Conservation Work Sessions Archive – 2017
Conservation Work session – Thursday 21 September 2017
Report by Mike Probert. Photos by Brian Fellows.
A very good turnout of twelve volunteers gathered on a dull and cloudy morning to hear about the tasks planned and listen to the associated ‘tools talk’.
The main tasks comprised raking up and clearing areas of the Meadow that had been cut some time earlier – to reduce the nutrient load, improve the sward and promote wild flower growth. The larger team tackled the wild flower and orchid area and a smaller team the Seagull Lane patch.
In parallel, Maurice led a small team to remove the extensive lower branches from the large multi-stemmed Willow near Beryl’s seat which were beginning to shade the wild flower area.
It was hard work raking up the semi-dried grass from the Meadow and Pam’s refreshments were most welcome at half-time. Here is Pam bringing her much appreciated refreshments to the seat
and all the volunteers enjoying the coffee and biscuits
The Seagull lane team had completed their task and joined the main team so that the clearance of the wild flower area was achieved in good time. Most of the lower branches had also been removed from the large Willow. A very good result after a hard morning’s work.
The next scheduled workdays are on Sunday 1st October and Thursday 19th October.
Meet as usual at HQ, located between the north bridge and The Seagull Lane gate, at 09.50, for a prompt start at 10.00. All volunteers, both regular and anyone else, will be warmly welcomed. Trained First Aiders will be on hand. Refreshments will be available. All necessary tools are provided and, where necessary training will be given.
Conservation Work session – Sunday 3 September 2017
Report by Dan Mortimer and Brian Fellows. Photos by Brian Fellows.
Rain was forecast which kept numbers down to 9 volunteers. We were delighted to welcome three new members – John and Laura Brind and Terry Lay. The session was led by Dan.
The main task of the morning was to cut and clear the orchid area on the north meadow. Maurice, Jennifer and Phil took it in turns to use the power scythe to cut the area. They left clumps of still flowering plants as nectar sources for late flying insects.
The hard work of raking, clearing and hauling to the dump was done by the rest of the team, Tony, John Laura and Terry.
This involved bagging the arisings and and hauling them to the tip
Meanwhile, Phil attended to the wheelbarrow
In Pam’s absence we thank Jennifer for providing the half time tea, coffee and biscuits
ably assisted by Laura.
Jennifer and Colin put up a ‘Dog Splash Zone’ sign on the North Bridge. Thanks to all the team for their hard work in difficult conditions.
The next scheduled workday is Thursday 21 September. Meeting at HQ, located between the north bridge and The Seagull Lane gate, at 09.50, for a prompt start at 10.00. All volunteers, both regular and anyone else, will be warmly welcomed. Trained First Aiders will be on hand. Refreshments will be available. All necessary tools are provided and, where necessary training will be given.
Wildlife observations – by Brian Fellows
Two ecologists were carrying out a reptile survey during the work session, checking the black mats for reptiles. Apparently, they found 1 male and 3 female Slow-worms and one baby, but no Common Lizards. Here is a female Slow-worm identified by a dark stripe down its back – not clearly visible in the photo.
During the cutting of the orchid area, Maurice pointed out a solitary seed spike of a Common Spotted Orchid. We had a good showing of orchids this year, so let’s hope for more next year.
Conservation Work session – Thursday 17 August 2017
Report by Maurice Lillie. Photos by Brian Fellows
An uncertain morning, weather-wise, but encouragingly, forecast not to rain and despite being in the middle of the holiday season, 7 volunteers gathered at HQ for the day’s briefing.
Maurice, today’s leader, welcomed everyone and explained what the tasks were and the purpose behind them. He identified the tools to be used and the care that needed to be taken to avoid accidents. The ground was firming up after recent wet periods so considerably less of a hazard than often experienced. Everyone was pleased and relieved that the resurfacing of the north bridge had been completed and passable.
The tasks were listed as follows:
1, to remove overhanging branches from the west side of the stock-fenced copse in readiness for the expected grass cutting shortly. This was ably carried out by a hard-hatted Gordon, with saws and loppers in hand, assisted by Maurice, until Reg and Phil became available after break. A total of seven branches were cut off.
2, Reg and Kathy raked, bagged and dumped the grass cuttings from an area between the gravel path the first oak tree, following an earlier scything by Maurice, in Seagull Lane Patch.
Reg and Kathy later, transferred their affections to another overgrown area of the Patch after Mike had power scythed it (an area between two oak trees).
3, Colin mastered the strimmer and set about removing the overhanging vegetation on both sides of the northern cross path in the south meadow, thus making it passable. He was helped by Pam armed with her favourite shears.
4, Mike cut two ‘circles’ in the south meadow – areas SM1b and 2a. These areas will be regularly cut (similar to those in the north meadow) to encourage new flora.
Pam provided welcome refreshments at 11. At noon, we gathered together the tools, cleaned and stored them back in HQ. Wally arrived to collect the Gazebo and sundry necessities for the Emsworth Show pitch. Well done everyone, a great effort.
The next scheduled workday is Sunday 3 September. Meeting at HQ, located between the north bridge and The Seagull Lane gate, at 09.50, for a prompt start at 10.00. All volunteers, both regular and anyone else, will be warmly welcomed. Trained First Aiders will be on hand. Refreshments will be available. All necessary tools are provided and, where necessary training will be given.
The Brook Meadow Conservation Group will have its usual stand at the Emsworth Show on Monday 28 August on the Horndean Road Recreation Ground. Please come along and say Hello!
The resurfacing of the north bridge is now complete and looks very good. I checked on the south bridge where work is ongoing. Here are the two Norse workers on the site, both named Lee. They said the bridge should be finished in a couple of days.
Gordon showed me a Song Thrush nest that he and Maurice had discovered on top of a fence post as they were clearing some overhanging branches on the north west plantation. Close up, the nest is an impressive structure – a woven circle of small twigs, leaves, grass, roots, moss and bits of string surrounds a smooth inner cup of papier-mâché made from rotten wood-pulp. Song Thrushes are fairly common around the meadow, but it’s good to have confirmation of their nesting.
Jean and I have been looking after two of our granddaughters (Lily and Iris, aged 11 and 9), so I thought it would be nice to take them over to the meadow to catch the end of the work session. They loved it. The workday was just finishing so I introduced them to some of the volunteers. They had a mock try with the power scythe which Mike was in the process of cleaning at the time!
More photos of the grandchildren’s visit to the meadow are on my blog at . . . http://familyfellows.com/0-0-0-wildlife-diary.htm
Conservation Work session – Sunday 6 August 2017
Report by Ian Newman. Photos by Brian Fellows
Warm sunny weather greeted the 9 volunteers that gathered at HQ for their ‘Green Gym’ work out.
The group was briefed by Ian Newman on the tasks for the day. Nigel took control of the power scythe to mow the wildflower circles and newly developed ‘play area’ in the North Meadow before moving on to the paths in the South Meadow.Phil, Bob and Pam followed behind Nigel to clear away the arisings.
Kathy, Brenda and Dan cleared the arisings from the Seagull Lane Patch where Maurice had mowed the paths the previous day.
Meanwhile Debi set about laying wood chippings in the play area.
A great deal of effort was been put in by everyone and it soon became time for a well deserved cup of coffee dispensed by Pam with her usual cheerful efficiency. We were joined by Jennifer and two of her grandchildren.
After coffee Phil took over on the power scythe and cleared the major paths in the North Meadow, with Nigel taking over his raking duties.
Kathy and Brenda, having cleared the arisings in the Seagull Lane Patch, were joined by Bob to trim round the oak trees.
Dan embarked on removing the last of the twig debris from beside the South Path and Debi continued her one woman assault on the pile of wood chippings.
By the time it came to call a halt all the paths were clear, the Seagull Lane Patch was once again accessible and the pile of wood chippings had been significantly reduced by its contents having been moved to create an eco-friendly play area.
Although it was a relatively small work party, a great deal was achieved and many thanks go to all the volunteers who took part.
For wildlife notes from Brian
Go to . . . http://www.brookmeadow.org.uk/current-wildlife-news/
For earlier conservation news reports . . .
for 2017 . . . http://www.brookmeadow.org.uk/conservation-news-archives-2017/
Conservation Work session – Thursday 20 July 2017
Report by Dan Mortimer. Photos by Brian Fellows
A small but able group of 5 volunteers made a good job of clearing the overhanging Willow and Ash branches that were obstructing the main paths. Pam’s half time refreshments were, as usual, much needed and appreciated.
Brian apologised for his late appearance – he had completely forgotten about the workday – but arrived just in time to take a couple of photos towards the end of the session.
Pam and Suzanne cutting back nettles and brambles from the causeway path.
Jennifer and colleagues clearing a route through the tangled vegetation on the new path adjacent to the Gooseberry Cottage bund.
For Brian’s wildlife observations see the blog at . . . http://familyfellows.com/0-0-0-wildlife-diary.htm
Visit from Bay House School, Gosport – Wednesday 3 July 2017
A group of 6th Form students from from Bay House School in Gosport came to Brook Meadow today with their teachers to carry out out some conservation work as directed by Jennifer Rye. I was not present, but went later to see the results of their work which were very impressive. They completed two main jobs. One was to extend the path area immediately outside the HQ tool store to allow for easier access for the power scythe. The other one was to construct steps in the north-east corner of the meadow from the path down to the river. This was to make it easier for people to exercise their dogs in this dedicated splash zone. Pam Phillips was making good use of it while I was there.
Tree surgery – Monday 3 July 2017
Tree surgeons from the Christopher Hoare Tree Services were on the meadow yesterday to cut up a couple of large fallen Crack Willow trees in the south meadow. They did a good job and neatly stacked the logs. They also lopped some of the tall Willows behind the tool store on the Seagull Lane patch and again stacked the resulting logs neatly. A good job well done. Many thanks also to HBC arborist Andy Skeet for organising it.
New contact for TCV – 3 July 2017
Rachel Moroney (now Bryan) has been our main contact and good friend from the Trust for Conservation Volunteers for many years, but she has a new job within the TCV. She will be the Operations Leader for England West, which means managing staff and offices in Southampton, Reading, Bristol and Gloucester. Rachel says it has been a pleasure working with all the conservation groups in the local area and hopes to visit on occasions. I think I speak for all the Brook Meadow Conservation Group when I say it has been our pleasure to work with you Rachel, always so helpful and friendly. We wish you all the best in your new job. Here is a photo of Rachel with the Brook Meadow Conservation Group at the start of a workday in June last year.
Meanwhile, the new TCV contact for the local conservation groups, ie, review visits, conservation forum and general advice and support will be Colette Court. Her email address is email@example.com We look forward to meeting Colette.
Rachel also provided the name of a new contact within Norse SE for payment of TCV membership & Zurich insurance renewal as Chris Haynes . . . firstname.lastname@example.org
Conservation Work session – Sunday 2 July 2017
10 volunteers assembled at HQ by 10 o’clock, on a sunny day which rapidly became a real scorcher in the July sun. Tasks were outlined and the safety briefing given, including the reminder that no one except the operator should be nearer than 5 meters from the power scythe. (Apologies for exaggerating the distance this morning folks! J.R.).
The volunteers assembled – minus Nigel who was already at work
Nigel set off first to mow all the green grass paths in the north and central meadows, which was almost done by coffee time.
Other volunteers trimmed along the hedge line of Seagull Lane patch
Others set to tidying the ‘recreation area’ in the north Meadow by the fallen willow which is putting out new foliage at a great rate. We aim to make this an attractive and safe place for children.
The sign cases were all given a thorough cleaning, and surrounding vegetation trimmed to make them easily accessible even for bare legged visitors.
Coffee time at eleven was taken at the central causeway bench, where we were equally grateful for shade and a breeze, and to Pam for providing the makings even though she could not be there.
Then Tony took over the power scythe, with some supervision from Nigel to ensure safe working (and the afore mentioned safe distance!), so that by midday all the grass paths had been cut, with some attendant shearing and siding up of the very overgrown ones.
Tools were counted back in to HQ, volunteers were thanked, and we all retired for cool drinks and even cool showers. A special thank you to our peerless tool handyman Phil, who fitted new tyres to two wheelbarrows, and made sure we now have a suitable pump in HQ.
ADVANCE NOTICE: we expect some tree work ordered by HBC arborist Andrew Skeet to take place on Monday July 3, and on July 5 we look forward to welcoming some local sixth formers who are donating their time and energy to local projects, which will include working to improve access to HQ, and safer access to the river near the north east corner of the meadow.
Conservation Work session – Thursday 15 June 2017
Report by Maurice Lillie. Photos by Brian Fellows
Thursday saw 13 enthusiastic volunteers arrive from all directions through tall grasses, head high nettles and carpets of yellow wild flowers to gather at HQ agog to discover what they had volunteered for.
Julie Kirk and a group of pupils from Glenwood School were just leaving as the work session started. They had been collecting grasses for further study and possible identification in the classroom. Good to see them. Julie will arrange with Jennifer Rye for a future visit.
Maurice, leader for the session explained the tasks and the tools to be used, together with warnings about ground conditions, use of tools and the importance of being aware of other volunteers. The main job was to scythe the green paths and clip the overhanging nettles along each side of these and the main gravel paths.
Each path whether in the south meadow, north meadow, Palmers Road Copse or Seagull Lane Patch have different challenges and require varying care skills to prevent damage to particular species of vegetation. The arisings were raked away from the path edges and disposed of in suitable places to assist in creating habitats for the wide variety of animals, from insects and invertebrates to mice and shrews.
A second task was to remove the twig and branch barriers along the edges of the North Meadow wild flower area and dispose of the debris on a habitat pile on the east boundary north of the Rowan plantation.
The other task was to clear the overgrowth of vegetation around the two Silver Birch trees that were planted beside the gravel between the central seat and Lumley Gate. The alder planted in the northeast corner of central meadow was similarly cleared. This task was done by Jennifer who also watered the silver birches, that were looking particularly thirsty.
The mowing was carried out most ably by Tony and Phil and everyone else armed with shears and rakes joined in the nettle trimming and clearing away of arisings.
At 11 o’clock The party gathered at Beryl’s seat for a very welcome break of drinks and biscuits, provided, as always, by Pam.
During the break Jennifer came up with a plant which she had found on the path near the new Gooseberry Cottage bund. It was Water Figwort and was in flower. This is not a rare plant by any means, but a handsome one, so we had a little ceremony to mourn its passing and celebrate it presence on the meadow with us.
After the break, Phil continued to mow path edges in the north meadow and give the two future wild flower areas in the north meadow a trim. The arising were removed and disposed of.
One extra task, at the request of Brian, Ian cleared the vegetation from around the small Oak sapling in the Seagull Lane Patch (planted by his wife in 2012) which was threatening to engulf it.
Noon arrived and the tools were cleaned and returned to their store.
The Leader thanked everyone for their hard work and looked forward to the next work session on Sunday, 1 July. We will meet at HQ, located between the north bridge and The Seagull Lane gate, at 09.50, for a prompt start at 10.00. All volunteers, both regular and anyone else, will be warmly welcomed. Trained First Aiders will be on hand. Refreshments will be available. All necessary tools are provided and, where necessary training will be given.
Enjoy a walk through Brook Meadow and along the Ems led by local expert Dr Alison Barker this Saturday 17th June from 10am – 1pm. Suggested donation £2 per person to Brook Meadow Conservation Group.
Meet at 10am, Palmers Road car park (behind Tesco Express) Emsworth. Bring outdoor clothes, good footwear and a packed lunch. Families welcome but children must be accompanied by an adult.
To book, please contact Sarah Hughes on 07765 175494 or email@example.com
Please be advised that this event is weather dependent.
Conservation Work session – – Sunday 4 June 2017
Report by Jennifer Rye. Photos by Maurice Lillie
A good turnout on a fine June morning ensured that all the planned jobs got done. These were spelt out by Jennifer at the start, and volunteers chose which ones to apply themselves to. Maurice took photos as Brian could not be there, but he started by doing twenty minutes on the power scythe while everyone was clocking on.
The main job was to trim back the burgeoning growth along all the grass paths and most of the hard surfaced ones too, as the warm weather has caused a real growth spurt all over. Fortunately Nigel and Phil were available to share the power scything after Maurice became official photographer.
Arisings were raked and removed where necessary.
All the logs left by our chain saw operator were barrowed to one or other of the two entrance gates, where notices invited members of the public to help themselves, which they had started to do before the morning was over!
Sign cases were cleaned and there was a lot of cutting back nettles around them, as well as all the steps and gates which give access to the Meadow.
We are expecting a visit from some primary school children towards the end of June, who will be looking particularly at the River Ems, so paths in Palmers Road Copse and along the river bank in the North Meadow were given a thorough trim, which will be repeated at the next Thursday workday.
We also expect our yearly visit from the Guides, so plans were made for the conservation work they will be involved in.
As usual, the regular coffee and biscuit session, ably managed by Pam, was very well received. We were impressed to learn that one of our occasional volunteers, who was visiting her sister, had travelled 3,000 miles to be with us!
During the coffee break, several volunteers were shown examples of the profuse display of orchids in the north Meadow, and once they got their eye in for spotting them, they found several more bee orchids which were noted and marked with sticks. There’s a great sense of satisfaction in finding these enchanting plants in flower.
Conservation Work session – Thursday 18th May 2017
Report by Mike Probert and photos by Brian Fellows
Eight volunteers gathered on a dry but humid morning to work on the Meadow still wet from the previous day’s rain. The tasks were designed to avoid disturbing the wildlife now very active in the various habitats.
Pam led a team (Suzanne and Jane) to shear and grade the sides of the hard paths and the central steps.
Maurice took his team (Phil, Dan and Tony) to mow and rake the Meadow’s grass paths which were not under water and required a trim.
Access to the dump in the North East corner of the North Meadow was also cut.
After a welcome refreshment break provided by Pam and a discussion about possible ways to increase the membership of the Group the teams resumed their tasks.
The mowers cut and raked the ‘wild flower circles’ in the North Meadow while Pam’s group finished their shearing work and then cleared encroaching vegetation around the cluster of young Hazel coppice stools before helping with the final raking and clearing of the flower circles. A productive session on the Meadow by a small group.
Conservation Work session – Sunday 7 May 2017
Report by Dan Mortimer and photos by Brian Fellows
A reasonable turnout of 9 volunteers on a nice dry day led by Dan. Apologies for being a few minutes late.
Once the tasks were explained, the team was given their various jobs. Jennifer, Pam and Colin struggled to remove two large logs that had found themselves in the river.
Maurice and Gordon on the power scythe cutting all along the main river path from Lumley entrance to the North Bridge, Jennifer’s path, Brian’s path by HQ.
The two circles where the wild flower seeds were planted last year.
The areas around the 7 cherry trees neatly trimmed back with shears by Jennifer and Colin.
Wally set about strimming the very nettles in the north-east corner by the bridge and also gave Colin a training lesson on the strimmer.
Kathy ,Pam and Brenda did a splendid job clearing away all the grass cuttings made by the power scythe on all the paths.
Jennifer scurried off to clean the signcases at the Brook Meadow entrances. Tea, coffee and biscuits courtesy of Pam was served at half time – Thanks Pam
Thank you team – a good day’s work.
Wildlife observations from Brian
Go to . . . http://www.brookmeadow.org.uk/current-wildlife-news/
Conservation Work session – Thursday 20 April 2017
Report by Jennifer Rye and photos by Brian Fellows
14 volunteers made short work of a long list of jobs! Jennifer outlined the choices, gave the safety talk and introduced Rachel Bryan of CTV who was making her annual visit to check on our working practices before OKaying us for insurance purposes, which are paid by HBC. We were delighted for her that she has just been promoted to Area Manager for TCV, but sorry that we shall no longer see so much of her. However she promised to introduce her successor when appointed.
One group of people, led by Maurice, went to shift the logs left by the south bridge after Mike Reed’s recent work in Palmers Road copse, to the Lumley gate so they can be collected for home use by anyone who wants them. Some were tidied and left in situ for the same purpose.
Another group, under Pam’s watchful eye, made barriers to the north and south of the flower rich area of the north Meadow, to prevent too much footfall there during the summer season. They used twiggy branches for the purpose, laid on the ground but not planted, as being mostly willow they would grow into young trees. They also put in signs to explain why the barriers are there.
A start was made on clearing the large bramble patch around the base of the western black poplar in the central Meadow, but the rest of this task was postponed until next winter, out of respect for the creatures that might be living there.
It’s good to see the trunk of the poplar again from the central path, a fine vista.
The coffee break was taken at the central seat, thanks as usual to Pam for that.
Afterwards, the log moving was completed, and everyone who was interested had the chance of being trained by Wally in the methodology of the butterfly transact, and there were several new volunteers for that.
The rest concentrated on following Maurice on the power scythe cutting most of the green paths, by raking the arisings.
By noon, all tools were safely back in HQ, and volunteers were all thanked warmly for their efforts on what had proved to be a warm and productive morning’s work.
P.S. The most recent treework in Palmers Road copse, mainly near the car park area, was carried out by HBC’s contractors, including the fine tall balsam which was felled as it seemed dangerous. The orange dots on many trees throughout the meadow are also the work of HBC, indicating which trees have had to be stripped of ivy at ground level to allow monitoring of the health of the trunk – again, a safety measure.
Wildlife observations from Brian
Go to . . . http://www.brookmeadow.org.uk/current-wildlife-news/
Conservation Work session – Sunday 2 April 2017
Report by Jennifer Rye and photos by Brian Fellows
Just 7 volunteers arrived, on a gorgeous sunny spring morning.
We decided to do just one job, thoroughly, and have the satisfaction of seeing it completed. Jennifer outlined the task: to turn the part of the north Meadow where work has been ongoing on the fallen crack willow near the north bridge into an inviting spot for sitting, climbing or just enjoying the meadow looking southwards. Hand tools were selected for the job, and the appropriate warnings were given for handling sharp tools.
We cut down all the newly sprouting brambles, right to ground level, and disposed of them on the north east dump site. Then we picked up all the fallen branches, twigs and brush and added them to the pile near the hazel copse.
Coffee break was very welcome, with the makings provided by Pam, but served by Jennifer in Pam’s absence. We hailed the arrival of Nigel with great delight, and after coffee he started up the power scythe, and went over the whole newly cleared area. We shall continue to cut this with the scythe for a few weeks. He also cut the path down Seagull Lane patch to enable Brian to make his observation walks down there more easily.
A final photo of “The Magnificent Seven” sitting on, leaning on and draped over the fallen willow completed the morning’s work, and indeed we did have the satisfaction of a small job completed and well done. Now it’s for other walkers through the meadow to make use of the area as they please. We think children especially will enjoy the climbing.
Wildlife observations by Brian
I heard five Blackcaps singing in different parts of the meadow this morning. Clearly, they have arrived, though all five may not stay with us to breed. Three is our usual ration.
It has been a good couple of days for butterflies on Brook Meadow. Jennifer Rye reported seeing 3 Commas, 3 Peacocks, 1 Red Admiral and some Small Whites yesterday.Here is a Comma taken earlier in the week showing its distinctive ‘comma’ on the underwing.
Today I saw my first Orange Tip ( male) in flight which did not stop, a male Brimstone, a Small White and a cracking Small Tortoiseshell which did perch nicely for a photo.
I spotted a few Nursery-web spiders (Pisaura mirabilis) resting on nettle leaves with their front legs typically stretched out.
I noticed the first Cuckooflowers were starting to emerge on the orchid area on the north meadow, though we never have many on the meadow, unlike the Bridge Road Wayside. Ground-ivy is also in flower on the Seagull Lane patch. This plant grows nowhere else on the meadow.
Conservation Work session – Thursday 16th March 2017
Report by Maurice Lillie and photos by Brian Fellows
The early morning fog was burning off as 12 volunteers gathered at HQ for a briefing of the tasks ahead. Maurice explained what the tasks were and the purpose behind them. He identified the tools to be used and the care that needed to be taken to avoid accidents. The ground was still wet and muddy in parts and caution needed to be exercised. Five first aiders were identified.
The first job was to continue the clearance of a fallen Crack Willow tree in the north meadow and remove the arisings to nearby piles. Mike, Tony Ian and Gordon lopped and sawed branches within the limits of size and reach.
Jennifer and Jutta set about stripping ivy from the bridge structures, taking particular care not to slip as this work needed to accessed from the sloping river banks.
Pam, and Bob moved heaps of debris from past tree work carried out by Norse employees, in the south meadow, to Palmers Road Copse where tree surgeons are working on Monday. This will be chipped for future path reinforcement.
Wally, assisted by Dan, drove the power scythe to the south side of “the Wishing Tree”. The task here was to cut the area to remove the strong growth of brambles. The arisings were raked and taken to the nearby composting dump.
Gordon and Reg commandeered the saw horse and bow saws, cut the remaining felled branches that had been cut off a dead Ash tree and took them to Lumley Gate.
At 11.00 work stopped temporarily, while refreshments, provided by Pam, were gratefully taken. We were pleased to be joined by Phil who has not been able to volunteer for a while.
After the break, Mike took over the power scythe to cut bramble growth that had become rampant around one of our prized Black Poplars. Unfortunately, the nature of bramble growth prohibited cutting in this way, so could not be done. It was agreed that the best solution was use the tri-blade brush cutter on a future work day.
Mike then power scythed one of the two previously cut circles in the northern part of North Meadow and, aided by Dan, Reg and Gordon completed the task and removed the arisings to a nearby dump. The other circle will be cut on a future workday.
At mid-day the tools were cleaned and returned to their store. Well done everyone, a great effort.
The next scheduled workday is Sunday 2 April. Meet at HQ, located between the north bridge and The Seagull Lane gate, at 09.50, for a prompt start at 10.00. All volunteers, both regular and anyone else, will be warmly welcomed. Trained First Aiders will be on hand. Refreshments will be available. All necessary tools are provided and, where necessary training will be given.
The Osiers on the east side of the north meadow now have fully open catkins and look beautiful. The Summer Snowflake is flowering as usual on the Seagull Lane patch.
Dan pointed out a patch of fungi growing among the wood chippings near the tool store. I am not sure what they are, but they look like a crumble cap or maybe an ink cap?
Conservation Work session – Sunday 5th March 2017
Report by Jennifer Rye and photos by Brian Fellows
11 volunteers braved the cloudy skies, to be reassured by Jennifer, who was leading, that the rain would hold off. She was immediately proved wrong before the briefing was over. However, all were appropriately dressed for rain and mud (well not Debbie!) so we pressed on. We were very pleased to welcome Jutta and Bob Fuller to our volunteers. Bob was so keen that he even offered to return in the afternoon to complete a job!
The major task for the day was to continue tidying up the fallen crack willow in the North Meadow, near the bridge, to improve sightlines into the north eastern corner. This involved a crack team of wood handlers, under the supervision of Maurice, using bow saws mainly.
A large pile of useful logs resulted. These were piled by the Seagull Lane entrance labelled ‘please help yourself to firewood’.
Another team under Pam’s watchful eye moved all the cuttings from the willow which had fallen across the causeway path and been tidied up after storm Doris had swept through; these branches were piled neatly into a habitat pile near the S-bend, on the meadow side of the path.
Meanwhile a very thorough litter pick cleared a large number of bottles and cans and other rubbish from the Palmers Road copse, before the new spring growth covers it all up.
Coffee and biscuits were very welcome at the half time break, thanks to Pam for that.
During the break we spotted that a young Blackthorn tree in the Seagull Lane hedge, which had been left at full height within the laid hedge, had been blown over to about 45 degrees from the vertical, so it was hauled back, propped and returned to the right position.
All tools were counted back into HQ, and locked away by soon after midday. Thanks to all for a very productive morning.
If you want to come along and join a workday, we’d love to see you. 10 a.m. at the Seagull Lane patch by HQ, every first Sunday and third Thursday of the month. Next work session is on Thursday 16th March. We are a friendly and co- operative group, full training will be given for all tasks, and there are jobs to suit every taste and energy level.
Wildlife observations – by Brian – 5th March 2017
The Butterbur spikes are now springing up all over the area beneath the seat and it could be another good year. I shall do the annual count of flower spikes towards the end of this month.
The Cherry Plum tree is now in full blossom and looking very good near the Lumley gate.
The Weeping Willow is also a fine spectacle at the north end of the south meadow.
The catkins are opening on the female Goat Willow – growing beside the Weeping Willow.
Fresh leaf buds are present on the new Oaks on the Seagull Lane patch, including the one I planted which has retained its leaves over the winter. The retention of leaves over winter by broadleaved trees is called marcescence. Botanists are unsure why some trees develop this habit though it does not appear to do them any harm.
Conservation Work session – Thursday 16 February 2017
Report by Maurice Lillie and photos by Brian Fellows
The mild overcast morning gradually brightened and the sun came out to welcome 9 volunteers.
Maurice, leader for the morning described the four tasks as follows;
1, to complete the removal of the damaged part of a Crack Willow tree just north of the north bridge on the west bank of the Ems. This work was necessary to provide a line of sight to the north-east corner. And enhance the appearance of the meadow near the Seagull Lane entrance.
2, build a bonfire and burn up the arisings from several previous work sessions – hedge laying, riverside bank clearance and other works.
3, to grub out several bramble shoots from the triangular grassed area north of the wishing tree in the north meadow and place them on the nearby hibernaculum. The purpose of this activity is to remove aggressively prickly plants from spreading over adjacent paths and an area where visitors periodically walk.
4, cut to ground level, the stumps of Blackthorn in the north-east corner of the north meadow. This will enable the power scythe to keep the general vegetation down to a reasonable level.
5, litter picking.
Maurice explained the nature of the task and the hazards to beware of both environmental and in the safe use of tools. Maurice emphasised that above all, volunteers must look out for themselves and each other, to enjoy themselves and not overdo it. Two trained first-aiders were present.
Dave and Tony donned hard hats and set to work removing the dangling large split branch (1) and following the cries of “timberrrr” and the dull thud as it hit the ground, sawed off the side branches. These will be logged in due course and offered to anyone to take free of charge.
(2) Jennifer raced off on her bicycle to buy fire lighters. Then Dan, Kathy and Jennifer started a bonfire, having assembled a substantial quantity of dead twigs and small branches. Soon the fire was ablaze and a large pile of clippings, prunings and thinnings were reduced to ash. At 12.45 the bonfire had died down and was flooded with buckets of water to ensure no risk of re-ignition.
(3) Suzanne, Pam and Jennifer suitably armed with forks, drag bags and heavy gloves set off to remove the unwanted brambles.
(4) Dan and Jennifer then transferred their affections to the reduction of Blackthorn stumps in the north-east corner of the meadow. Almost all the stumps were successfully removed. However, two or three larger stumps may need to be ground out when we have a tree surgeon on site.
(5) Jane set off with mauve bag and pickers to collect any litter around the meadow. She was surprised and I guess a little pleased, that the meadow itself was very clean, but the road sides, in parts were strewn with all sorts of rubbish. Kathy filled a bag that proved almost too much to carry.
A most successful morning with a break halfway through for a most gratefully received mug of a hot drink and biscuits supplied as ever by Pam. Well done everyone, another terrific effort.
Future tasks, identified during the morning are,
A, power scythe north-east corner, avoiding stumps,
B, further removal of fallen trees in north meadow,
C, power scythe grass patch near wishing tree to cut down brambles, too large go dig out,
D, expose west river bank north of the north bridge up to the bend, to enhance water vole habitat.
The next scheduled workday is Sunday 5 March. Meet at HQ, located between the north bridge and The Seagull Lane gate, at 09.50, for a prompt start at 10.00. All volunteers, both regular and anyone else, will be warmly welcomed. Trained First Aiders will be on hand. Refreshments will be available. All necessary tools are provided and, where necessary training will be given.
Conservation Work session – Sunday 4 February 2017
Report by Dan Mortimer. Photos by Brian Fellows
It was a damp, chilly, grey morning and only 8 volunteers turned up. Nevertheless we all got stuck in clearing the area between Seagull Lane and the river. We actually achieved a great deal and pretty well tidied up the whole area including most of the very dangerous Crack Willow by the river. We have just a bit more to finish off at the next session.
We dragged most of the brambles from the area to the hibernaculums to create much needed cover and protection for their inhabitants. My thanks to you all for a fruitful work’s morning and of course to Pam for biscuits and coffee.
I saw a lot of Jew’s Ear fungus growing very nicely on the dead Crack Willow. Almost enough for a meal for two!! Also, the first sighting of Primroses up on the path in North Meadow and a small clump of Snowdrops near the Lumley entrance.
Conservation Work session – 19 January 2017
Report by Ian Newman and photos by Brian Fellows
A total of 9 volunteers gathered at HQ for the first work party of the year on a clear sunny morning. A special greeting went to Jutta Fuller who was attending her first work party.
The group was briefed by Ian Newman on the tasks for the day. Jennifer and Mike went off to strim the NE corner of the meadow whilst Maurice, Pam, Jutta and Kathy started work on reducing the pile of tree debris alongside the main path into logs.
The logs were taken by Pam to the Lumley gate for a “help yourself log pile” and smaller pieces to reinforce the hibernaculums.
Finally Gordon and Dan set to work on removing branches from the fallen tree on the edge of the Seagull Lane Patch.
Mike and Jennifer’s efforts to strim the NE corner floundered due to the growth being too tough for the strimmer and instead they resorted to clearing a tree that had fallen across the North Path and removing a build up of debris in the river.
A welcome coffee was provided and dispensed by Pam
Then Mike and Jennifer reinforced the work party on log cutting duty and the large pile of logs by the Lumley Gate is a testament to the group’s efforts. Meanwhile Gordon and Dan finished clearing the branches off the fallen tree. Although it was a comparatively small working party a great deal was achieved and many thanks go to all the volunteers who took part.
We were very pleased to have a visit from Michelle Good of HBC who is now our main contact regarding conservation matters now Jayne Lake has been moved to other duties. Here is Michelle discussing tree management on the meadow with Maurice.
There are more fresh Molehills coming up alongside the main paths through the meadow. Moles appear to be particularly attracted to paths, maybe from the vibrations caused by walkers?
The flood defence wall in the north-east corner of the meadow continues to be vandalised with concrete bags wrenched off and thrown into the river. The brick wall has also been attacked.
The frost created some interesting images around the meadow. My attention was caught by the Spear Thistle rosette.
Mink on the River Ems? – December 2016
The South Downs National Park (SDNP) have received concerns from local landowners about the possible presence of American Mink on the upstream reaches of the River Ems at Westbourne.
If true, this could explain the observed loss of Water Voles along the upper flowing reaches of the Ems near Watersmeet since they were positively surveyed for the river restoration works in 2014/15. It might also help to explain the loss of Water Voles along other parts of the Ems, including here on Brook Meadow. Mink are serious predators of Water Voles and have been a major factor in their decline over the past 30 years. However, Mink have never actually been sighted on Brook Meadow throughout the 16 years of management by the conservation group. In the New Year, the SDNP plan to put out Mink rafts to help determine if Mink are present, so watch this space!
For earlier conservation news go to