Witchford Village

Open Spaces Group Update - July 2017

Posted on: Jul 21, 2017
Posted in: open-spaces-group news

Fairchild Wood Permissive Path
The creation of the Fairchild Wood Permissive Path took a further step towards completion in June. The route through the bushes between the gate on Long Meadow (kindly provided by the parish council and installed by Team D) and Fairchild Wood was cut, the path edge marked with logs, and wood chips spread. The route through Fairchild Wood has been set out and the mowing scheduled for early July, followed by the opening ceremony on Sunday 9 July. Maintenance work will be carried out on the trees at this session. Volunteers (and spectators) will be most welcome.

Sandpit Drove Conservation Area
The meadow is slow to flower this year, though at the end of June there were some large purple patches of common knapweed and tufted vetch. There have again been many changes in the composition of species in the meadow this year. Agrimony, which has tall spikes of yellow flowers, has doubled its occurrence (from one specimen to two!), and the delicate lady’s bedstraw has begun to spread, so we may hope for more of these species next year. The previously common tall melilot and common birdsfoot trefoil have unfortunately all but disappeared, and in some parts of the meadow wild flowers are disappointingly sparse. The spread of yellow rattle (flowering of which is now all but over) has been phenomenal this year, and as it is semi-parasitic on grasses, its presence may allow other plant species to germinate. The variety and abundance of flowers and grasses is bound to attract insects, and the meadow brown butterfly has been present in some numbers over the meadow.

The small patch of wildflowers near the pond, which was prepared and sown last year, has produced a spectacular display of ox-eye daisy, with a scattering of common knapweed and (self-sown) common mallow. It will be interesting to see how this area develops over the next few years.

The pond water level dropped to a very low level during the month, exposing muddy margins, where on 21 June a small black moorhen chick was seen. This will have been a part of a second brood, as the first brood was predated in May. Following the heavy rain at the end of June the pond filled rapidly.

Millennium Wood
The annual Millennium Wood Meadow Mow took place in June, with Witchford Scouts once again providing the bacon butties, and helping in the raking up of the mowings. A good time was had by all as the photograph shows.

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 for conservation and people’s enjoyment of the countryside into the future. 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 (e-mail richardbraund50@hotmail.com).

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