Harrow Nature Conservation Forum

December 2006

Chairman's message

Winter is traditionally the time for physical work on our sites, when vegetation is dormant and bird nests are unoccupied. One big job is in progress on Stanmore Common. A team from the British Trust for Conservation Volunteers are building a series of bridges and boardwalks across streams and boggy areas. As I write this on November 19th 2006 the first three are complete: to see them, follow the path that begins at the northwest corner of the car park. As well as improving the experience for visitors the crossings will, by reducing foot traffic, reduce the amount of mud and silt in the water. This will improve the quality of the water for invertebrates.

An especially full day of work will take place at Stanmore Country Park on Sunday February 11th 2007. We hope to repeat the success of the giant workday at Stanmore Common in February 2006 that brought in volunteers from many different groups. John Hollingdale intends to use the day to clear bramble and birch scrub from what should be open grassland. Please put the date in your diaries: it should be fun as well as constructive.

Once the February 11th workday has passed, spring will arrive with plant and animal species for us to record. A meeting on October 26th 2006 discussed the arrangements for species recording and agreed that, although records should continue to be sent to the traditional organizations (London Wildlife Trust, London Natural History Society, BTO etc.) a copy should also be sent to Anna Cohen at Harrow Council for inclusion in the Greenspaces Information for Greater London database. All of us can then interrogate the database at the National Biodiversity Network (http://www.nbn.org.uk). In particular, all the records for our large reserves are available there. At minimum records need to state:

Scientific or common name
Name of the observer
Date of observation
The location of the observation, if possible as a grid reference

and should be sent to:
Anna Cohen
Biodiversity Action Plan Officer
Harrow Council
Garden House
5 St John's Road
Harrow HA1 2EE

At the Harrow Nature Conservation Forum meeting on September 7th 2006 we agreed to produce new editions of our leaflets describing Bentley Priory and Stanmore Common. For each of these, therefore, we need an illustration for the front cover. Photographs do not reproduce well: a line drawing or sketch works much better. If you have any suitable artwork, know of an artist who might, or could yourself volunteer to produce something, please contact me at s.bolsover@ucl.ac.uk or on 020 8933 2823.

Steve Bolsover

Site reports

BENTLEY PRIORY OPEN SPACE report by Elizabeth Stainthorpe

Thirty-three cows and one bull have been keeping the grass and vegetation under control this year. Although the lack of rainfall in July rather dried up the grass, it recovered its colour when the wet weather returned in August. The cattle were withdrawn for the winter in mid November. There have been four BTCV visits this autumn. They have been working in ‘The Dell’ to the north of Summerhouse Lake, clearing back bramble along the main path and clearing the ‘dragonfly pond’.

In August a male and female Redstart made separate appearances and also seen was a Spotted Flycatcher. Four Shoveler ducks were present on Summerhouse Lake in October.

STANMORE COMMON report by Simon Braidman

The boardwalk work is proceeding and at the last check two bridges have been completed. We have also been clearing the scrub around the heather patches in compartment 19. We will be carrying out further scrub clearance in other areas and also recording ‘features for retention’ if the major heathland restoration bid to English nature is successful.

ROXBOURNE ROUGH report by Dave Bolton

Over the last four months we have keeping the path edges cut and filling the many cracks in them for safety reasons. We have also cleared around one of our seats where rubbish collects. In October, Harrow Council’s Parks Department have finally replaced the gate, broken since February. At the end of October our pond started to fill up again.

STANMORE COUNTRY PARK report by John Hollingdale

This autumn, the BTCV have continued the expansion of the meadowland in John Hall’s Field; cutting back both bramble and gorse. The highlights of National Moth Night on September 23rd were single specimens of Mervielle du Jour, Orange Sallow, a very late Scarce Silver-lines and a migrant, The Vestal. We have a big working day next year on February 11th when both HA21 & the BTCV will be continuing the task of reclaiming the grassland lost over the last decade. Unfortunately the workday on November 26th was cancelled as the BTCV couldn’t find a driver.

Thanks to Yu Xuan for the photograph of the saw

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