Conservation News – 2020 (current)

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 on the 1st Sunday and the 3rd Thursday of each month throughout the year.  Work sessions start at 9.30am with a guaranteed finish time of 12 noon. 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.

Conservation Work session – Thursday 16th January 2020
Report by Reg Newnham. Photos by Brian Fellows
Twelve volunteers (including leader) turned out on a calm winter morning. This was after we had two severe winter gales in the week. Therefore, the Meadows are wet and sodden.
The weather, a bright start but became overcast during the work session and it ended early with the onset of rain! The temperature was 10°C and improving to 11°C. Reg Newnham was leading. All the volunteers arrived at the start time. There were no new volunteers. After the usual brief welcome the task was described.
The single task was to remove all undergrowth from the trees along the North path so that they could have unrestricted light to fully grow.

It was good to see David Search at the work session. 

This undergrowth was removed and carried mostly by hand taken to Seagull Lane area for fuel for a bonfire for the next work session.

The pile of cuttings building up on the Seagull Lane patch

A welcome stop for coffee at 10.55 with a good selection of biscuits. Thank you, Pam. The coffee break was held at HQ. After coffee, work continued as above.

David and Reg having a chat at the end of the session
At 11.45 all tools were returned to HQ and a productive session was finished. HQ was finally secured at 11.55.
The next work session will be on Sunday 2nd February 2020.

Video clip of the work in progress . . .

Before and after shots of the area – photos from Maurice Lillie

Elisabeth Kinloch
Pam passed on the news from David Gattrell that Elisabeth Kinloch had died over the Christmas period aged 97 years! She had been ill with dementia for many years and had been cared for at her home in Westbourne.   Elisabeth is the owner of Peter Pond and we trust David will be able to carry on with his excellent management of the pond. Elisabeth was also an active member of the committee of the Brook Meadow Conservation Group in the early days of the group. She was also a distinguished architect and designed the present Emsworth Surgery.   I hope to make a tribute page for Elisabeth on this web site, so would be grateful for any appreciations and memories from those who knew her.
Here is a nice shot of Elisabeth with David in 2008 on Peter Pond

Conservation Work session – Sunday 5th January 2020
Report by Colin Brotherston. Photos and wildlife by Brian Fellows
Thirteen volunteers (including leader) turned out on a quiet dry winter morning. The weather was overcast with light wind, temperature mild for the time of year. Colin was leading assisted by Maurice. Most of the volunteers arrived at the start time. We welcomed one new volunteer, Juliette Webb. The usual welcome, briefing and safety reminders was rapidly concluded.
The tasks were:
1          Litter pick and clean sign cases.
2          Clear fallen wood from central meadow to a bonfire site close to the main arisings dump.
3          Clear fallen wood and debris in Seagull Lane Patch and move to bonfire site at HQ
4          Mow and clear the area around Mike’s laid hedge and trim hedge lightly.
5          Start a bonfire at HQ
6            Remove Christmas decorations from the cherry trees.
Leslie kindly volunteered to do the litter pick. She has made this task her own and we are very grateful. Today Lesley was joined by Brenda on litter picking.
Maurice headed a team to remove fallen wood in Seagull Lane Patch. At the same time Debbie supervised the lighting of the bonfire. After a slow start with damp paper the fire soon took a hold of the fairly dry material.

A small team of two headed to the cherry trees to remove the decorations which had lasted very well but were beginning to look somewhat past their best.

They had to borrow Brian’s walking stick to reach the higher one


Juliette and Dianne with the decorations . . . and their final resting place!

Mike Kathy and Colin headed to Mike’s laid hedge to do some trimming.

At the same time Nigel and Tony brought out the power scythe and mowed each side of the hedge and some overgrown regions between the central and north meadow, thereby reclaiming ground lost to fallen branches.

At 10.50 coffee and biscuits kindly supplied by Pam was dispensed at HQ where the bonfire was burning well. At coffee time we were joined by Jennifer who stayed on to enjoy meadow activities and check we were all behaving ourselves.
After coffee the main tasks were collecting more wood for future burning. There is now a pile at HQ and in the central meadow close to the arisings dump.
By 11.30 the bonfire was doused with water from the river. The wood collection task was completed. The last few Christmas decorations higher up the trees were removed.By 12.00 all tools were back at HQ and tidily stored. HQ was locked by Maurice. This marked the end of a good January work session
The next workday is on Thursday 16 January.

Wildlife observations – from Brian
Mike discovered an attractive bright yellow small jelly-like fungus growing on a dead twig during the clearance. I know it as Yellow Brain Fungus (Tremella mesenterica) though more imaginatively it is also known as Witches Butter. It is fairly common on dead twigs in winter, though in dry weather it shrinks and darkens. It is not poisonous, but is not worth eating! As with most fungi, it is so much better to enjoy and appreciate it in situ.
Winter Heliotrope is now in full flower on the river bank.
A Great Tit was singing a somewhat truncated song high in a tree

Several volunteers had seen the mystery goose that has been hanging around Peter Pond for the past week or so. Here is a photo of it taken by Patrick Atkin. The bird is a Swan Goose (Anser cygnoides) whose natural breeding range is inland Mongolia, north eastern China and south eastern Russia. It is migratory and winters mainly in central and eastern China, but never flies as far as Britain!   The birds we see in Britain are escapes from domestic collections. The Peter Pond bird had a ring on its left leg which clearly indicates its domestic origin. It is widespread in Britain.

For reports for 2019 go to . . .

For all past workday reports see . . .

Video clips from workdays in 2019

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