changes and developments since the last newsletter. A number of good
are the result of the Council’s Green Grid project. One which
Stanmore Common will notice is an extension southwards of the boardwalk
Pynding Mersc, the pond at the lowest point of the Common. The new
carries walkers over what was a notorious muddy patch. This is not very
now, since everywhere has been wet and muddy this winter, but once the
the paths have dried out it should be clearer.
Another site that has
seen a great improvement thanks to the Green Grid project is Gilberts
just northwest of Grims Dyke hotel. This group of elderly apple trees
planted while W S Gilbert, the librettist for the Savoy Operettas,
lived at the
house. They have now been pruned to reduce the risk of limbs breaking
a number of oak and ash trees that had grown up and were shading the
apple trees have been removed. Some new fruit trees will be planted in
created, using traditional varieties in keeping with the site, and an
information panel will be installed. This should turn what was a dark
rather unprepossessing corner of the open space into a star destination
own right. A problem that does remain is the presence of one large
several other clumps of Japanese Knotweed - these will have to be
relentlessly if they are not to spread into more of the orchard and
elsewhere on Grimsdyke Open Space and Harrow Weald Common. On February
2014 a group of us helped more directly at Gilberts Orchard by cutting
digging up bramble and other weeds from around the trees.
elderly trees, the Friends of Bentley Priory have succeeded in raising
to pay for protection for the Master oak. This ancient oak, at least
old, stands at on the western side of Summerhouse Lake in Bentley
shade under its wide spreading branches is an inviting place to rest on
summer day - but some visitors have been lighting fires. One fire, lit
against the bole, has left a prominent scar. Even those fires that
directly burn the tree above ground risk damaging its roots.
great oak trees take 300 years to die, but unless the Master is
insults it is getting will speed that death up precipitously. The
follow the plan devised by tree expert Russell Ball (and approved by
Natural England and English Heritage): an inner metal tree guard will
the great trunk while an outer post and rail fence will keep the public
area occupied by the roots. A mulched pathway will allow access to the
where adults will be able to reach up and touch the spreading boughs
children will be able to reach through the guard and touch the main
information panel will explain how special the tree is. The metal guard
been ordered and should be with us in two weeks or so - then
we’ll need some
strong arms to get it erected! The £5,750 has been donated by
working on the redevelopment of Bentley Priory House, City and Country
Barratts. The Bentley Priory Nature Reserve Management Committee has
promised some money for the project.
In the previous newsletter
I wrote about
how the front page of our
website at www.harrowncf.org contained a box with recent news. If you
you’ll see that the box takes the form of a Twitter feed - at
the top is the
most recent news, but scrolling down takes one back through three years
about our work and sites. We are now also on Facebook -
there’s a link on our
website. If you are au fait with social media, please do participate -
please send items for inclusion to Steve Bolsover at
<firstname.lastname@example.org> Twitter, particularly, is meant for
so if you see an interesting bird or flower please tell me at once and
Lastly we are keeping
our eyes on the land west of All Saints Church in Harrow Weald where
Bentley Day Centre has now been closed by the Council and the land
or up for sale. Bentley Old Vicarage Nature Reserve lies immediately to
north and could be badly damaged by demolition and building works next
well as by unscrupulous dumping of building waste. On the other hand
all of the
Day Centre site, other than the Day Centre building itself and its
park, is designated by the Council a Site of Importance for Nature
Conservation, so there is some hope that the development will be done
sensitively. Indeed, the opportunity exists for creating a new entrance
Bentley Old Vicarage Nature Reserve directly on the Uxbridge Road, and
therefore making more people aware of this little woodland gem.
Three information panels are to
be installed around the site, paid for by the 2013-2014 Green Grid
initiative. The artwork was generated by Steve Bolsover and
has now been passed to the signboard makers. Thanks go to the
many members of the Forum, the Harrow Natural History Society, and
others who helped in its creation. Steve is especially
thanked for his work on the panels. The height of panels was
discussed and it was suggested that at least one should be placed at a
height that was easy for children to look at.
A five bar gate has been installed in All Saints’ Mews which
should reduce the potential for fly tipping. This was also paid for by
the 2013-2014 Green Grid initiative.
As discussed at the last meeting, Harrow Council has closed Bentley Day
Centre and is putting it up for sale. Betty raised the issue of access
to the site which needs to be maintained and a letter needs to go to
Harrow Council to this effect.
The Open Day took place on Sunday 22nd September.
Jill Lewis reported that as
it had been so wet, the lichens were looking good in the churchyard
that in order to advertise
the Heritage Lottery Funded Furze Heath restoration project, the
Management Committee paid for the printing of 500 leaflets. This was
by Cllr. Camilla Bath, Denis Vickers and Steve Bolsover by making
minor changes to the Forum 2012 leaflet about Bentley Priory and a copy
management plan covering the period
April 2014 through March 2019 has been written by Denis Vickers with
many others. It’s a bit too big to circulate but it will be
posted on the web
has arranged Higher Level
Stewardship for Bentley Priory: this brings in significantly more money
did the previous agricultural subsidy. He hoped that the money could go
Bentley Priory Management Committee but at the moment it looks as if it
to the Council and be administered by the Council officers, Dave Corby
The Master Oak
initiative by the Friends
of Bentley Priory is progressing.
reported that the
contractor Alan Scott was in the final phase of completing the felling
compartment 7 in connection with the Furze Heath restoration project.
meeting was needed to ascertain what finances are available for more
Because of the
current high level of the
water table new springs have appeared. A further project would be to
the pond at the top of the site near the Pill Box but this is dependent
30 years ago
there were 54 species of
birds breeding on the site and currently there 45 have been recorded;
follows the national trend.
working parties Steve reported
that the regular Sunday working parties are continuing to take place.
Finder Project: Victoria
Ogilvie has contacted
the Forum with a view to taking the proposed project with SITA, for the
amphibian area of Boot Pond, a stage further.Letters of support from
Council, the Forum and the Bentley Priory
management committee were needed.
FARM ECOLOGY PARK
The new warden, Simon Thomas was welcomed to the meeting and his
contact details were circulated with the agenda.
Simon reported that on 2 occasions Simon and his family have carried
out a mass blitz on the litter which is a big problem. The TCV in
November had had a day working on the pond and the litter situation.
Amongst other items the old bench and table were removed from the pond.
A group from Alexandra School has worked on the pond and the Healing
Garden; more work will be done with them in the spring.
Regular working parties will take place at weekends to tackle the
litter. The Safer Neighbourhood team has been involved with dealing
with a problem rough sleeper.Work is planned to raise the fence along
Newton Close to deter fly tipping.
Steve reported that little progress appears to have been with regard to
the outcome of the Home Group Big Lottery Grant application.
Claire reported that the trees that came down across paths have
been cleared with the help of the British legion water bailiff. The
mowing was eventually carried out in a generally much better manner
than last year and as requested the Guide field was left unmown.
A Fungus Foray on the 26th October was well attended and a huge Grifola frondosa was a highlight.
A good TCV day has been held to carry out regular clearance work on the
Grimsdyke. Another TCV day will be held shortly to carry out some Hazel
Regarding SSSI status: Considerable thanks to Denis Vickers who
arranged for Emily Dresner of Natural England to visit the site on 30th
October 2013. Emily’s feedback is that an argument for SSSI
status based on the saproxylic invertebrates had the best chance of
succeeding. These are invertebrates that are dependent on dead or
decaying wood (or dependent on other organisms that are themselves
dependent on dead wood). There are already plenty of woodland
SSSI’s where the main argument is the trees themselves, and
arguments based on birds are iffy because bird populations can change
rapidly. However, invertebrate data needs to be gathered using a more
standardised survey method, and we discussed what this could be. Our
next step will be to generate a specification for this work, then get
quotations from professional entomologists. Then we would have to think
about how we could pay for it.
Rosemary will be giving a talk “An introduction to Grasses”
for the Harrow Natural History Society at the Blackwell Hall, Stanmore
on Monday 10th February at 8pm and all are welcome.
Dave Bolton reported that he and Steve have made the covering to
the open drain less noticeable by lowering the cover, reducing it in
size and nailing it down . It has been stained black so it does
not show up. Steve and Dave also cleared the tree that came down
in the October storm. Fallen wood has also been cleared from the
paths; along with leaves, grass and litter as always.
Nettle clearance took place in early December. The ditch was
again cleared on the 26th December re-cutting the nettles and clearing
litter and the drive-in cleared of leaves.
The hinges of the five -barred gate have finally been repaired after
the loss of one padlock and one padlock being cut. Dave Corby and Mick
Wynne were thanked for organising the repairs. The fence has been
repaired by the gate into the park.
The soil is getting walked away in wet conditions at the entrance form
Roxbourne Park exposing tree roots and it is hoped to put in a proper
path using the Green Grid project. Work has also started on the
pollarding the Willows.
Simon reported that since the last meeting about 900 hours of work have
been carried out: half on Bluebell Heath and half on the remainder of
the site. Work carried out includes a huge amount of work on Oakmead
(compartment 18), re-scalloping the edges of the clearing also work
around Great Brewer’s Pond. Widespread spraying of Bracken
(twice) has taken place and Bracken has been raked off.
John Winter has continued with the mapping project around Great
Brewer’s Pond. John Winter and Neville Day are thanked for all
their work on the site. Saplings have been removed from Bluebell Heath
and in 90% of the cases this has involved digging them out.
Trees that were blown down across paths have all been cleared except
for one where a chain saw is required.
Two guided walks have taken place: one at Stanmore Common and one at
Stanmore Country Park.
70 teenagers from Ealing and Harrow carried out a variety of tasks as
part of “The Challenge” on September 29th and they were
thanked for this.
On 22nd October the London Biodiversity Action Plan Acid
Grassland/Heathland group visited Stanmore Common. After a hiatus they
hope to get the group operating again. Information on how to get onto
their circulation list has been circulated.
On the 17th November a Mitzvah Day group carried out work including the
collection and distribution of Heather seed.
A donation of £100 (used for tools) was received from John Lam
and he is thanked for this.
The issue of fly tipping and the lay-by off The Common was discussed.
Regarding the Management plan, this is work in progress. John Dobson
will aim to have a draft ready by the next Bluebell Heath meeting on
Wednesday 12th March.
Board Walk at Stanmore Common Denis
reported that the installation of the new board walk has begun. Simon
will visit the site shortly.
Grove Ponds Denis has recently
been to look at the ponds. The upper pond has good marginal
vegetation and looks good for wildlife. The other appears to be managed
as a fishing pond. Denis is trying to find out more about the
STANMORE COUNTRY PARK
John reported that timber brought down by the Autumn gales blocked
paths at many places and it took 4 work visits to clear them again
Green Grid money has enabled the TCV to cut a wide access path
into Cloisters Meadow and on the same day cleared the nearby gas line.
They have also spent two visits clearing bramble etc. from the central
path and also the ride from Ant City down to 40 acre field. This will
enable us to do more management of the Blackthorn hedge in 40 acre
field. All cuttings from these visits were removed from the open areas.
The 2013-2014 Green Grid initiative is paying for path and scrub
clearance works by both TCV and A T Bone in Cloisters Field at the
northwest tip of Stanmore Country Park. This will rescue a significant
area of rough grassland. On January 29th Steve Bolsover and John
Hollingdale will be meeting the contractor.
Several paths in Hilly Field have been widened to enable visitors to
avoid the narrow muddy slot in the middle. This has been
appreciated. Also more of the stumps left when Upper Blue Pond
Field was cleared last winter have removed and treated.
The Kissing gate from Brockley Hill has been locked again by the golf
club and this problem is now in the hands of the Council.
The structure in Hilly Field, reported last Autumn and inspected
by the council, is still there, as is the reported dumped mattress and
rubble behind 54 Dennis Lane. There is also evidence of
encroachment at this spot too.
Green Grid money has enabled steps to be installed up from the Dennis
Lane car park, but more hardcore needs to be spread at the bottom of
these steps and the nearby entrance.
Finally Marian and Norman Sartin are thanked for helping, when they
can, at the monthly work parties.
LITTLE COMMON AND BREWERY PONDS
A short report was received from Robert Stone. The Council is
continuing the clearance of Parrot’s Feather and Broad-leaved
Pondweed in Caesar’s Pond. Denis Vickers reports that at least
two more visits will be needed in this financial year.
The management of the funding, when the area is handed over by the
contractors to the Council, was discussed. The matter has also
been discussed with Matthew Patterson (planning department). A
proposal has been made that management arrangements are put in place
similar to those for Bentley Priory.
Proposed Harrow Community Farm Russell
Sutcliffe and Cllr Keith Ferry outlined the background to this project.
It was agreed that they should be involved in the early stages of the
arrangements for managing the Wood Farm/Stanmore Country Park extension
Thanks to Yu Xuan for the
photograph of the saw
to Harrow Nature Conservation Forum home
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