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June 2013


Chairman's message

661 words I wrote in the last newsletter about the works funded by the Green Grid project. The most visible sign is the nice solid picnic tables installed in Stanmore Country Park and Stanmore Common. These are accompanied by new rubbish bins - I hope rubbish goes in the bins and does not get dumped around and about them.

The nature trail at Bentley Priory is fully installed, although we still await delivery and installation of the notice boards advertising it; these will go up at the Old Lodge Way and Common Road entrances. Once these are installed we will think about trying to arrange a formal opening with a Council dignitary and the press. Leaflets describing the trail have been disappearing from the metal dispensers (another Green Grid item) at breakneck pace, and Yusuf Mirza is having to refill them repeatedly. Do try out the trail, and send me suggestions for items that should be deleted (because they are not interesting, or just can’t be found) or items that should be added. For example, I had not realized that the pignut in Furze Heath was so profuse or so obviously smaller than cow parsely, and have noted that as an item that might added in the next incarnation of the leaflet.

The bollards for the nature trail at Stanmore Country Park have all been installed, but I have not yet fitted the roundels with the numbers, arrows, QR tags and Green Grid logos. I have not felt that this is urgent since, unlike at Bentley Priory, the trail is still lacking some finger posts that are important for guiding walkers at points where they leave the main trail. However I will install them when I have a spare moment!

Now that the large scale clearance of trees and scrub at Bluebell Heath on Stanmore Common is finished, we are seeking feedback on what people think of the change and how the area should be managed in future. We have printed some postcards that can be used for this purpose, and these are available at the notice board at the Warren Lane car park. Alternatively, write to Simon Braidman, the warden, at 3 Allerton Road, Borehamwood, Herts WD6 4BT or email BH@harrowncf.org. If you have visited the site, please respond - we need to show the Heritage Lottery Fund that we are consulting and that people like what we’ve done! As another aspect of publicity we manned a stand at May Day at the Manor on May 6th, which went well on a lovely early summer day. We gave away a good lot of leaflets and hopefully encouraged some people to turn up at our working parties.

While larger grants and dedicated projects, such as the Heritage Lottery Fund grant for Bluebell Heath or the Council’s Green Grid scheme, have been instrumental in allowing some significant improvement work on our sites, we could not generate the proposals or continue our ongoing work without core funding. We are therefore very pleased that the Council has awarded us £3,750 in the 2013-2014 financial year for basics such as leaflet printing and tool purchase. This grant will also pay for one volunteer to attend one of the one day courses on “Working with people and teams” put on by The Conservation Volunteers. If you are interested, have a look at the courses on offer. At present all the ones advertised are in Scotland, funds should be sufficient to pay for travel and accommodation so if a course interests you, do get in touch with me.

Meanwhile of course all the wardens have been working hard on the sites. One of the more unusual events occurred at Pear Wood in April: students from the Westminster Film School used the site as the location for their short film "King for a Day". This is the third short film made at this site, it follows a retelling of Macbeth - see <http://www.flickr.com/photos/harrowncf/6844736606/in/photostream/> and subsequent images, and a documentary about the development threat. Students are attracted by the otherworldly, ancient feel of the site - which reflects its biological value as an unperturbed ancient woodland.

Steve Bolsover

Site reports

BENTLEY OLD VICARAGE AND ALL SAINTS CHURCHYARD

Bentley Old Vicarage:
Betty reported that the Forestry School project continued to do well and is proving popular with the children. Some trees have been removed and Steve was thanked for this. A new pond was being planned with assistance from the Stanmore Rotary club. Interpretation notices were being provided through a Green Grid project.

All Saints Churchyard: Jill Lewis thanked Steve for the leaflet boxes that have been installed through the Green Grid project.  When the leaflets are reprinted the email address needs updating. The Primroses have been very good this year; however other plants have done less well.  The Celandines have been late and sparse and Lady’s Smock and Goldilocks Buttercup have produced fewer flowers than in some previous years.

BENTLEY PRIORY

Peter reported that most of the work has concentrated on the reopening of Furze Heath in the northeast of the site; funded by Heritage Lottery Fund. The first part of the first phase has been completed by the contactor Alan Scott. Three TCV parties have booked for July, September and October in connection with the Ragwort.

Work has also continued on the opening up the spring area using Green Grid funds. Again Steve was commended for his excellent work on the nature trail. Steve also thanked the Harrow Natural History Society for their assistance with the Nature Trails

A revised Management Plan has been prepared by Denis Vickers and it was felt to be clearly written and focused.

An issue that Peter raised was the type of fencing that would be used between the site and the new development.

There has been a problem with fly tipping and a letter has been prepared that can be sent to householders.

A Willow Warbler has been heard but it may have only been passing through. The restrictions on dog walking to protect nesting birds will be put in place.

Steve also reported that Glenthorne has been suggested as a possible site for a Community Farm. This was raised at the meeting on 26th February with Cllr. Keith Ferry. His long term aim is that the Community Farm (which is now set up as a Charitable Company limited by guarantee - Company No7424111, see www.harrowfarm.org.uk/index.html) should be located in the Pinner Park Farm grounds.  In the interim placing the farm at Glenthorne looks possible, allowing cattle to be kept on site throughout the year (perhaps Dexter cattle, which are small and don't poach the land so much in winter).  This is being actively investigated, including trying to reverse an encroachment by the owner of Glenthorne Lodge. Making the site suitable for a Community Farm would require lots of scrub clearance, but no mature trees would be felled. The idea is that the community farm would be a place for school visits, horse rides for the disabled, training etc; not a visitor attraction in the style of Aldenham Country Park.

Cllr Camilla Bath raised the issue of access from Bentley Priory into the reserve and this was discussed.

John Williams agreed to keep the leaflet boxes on the site supplied with leaflets.

NEWTON FARM ECOLOGY PARK

Claire said Groundwork, a third sector organisation, intends to submit an ‘Awards for All’ funding bid to improve the site and material relating to this has been circulated. Claire and the Harrow Nature Conservation Forum have made it clear that they would certainly like to be involved in the project to raise funds to improve Newton Farm Ecology Park and increase public appreciation and participation. As part of this, the Harrow Nature Conservation Forum would be happy to ‘man’ a stand at one or more fun days at the site. We usually bring tubs of pond life for children to look at, and this will fit well with what is on offer at Newton Farm. A list of points that the Warden and the Forum would like to see included in the application has been submitted to Groundwork and the list is included in the information circulated to Forum members.

A grass cut in June would fit in well with the control of the Thistles. Also Mick Wynne was made aware that the Blackthorn needed attention.

PEAR WOOD

Claire reported that following on from the unsatisfactory annual mowing last year the Woodcraft Folk came on the 9th March to help the wardens rake the Guide Field which was mown by mistake. The Woodcraft Folk were thanked for their efforts.

Another group of students have been filming in the wood and they too used the ruined cottage as a backdrop. They made several visits and there were some long days and Claire was there to supervise throughout. If this becomes a regular occurrence the wardens will look at negotiating with the students to do some voluntary work at the wood.

A small number of beehives are to be put in place. However they are not there yet as the season is very late this year.

The Wood ants were also affected by the weather to such an extent that it was impossible to relocate a nest this year. However the existing ants, which were causing concern due to the late spring and a greater level of predator attack, seem to have come up in good numbers.

The pitfall traps, in the reserve for beetles and spiders, will be put in place soon. The plan is for Claire and Rosemary to empty the traps and deliver the contents to Edward Milner, monthly, for identification.

One TCV workday is planned shortly to carry out work on the dyke.

Work has continued on the SSSI application for Pear Wood which will go off to Natural England.

Rosemary is leading a Grass Identification walk for the Harrow Natural History Society on Saturday 15th June starting at 10.30am from the Wood Lane entrance and all are welcome.

Finally the Bluebells are out now and are looking fantastic.

ROXBOURNE ROUGH

Dave Bolton reported that the gravel has all been used. Paths have been repaired and the mud in front of seats has been covered. The TCV have visited the site twice and cut back the Blackthorn and Blackberries. Litter has been cleared as usual and a ‘deep litter clear’ has been carried out by the gate and ditch.

There are still 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 sleepers. Also the outfall pipe in the park is not flowing (blocked) and Mick Wynne was asked to look at these problems.

There was still some Section 106 money remaining for this site and it was proposed to use some this to pollard Willows.

There has been a vast amount of frogspawn this year and a massive growth of sedges. An area of the site is badly ridged by the machinery used on last year’s hay cut. It has been pleasing to see two clumps of Wood Anemone now on the site.

In the future a new litter bin may be needed on the site if dog bins are removed as proposed by the Council.

STANMORE COMMON

Simon reported that the work by the contractor at Bluebell Heath, including the extra work on Flushing Wood, has been completed. The Woodcraft Folk have scattered seed and the new bench is in place.

Three walks have taken place including a very well attended Bat walk on the 10th May.

Holly clearing has been carried out and a lot of time has been spent clearing paths which has met with a positive response from the public.

A moss survey has taken place. Work will continue on controlling the Bracken and young Birch trees.

Grove Ponds were discussed and Steve will write to Council Officers to confirm the ownership status of the ponds.

John Winter was thanked for all his work on producing maps and taking a lead in a number of projects.

STANMORE COUNTRY PARK

The council has installed a vandal-proof super water trough in 40 Acre Field and repaired and widened the gate and Mick Wynne and Graham were thanked for this. Unfortunately the Longhorn cattle that were to come from the Harrow School herd are no longer available so we need to look elsewhere.

The new Green Grid bench and picnic table have also been installed and are proving very popular. The path from the Brockley Hill entrance is looking good however the gate has had a large padlock and chain put on it; the council is investigating the ownership of the land.

Some of the stumps left by the TCV have removed and treated; the rest will have to wait till next Autumn.  Work has continued on widening both the nature trail (the last working party was doing just that) and other paths through the site. This will continue in the coming months and Bracken, Creeping Thistle and Rosebay Willow Herb invasion will be tackled.

Margaret and John have undertaken three more moth recording sessions in 6 Acre Field. The result is that 5 more moth species have been added to the reserve list including the Dotted Chestnut which is a recent addition to the Harrow area. More specimens are with Colin Plant, the county recorder, waiting to be identified.

The day of the Spring walk was overcast but dry but not one butterfly was seen; however two Muntjac deer were. The April flora was examined instead which included our small patch of Wood Anemone. The Bluebells were just emerging.

The Nature Trail bollards have been installed; finger posts will follow. Steve Bolsover has done some excellent work on the Nature trail and the associated documentation.

On 26th February John and Steve met Cllr. Keith Ferry and he suggested that a Community Land Trust could be set up for the Stanmore Country Park / Pear Wood area and receive the £450,000 Section 106 money. This would avoid the problem of commissioning, where the danger is that a commercial company would bid to maintain the site.

A map had been circulated showing the New Meadow was now to be called Cloisters Meadow. Access to this was discussed and a pedestrian entrance at the top looks appropriate and could be a Green Grid project.

STANMORE LITTLE COMMON AND BREWERY PONDS


Roger reported that Spring Pond was thriving and the Water Crowfoot and Bog Bean were looking good. It was agreed that the vegetation around Caesar’s Pond by the damn by the roadside did not need clearing.

The condition of the Scout hut on Little Common was discussed. Mick Wynne agreed to make this secure and to change the padlock so that the Warden could have access to the punt.

If the Green Grid funding application was successful a new picnic bench and waste bin would be provided.

Roger reported that on this site the grass has been mowed beautifully and the bins emptied regularly.


Thanks to Yu Xuan for the photograph of the saw

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