Conservation News

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
Regular 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.
Special work session are also organised from time to time e.g. hedge-laying
For further details call Jennifer Rye – 01243 376926


Report and photos by Brian Fellows
I went over to the Lumley gate where I found Colin Brotherston struggling to open the lock on the gate with what turned out to be the wrong key! Martin Cull arrived and fortunately had bolt cutters in the tractor and was able to cut the chain easily and open the gate. Pam Phillips arrived later with the right key. Here is Martin finally driving through the gateway.
It was good to see Martin back as he knows the meadow very well and always does a good job. He did not come last year when the cutting was done by Norse. Here are the three of us posing for photo – taken by Tricia Brotherston.
Colin and Martin consulted the cutting map. Martin made a start on the centre meadow.

Video clip of Martin at work with his sturdy red tractor . . .

Meanwhile Colin, Tricia and Pam Phillips searched the long grasses of the centre meadow for the tree stump which Martin wished to avoid! We finally found the stump and marked it clearly so Martin could easily avoid it with the tractor. For future reference the stump is about half way along the cross path from the Lumley gate – Grid Ref: SU 75119 06022.
Here is Tricia standing on the stump

Martin disturbed a wasp nest during the cutting of the centre meadow. I went home to prepare a notice warning visitors about the nest and Pam also did one.
I went back after lunch to find that Martin had just completed cutting the centre meadow and was starting on the north meadow. He said he would not finish today and offered to come again next week. Colin will confirm with him.
Video clip of Martin at work on the north meadow . . .
Video clip of Martin dumping cuttings . . .

For wildlife observations go to . . . . . .

Special work session – Saturday 7 July 2018
Reinstatement of view from south bridge
Report by Maurice Lillie. Photos by Brian Fellows.
Some of you may have noticed a Goat Willow tree that has grown vigorously over the last two years and completely obliterated a glorious view up the River Ems from the South Bridge. Well, not any more. Nigel, Phil, Terry and Reg aka my star team, joined me this morning to remove it.

Armed with saws, loppers, slashers, a safety rope and wearing waders we made a temporary route from the south meadow path through previously untrodden heavy vegetation to the river bank, opposite said Willow.

Maurice ready for action in his waders.



Nigel and Terry stood knee deep in the river lopping twigs and branches, whilst the others cut and trimmed the fellings and piled them close to the bank where they will slowly decompose, in the meantime providing shelter for any wildlife that might need it. Never missing an opportunity to save useful material we set aside long, straightish branches for use in dead hedges.

Thank you chaps for making a hard job straightforward and trouble free. I had expected a two hour plus task, but we able to lop off almost an hour. The blazing sunshine was thwarted by over shadowing trees. Only one of us lost balance and fell in.

Brian relaxing while others worked!

Job completed.  Well done to you all

We were so pleased with ourselves that afterwards we popped in to the Lord Raglan for refreshment

Wildlife observations from Brian
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Conservation Work session – Sunday 1st July 2018
Report by Jennifer Rye. Photos by Brian Fellows.
Ten regular volunteers, plus two temporary visitors, assembled promptly at ten a.m. at HQ, on a swelteringly hot Sunday, with the shade temperature over 30C! Try as we might, we could not avoid some work in the full sun, but warnings were given as part of the briefing, and no sun stroke resulted.

Thanks to Nick, Jennifer’s brother who took the photo, Brian was in it for a change!
Three main tasks were completed: power scything of all the grass paths in the north and central meadows, with some ‘siding up’ of the main gravel path to trim back nettles.
The dead hedging which had surrounded the flower rich area of the north Meadow since May 6 was so thoroughly overgrown with bindweed that it had to be first found and then removed, having done its job of protecting the precious orchids and other blooms.

The two circles in the long grass of the north Meadow, which had been scythed at the last work session, were carefully raked and the dried arisings moved to the north east corner disposal site.

Some overhanging trees at the Lumley gate area were tidied up in preparation for the arrival of Martin Cull and his tall tractor/mower, hopefully some time this month.
And last but by no means least a litter-pick and signcase cleaning duo did a thorough job, particularly around the south of the site.
Very grateful thanks to Pam for her very welcome refreshments, which added ‘Brook Meadow Elderflower cordial’ to the usual tea, coffee and water menu, courtesy of Debbie. All much appreciated.
All complete and tools tidied back into HQ by noon

Finally, one and all retired home for cool showers and cooler drinks.
Looking forward to seeing you again on Thursday July 19: same time, same place, different jobs, and hopefully a somewhat cooler day!

Conservation Work session – Thursday 21 June 2018
Report by Colin Brotherston. Photos by Brian Fellows.
Eleven volunteers turned out on a sunny morning. The weather was largely sunny but with a cool breeze. Briefing and safety instructions announced before allotting tasks.

Brian delivered a short update on wildlife in the meadow. This included the discovery of a single pyramid orchid, not an uncommon plant but first sighting on the meadow since 2010.
The main tasks were:
1 Strim the NE corner of the meadow.
2 Cut the circles in the north meadow and also widen paths in the north meadow using the power scythe.
3 Remove overhanging vegetation from paths.
4 Clear vegetation from around the base of the cherry trees at the northern end of the north meadow in preparation for the annual grass cut.
5 Clear vegetation from around the rowan trees east of Beryl’s seat.6 Litter pick and clean the sign cases.



At 11.00 the group stopped for coffee and biscuits at HQ kindly provided by Pam in the usual efficient manner.

After the break the clearing of vegetation continued and the arising moved to the central dump. Phil gave instructions to Terry on the use of the power strimmer and they cleared vegetation on the path south of Beryl’s seat. In the north east corner Maurice supervised Reg who operated the power scythe very successfully.

A short trial was conducted to determine whether a small hedge trimmer would be suitable to aid removal of vegetation from the river bank. It appeared that this might be an option but a wide slot cutter is needed to deal with some of the larger stalks. This method needs further exploration.
Jennifer showed the meadow to Nick Betson, an ecology representative from RPS Group who are looking for suitable sites to translocate reptiles from a development site at Warsash.
At 12.00 all tools were returned to the shed. Nothing was missing. The shed was locked and the session finished.

Wildlife observations (from Brian)
The first Meadowsweet was in flower. I am looking forward to more of this aromatic plant.
Masses of green berries are forming on the Rowans on the east side of thee north meadow.

Conservation Work session – Sunday 3 June 2018
Report by Maurice Lillie. Photos by Brian Fellows.
Sunday morning. Very hot and humid. Nine volunteers answered the call to work.
Maurice explained the tasks. Trim the pathways through Palmers Road Copse (PRC), while Nigel set about cutting the occasional grass paths around and through the South Meadow. Then the PRC crew would transfer their affections to raking those paths.
Brian photographed the assembled gathering.

Nigel made short work of the mowing and joined the PRC gang of Pam, Jennifer, Debi, Terry, Peter, Cathy and Dan, well before 11.00. The path overhangs were trimmed back, and the arisings bagged and dumped.
The ‘Water Vole’ viewing point was opened up to show the view up river and across the meadow, by removing a Hawthorn hedge between the observation fence and the Ash tree. Sterling work Debi.
Jennifer cleaned a very grubby Water Vole information board.
At 11.00, we broke for refreshments. Pam’s teas, coffees and biscuits were gratefully enjoyed by all.
Brian pointed out a tuft of Remote Sedge (Carex remota) by the path through the copse, fortunately missed in the clearance.
The team moved to the South Meadow to rake up and dump the grass cuttings. This is a laborious task involving raking, forking into Carry bags dragging them and tipping them onto a chosen pile. Several volunteers trimmed the overhanging vegetation to ensure that users of these paths could safely pass without being nettle stung, bramble-scratched or thistle prickled.

Maurice drove the power scythe from the South Meadow through the Central Meadow trimming a grass path en route to Jennifer’s path in the North Meadow, around Franks Bench and up to the Play area for quick trim.
At 12.00 with the tasks completed, the tools were returned to HQ. cleaned and stowed away.
Maurice thanked everyone on the successful completion of the tasks.

The next work session will be on Thursday 21 June 2018
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.

 for Brian’s wildlife observations (including the first Bee Orchid)
Go to . . .

Conservation Work session – Thursday 17 May 2018
Report by Jennifer Rye. Photos by Brian Fellows.
A small number of volunteers today, just 6, but good work achieved. A keen northerly wind took the edge off temperatures at first, but it soon warmed up, and by midday we were glad of the cool breeze.
The main tasks were grass cutting, since everything is growing at a great rate. The growth round all the Rowan trees and the cherry trees was cleared with hand tools: scythes and shears. Each tree now has a clear circle around it to aid growth and prevent strangulation.

The power scythe had its first outing of the year, now the ground is dry enough to use it, and Mike trained a new user while attending to all the narrow paths in the centre and north meadows, as well as in the Seagull Lane patch. So all is ready now, fit for children and sandal wearers!
At the very welcome coffee break, for which thanks to Pam, we all enjoyed a catch up with our erstwhile photographer in chief, Malcolm Phillips. Our loss is Cuba’s gain, and it was good to have an opportunity to hear how he is settling there. Malcolm stayed for a cup of coffee with the team.  He is second from the right.
All tools returned to HQ by noon, another good session in the lovely spring weather. Thanks to our loyal volunteers who help keep the Meadow fit for us all to enjoy, and for its native plants and creatures to thrive.

Beryl’s Seat
We met for coffee break at Beryl’s seat on the east side of the north meadow and Pam filled us in with a little of its history. Beryl Young donated the seat to Brook Meadow in memory of her husband about 10 years ago. They used to come and sit on the meadow and Beryl helped on conservation work on the meadow for a while.

The next work session will be on Sunday 3rd June. 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.

Wildlife notes from Brian
Pam Phillips alerted me to the emergence of Ragged Robin flowers on the Lumley area – a good 2 weeks later than usual and, actually, the latest date ever. Just shows how natural growth was delayed by the cold spring. I went over later in the afternoon and counted a total of 111 flowering plants, 78 on the Lumley area and another 33 on the centre meadow, with more to come hopefully. Last year we had a peak of 135 flowering Ragged Robin by 20 May but they were much earlier that year. Here is one typically ragged flower I took today
Silverweed is in flower on the Lumley area for the first time. I confirmed the presence of a Whitethroat singing near the causeway, but only one so far. We regularly get 4 or 5.

The only insect I noted was a vividly coloured Red-and-Black Froghopper (Cercopis vulnerata). There are many different species of Froghopper, but this is the one we usually see on Brook Meadow, probably because it is so colourful.
They get their name from their ability to jump many times their height and length, but are best known for their plant-sucking nymphs (beloved by gardeners!) which encase themselves in foam in springtime. These nymphs are usually called Spittlebugs. The foam is well-known as ‘cuckoo spit’, named presumably because its appearance coincides with the arrival of the Cuckoo. Cuckooflowers are similarly named.

Conservation Work session – Sunday 6th May  2018
Report by Maurice Lillie. Photos by Brian Fellows.
On a hot May Day Bank Holiday Sunday, eleven volunteers, plus Inigo and Thebe, Jennifer’s grandchildren, arrived at HQ, at the appointed time to welcome Colette Court from the Trust for Conservation Volunteers and embark on a morning’s tasks. Maurice, the appointed Leader, identified the jobs to be tackled, tools to be employed and the risks involved. Brian photographed the assembled gathering.
The first task was to complete the deadwood surround to the wild flower area in the North Meadow with material saved for the purpose lying nearby. Debbie, Jim and Peter set about this job.
Other volunteers carried out two other jobs. The first of these was to cut back the overhanging nettles along the north path edges.
The second job was to cut down nettles and brambles that were sprouting from the recently cleared river bank. Nigel, Terry, Pam, Kathy, Sharon and Nick armed with slashers, long lopper and shears, carried out this job, taking care to watch out for passers-by out enjoying the sunshine.


Colette having a chat to one of the volunteers during the river bank clearance

Jennifer and her grandchildren Inigo and Thebe walked through the Meadow and to  Palmers Road Copse on a much-needed litter pick. Here they are on the way.
At 11 o’clock the whistle summoned everyone to Beryl’s Seat, for tea, coffee and soft drinks. These were served with the usual tasty selection of biscuits. Thank so Pam for supplying and serving this greatly enjoyed refreshment.
After the break, all hands were turned to completing deadwood surround in the North Meadow.  When this was completed the group transferred their affections to the north-east and began the additional task of repositioning dumped grass clippings and other debris to enhance the hibernaculum nearby and clearing more nettle growth to expose the thorn bushes that, in the near future, will be removed.

At 12.00 with the tasks were completed, the tools were returned to HQ. cleaned and stowed away. The Leader thanked everyone on the successful completion of the tasks.

The next work session will be on Thursday day, 17 May. 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.

Wildlife observations from Brian
The first Whitethroat of the year was singing from the brambles on the west side of the north meadow. This is about 2 weeks later than usual for this regular summer visitor to Brook Meadow. Listen out for their short scratchy song, usually when perched on a bush or tree, with white throat prominent. Photo taken a couple of years ago on Brook Meadow.
There was a good number of butterflies on the wing, mostly whites, plus several Orange Tips and a Holly Blue, for the first time this year. You are very likely to see Holly Blue in your garden fluttering high around the Ivy which they lay eggs on. The very similar Common Blue always flies low and frequents grassland areas. Holly Blue has black spots on its underwings which the Common Blue does not have.
We are doing quite well for Cuckooflowers on Brook Meadow this year. I counted a total of 24 in total with 2 on the orchid area, 3 on the Lumley area, 15 on centre meadow and 4 on south meadow. This is a fairly modest number compared with the 157 I counted on the Bridge Road Wayside.
I found a good growth of what I think is Slender Spike-rush (Eleocharis uniglumis) in the usual spot in the centre of the Lumley area. This plant is botanically a sedge despite its common name. It differs from Common Spike-rush in having very thin (slender) stems, only about 1mm thick. Slender Spike-rush also only has the lowest glume of the spikelet without a floret; in Common Spike-rush both the two lowest glumes are empty. This uncommon Spike-rush was first discovered on Brook Meadow by ecologist John Norton during a botanical survey on June 4 2012.

All earlier reports for 2018 are on the archives pages.
Go to . . .


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