AGM 2021 Reports

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2021 Treasurer report      2021 Treasurer Accounts

Chairman’s Report – AGM 2021
from Colin Brotherston
I am pleased to welcome all of you to our AGM. It is good to be able to have a real meeting again rather than the virtual affair that we held last year. However interestingly, a feature of the virtual meeting was the larger number of attendees but of course in the lock down period members had more time to spare. Anyway thank you for braving the November weather to be with us tonight. I will commence with a resume of activities and events during the last year. The meeting will be open for a short time for questions at the end of this report. Alternatively you can raise issues in AOB at the end of the meeting.
There are many varied activities on the meadow and I can only cover a few…

The year started off in September 2020 with raking of arisings, a usual autumn activity. It has been our practice to leave arisings for a week or two after cutting to allow for drying out and also for insects and other micro-organisms to migrate before the arisings are collected and moved to a nearby dumping point. I would like to thank Maurice and Nigel for their efforts in turning out to cut the vegetation prior to the work sessions.

Other autumn tasks included cutting the wet area in the far south of the meadow, cutting and clearing the Seagull lane area and starting to spread wood chipping on meadow paths. During the winter these paths can collect water. This is especially so between the north and central meadows. By applying the chippings we encourage meadow visitors to stay on the paths and enjoy a more comfortable underfoot experience.

The final work session of the year on the third Thursday in December finished with a bonfire and some mulled wine, stollen cake and mince pies kindly supplied by Dan and Maurice.

The meadow had a rest from the attention of volunteer sessions during January and February thanks to rising concern about the pandemic. Occasional small tasks were undertaken as required and organised by Maurice.

Work sessions re-started on Sunday 7th March with precautions to keep everyone safe. The winter had been fairly wet so continuing the laying of wood chipping was a significant task. Another large task was rebuilding the dead hedge at the s-bend on the river path. Terry led a team to undertake this job which stretched over several work sessions. During the winter the flower rich area in the north meadow had become rather torn up probably by dogs exercising. So another spring task was to replace a barrier of dead twigs around this patch.

By May there was considerable concern about the spread of Hemlock Water Dropwort in the central meadow. In an attempt to keep the flower rich area free of this plant volunteers dug up the roots and bagged them in blue plastic bags to avoid accidents as the plants are rather toxic. Sometime the bags will need to be emptied and removed from the meadow. Later in the year another approach to controlling these plants was to remove just the flower heads, a much easier task.

As the grasses and other plants began to grow we made a special effort to mow and tidy the meeting circle in the north meadow. This area forms a room bordered by a hedge of brambles.

As always the river banks require attention and Dan has taken special responsibility for this task., especially keeping bankside vegetation in check just south of the north bridge. This is a heavy duty strimming task.

With the streams in mind Dan and Terry have put considerable effort into running a water vole exercise which has included building feeding rafts and planting bankside vegetation. At the end of 2020 Dan applied for a small grant from Chichester BC to buy two trail cameras which he has deployed on the Lumley Stream in the hope of find evidence of water voles. The cameras have provided thousands of images some of which can be seen on the display boards. Sadly no water voles as yet but efforts continue. We have had considerable assistance from Sarah Hughes, our speaker tonight. She and a colleague have conducted surveys along the streams which suggest evidence of water voles. For more detailed information please talk to Sarah, Dan and Terry during our refreshment break.

One task which is a priority at all work sessions is litter picking and sign case cleaning. I am most grateful to Lesley, Jennifer and Beryl who often undertake this import maintenance work. And not forgetting Brian who with Dan’s assistance ensure that the content of the sign cases is regularly updated.

Further we are indebted to Brian for his wildlife news, photographs and flower counts. We are also grateful to David Search who has conducted bat surveys. And of course, our thanks go to Pam for coffee and refreshments which is a most important part of our work sessions.

Another feature of meadow management is the wildlife surveys. In previous years regular butterfly transects have been conducted as well as the flower counts undertaken by Brian and his helpers. We are further grateful to David Search for his bat surveys. While on this subject you may have noticed a number of black roofing felt tiles spread around the meadow. These have been placed to enable reptile counts to be undertaken. All these wildlife surveys take a lot of effort and anyone interested in helping would be very welcome.

At the beginning of August our usual and reliable contractor carried out the annual cut in accordance with the management plan. This activity is often our largest expense and this year the cut was completed on one day thereby resulting in a substantially lower cost.

We have a small team of four regular leaders who organise and supervise work sessions. An email is sent to all volunteers to give notice of a coming session and the tasks which might be undertaken. This has been of great value during the pandemic and will be continued in the coming year.

A work session cannot take place unless a first aider is present. To this end eight volunteers attended a first aid training session in August kindly provided by Safesavvy Ltd free of charge. Incidents and accidents at work session are fortunately extremely rare and one of the leaders functions is to ensure all tasks are undertaken safely.

The committee knows the importance of maintaining public awareness of the meadow and of gaining and retaining members. This year we have had several groups visiting the meadow for educational or recreational purposes and we are very supportive of these visits. This years visitors include a visit from Westbourne primary school, a Westbourne scout troop working of their Duke of Edinburgh awards, and a young persons group from St James church. The committee is also arranging another Christmas tree decoration event this December with Emsworth primary school.

This year has seen the collation of a file containing detailed information of all the wildlife on the meadow. The file has been put together by Dan and is available here for you to examine. With a great amount of input from Dan, Brian and internet sources this is a very comprehensive work which hopefully can be made available to interested parties on request.

On a more serious note we are mindful of public misuse of our meadow. This includes low level but highly undesirable activities such as littering and dog fouling to more intrusive activities such as firelighting and other forms of vandalism. The committee is most anxious for the meadow to maintain the respect of the community and I am pleased to report that serious public misbehaviour is quite rare. Where necessary notices are occasionally erected to discourage undesirable behaviours such as cycling and dog control issues.

Shortly our treasurer will give a short report on the state of our finances. As always the committee are most grateful be all members for their contributions and gifts which enable us to maintain the meadow as a voluntary group.

Looking forward to next year: I am expecting that as well as our seasonal rotation of activities we can further extend our profile and usefulness to the wider local community. This might include more regular articles in local publications, further meadow-based events such as wild flower and herb walks and also to welcome external groups who might like to hold events on the meadow. As always there is a balance to be made between public activities and the maintenance of environments for wildlife. However I am sure more can be done in this respect.

This year we are sad to report the departure from the committee of our vice chairman and primary works manager Maurice Lillie. For at least 12 years Maurice has been a tireless member of the committee driving many of the procedures used in our management. It is difficult to know how we will manage without Maurice but he is putting together a hand-over procedure and hopefully will be on hand to check tasks are being attended to.

For the time being the committee are prepared to continue to serve for a further year in their current positions. We welcome interest from members wishing to contribute and maybe join the committee. Currently we are looking for someone who would be prepared to help with publicity and to prepare the quarterly newsletter.
As ever the management of the meadow would not be possible without our committed and enthusiastic band of volunteers. We are fortunate in having a number of regular helpers and I am hoping that as Covid restrictions ease we can further reduce the need for contractor assistance by starting a new volunteer session to concentrate wholly on the river and the banks. If anyone feels that they could volunteer but are not certain what to expect please get in contact with me or any member of the committee.
We know that the meadow is greatly appreciated and used by many people and it is thanks to our efforts as members to ensure that this will remain the case for the coming years.

WILDLIFE SUMMARY FOR 2021 AGM
by Brian Fellows
Birds:
N = 44 Down slightly. Missing Water Rail, Chaffinch and Goldcrest. Migrants: Chiffchaff and Blackcap OK. Whitethroats arrived in spring, but did not stay to breed.

Butterflies:
N = 19 (from 21 regulars). Missing Clouded Yellow and Painted Lady

Plants
Herbs = 156 – up from 132 last year. Greater Burdock planted. Mystery plants in south east corner were Germander Speedwell not Great Yellow-cress
Trees & Shrubs = 60 – including Hornbeam in Seagull Lane patch hedge.
Grasses = 27   – including Meadow Barley first for some years
Sedges 12 – (from 14 on list)   – very good year for Divided Sedge
Rushes = 4 Horsetails = 1   Ferns = 3

Counts
Butterbur = 651 – back to normal after poor 2020
Ragged Robin = 173 – fairly good. Up on 2020.
Southern Marsh Orchid = 321 – all time record. Almost double previous year.
Common Spotted Orchid = 17 –
Hybrid orchid = 25
Bee Orchid = 15 – down on last 2 years.
Pyramidal Orchid = 0 – Two last year.
Marsh Woundwort = 97 – a record – nearly double the previous year.

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