Harrow Nature Conservation Forum

June 2007

A tribute to Malcolm Hughes (10th June 1928 – 15th November 2006)

Malcolm Hughes was currently our treasurer at B.O.V.N.R and also a member of Harrow Natural History Society. As a child he kept stick insects. Birds and wildlife were always a strong interest all his life.

If you walk around Stanmore Country Park, Canons Park, Stanmore Common and our B.O.V.N.R you may see bird boxes, kestrel boxes and owl boxes high in the trees. It is likely that Malcolm and John Middlebrook, friend and raptor breeder put them there. More recently Malcolm and John built a goldfish pond for Bentley Day Centre and Malcolm designed a water feature for the internal garden. A knowledgeable man, a practical man, a calm man, a good man always willing to help, his contributions to Harrow’s green sites have been considerable. He will be much missed. We are sad that he has gone and we are grateful for the many useful and pleasure-giving things he did.

Betty Brown – Bentley Old Vicarage Nature Reserve

Chairman's message

Spring is now most definitely here, and I hope that we will have time to enjoy Harrow’s open spaces and note and appreciate the natural history that is there. One such open space, although at first sight not a particularly attractive one because of rubbish and tipped rubble, is Wood Farm, the site to the north of Stanmore Country Park. A party will be heading there on June 10th 2007 to see what plants and wildlife we can identify. We hope that our findings will add ammunition to the fight to preserve the site from development and “improvement”. If you would like to join this party please contact me. Those with expertise in invertebrates would be particularly useful.

Stanmore Country Park itself hosted a large and successful working party on February 11th 2007, which cleared a large area of gorse and birch to add to the open area of John Hall's Field. The warden, John Hollingdale, has been hard at work in the subsequent weeks levelling the stumps. When I saw John there at the end of March rabbits were cropping the grass; they will help keep the grass short in the new area, and hence supprt the development of a flower-rich sward. On Sunday April 29th 2007 we will launch the “Friends of Stanmore Country Park” in the hopes of creating a small but committed group that can help John survey and manage the park. In the morning John will lead an introductory walk around the park, starting at the north end of Kerry Avenue at 11AM. Then, at 2PM, we will hold the inaugural meeting of the Friends in Bernays Hall on the Broadway in Stanmore (next to Sainsbury’s).

Further north lies Stanmore Common, over which hangs a threat in the form of the housing development in the old Marconi site. One of the “actions” in the Council’s Green Belt Management Strategy is to “Conserve the ecology of Stanmore Common from the adverse impacts of proposed development at the former BAE site...”, and the developers have provided £250,000 to make this possible. Nevertheless it seems unlikely that the council will act. At the Public Inquiry, the Planning Inspector stated that cat proof fencing should be provided to protect many vulnerable species including ground nesting birds such as woodcock from predation: our requests that the fencing be erected have received no response. Nevertheless some good things have happened. The bridge building is almost complete, and in February we solicited names for paths, glades and woodland compartments on the Common and received a number of good suggestions: some of these will be used on a new information board to be erected at the carpark; click here to see these names. The car park area is more attractive than it has been: the council seem to be doing a better job of removing litter. In March Stanmore Common witnessed a significant moment in the life of its warden, Simon Braidman: we gathered at the cricket club, just north of Brewer’s Ponds, for Simon’s wedding to Emmannuelle. We wish them all happiness in the future.

Steve Bolsover

Site reports

BENTLEY OLD VICARAGE report by Betty Brown

We have continued with our regular maintenance this winter. One tree has had to be felled however. Resurfacing of our path is still required and vandalism is a problem.

ALL SAINT'S CHURCHYARD report by Jill Lewis

The churchyard has had a good spring with lots of primroses. The Meadow Saxifrage has increased to four plants and the flower Goldilocks is thriving.

BENTLEY PRIORY OPEN SPACE report by Peter Peretti

As a result of the grassland management more Adders Tongue fern has appeared. With two BTCV visits to clear more of the encroaching woodland the canopy has opened up and more ground flora such as Wood Anemone is to be seen. With greater numbers of visitors the warbler numbers are down but there has been an increase in the swallow population this year. We have been clearing the ‘Friends Meadow’ this winter. We do however need more invertebrate monitoring to to judge the effect of the ongoing management.

BELMONT LINE report by John Williams

No work has taken place on this reserve. The plan for the path to be separated from the Belmont Circle car park has not been implemented. Builder’s rubble from nearby developments has not been removed as was promised. This is very disheartening.

STANMORE COMMON report by Simon Braidman

Volunteers have almost completely dried up, only one volunteer is now keen to come and I am considering other ways in future of running work parties. The reserve itself has just had new access bridges completed by the BTCV. These are excellent. The common has just been renamed following a public competition. The reserve is due this year for work being done under the London Heathlands’ Heritage Project. Following consultations between the consultants, the council and the wardens, a new scheme has been devised which concentrates on Bracken control and clearing enlargement by selective tree felling.

The Common itself is in good condition, the heather and gorse are increasing, there are more flowering plants with increases in Betony , Wild Angelica, Bluebell and Wood Sorrell and Wood Anemone.

Animal sightings include a Weasel, two Grass Snakes and the rare leaf beetle Phytodecta decliminata on Aspen.

ROXBOURNE ROUGH report by Dave Bolton

Ten tons of road stone has been delivered to help us repair various paths around the reserve. We have also been clearing ditches this winter. Other tasks completed include clearing a fallen willow, putting in a new drainage pipe and the inevitable clearing of litter.

STANMORE COUNTRY PARK report by John Hollingdale

In February we had a giant working party with members of the Forum, Harrow Agenda 21 and BTCV taking part. A large area of encroaching gorse and birch was removed. Two of us turned up for the moth night in March. We had to huddle under a fishing brolley as the rain lashed down but over 30 moths of five species came to the light. We had two walks in April in the very warm unseasonal weather; the latter to launch a Friends of Stanmore Country Park group. The creation of a new car park off of Dennis Lane is awaiting Council approval. The bridge across the stream was badly damaged by a fallen tree last winter and we are waiting patiently for the Council to make it a safe crossing again. Dave Corby, the Parks manager, has been asked to look at it personally.

Thanks to Yu Xuan for the photograph of the saw

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