welcome two new people to the Forum.
Pooja Patel did a degree in Ecology at University of Derby and is now
doing a Masters in Freshwater and Coastal Science at Queen Mary. She is
acting as an assistant warden at Stanmore Country Park but will use her
expertise at all the sites: her next task is to survey Summerhouse Lake
in Bentley Priory for invertebrates. Selina Haria is helping with
publicity, at present concentrating on new media: Twitter and Facebook.
Publicity is important; in particular articles about the Heritage
Lottery Fund grant in newspapers and Optima magazine have helped
recruit new volunteers at the working parties at Stanmore Country Park.
We also manned a stand on May Day at Headstone Manor, and will be at
Harrow in Leaf in August.
There are a number of
projects and interactions proceeding that will improve our sites or are
already improving them. At Stanmore Common we are implementing the
Bluebell Heath project, funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund. The main
work of scrub clearance will be done by the contractor T & T
Earthmatters in the autumn. A number of external experts, most
especially the historian Isobel Thompson, have greatly improved our
knowledge about the site – for example, I did not know that
prominent mound on Herne’s Walk, that I had called
“Boudicca’s Mound”, is almost certainly
part of a
16th century rabbit warren. This knowledge has been integrated into a
revised leaflet about Stanmore Common and Stanmore Little Common, which
is at the printers now.
Claire McDermott and
Tiffany Moore have done a lot of work in generating a draft management
plan for Newton Farm Ecology Park. The proposals are well thought out
and if implemented will improve the site for humans and nature. The
plan calls for increased effort from all who have helped create the
Park: not only Claire and Tiffany’s loyal band of volunteers
also the Council, who are asked to mow the meadow more frequently in a
bid to encourage meadow flowers and reduce the present dominance of
thistle, horseradish and nettle, and even Thames Water who might, we
hope, modify the flow of the Yeading Brook East to permanently flood
the wet meadow. A number of the proposals have already been implemented
using Green Grid money. In particular to reduce fly tipping bollards
have been placed in pedestrian entrances and discreet but strong metal
fences built behind the wooden ones where roads dead-end on the site.
The same Green Grid
initiative, driven forward by Sally Reeves and Denis Vickers at the
Council, will I hope result in other improvements for our sites in the
coming year, such as new picnic tables for Stanmore Common and scrub
clearance in Stanmore Country Park. We should know by the end of July
whether these projects have been funded.
Meanwhile at All
Saints’ Church James Mercer has applied to the John
charity for funds to establish a Forest School using both the church
and the adjacent Bentley Old Vicarage nature reserve. 120 disadvantaged
children per year in the 4 to 11 year old age group would undergo
activities such as building shelters, fire building, cooking, and
learning about soils and animals. While the plans for the Ecology
Education centre languish in limbo (although Councillor Keith Ferry is
working hard to drive them forward) this project will, we hope, succeed
in introducing some children to wild places.
Other projects show less
progress. We had hoped to get
cattle on to 40 Acre Field in Stanmore Country Park this coming summer.
The fence around the field was repaired a while ago, but the project
was stalled because we needed to supply water to the cattle trough.
Then last autumn a significant length of the fence was broken by
contractors during the hay cut. This has finally been repaired, but the
trough remains dry - Dave Corby and his team are pushing Veolia water
to reconnect their water supply. I hope that we’ll eventually
have fence intact and trough working and can look around to find cattle
to go on the field.
Most depressing has been
the proposal to sell off the
Cottages enclave within Pear Wood, which took up a lot of our time from
February to April. Edward Milner, an expert in both insects and trees
and author of the Natural History Museum’s Trees of Britain
Ireland visited and said that Pear Wood was the best ancient wood in
London, so the idea of placing a new house and garden at its heart had
to be fought with all our might. Carole Lis, Claire Abbott, Simon
Braidman and myself all put enormous effort into fighting the proposal
with much help from others in the Forum. We received considerable and
welcome support from the Harrow community and the threat is in abeyance
at present, but we must remain vigilant.
A larger but less
damaging development proposal concerns the Royal National Orthopaedic
Hospital. The present, very vague outline planning proposal allows for
a considerable amount of housing to be built at both the eastern end of
the site, adjacent to Brockley Hill, and the western end close to
Warren Lane. We have responded to the consultation with a generally
positive letter that nevertheless argues that the earlier maximum of
200 residential units should not be exceeded. We gave specific
suggestions on a number of points including fruit trees on the site and
the population of Southern Wood Ant. Aspect Ecology Ltd. are
undertaking the ecological survey and assessment work at the site, and
Phil Attewell, Claire Abbott and myself are meeting Lorraine Broaders
from that company in July to talk about the ants.
VICARAGE AND ALL SAINTS CHURCHYARD
It was reported that work on the
Forest School Project was
continuing and it was being piloted this term. The bid for three years
funding had been submitted to the John Lyon’s charity and a
decision was now awaited.
reported that the AGM had been held. Work on restoring the pond has
postponed due to the drought.
Jill Lewis reported that the spring flowers in the churchyard have been
lovely this year. The Red Campion in particular was doing well.
the recent Green Grid funded work on the route which included the
planting of a large number of native trees and clearance work. The area
around Belmont Circle had been greatly improved with good involvement
from St Joseph’s School; years 3 to 5. Dave Corby reported
there was a Transport for London bid to improve the entrance to
Christchurch Avenue. Negotiations were continuing regarding the problem
of the Electrical Substation built across the line.
A field adjoining the
line was mentioned. This was Council land and in the past had been a
good butterfly site. Dave Corby indicated that the first priority was
the main route.
Steve reported that the application by the Management Committee to the
Fund for £59,500 to support restoration of Furze Heath in the
northeast of the site was submitted on 27th March 2012. The outcome
should be heard by late June 2012. A copy of the application was
circulated to members.
The Dragon Finder project application would form part of a larger
Heritage Lottery fund application.
A cheque for £580 had been received from Waitrose (Harrow
though their Community Matters scheme and a picture of Steve and Peter
receiving the cheque was on the HNCF website.
Peter reported that thanks to Steve the signs regarding keeping dogs on
leads to protect ground-nesting birds were in place. Peter also
reported that there was currently some noise disturbance due to the
machinery being used for the Bentley Priory development however the
vistas being opened up were generally pleasing.
Project work was continuing: terraces were being extended in the marsh
area and clearance of scrub around the water springs. The scrub
clearance prior to the proposed hazel plantation was nearly complete.
There was a Management committee meeting planned for May 9th 2012 when
details of the regular annual management would be discussed.
The Friends of Bentley Priory were proposing a path between
compartments 3 and 5 from the Aylmer Drive entrance.
Lesser whitethroats were at the site and Elizabeth reported that
Swallows had returned to Lower Priory farm.
The extra gate is now in
place and Patrick Prendergast
(Arboricultural Operations Manager) has visited. There are some safety
problems with hanging wood. Bridges are now a priority and the mound of
earth used as a method of entering the wood needs attention. Margaret
commented on the amount of litter in and around the Copse. Dave Corby
indicated that some clearance work would need to take place before the
problem of litter could be tackled.
NEWTON FARM ECOLOGY PARK
The Draft Management
plan for this site was partly discussed earlier. Any additional
comments and suggestions regarding the plan should be sent to Claire
Students from Westminster University have used the wood and cottages
for filming and a group of postgraduate students were thanked for
preparing a news documentary on the proposals and this was in the last
stages of editing.
A group from the Woodcraft Folk had carried out work on footpaths and
litter clearance in February and they would be very welcome to return.
BT has removed the old telegraph poles. Only about half the bird boxes
had been maintained due to other pressures. The British Legion has put
a floating island in the angling lake with technology to deter poachers
and the island was already being used by a moorhen. Unfortunately both
Canada geese and their eggs have gone from the real island at the
western corner of the lake; probably taken by poachers. A butchered
deer was found and the police have taken the matter very seriously.
There has been evidence of shooting on the site.
Lots of grass snakes were seen before the current wet period. Claire
reported that she had used one metre by half to two thirds metre
sections for mats cut from a roll of roofing felt and this had proved
Another ant nest has been translocated and a flying ant day was
observed. Edward Milner was stetting pitfall taps in the reserve
primarily for beetles and spiders.
Claire and Rosemary have led 3 guided walks around the site as a thank
you for the support shown by groups such as Harrow Natural History
Society, Harrow Agenda 21 and the Stanmore Society. A Fungus Foray was
planned for the autumn. Bird records were being collected with members
of the RSPB. Liaison with English Heritage regarding maintenance of the
Dyke was continuing.
Steve agreed to assist with the Japanese Knotweed problem which was
Claire also reported that 2 visits to Grimsdyke had taken place and
Great Crested Newt eggs have been found, The joint venture between
Froglife, Harrow Council and the Hotel has proved successful and 4 more
visits are planned.
A cuckoo was heard at the site today and there were Woodcock in the Ten
John Williams congratulated the Harrow Heritage Trust on the
comprehensive letter that had been sent regarding development at the
Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital.
Dave Bolton reported that there were some problems with the material
used for some resurfacing work. Dave Corby reported that the paths
would be topped with a layer of crushed concrete. Work on the
steps should have started today.
Dave Bolton also reported that 2 Hawthorns, which had been damaged by
snow, had been cut down. The usual monthly working parties have
occurred: ditch clearance, work on the pond and removing litter had
taken place. The pond was full for the first time since January 2011,
but there were only a few tadpoles. Irises had been planted in the pond
Simon reported that clearance work has been carried out in
Cerrislande (compartment 19) and partly around an old Hawthorn. Work
has also been carried out along the Heathbourne in compartment 20 where
a narrow channel had been cut through the willow to let in some light
to the ground flora. Some of the cut material would be used as stakes
to indicate areas to be cleared or retained on Bluebell Heath.
An average of 4 volunteers and an assistant warden were attending
It was reported that progress was being made with the Bluebell Heath
project. 3 quotes for the work had now been obtained and signs would
soon be up at the two entrances.
David Bailey reported that group work would be carried out with the
assistance of the Westminster Drug Project.
The Green Grid proposals for the car park and picnic area were
discussed. While Simon Braidman is happy with the idea of widening
Witling Ride to the north of the car park, and providing new picnic
tables, he opposes any clearance on the other sides of the car park. At
least one of the old picnic tables should be retained, perhaps moved to
deep in the wood, as it was home to a lot of wildlife.
STANMORE COUNTRY PARK
John Hollingdale thanked Marian and Norman Sartin for their help at the
regular second Wednesday of the month working parties. Work is
continuing on the reclamation of the open area in Hilly Field.
The Woodcraft Folk were thanked for their clearance work around Ant
City and a party from the Geocaching Association would be at the site
carrying out conservation work on August 11th.
Simon was thanked for leading a recent bat walk which was hampered by a
north-easterly wind but the wildlife on the tree trunks had been
interested, The Spring Butterfly walk had been a victim of the rain.
John Williams congratulated the Forum on their entries on the BBC
wildlife finder website.
Dave Corby reported that the gate repair in Forty Acre field would be
the next priority after Roxbourne Rough. The water supply for the
Cattle trough was being investigated and had been referred to Veolia as
the supply to the field had been cut off. John asked about a possible
ramp at the Kerry Avenue entrance and Dave Corby agreed to look into
Clearance to connect Blue Pond Field and John Hall’s Field
(a map was circulated with the agenda) is proposed in the
Green Grid schedule for next year, so there may be funding (for BTCV
days) from that source.
The Dragon Finder proposals, including creating a new open ride to
connect the Gas Main Ride and Six Acre Field were submitted to Froglife
on the 20th of December 2011. They will form part of a big proposal to
the Heritage Lottery Fund called Dragonfinder.
John has continued to carry out routine management including cutting
back encroaching Blackthorn.
John requested that a picnic table be put in the Six Acre field near
the Denis Lane entrance as this was where the members of the public
tended to congregate. It was agreed that this could be added to the
Green Grid wish list.
There was a problem with the proposed Brockley Hill entrance which has
been put in the hands of the legal team. We would need evidence that
there has been a walking route there at some time during the past
LITTLE COMMON AND BREWERY PONDS
Steve reported that on the 4th April a number of members of the Forum
had visited Caesar’s pond and had agreed measures to ensure
that more light reached it. £700 would be provided via the
Forum and £300 from local residents. The work would be
carried out in October.
John Dobson reported that, on surveying Spring Pond (Pump pond), he had
found flora that was unique in London. The Stonewort
Nitella hyaline was nutrient intolerant and was thriving because
low nutrient content of Spring Pond.
Thanks to Yu Xuan for the
photograph of the saw
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