Witchford Village

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Open Spaces Group Update - May 2018

Posted on: May 22, 2018
Posted in: open-spaces-group news

Sandpit Drove Conservation Area
Volunteers met in April for the first management session of the season on the wildflower meadow. There are persistent weeds such as dock, hemlock and nettles, and as many as possible were removed. Others remain and will be dealt with over the rest of the spring. Disturbed areas of soil were prepared and the children sowed seed collected from the meadow last summer. A diversion was provided by a common toad which gave itself up for inspection by all. The parish council Allen scythe was used to cut around the margins to reduce the spread of nettles. Some parts of the meadow where the grass had grown substantially were also mown and the mowings raked off.

There are cowslips in flower in abundance this year and a few red campions. May should see a lot more flowers.

On the pond, the moorhens have successfully hatched at least two chicks, which were still small bundles of black fluff at the end of April. The pond has remained very full, which should help the chicks to evade predators.

Fairchild Wood
Volunteers facilitated the planting of a memorial tree, a silver birch, alongside the permissive path in Fairchild Wood. In due course a bench and plaque will be installed.

Millennium Wood
Open Spaces Group volunteers have refurbished a bird box and a bat box, and these were re-installed in the wood during April. All the bat boxes in place were checked and cleaned ready for bat summer roosting.

In June the annual meadow mow will take place with Witchford Scouts, who will as usual provide the barbecue and bacon rolls.

Old Recreation Ground and Community Orchard
Two fruit trees died last year, a Barnack Beauty dessert apple, and one of the two quince trees. Both were replaced in April, paid for by the parish council and collected and planted by Open Spaces Group volunteers. There was a lot of blossom on the fruit trees at the end of the month so we might be optimistic about yields in the summer.

The level of the pond at the boundary with Kevin’s Place has been very high, and now it has dropped the path around the meadow side has been cut by hand.

Witchford herpetology
It has been a good month for Witchford’s reptiles and amphibians. There was a huge amount of frogspawn in the Sandpit Drove pond, so hopefully despite predation we will have plenty of frogs by the summer. Adult frogs and toads were also present in the pond and in the margins of the meadow. Smooth newts have been seen at New Pond, though the high number of sticklebacks in this pond may have a detrimental impact on the tadpoles of all amphibian species. Elsewhere in the village in garden ponds there are good numbers of frogs, toads and smooth newts, and in one location at least there have been several great crested newts, which are much rarer.

More exciting news comes from Kevin’s Place, where several slow worms have been sighted this spring, and recently a grass snake. We’re hopeful of more sightings through the spring and summer.

Witchford Open Spaces Group volunteers help to maintain and improve sites throughout Witchford to encourage wildlife and for the enjoyment of the local community. We welcome new volunteers, young to not-so-young, at any time. Why not come along?

For more information about the Open Spaces Group contact Richard Braund on 665222 (e-mail richardbraund50@hotmail.com).

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