tiles or soffit boards) at dusk, we would love to know and would pay you a visit with the detector and identify the species and try to establish how many are there. This month female bats are beginning to form maternity colonies and are looking for suitable nursery sites, such as buildings, trees or bat boxes. Male bats of most species will roost on their own or in smaller groups.

We only have 17 species of bat in the UK, all of which are protected by law because their numbers have decreased so dramatically.