This page reports recent events, visits and miscellaneous news relating to Brook Meadow.
Please note it does not include reports of work sessions and wildlife which can be seen elsewhere on this web site. Please use the links on the heading.
Christmas on Brook Meadow – Wednesday 18 December 2019
Report by Dan Mortimer and photos by Brian Fellows
I arrived on site at 08.30 and Reg, Kathy, Pam and myself put up the gazebo . Having done that I rushed home to get my car already packed with everything else needed for the day. The first party of 30 kids, a few parents and 6 school assistants arrived very promptly at 09.30 and we all set to putting up the first lot of decorations . The trees really starting to look Christmassy and festive. The Brook Meadow volunteers were climbing up the ladders and putting the decorations up onto the branches under the children’s guidance. At about 11.00 we all had a Christmas sing song and the children went back to school for lunch.
For the next hour and a half Kathy, Reg ,Terry and myself had to stick around in the cold to wait for the afternoon team of another 30 pupils, teaching staff and parents arrived to hang up the remaining decorations. The Mayor of Havant and 2 consorts arrived at 02.45 to join in the fun. She was given a few decorations to hang on the trees herself and generally joined in. More sing songs were enjoyed. A special huge thanks to Diane Lay and Brenda’s friend for the delicious brownies and squash which were much enjoyed by all. And a special thanks to Kathy without whom I would never managed to make this event possible and so successful.
All the following photos are taken from the afternoon session. Parental permission for the photos had been obtained.
Group members waiting for the children by the gazebo
Children arriving with teachers
Children on site with decorations
Children hanging their decorations assisted by conservation group members
Ladders were needed to reach the tops of the trees
Even the Mayor gave a hand
Here is one very elaborate decoration
Here are a few others
Finally, the children were delighted with the chocolate brownies here being served by Pam and Reg
and Kathy had a wonderful offering . . .
The brownies were delicious and much enjoyed by children . . . and by the Mayor.
Sadly, it was soon 3pm and time for the children to make their way back to school. Thanks for coming and please return!
Video clips of the event
Hanging up decorations . . .
Children sing a Christmas song . . .
Brook Meadow at the Pallant Art Gallery – Friday June 6 – 2019
Report and photos by Brian Fellows
I took part in a special art day at the Pallant Gallery in Chichester in which all gallery volunteers were invited to submit a work of art for display for one day only. Frankly, I am no artist, I cannot draw or paint or anything like that, so for my contribution I decided to create a photo montage of work, activities and wildlife on Brook Meadow. The event went very well and my montage picture was politely received by gallery staff and other volunteers, though it did seem a bit out of place among many real works of art. But this is a first for Brook Meadow to appear in the Pallant Gallery.
Here is the final version of my Brook Meadow montage which took me over a month to assemble. It shows examples of the various conservation and wildlife and other activities that are present on the meadow.
It was really good to see Jennifer Rye and Lesley Harris, my colleagues from the Brook Meadow Conservation Group, at the exhibition particularly as they were both featured in the montage. I think they liked it though they were a bit biased!
Jennifer was pleased to meet up with Alex whom she knew as a teacher in Emsworth
Alex now works for the Pallant Gallery as a community education officer
The event took place in Room 11 in the gallery with works of art on the walls by famous artists
The show was organised by Leo seen here serving refreshments. Leo prides himself on his cakes and biscuits!
Here is a volunteer’s display with two Ivon Hitchens paintings on the wall behind. You can see what the opposition was like!
Incidentally, Hitchens will be the next exhibition at the gallery. I’m looking forward to that!
Leo and curator Louise discussing the displays. Nice one on the easel behind Louise!
But this was my favourite volunteer painting. A lovely watercolour with grasses, plants, hills, birds, etc. It was inspired by the Edward Thomas poem ‘Adlestrop’.
‘TALES FROM BROOK MEADOW’ – 17 June 2019
Kevin Richardson has just published a children’s story book based on his experiences in Brook Meadow which he calls ‘Tales from Brook Meadow’. Kevin now lives in Australia, but spent the first forty years of his life in and around Waterlooville and Havant. He says,
“One of the places I used to like taking my children to was Brook Meadow and teaching them all about the wildlife, that’s where the stories have come from. I wrote the first three books before I left the UK and did nothing with them. I moved to Australia in 2008 and now at the age of 50 . . . I am changing direction in my day to day life and concentrating on teaching bushcraft and wilderness skills and writing”.
Kevin has promised to send me a copy of the book plus some fliers which I shall circulate. If you are interested please see the following links.
Kevin’s website is now live and ready for pre orders at . . . http://www.kevinrichardson.com.au
He also has a Facebook page at . . . https://www.facebook.com/Tales-from-Brook-Meadow-387618462001894/
FRIENDS OF WILDLIFE WALK – 15 June 2019
Report and photos by Brian Fellows
I was very pleased to meet up again with several friends from the old Havant Wildlife Group to lead this morning’s walk on Brook Meadow. Nine of us assembled in Bridge Road car park where I invited them to look at a rare plant called Sulphur Cinquefoil (Potentilla recta) which was in flower on the wayside.
We made our way to Brook Meadow via the Seagull Lane entrance. First we looked at the English Oaks which the group has planted on this site, including those which I and my wife planted in Jubilee year 2012. All the trees have been carefully maintained by the conservation group and are in excellent health. Here is a photo the group took of me now dwarfed by the tree I planted.
I also pointed out the American Red Oak planted in memory of our erstwhile colleague Tony Wilkinson. Derek got this image of acorns just starting to develop.
We went over the north bridge and along the north path by the railway line where I pointed out a hole in a Crack Willow which houses a nest of Tree Bumblebees (Bombus hypnorum). It is a ginger species with a distinctive darkened abdomen and a white tail. We saw a number of bees coming to and from the nest while we were present. This Bumblebee is a newcomer to Britain having colonised our country in 2001. It is a very welcome arrival!
We walked down the east side of the north meadow admiring the wonderful array of grasses, swaying in the breeze. We noted in particular the delicate panicles of False Oat-grass (with awns on its spikelets) and the beautiful reddish anthers of Cocksfoot.
When examining the grasses, we paid homage to the memory of our erstwhile colleague and excellent botanist Gwynne Johnson. We also admired the developing fruits on the Rowan plantation that was planted in Gwynne’s memory in 2005. Like the Oaks, these trees are being carefully tended to by the conservation group.
We stopped by Beryl’s seat to examine the rare Hybrid Fescue (x Festulolium loliaceum) which has characteristics of its two nearby parent grasses, namely Perennial Ryegrass and Meadow Fescue, ie Ryegrass arrangement of Fescue-like spikelets
I asked the group to follow me closely onto the main orchid area and to be extra careful not to tread on any small orchids.
Everyone was delighted to see the multitude of Southern Marsh and Common Spotted Orchids along with a scattering of the smaller more delicate Bee Orchids and the single Pyramidal Orchid.
The attractive (orchid-like) flower spikes of Hedge Woundwort were seen in various places around the meadow.
We had our coffee break at the main seat and Derek kindly took a photo of us all with me!
From the seat we saw a pair of Whitethroats coming and going, collecting grubs for nestlings. Heather got a delightful shot of a young Whitethroat which is our first indication of successful Whitethroat breeding this year. Brilliant.
After the break I took the group on an adventure walking through the tall grasses on the centre meadow, where we came across two patches of star-like Lesser Stitchwort and several clumps of white and purple flowered Common Comfrey. We stopped to admire the very tall spikes of Reed Canary-grass which is the tallest grass on Brook Meadow.
On the bird front we were entertained in song by several Blackcaps and Song Thrushes, the later belting out their repetitive songs across the meadow. Chiffchaff and Whitethroat were also heard along with Blackbird and Wren. Heather spotted a single Swift flying over the meadow, the first I have seen this year. Swifts are such rare birds in this area, where they used to be fairly common.
Regarding butterflies we were delighted to get a good view of a Small Tortoiseshell resting in the vegetation. We also saw one Common Blue, a Red Admiral and several Meadow Browns. A Cinnabar moth was spotted appropriately close to some Hoary Ragwort plants. A Crab Spider was caught on a Southern Marsh Orchid
Walking back along the main river path we saw good numbers of Ladybird larvae in various stages of development resting on nettle leaves. It has been a good year for Ladybirds.
On the Lumley area I picked a few sedges for the group to get a good look at these underrated plants, including Distant Sedge (Carex distans) and the nationally scarce Divided Sedge (Carex divisa). We also stopped to admire yet more orchids including one Bee Orchid with 8 flowers!
Along the small wet path down to the Lumley Stream (where I had my last Water Vole sighting over 2 years ago) we saw a number of interesting plants which Ros applied her botanical ID skills to: Celery-leaved Buttercup, Blue Water-speedwell and Brooklime.
Thanks to everyone for contributing to such an enjoyable experience.
Riparian identification course – Monday 3 Jun, 2019
Report by Brian Fellows
Today, along with about 20 other people, I attended a one-day riparian plant identification course organised by Sarah Hughes, the Community Wildlife Officer for Chichester District Council. The course was led by ecologist, Bruce Middleton and covered the identification of common waterside plants among many others.
We started at Tuppenny Barn at 10am for a talk by Bruce followed by a survey of some of the plants in the pond on the site. We then went over to Brook Meadow for lunch followed by a walk around the meadow with commentary from Bruce finishing at 3pm. The weather was fine and warm and the day was a great success. I was pleased to be helpful in providing specialised local knowledge of Brook Meadow, particularly regarding orchids and sedges. Here are a few of my memories of the day with photos.
In the afternoon we all went onto Brook Meadow where I guided the group to a nice shaded area by Beryl’s seat for lunch. Most of the group sat on the ground. It was very pleasant with birds singing and the grasses swaying in the breeze.
Bruce is holding up an Aspen leaf from a tree on the east side of the north meadow behind the Rowan plantation. The reason why the leaves of Aspen rustle in the slightest breeze is due to the flattening of the leaf stems making them very flexible.
Bruce pointed out the leaves of a Hop plant just to the right of the tall Aspen tree which is a new addition to the meadow plant list. An escape from a nearby garden, maybe?
One of the attendees who was an entomologist pointed out a large Tree Bumblebee nest (Bombus hypnorum) in a hole in the last Crack Willow along the north path going towards the north-east corner. She thought it could have over 100 bees in it, but unlike Wasps they pose no threat to people provided they are left alone.
Bruce pointed out the heart-shaped petals of the flowers on the Dog Rose on the north path.
We saw two male Demoiselles chasing one another at the north bend. I did not see their wings so not sure if they were Banded Demoiselles or Beautiful Demoiselles. We get both species on Brook Meadow.
Another new plant for our year list was Raspberry the leaves of which were seen by Bruce in the brambles just south of the western plantation. The leaves are downy white underneath – not shown in this photo.
We stopped briefly at the north bridge where Bruce gave Dan some advice about planting Common Reed rhizomes.
Bruce spotted Water Figwort in flower on the river bank opposite the Bulrushes.
With half an hour left, I was delighted to take the group around the Lumley area where Bruce was most impressed by the range and abundance of our sedges. Here he is examining a sample of False Fox Sedge.
Finally here is a shot of the group admiring the Bee Orchids, which were easily seen from the path.
SATURDAY MAY 19 – 2018
Brook Meadow Nature Walk
Report and photos by Brian Fellows
I met up with seven members of the Friends of Wildlife (formerly Havant Wildlife Group) in Bridge Road car park for their annual visit to Brook Meadow. Numbers may have been reduced by a clash with the royal wedding of Harry and Megan!
Arriving at Brook Meadow, we entered through the Seagull Lane gate and stopped for a moment to look along the recently cleared path though the dense vegetation to the new Oak trees which are all doing very well, including the one that I planted! We stopped for the traditional group photo before going across the north bridge onto the main meadow.
From left to right in the photo are Derek, Dave, Ros, Nicola, Heather, Fay and Neil.
The group was impressed with the good work done by the conservation volunteers in clearing the river banks and admired the avenue of Cow Parsley along the main path.
While in the north meadow we stopped for a while to examine several grasses, including Meadow Foxtail, Cocksfoot and Tall Fescue. I was particularly pleased to find the first Yorkshire Fog of the year and invited Nicola to stroke its velvety stem.
This reminded us all of Gwynne Johnson’s determined efforts get us to understand and identify grasses. Talking of Gwynne we stopped briefly by the group of Rowan trees which were planted in her memory in 2004 and carefully maintained by the conservation group.
I invited the group onto the main orchid area which is currently surrounded by a temporary barrier of branches to restrict access. This was a good move as Dave discovered the first of several Southern Marsh Orchids, just starting to flower and very late this year. We discovered another couple of Southern Marsh Orchids on the Lumley area.
While on the Lumley area I introduced Nicola to sedges, in particular comparing Distant Sedge with the similar structured Hairy Sedge.
Near the Lumley Stream we saw several damselflies, including a male Beautiful Demoiselle an Azure and a pair of Large Reds mating. We also came across several Froghoppers
Ros had a look at the Wintercress flowering on the centre meadow and decided it was probably B. vulgaris in view of its large basal leaves.
Walking along the causeway towards the seat for our break we stopped to admire the attractive pink and white blossom of a Hawthorn bush.
We stopped for a coffee break at the main seat overlooking Brook Meadow where I asked Heather to take a photo of the group with me in it for a change!
Ros puzzled over some Forget-me-nots with white and blue flowers and concluded they were probably Changing Forget-me-not, but not with complete certainty. Here she is looking them up in her flower guide.
Best of all for me was to confirm the presence of at least three male Whitethroats singing on the meadow for the first time this year, one from the west side of the north meadow, one from bushes around the causeway and another from trees on the edge of the south meadow. Clearly, they are here at least. Here is a nice shot of one perched at the top of a tree from Derek.
Finally, I took the group on a trek through the jungle which is the south meadow hoping for Celery-leaved Buttercup, but not a sign of anything of interest. So, I bid a fond farewell to the group at the south gate at about 11am. In fact, the group did find Celery-leaved Buttercup on the side of Peter Pond which I recorded on May 17th. But none on the meadow this year.
PS Thanks to Heather and Derek for the photos. Some were mine as well.