Witchford Village

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Open Spaces Group Update - September 2018

Posted on: Sep 12, 2018
Posted in: open-spaces-group news

Community Orchard
The fruit trees of the community orchard survived the long drought, some with a little help with water. Others were not so fortunate. As reported last month, two apple trees came down in the storm that broke the dry weather, and it has also come to light that one apple tree and one quince tree fell foul of the mower when the meadow was cut for hay in June and have disappeared. The parish council has approved the purchase of four trees in the autumn as replacements.

At the end of August many of the trees still had fruit, especially apple trees and some pear, plum and damsons. If the fruit is still there and ready to eat visitors should try them out.

Guided Walk
The Open Spaces Group led a guided walk in August, the first for a couple of years. Eighteen people and four dogs enjoyed a pleasant evening stroll, passing through the Millennium Wood, Long Meadow, the Community Orchard and Edna’s Wood. In the orchard the group tried some of the fruit on offer (see photo).

Sandpit Drove Conservation Area
After the somewhat premature mowing in July, the meadow has had a resurgence, and there are clumps of common knapweed and birds-foot trefoil that have come back into flower and will produce more seed. There are still plenty of butterflies in the drove, including the beautiful comma.

The pond has begun to close up with encroaching vegetation, and in September volunteers will clear by hand some of the emergent vegetation at the pond edge to increase the extent of open water.

Kevin’s Place
The annual mow of the orchard meadow next to Footpath 1 will take place in early October. The hay will be raked into piles, providing more habitat for Kevin’s Place’s grass snakes and slow worms. Volunteers are needed and will be made very welcome (and rewarded with baked potatoes and refeshments).

Grass snakes and slow worms
It’s heartening to learn that there have been a number of sightings in Witchford of grass snakes (confirmed with photos) and even slow worms, mainly in areas on the south side of Main Street. None of these locations are very far from the site in Barton Close from where 20 adult and juvenile slow worms were translocated by the developer's ecologist to Kevin’s Place in 2015. The official wildlife recording organisation, Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Environmental Records Centre (CPERC) would be interested in receiving records of grass snakes and particularly slow worms. If you do have them in your garden and you'd like to have the sighting recorded, do try to get a photograph and visit the website (www.cperc.org.uk). Or, if you'd prefer, send the details and a photo to Richard Braund (details below) for forwarding to CPERC.

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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