What’s about in Froyle, May 2020

Lockdown in sunny weather has had its benefits; it was a great spring for bluebells and exploring the local countryside as everything dried out. Keen eyes will have spotted lots of insects flitting about the hedgerows and if you head out at dusk you will see the bats taking full advantage! Other insectivores made an early appearance this year – the swifts can now be heard shrieking over the roof tops, arriving about a week earlier than usual, although numbers so far look slightly down on last year. Swallows and Martins have returned and now it is starting to feel like a proper summer!

Walking through the field footpaths you can spot the solitary mining bees darting in and out of surprisingly small holes. Ashy mining bees are colonial and have been spotted in Upper Froyle, as has a very beautiful hummingbird hawk moth. These large moths don’t land when they feed, using their long proboscis instead, are also migratory, but since this one appeared in late April it must have over wintered here.

By mid-May, most of the native species of bird are fledging their first brood, and with almost no cold and wet weather it could be a good year for them. From my dog walks there seem to be more partridge this year and hares seem to be on the up, but stoats have also been seen, let’s hope leverets don’t get hypnotised as easily as rabbits!

Find us on our new Instagram page: @froylewildlife and share your wildlife photos using #froylewildlife. To see what bird species have been recorded in Froyle, click on the .pdf. Other wildlife lists recorded in this Parish are available here.

Alex M

Nature in Froyle carrying on as usual, despite Covid-19

In these surreal times with Covid-19, as residents of Froyle, we feel very fortunate to be able to walk out into the countryside and see nature moving forward as usual. This is a reassuring and positive experience during what is an anxious and, unfortunately for some, extremely sad time.  We enjoyed hearing and seeing a variety of birds whilst walking around Lower and Upper Froyle this April 2020 morning, some common and some birds of conservation concern.

We heard the ‘Pee-wit’ call of the Lapwing, whilst watching its relaxed tumbling acrobatic display. One of the Lapwings was sitting in a shallow scrape on the ground, presumably nesting. With a significant decline in its numbers recently the Lapwing is now a red listed species under birds of Conservation Concern. The call of the Lapwings was intermingled with the Skylarks song above the same field, another red listed species.

Blackcaps, a common bird, have migrated back to Froyle after spending their Winter in the warmer climes of Iberia and North Africa. We heard the melodic song of several males on our walk – a rich and varied warble, usually starting with a chattering and finishing with a flourish of flute-like notes. The sound of two pebbles striking each other drew our attention to the fact that one of the Blackcaps was concerned about our presence, as this is their alarm call. Perhaps we were venturing close to their nest on our walk.

Further on the walk we saw a pair of male and female Yellowhammers perched on the bare branches of a bush. As it is the breeding season, the male was striking with very vibrant colouring – his red brown plumage streaked with black, supplemented by bright yellow on his head and belly. The female was duller in colour. The Yellowhammer is also red listed.

Having had heavy rain overnight prior to our walk, the Ryebridge Stream was in full flow. Wondering where this water would end up, on map investigation I was interested to see this stream feeds into the River Wey, which eventually then flows into the River Thames!

Wrens, the UK’s most common breeding bird were audible in many places, although rarely seen, as they forage in cover. Their tremendous trilling loud song belied the wren’s diminutive size.  On completion of our walk, we were grateful to have been able to share the countryside with these, and many other, birds.

If you would like to explore the countryside around Froyle for your daily exercise, please see the link to footpaths.

Jayne F

Barn Owl Project talk 17th March 2020

TALK POSTPONED until further notice due to concerns about coronavirus.

Do join us for a talk by Kim Boog about ‘The Barn Owl Project Hampshire’ on Tuesday 17th March 2020.  We’ll hear about the perils barn owls face in the modern world, rescuing rehabilitation and release, habitats and nest boxes. If you’ve never seen a Barn Owl up close before this is your chance as Kim will be bringing one of her rescues (which is unsuitable for release).

Kim runs the Birds of Prey Hospital with which The Barn owl Project is aligned and is accredited for rehabilitation of wild orphaned or injured birds of prey.

Doors open Froyle Village Hall 7pm for teas and coffees, talk to start at 7.30pm. All welcome, entrance £3 for non members.

Living Willow Dome build 29th Feb 2020

UPDATE: Due to hail and strong winds being forecast for Saturday, we are going to postpone the construction of the willow dome until Sunday, 1st March 10am – 12 pm and then 1pm – 3pm. Fingers crossed for better weather!

Use your extra day in 2020, the leap year, to benefit wildlife and the community!

Volunteers wanted to build a Willow Dome on Froyle Recreation Ground. Froyle Wildlife will be erecting a living willow dome (the completed one pictured below) on the recreation ground on Saturday 29th February from 10am – 12 pm and then 1pm – 3pm.

We are hoping that this will provide a lovely natural place for residents (most likely the younger ones!) to use.  Willow domes are also beneficial for wildlife, specifically insects and birds. No experience necessary, the work will include clearing a circular ring in which to push the willow rods, weaving and tying in the rods and mulching the area with bark. The dome will have a diameter of 3 metres and be approximately 1.8 metres tall.

Tea, coffee and cake will be provided!

Please bring along gardening gloves and secateurs if you have them. If the weather is bad we will postpone until Sunday 1st March, or the following weekend.

Please come along and support this community project. Froyle Parish Council have secured a grant for the cost – thanks for their work.

RESULT: On 1st March we enjoyed completing the willow dome construction, see photos below.

AGM and talk Ancient Woodland and Trees 18th Oct 2019

We welcome Hugh Milner to tell us about our wonderful Ancient Woodlands and trees on Friday 18th October. Sympathetic management of ancient woodland can create ecological impact, enhance biodiversity and benefit ancient trees. All welcome, Froyle Village Hall doors open 6.30pm, AGM starts at 7pm, talk starts 7.30pm, entrance free for members, £3 non-members, teas and coffee.

Hugh worked for many years at nearby Alice Holt for the Forestry Commission as Head Forester. He says ancient woods have been his passion for nearly 30 years, quite a transformation from his commercial career. Hugh has visited some of the woodlands in Froyle, many of which are SINCs (Site of Importance for Nature Conservation), see map.

Think of an ancient tree and words that might come to mind are gnarled, knobbly, huge, bent and hollow. These sorts of characteristics are just as important as the actual age of the tree. The Ancient Tree Forum has information about the descriptions of old trees, whether they are Ancient, Veteran, Heritage, Notable or Champion. All support a wide range of wildlife including fungi, invertebrate, lichens and birds. They are irreplaceable in our lifetime.

A 1771 survey of woodlands and coppices on sundry estates in Froyle can be viewed at the Hampshire Record Office, reference 49M68/172 or download .pdf (5MB). Locally there are no trees in Froyle mentioned in the Woodland Trust’s inventory. The nearest are the Yew in Bentley churchyard, girth 3.97m and the Neatham Manor Oak, girth 9.08m. It would be brilliant to find trees in Froyle that could be added to this national inventory.


2nd Oct update: Please note there is a change of speaker as Jon Stokes is unavailable.

Pond dipping Froyle 11th August 2019

Family fun –join us for a 1h dipping session on Sunday 11th August to see what underwater creatures we can find in the wildlife pond near Gid Lane, Upper Froyle (see location plan).  Children will need to be accompanied by a responsible adult.  All equipment will be provided and numbers are limited so it is essential to book by emailing info@froylewildlife.co.uk, stating preference for 1.30pm or 2.30pm session.

Walk at Old Winchester Hill 7th August 2019

Join us for an afternoon walk 2pm on Wednesday 7th August 2019 at Old Winchester Hill, National Nature Reserve for flowers, views and butterflies. Most of our 3 mile, 2h route along the hilltop is relatively flat but it should be worthwhile to descend the steep ‘south slope’ where the chalkhill blue can sometimes be seen in huge numbers on sunny days. The flower rich grasslands have developed on the thin chalky soils that are low in nutrients, and prevent vigorous species from dominating the finer herbs.

Meet 2pm at the public car park OS Grid ref SU646213, about 2km south of West Meon or share lifts from Froyle Village Hall leaving at 1.20pm. For more information about this NNR, a leaflet can be downloaded as a .pdf from Natural England.

‘Drop-in’ at wildlife pond, Froyle 7th July 2019

Call in between 10am and 4pm on Sunday 7th July to visit the wildlife pond and meadow, near Gid Lane, Upper Froyle (see location map).  There should be plenty to see especially if it’s a sunny day.

Members of Froyle Wildlife will be on hand to assist with identification of wildflowers, dragonflies’ and butterflies.  Species to look out for include; knapweed, lady’s bedstraw, rough hawkbit, self heal, purple loosestrife, water figwort and bird’s-foot trefoil.  Last year emperor and four-spotted chaser dragonflies and meadow brown, large skipper and marbled white butterflies amongst others were on the wing.  Do pop in and see what you can spot.

Walk at Noar Hill SSSI 26th June 2019

Join us for a walk on Wednesday 26th June 10am at Noar Hill SSSI when we hope to see at least 4 species of wild orchid.  This 20 hectare nature reserve, managed by Hampshire Wildlife Trust, was originally formed by medieval chalk workings.  Over hundreds of years the mounds and hollows were colonised by a great variety of beautiful chalk downland flowers now rare in the wider countryside.  Many species enjoy the micro climates amongst the undulations with over 30 butterfly species recorded.

Meet there 10am or preferably share lifts from Froyle Village Hall leaving at 9.30am. as there is very limited roadside parking, OS grid reference SU737321 near Charity Farm.