words This will be a short report
because I am snowed under with paperwork.
The best news to report is that we have a new, keen warden of Newton
Farm Ecology Park, Simon Thomas. He has already taken his family out on
the site armed with litter pickers to make a start on the piles of
litter that are present. His email is firstname.lastname@example.org
and his phone number is 0787 015 7688.
I have been busy with physical work on a number of sites. In particular
I’ve spent quite a few days at the Ride to West Spring on Bentley
Priory, moving brash piles and felling one tree to allow a tractor in
to cut down the bramble. The tractor came on Wednesday October 23rd and
did an excellent job, clearing all the area that was infested with
himalayan balsam the last summer - so next year pulling up the plant
should be a lot easier.
We hosted volunteer groups from The Challenge Network on September 29th
and the Shree Swaminarayan Temple on October 6th. Thanks to those who
helped me with this and who all did a better job of enthusing the
volunteers than me - Zubair Aziz, Simon Braidman, Neville Day, David
Green and Margaret Griffin on September 29th and Robert Stone on the
We are initiating a new feature on the website - a box for small news
items. The intention is to update this once I week. Have a look at
www.harrowncf.org to see the news feed, and send possible items for
inclusion to John Holingdale.
Now I must return to paperwork to clear the desks for the Small Grants
application to Harrow Council, deadline November 18th!
VICARAGE AND ALL SAINTS CHURCHYARD
Bentley Old Vicarage:
It was reported that Harrow Council has closed Bentley Day Centre
and is putting it up for sale, but it is unclear yet whether it will be
sold as an existing building, for offices, or as a potential
development site (maybe in combination with other Council assets).
Possible development is compromised by the fact that most of the land
lies within the Harrow Weald Park and the Hermitage Site of Importance
for Nature Conservation. Steve wrote to Stephen Kelly arguing that as
part of any development of this site the areas of the Day Centre within
the SINC should be added to Bentley Old Vicarage nature reserve. This
would also mean that the reserve could be directly accessed from the
Uxbridge Road, perhaps with an information board about the site beside
the road where it would be visible to passersby. No reply received as
Betty reported that the Forestry School was continuing to flourish. A
useful working party took place at the beginning of the month clearing
scrub and ash.
The Open Day would take place on Sunday 22nd September.
Saints Churchyard: Jill reported that the orchids are
flourishing again in the churchyard and it is hoped that they will
It was reported that a successful joint meeting focusing on the
site was held with the Harrow Natural History Society on the 9th
September. The grazing cattle have continued to feature in the
management of the site and the ongoing rotational management has
Thanks were expressed to Linda Robinson from the Friends of Bentley
Priory for her work in obtaining £5,750 from City and Country
Group to replace fencing around the Master Oak and to put up an
Information board or plaque. Because of the grade 2 listing, Linda has
written to English Heritage asking for permission to do this, and Steve
has written to Emily Dresner at Natural England.
The nature trail was formally opened by the Mayor on 23rd July 2013.
The leaflet was revised to remove some errors and reprinted in August
2013. Steve requested that members walk the trail and continue to give
him feedback. The plan is to establish a Local volunteer group. At the
moment two are taking place each month: one on a Saturday the other on
a Wednesday. The Sunday work parties are proving more successful.
Regarding the Bat Survey: Huma Pearce of ‘Mostly Bats’ has
agreed to do one for the cut price of £200 and Joyce Nickolay
agreed to fund this from Bentley Priory Management Committee funds.
Simon reported that this has not taken place due to other commitments.
A concerted effort is being made to finish the Management Plan and the
team will be meeting again on Monday September 23rd.
Access to and from the Bentley Priory museum is being discussed with
the new Education Officer for the museum so that children working on
educational activities in the Nature Reserve can use the Museum
FARM ECOLOGY PARK
It was reported that as far as we know Groundwork, a third sector
organisation, has submitted an ‘Awards for All’ funding bid
to improve the site and to recruit volunteers and buy some tools and
plants. Claire McDermott has indicated that she wishes to row back
regarding her involvement with the site. She is happy to assist a new
Warden. Interest has been expressed by a volunteer who is willing to
act in this capacity and is keen to try to deal with the litter problem.
Rosemary led a successful Grass Identification walk and Hard Rush was
identified at the site for the first time.
Edward Milner led a spider walk for the London Natural History Society.
During survey work in May a row of twelve Mature Wild Service trees
were discovered; there are also some seedlings.
Two TCV workdays, under the auspices of English Heritage, carried out
clearance work on the dyke. The two different Heathers are
spreading. There has been a nest of the Tree Bumble Bee, Bombus
hypnorum in one of the nest boxes. There is Bladderwort on Pear Lake.
It is planned to continue with coppicing the Hazel and one TCV day is
set aside for this.
The SSSI application for Pear Wood has been sent to Natural England and
passed to the Ancient Woodland specialists; Steve will contact them
again after a three month interval has elapsed.
A Fungus Foray will be held on Sat 26th October starting at 10.30 am.
Dave Bolton reported that the grass along the path edges has been cut
each month keeping the paths clear. A lot of litter has been picked up
this summer especially wine bottles. The fencing by the kissing gate
has been replaced; Dave has carried out repair work on adjacent
The open drain has now been covered however Steve and Dave will make
the covering less noticeable and nail down the sleepers to make the
covering safer. The fence over the ditch in the far corner has been
replaced. In the heat the paths have developed some deep cracks and
efforts have been made to repair them to make them safe; more gravel
will be provided. There were some problems following workers from
Network Rail coming on site however they have now cleared up.
The hay cut has been carried out earlier than was indicated on the
schedule but there had been no problems. Cutting will be carried out in
areas where the machinery cannot reach in particular around one of the
seats. Red Bartsia has been established at the site for several
years, Yellow Iris is established down by the railways. Overall it has
been a good year with the pond holding water etc. Pollarding the
Willows is also planned.
Simon reported that since the last meeting 20 visits for non-Bluebell
Heath work and 25 for Bluebell Heath work have taken place. Three walks
have been led including a Butterfly walk and a Fungus walk where a good
list of fungi was produced with the help in particular of Elizabeth
Stainthorpe; the fungi were doing well this year.
Bracken clearance has been carried out and time has been
spent clearing paths and litter. Work has also continued at Great
Brewery pond including selective tree clearance.
At the Bluebell Heath area the Bracken has been sprayed once. During
the second year of the photo survey lessons have been learnt.
As well as the Tool Shed being broken into the Farm gates have been
stolen from the Bridle way by Pynding Mersc however Simon felt that
these were not worth replacing.
Mitzvah Day this year will take place on November 17th.
New finds for the common include Lister’s River Snail and Wood
Small Reed. Black Bulgar fungus and an Assassin bug have been found and
the heather has been good.
Steve reported that with respect to Grove Ponds: On 2nd August 2013
Philip Loveland-Cooper, Head of Service Corporate Estate at Harrow
Council, wrote: Grove Ponds
are shown on O.S. plan TQ 1694 SW and are situated within Watling Farm,
which is let by Harrow Council on an agricultural tenancy to the
occupier of Grove Farm. The ponds are subject to a separate license to,
and effectively controlled by, the Council’s tenant who manages
the farm. Due to the location of the ponds there is merit in having
this land within effectively the same family occupation. The terms of
Grove Ponds fishing license are detailed but amount to requiring the
licensee to maintain the stock and the area in good condition. The
tenant has not been approached with regard to permitting a new public
access. Denis Vickers has agreed to look at the ponds and
report back to Philip Loveland-Cooper on their condition.
Robert Stone reported a complaint relating to possible illegal
activities being carried out around the Common car park. After
discussion it was agreed that any such concerns were a matter for the
Steve reported that he has contacted the London Acid
Grassland/Heathland working group about members of the group possibly
returning to the site to comment and advise on progress so far. Simon
indicated that he would welcome their return this year if possible.
STANMORE COUNTRY PARK
John reported that the mowing of all meadows has taken place and the
arisings very promptly removed before the autumn rains arrived. The
Council has also removed a large branch, roughly 2 feet in diameter,
which was blocking the nature trail. Many thanks were due to all
The butterfly walk held at the end of April was well attended but too
early for a lot of the butterflies! The next week all the
butterflies, John hoped to have seen, emerged and the whole it has been
a good year for Lepidoptera.
National Moth Night was very successful. Ten people in all attended and
quite a few with identifying skills. Over 50 species were seen.
Margaret and John have managed monthly moth evenings which for just two
people can be quite hectic; 160+ species identified so far.
Flora wise, finding Red Bartsia in two of the meadows was the
interesting occurrence. This plant was not on the flora lists of either
Moxey or Waite in the 1980s and 1990s. A concern is that one of the
major Oaks has died and the one adjacent one is suffering.
Work wise with the help of Marion and Norman Sartin, most of our
efforts have been spent improving and widening the nature trail. This
will continue. It was agreed that the new Nature Trail looks very smart
and Steve was again thanked for his work on this.
It was reported that Dave Corby has indicated that planning permission
is needed to bring cattle on to the site according to existing
Sewa Day is on the 6th October 2013 and some posters were circulated
and have been put up at the Country Park where conservation work will
be carried out.
LITTLE COMMON AND BREWERY PONDS
As reported earlier Harrow Council plans to clear Caesar’s Pond
of all of the Parrot’s Feather and perhaps 50% of the
Broad-leaved Pondweed. Following the previous clearance work the pond
is generally thriving. Jason Leer is the new assistant warden. The
litter has not been bad and the area is generally looking lovely.
Thanks to Yu Xuan for the
photograph of the saw
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