2 – Workdays

Conservation work on Brook Meadow
Management of Brook Meadow is essential to maintain an appropriate habitat for wildlife and to enhance the biodiversity of the site. To achieve this, the conservation group works in co-operation with the local Council and other agencies to keep the meadow in good order both for wildlife and for public use. It holds regular conservation work sessions to manage grassland, scrub and woodland and, generally, to keep the meadow clean and tidy. The rivers are primarily managed by the Environment Agency to maintain a good flow of water, avoid flooding, and to create a good habitat for fish, Water Voles and other riparian wildlife.

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 details of specific work sessions call Jennifer Rye – 01243 376926

Meet at the Tool Store Seagull Lane. Tools and gloves provided.
Sunday 3rd Dec: Thursday 21st Dec (with mince pies): Sunday 7th Jan 2018

Friday 17th November 7.00 p.m. AGM to be held at St James Church Hall.
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.


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 are two short videos on YouTube of the volunteers at work.  You will need to open them in YouTube to see the videos.

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.

Conservation Work session – Sunday 5 November 2017
Report by Dan Mortimer. Photos by Brian Fellows.
What a beautiful day ,just perfect – sunny with a wintery chill. A fantastic magnificent 15 eager volunteers turned up today. Here we all are at coffee break.

We all set to, raking up the already cut grass in the north meadow orchid area and around the Rowan trees.  The orchid area had a welcome second cut and clear.

Volunteers clearing around the Rowans

We managed to sort out the best method of disposing the cut grass by dragging it away to the dumping areas, using the blue, plastic sheet and not the white grab bags. Hopefully every one has finally learnt and realized this is the most efficient method for this task.
We then proceeded to the south east corner of the south meadow and repeated the exercise of clearing, dragging and dumping.

Maurice used the cuttings to create a new hibernaculum near the start of the south path.
The pre-cutting of the grass in advance of the work session certainly saved a lot of time – so, a huge thanks to Nigel and Maurice for doing this the day before. Here is Maurice with the scythe.
Coffee, tea and biscuits were most welcome and, again, thanks to Pam for doing the honours. Finally, thanks to Laura and John for their work sawing off the branches on a tree opposite Gooseberry Cottage. A great day.

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

Conservation Work session – Thursday 19 October 2017
Report by Jennifer Rye. Photos by Brian Fellows.
Overnight rain had cleared, more or less, by 10a.m. when no less than 14 volunteers arrived at HQ, ready for a strenuous session. We were delighted to welcome back Lesley Harris to join us. The usual safety talk was given and volunteers urged not to do overdo their strength on the raking, which is potentially tough on backs. Brian took the first photo of the day.

Jennifer outlined the main task for the day, which was to rake, collect and drag to disposal point the arisings from the Lumley wild flower area, which had been most efficiently cut ready for us on the day before, by Nigel. It looked like a huge task, but turned out to be relatively quick and easy with so many hands making light work of it.

The large tarpaulin drag sheet proved ideal for disposing of long ‘sausages’ of arisings by just rolling them lengthwise onto the plastic and dragging it, thus loaded, to the dump, where the process could be reversed.

Then Lesley set off to clean all signcases and litter pick the whole site.
The coffee break was taken at 11, and enriched with cakes, provided by Jennifer to celebrate her wedding anniversary.
So much had already been cleared by then that it was possible for a subgroup to move on to the two circular areas in the north Meadow which had also already been cut in preparation, and complete the same task there.
We all agreed that cutting in advance, when possible, makes the raking and clearing job much easier, provided it can follow on very soon after the cut.

Finally at noon, all volunteers were photographed around the new green oak bench in front of the five cherry trees by the raised river path. Jennifer took the following photo which included Brian and Lesley sitting on the new bench. Brian explained to everyone that the awful appearance of his face was the result of a nasty fall in Portsmouth last Saturday.
The bench is a memorial to our good friend Frank Styles. It was made by Dan Mortimer’s brother in law, and paid for by a collection at Frank’s funeral: hereafter it will be known as “Frank’s bench”. We shall remember him with great affection as we sit there and view our lovely meadow which he enjoyed working on with us.

Miscellaneous observations: There is a good flowering of Meadowsweet and Michaelmas Daisies. The latter usually attract butterflies, but there were none there today, just one or two small bees.   However, Jennifer said she counted 4 Peacocks and 3 Red Admirals on the daisies yesterday.

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

Conservation Work session – Sunday 1st October 2017
Report by Dan Mortimer. Photos by Brian Fellows.
Five tough, stoic volunteers turned up for work today, led by Dan Mortimer.
It was decided unanimously that the ground was far too wet to use the power scythe and would likely get stuck in the mud. So, instead, we cleared around the Rowan plantation of 20 trees which were badly in need of being trimmed back around their bases. We cleared away the nettles, brambles and bindweed that had grown high up into the trees. We all agreed that this must not happen in future and that regular mowing with the power scythe would help to keep down this growth.  Here are a few photos of the work in progress.
Debbie and Pam at work

They have finished with help from Nigel!

Tony and Dan were also busy

Then Tony and Dan cleared away the cut branches at Lumley road entrance.

At half time we enjoyed Pam’s much needed coffee and biscuits.

Wildlife observations from Brian
During today’s work session I came across a light brown moth fluttering around. I took this photo when it came to rest.
The moth is called ‘The Snout’ Hypena proboscidalis. A common species throughout Britain, this moth can often be found in numbers around dusk, flying over patches of the foodplant, nettle (Urtica dioica). It is on the wing from June to August, and again later in the autumn, and is a common occurrence at the light-trap. It occurs on waste ground, gardens, woodland and other places where nettle occurs.

Meadowsweet is still in flower near the Rowan plantation. Common Fleabane is hanging on here and there. The first Wren song I have heard for several weeks. Wild Angelica standing tall and in flower on the south meadow. Dock Shield Bugs conveniently on Dock leaves.


Oak galls
I had a look at the Oak saplings on the Seagull Lane patch which are all growing well. Here is a snap of the Pedunculate Oak that I planted in Year 2012 with the Red Oak donated by the Wilkinson family in memory of Tony in the background.
The under sides of leaves of the Pedunculate Oaks were spotted with spangle galls, seemingly of type varieties. I am most familiar with the flat disc galls which have a slightly hairy central elevation.   The other galls, more numerous on this leaf, are ball-shaped with a slight depression in the centre.
Here are close-ups of them both through my microscope.

The galls are produced by a Cynipid Wasp which lays its eggs on leaves and the gall develops grows around the developing larvae which feed on the leaf. The galls mature at this time of the year and fall to the ground before the leaves themselves. The larvae continue to develop in the fallen spangle and, protected by the leaf layer, they overwinter before emerging in the spring as adult insects.

Water Vole
Dan Mortimer reported seeing a Water Vole this morning swimming across the channel between the reeds in the north end of Peter Pond. This is good news, so let’s hope this indicates the start of a new generation that may disperse to the River Ems. However, the river at present of seriously overgrown and hardly presents a welcoming sight to any wandering Water Voles. It needs a good cut and clear out.

For earlier reports go to . . . https://www.brookmeadow.org.uk/conservation-news-archives-2017/

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