Witchford Village

Open Spaces Group Update - August 2017

Posted on: Aug 14, 2017
Posted in: open-spaces-group news

Fairchild Wood Permissive Path
The Fairchild Wood Permissive Path was opened on 9 July by Ian Allen, vice-chairman of Witchford Parish Council in a small ceremony attended by some of the volunteers who have helped in creating the path. Ian thanked Dianne Field, the landowner of Fairchild Wood for her initiative in dedicating the Permissive Path. Dianne in turn thanked the volunteers and also the parish council for its support, in particular for providing the gate from Long Meadow to Fairchild Wood. Following the ribbon-cutting, the assembled group (which included passing dog-walkers) made the first circuit of the path through the wood.

Open Spaces Group volunteers then carried out management work in the wood, restaking trees, cutting back surrounding vegetation and removing some of the tree guards. Many ash trees in the wood have succumbed to ash die-back, and will be replaced in the autumn in a tree-planting session.

The wood had an abundance of butterflies, probably attracted by the flowering thistles: meadow brown and gatekeeper, which are two of our most common butterflies, and also the small skipper, which (as the name suggests) is a small butterfly (wingspan of 22 – 25 mm) with a golden brown colouration.

Kevin’s Place
In September the Open Spaces Group will meet at Kevin’s Place for the annual meadow mow and raking off the mowings. The meadow is within the orchard where there are a number of mature apple, pear and plum trees. The trees and their fruit attract a lot of wildlife. The old rotten boughs harbour insects which in turn draw the birds; holes in the trunks have housed nesting woodpeckers, and the fallen fruit provides a feast for winter thrushes such as fieldfares.

We discovered a privet hawk-moth on the fence post at Kevin’s Place recently. This large moth (wingspan 90-120 mm, or around 4 inches) has long, narrow, dark brown and cream wings, held back like a jet plane. But it is the caterpillars that really catch the eye: up to 85 mm (3½ inches) long, lime green with purple and white streaks on the side, a pale yellow spot on each segment, and a big, blackish hook at the tail end.

Kevin’s Place is situated alongside Fairchild Wood and Long Meadow, on the route of Footpath 1, which continues to the Old Recreation Ground and Community Orchard.

Witchford Village Fete
Some of you will have seen our stall at the Witchford Village Fete in July. We had a display of photographs showing some of the activities undertaken by the Open Spaces Group dating back to the tree planting, footpath clearance and pond creation in 1992. Volunteers (three of whom were founder members from 1989) were at hand to talk about the work we have done and continue to do for conservation and people’s enjoyment of the countryside. There was a lively interest from the public, and we hope some will join us on our future activities.

Witchford Open Spaces Group relies on volunteers for its work encouraging wildlife and promoting green spaces and access to the countryside. We need more volunteers to continue working into the future for conservation and people’s enjoyment of the countryside. In particular we would welcome the support of younger members of the community. For more information about the Open Spaces Group contact Richard Braund on 665222 or e-mail richardbraund50@hotmail.com.

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