Volunteer work sessions
Conservation work sessions on Brook Meadow take place from 10am to 12 noon on the 1st Sunday and the 3rd Thursday of each month throughout the year. Everyone is welcome and tools are provided. We meet at the new tool store HQ at the end of Seagull Lane. Safety for all volunteers is a priority and risk assessments by trained members are given at each session. There is a break when refreshments are served.
The main tasks include cutting and clearing of the grassland and scrub, removing broken tree branches and keeping pedestrian paths open and clear of obstacles. Clearing litter is a priority. Children and students from local schools and colleges are welcome to join in for work experience.
For more information about the regular work sessions and earlier reports
go to . . . https://www.brookmeadow.org.uk/conservation-news/
Latest Conservation Work session – Thursday 16 November 2017
Report by Maurice Lillie. Photos by Brian Fellows.
A rainy early morning in November gave way to a mild sunny day providing the perfect start to an unusual work session. As 10 o’clock approached the 16th, 17th and 18th volunteer (a record), arrived as I was describing the tasks for the day. My first reaction was ‘are there enough jobs for such a large turnout. I hardly need have worried as the main task, clearing overgrowth of trees, both living and previously cut but unmoved, to give light to an overshadowed riverbank, was clearly going to engage a lot of effort. We were joined by Andrew Skeet of Norse SE who are responsible to Havant Borough Council for Open Spaces. Andrew has a particular interest in ‘tree wood’.
Andrew together with several daredevils donned waders and entered the river by North Bridge. At this point the water depth was barely 10cm. “Why do have to wear waders?” was the cry. A few seconds wading downstream and they had the answer – the soft mud on the river bed plus increased water depth made it 50cms+. The gang in the river sawed off branches and guided them towards the bank. Others on the bank hauled the cuttings up to the path where more volunteers carried branches and twigs to a nearby habitat.
Here is a link to a short video on YouTube of the volunteers at work . . .
Here second video taken a little later with Andy Skeet cutting thick branches . . .
Colin got to grips with the power scythe and drove it to the South Meadow assisted by Phil and Catherine. They set about cutting the vegetation of the ‘circles’, raking up and carrying
Other tasks resurfacing a muddy main path in the Central Meadow with wood chippings
Heavily pruning the dog roses in the Seagull Lane hedge in readiness for hedge laying early next year.
Lesley did her regular litter picking
The river and its banks have deteriorated badly over the past 10 years or so and must be a contributory factor in the loss of Water Voles from the site.
Here are a couple of photos, then (2003) and now (2017)
to show how the river has changed.
On the wildlife front I noticed how well the Common Polypody Fern has grown over the past few years. It now occupies a about a metre of the bridge and looks like increasing further.
For earlier reports go to . . . https://www.brookmeadow.org.uk/conservation-news/
FORTHCOMING WORK SESSIONS 10-12noon:
Meet at the Tool Store Seagull Lane. Tools and gloves provided.
Sunday 1st Oct : Thursday 19th Oct : Sunday 5th Nov: Thursday 16th Nov :
Sunday 3rd Dec: Thursday 21st Dec (with mince pies): Sunday 7th Jan 2018
ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING 2017
The group AGM will be held at St James Church Hall, Emsworth on Friday 17th November at 7.00pm until about 9.30pm.
There will be a brief business session followed by refreshments and then a talk entitled ‘Ancient Forests’ by Hugh Milner, Chairman of the National Limewood Working Group.
Unusual Fungi – Earthstar – Saturday 21 October – 2017
While walking on Brook Meadow this afternoon, Rayner Piper found four Earthstar fungi on the east bank of the river just down from the north bridge. He sent me the following two photos. I think they are Collared Earthstars (Geastrum triplex). They are like Puffballs with an outer skin which splits and peels back in a star-like pattern. The lobes surround a thin-skinned inner bag full of spores, which escape through a small opening at the top. They are relatively uncommon and a first for Brook Meadow, so we are grateful to Rayner for spotting them.
EMSWORTH SHOW – Monday 28 August 2017
The Brook Meadow Conservation Group had their usual stall at the annual Emsworth Show on Bank Holiday Monday. It was a perfect day weather wise with non stop warm sunshine. This attracted a good attendance and the Brook Meadow stand had a good flow visitors throughout the day to look at the fine display of photos showing conservation work on the meadow and the variety of wildlife that live there. Many people also too the opportunity to renew their subscriptions while others joined for the first time. Here are a few photos of the stand and the people manning it.
I arrived with a basket of wild flowers picked from the meadow this morning
Thanks to Maurice for the photo
Maurice, Jennifer and David standing proudly in front of the stand
Debbie talking to visitors
David taking a member’s subscription
Jennifer discussing the work of the group with a visitor
VISITOR SURVEY – Saturday 15 July, 2017
Over the years there have been several surveys of Meadow users, to establish amount of footfall, clarify our most frequent users, and for various other reasons. The most recent was in July 2017. Here is a note on this year’s survey by Jennifer Rye
In 2017 the committee decided to do a survey on Saturday 15 July, from 8 am till 5pm.
In the past, the survey was quite detailed, including the gate by which people entered, the sex of visitors, those with dogs, those with children and so forth. Since our main reason for holding the survey was to raise the profile of the Conservation Group, and to identify more potential volunteers as well as members, we simplified the criteria, and just counted visitors (both sexes), children and dogs. This gave committee members, who manned the counting point at the main seat overlooking the centre meadow, more time to chat to visitors, establish the frequency with which they used the Meadow, show them literature, and hand out membership applications where relevant.
Twelve new members signed up on the spot, we received two donations, and there was general appreciation of the meadow by all our visitors, so we hope more memberships will trickle in. Grateful thanks to committee members who gave up an hour or two to achieve this result. We shall use the survey as part of our ongoing efforts to maintain the Meadow, improve it where we can, and encourage HBC to continue their vital support for our care of their property. Along with most other local councils, their resources are more and more stretched, and we want to ensure they do not cut back on their investment here in Emsworth.
The survey had a particular resonance for me, since it was at a similar survey more than twelve years ago that I got chatting to Pat Walsgrove, a then committee member, and decided to join BMCG myself, so impressed was I by the dedication to conservation issues which she showed.
Visitors Surveys from 2002
The table below shows the main results from the surveys since 2002 – the Brook Meadow Conservation Group first took over the meadow in Year 2000. Note, many years were not done. Total indicates the number of adults and children. Dogs were counted separately, but were always with a person. The results show a fairly large increase in visitors since 2002-05, but relatively little change over the past 10 years. In fact, this year’s numbers were slightly down on last year’s.
These figures clearly confirm what a great local asset Brook Meadow is to the local community. It is well used and well respected by all users. Litter is not dropped or quickly cleared and dog mess relatively infrequent, despite the number of dogs visiting. What would we do without it?