words Many works and schemes
through Harrow Council’s Green Grid initiative are coming to
fruition now so as
to be in place by the end of the financial year at the end of March.
rubbish bins are being installed at Newton Farm Ecology Park, Stanmore
Park and Stanmore Common. At the last two sites these are being
picnic tables; these will go in 6 Acre Field at Stanmore Country Park
the newly widened Witling Ride at Stanmore Common.
Also funded by the Green
Grid is work to create a link between Brockley
Hill Field and the main part of Stanmore Country Park. If one takes the
path running west from the pond in Brockley Hill Field one reaches a
kissing gate, very short gravel path, and bridge over a ditch, all
Trimlock Fencing. From here one could bushwack northwest without too
difficulty to reach 40 Acre Pit, but the plan is to create a path
west to the northeast corner of 40 Acre Field. This still requires both
clearance and installation of a second kissing gate.
Two nature trails, at
Stanmore Country Park and Bentley Priory, are
funded by the Green Grid initiative but we are leading on the design
artwork. Most of this has been done but we still need to design the
Once all is done and the posts and information panels actually
should try and arrange a formal opening with a Council dignitary and
Two of our sites are
being improved in projects paid for by the Heritage
Lottery Fund. The major clearance work at Bluebell Heath in Stanmore
now complete. The focus of the work now switches to the more subtle
the site as it develops into what we hope will be a mix of heathland
grassland. Meanwhile clearance work at Furze Heath in Bentley Priory
with significant amounts of scrub being cut out and burned. Clearance
trees will occur in the winter of 2013-2014.
A larger Heritage
Lottery Fund grant, to The Froglife Trust, is funding programmes to
sites across the UK for reptiles and amphibians. Called
“Dragon Finder” (see
it is funding three projects on our sites: clearance to create an open
joining 6 Acre Field and Upper Blue Pond Field in Stanmore Country
surveying Bentley Priory for Common Lizard, the only site in Harrow
species has been recorded (that was in 2003); and isolating the toe of
Pond in Bentley Priory with a raised reed bed barrier to create a safe
newts. These works should be done in 2015.
Meanwhile help may be at hand for Newton Farm Ecology
Park. The Home Group, a social enterprise involved in the large housing
development east of Newton Farm, has brought in an organization called
Groundwork who in turn might bid for funds to improve the Park.
Initially this initiative proceeded without much interaction with
Claire McDermott and the other volunteers at Newton Farm, but
Groundwork have rescheduled their next meeting to 6:30 PM on Wednesday
17 April (at The Beacon, Scott Crescent, HA2 0TY) in order that Claire
can attend, so we keep our fingers crossed that a fruitful
collaboration can occur.
Meanwhile, wardens and
volunteers are continuing to work in all weathers maintaining and
improving the sites. While our activities are usually focussed on our
own sites, once a year we go to Gilbert’s Orchard at Grimsdyke to
cut back bramble from the ancient fruit trees. This year only John
Hollingdale, Margaret Huitson and myself turned up on January 27th, as
it turned out the one nice day in a long period of snow and rain. For
next year we need to advertise the event better via Hoi Polloi, a local
organization supporting community orchards (see http://www.hoipolloi.btck.co.uk/)
and at “Apple Day” at Grimsdyke hotel in October.
VICARAGE AND ALL SAINTS CHURCHYARD
Jill Lewis reported that all was quiet florally as Spring has not
yet started although the Hazel catkins are looking nice. However the
Rev. James Mercer’s Forest School was going well and the children
were enjoying it.
Betty reported that the joint Open Day, held on Sunday September 23rd,
was very wet, so the planned outdoor programme had to be modified.
The wardens have asked that a new surface, for the path/s on this site,
be part of next year’s Green Grid bid.
Work has started on the reopening of Furze Heath in the northeast of
the site, which is good news for the flowers. This is being funded by
Heritage Lottery Fund and will be spread over two years.
A great job has been done of opening up the Spring area using Green
Grid funds and there is only a small amount of work left to do.
Steve has produced an outline for the nature trail and some feedback
has been received.
Peter was concerned about the type of fencing that would be used
between the nature reserve and the new development at the former RAF
Bentley Priory site.
Pochard and Goosander have included species seen and it was noted that
Mistletoe was a plant that should be recorded.
Projects to be financed via the Dragon Finder Project and Froglife,
include the improvement of Boot Pond for Amphibians, are planned to
start in 2015.
An article from City and Country Group, who are restoring the Mansion,
has appeared in the Friends Four Seasons Magazine and the Group will
donate funds for survey and remedial work on the Master Oak.
FARM ECOLOGY PARK
On the 9th of November 2012 Tom Mabey, Community Regeneration
Officer with the Home Group (a local housing association), organised a
meeting about Newton Farm.. Since neither Claire McDermott nor Steve
could attend this meeting they met with Tom on November 8th to talk
about the site. Tom is keen to involve “Groundwork”,
a 3rd sector organisation, in the site. This group has been involved in
conservation work at Canons Park for several years. Ed. He has
scheduled another meeting for the afternoon of February 15th 2013; a
time that he was fully aware made it impossible for Claire to attend
Barn Owl and Bat boxes have successfully been put in place; the sites
were decided after meetings between the wardens (Claire Abbott and
Rosemary Etheridge) and ‘Land Use Consultants’.
At the end of September, one TCV day was used to repair the fence along
Wood Lane. This had been postponed since spring and went well. The
materials cost under £100.Another TCV day was used cutting back
Holly at the east end of the Grimsdyke.
A Fungus Foray (the first in Pear Wood) was held for the Harrow Natural
History Society on the 20th October. The attendance was good and it
The annual cut was the worst job of mowing by far that has been done
since the wardens took-on this site. Offers by the wardens to be
present were regarded as unnecessary. The Guide Field was not supposed
to be mowed as it is low nutrient acid grassland. In the event it was
mown, and worse, it does not look like arisings were taken away.
Efforts to rake and remove them by the wardens have proved largely
impossible, due to the wet weather. The Scout field is also in a
terrible state, badly cut-up and big chunks of mowing missed
altogether. The Wardens are trying hard to encourage insects in these
fields but these attempts have been hampered by the late cut.
John H. helped to clear the fallen tree that was blocking the entrance
to the Scout Field and the wardens were grateful for his assistance..
Later this year, another area is going to be tried to site beehives.
A fence has now been put around the ruin (cottages). This had been
requested when the wardens first took over so this is satisfactory.
The pitfall taps in the reserve for beetles and spiders have come up
for the winter but will their use will resume in the spring. (It will
be interesting to see the results. Ed.)
The video documentary about Pear Wood and the fight for the cottages
and land around them is online on Youtube at
There has been the first sighting for many years of a Grasshopper
Warbler. Also fresh Barn Owl pellets have been found recently on
Wood Farm and so it is really hoped that they will take up residence in
the new boxes,
However the pile of rubbish, which had been inside the gate on Wood
Lane since September, has still not been removed by Harrow Council.
In early November 2012 the wardens had a scare when a council press
release stated that the Pear Wood Cottages enclave had been sold to the
Wood Farm developer; however this appears to have been a council error.
Dave Bolton reported that a TCV working party was planned for Sunday
20th January, but this was uncertain because of lack of TCV volunteers
on that date.
Dave has been continuing with the regular cutting back of path borders.
Additionally the mowing of missed edges following the annual cut has
also been carried out. Regular litter-picking has continued too (14
wine bottles were collected on Sunday 13th January).
There were Mallards on the pond but these have now moved on.
The ditch and under path pipes have been cleared so paths have stayed
clear of water. Water is standing in the large grass areas. The outfall
pipe in the park is not flowing (blocked) and Dave Corby has been asked
to look at this.
There are two outstanding issues from 2011. Firstly the fence over the
ditch in the far corner needs repairing. Secondly the open drain has
still not been covered with new railway sleepers.
An additional dog-free pond has been suggested and John Dobson agreed
to work with Dave to determine a suitable site.
Simon reported that the work at Bluebell Heath was progressing well.
The extra work on Flushing Wood should be finished by the end of
January and the opening up of the area is looking good. The next stage
will be to carry out a photo survey as soon as work is finished and
then again when trees are in leaf using 18 photo points and 360degree
photos. Botanical survey work will also take place.
The initial survey for the Nature Trail is planned for May with marking
work starting in October.
A fish survey of Grove Ponds with a specialist aquatics centre is
planned for winter/spring.
Simon is very happy with the work carried out through the Green Grid on
opening Witling ride. Witling Marsh has been closed off to protect the
mini habitat created by the vehicular damage.
On 12th December 2012, Simon Braidman, Peter Peretti and Steve Bolsover
attended a meeting about street and walkway lighting at Warren Lane and
Stanmore Common. Huma Pearce was present and discussed the bat survey
she had done. The decision was that the remaining section of Wood Lane,
that at present has no lights, would not be lit. The path from just
east of the car park to Bentley Grove, which has a set of
non-functional lamps already, would have new lights installed to make
walking to the bus stop on the A4140 safer; these would be operated
only during winter, defined as the period between the last Sunday in
October and the last Sunday in March (this corresponds at present to
the period outside British Summer Time.
Simon reported that following further discussion, (which the Forum was
not party to) there would be lighting of the entrance to
West Lodge Drive to the entrance with Common Road from dusk to midnight
all year round.
Simon reported that he has had two enquiries from people wanting to
harvest wood and possibly Stanmore Country Park was a more suitable
site for this. Dave Corby indicated that there was no objection
provided that it was done properly with a risk assessment and written
The Annual Cut was very late on this reserve too and only compartment
17 was cut. To compensate Steve Bolsover and David Bailey
brushcut compartments 18 & 19 and the TCV raked the cut material
up. The Bracken in compartment 17 has been sprayed once.
A Fungus Foray took place in September and a Bluebell Heath walk in
On the 31st October we started a new project the opening up a new
clearing around Fox Earth Mound. English Heritage required that the
mound be cleared of trees and most of the trees on the mound and in the
surrounding ditch were felled, excepting 2 enormous Silver Birch and a
magnificent older Hawthorn. The Aspen clump, near to the mound’s
eastern edge, was likewise spared. On completion of the work, a
new clearing had been created adjoining an existing one which lies in
the south west area of Mound Grove Compartment 8. A light path has been
created surrounded by thick shelter belts. Now, when the sun
shines, the whole clearing glows like a bright torch.
A waterproof mammal shelter was created from brash just west of the
work area. The huge oak which skirts the south west edge of the
new clearing was partially cleared of Holly all around it bringing it
into more light and making it more of a feature but keeping the ivy,
bramble and bracken complex extending from its eastern base.
Following on the TCV started a another new project to reopen overgrown
miniclearings along what was called Furze path now renamed in its north
to south straight section as The Hawthorn’s Walk. On compartment
22, Holly and Yew were targeted as they are very invasive. This work
was continued by our volunteers. An area was scraped just off the
ride to the east; brash was stacked high to create a windshield around
the scrape. It is hoped grassland may invade the scrape. At the same
time a very large Turkey Oak was felled to produce a hole in the canopy
just to the east of the southern entrance to the Hawthorns walk
creating a narrow corridor into Stonefly Wood.
Steve Bolsover has surveyed the proposed link path along the pond
system east of Stanmore Common, connecting with the London Loop.
Opening of this loop is part of the Green Grid plan, however to date it
has not been possible to discover who legally occupies the land and on
Species seen on the site included a Treecreeper in Witling Glade,
Hare’s Ear fungus Otidea onotica and the Western Polypody
Fern; also two grass snakes.
STANMORE COUNTRY PARK
Mark Davis has expressed an interest in helping manage the site and
John showed him around the reserve. Marion and Norman Sartin have been
regulars at the monthly Wednesday morning work parties.
In Lower Forty Acre Field the grass cut in October, which was too late
in the year, resulted in very deep ruts made by the vehicle collecting
the arisings. Also the gate post was removed by same operators and has
not been replaced; this is the 3rd time over the years that this has
John has completed the annual brushcut in John Hall’s Field.
In Upper Blue Pond Field parties of The Conservation Volunteers are
removing Birch in order to connect this field with John Hall’s
Field. The work should be completed by the time you read this.
In Hilly Field more Birch is being removed to recreate the open area
with the help of Marian and Norman Sartin, Mark and Simon’s
volunteers. On the plus side, the wet weather has made the pulling up
of bramble, gorse, holly etc a lot easier.
In Six Acre Field, the working parties have removed suckers and
overhanging branches from the Aspen grove; also path edges have been
Following the annual cut by Harrow Council, the arisings were not
collected in Spinney and Spring Fields due to the wet state of the
In Spring Field the pile of rubbish has finally been collected by the
Council after threats were made to involve the local Councilors. Also
the vegetation around a London Loop signpost has been cleared so that
it can be seen again.
A path has been cleared into Butterfly Field too. One green corrugated
roofing panel has been purchased (from Wickes) which will be divided
into four and used as refugia here.
The route of the new Nature Trail has been planned and a draft document
circulated by Steve and it has been proof read by a small party walking
Howard Matthews came and showed us where 7 species of fern are to be
found; one unique to Harrow. It is intended to try to expand biological
recording in the country park this year.
Dave Corby and John have mapped out the route of the path from the
Brockley Hill field extension into Lower Forty Acre field. Two TCV days
will be booked together with a contractor for the tree work to create
this path. Following the completion of this work, the car park
adjoining the extension would be opened by the Council on a regular
basis and the situation will be monitored.
Steve and John will explore the newly acquired areas, recording the
boundary using GPS and it is hoped that access to these fields could
qualify for Green Grid funding.
There have been no developments regarding management of the Country
Regarding grazing John is to contact a grazier and when plans are
agreed, Dave Corby will ensure the field was stock proof and that the
water trough was in place.
LITTLE COMMON AND BREWERY PONDS
It was reported that the work on the overhanging branches and clearance
work at Caesar’s pond has been carried out, the pond has been
cleared and wind is now coming through.
There have been no problems this year on the ponds during the Autumn
religious festival season.
Thanks to Yu Xuan for the
photograph of the saw
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