Planned extension to wildflower area 2018

In Spring 2018 we plan to enlarge the wildflower area on Froyle recreation ground by sowing cornfield annuals.

Now all we need are volunteers to make it happen! Can you help on Saturday 24th February 2-4pm to roll up and remove turves? (The turf will have already have been cut by machine). If so please bring a garden spade and gloves, refreshments will be available. We will then cultivate the ground on Saturdays 17th March and 7th April at 2pm and again assistance would be appreciated. Update: The seed (Emorsgate EC2) was sown on 7th April after a total 40h of work by 9 different volunteers.

Previously in 2015 a 5x20m area of the recreation ground was stripped of turf and the ground cultivated to sow wildflower meadow seed mixture. In the following summer of 2016 cornfield annuals provided a magnificent display before the annual cut at end of July that allowed the perennials more space to grow. In late spring/summer 2017 the perennial wildflowers and meadow grasses all flowered well but were less colourful than the previous year. The end of July cut each year is essential to maintain the area as wildflower meadow. See photos at the link.

The plan is to cultivate a new 5x10m area and sow with cornfield annuals only. If sown before the end of April these should flower from July to September. This area would not be cut until the following year when the ground would again be cultivated in spring and sown with cornfield annuals. Volunteers from Froyle Wildlife would do this for 3 years to 2020 and then review with Froyle Parish Council. The area could then be grassed over again or continue as wildflowers.

An advantage of spring sown cornfield annuals is that they should flower at a different time of year to the perennial wildflower meadow area, lengthening the season to autumn. There should be a colourful display of cornfield annuals each year and more nectar for bees and other insects. The area will be lengthened in village hall direction and have a 2m wide grass strip between the cornfield annuals area and the perennial wildflower meadow area. The turf stripped from the new area will be put behind the existing stacks.

Froyle dragonflies and damselflies July 2017

After visiting the new wildlife pond near Gid Lane in Froyle, one of our junior members William sent in photos of dragonflies and damselflies seen. A mating pair of blue-tailed damselflies settled on his sister’s hand just perfectly for the camera. The freshly emerged common darter has yet to develop it’s full adult colours.

 

 

 

 

Do contact us if you can help with ongoing maintenance of the pond and meadow or if you want to tell us your sightings.

 

River Wey talk 27th April 2017

A talk on “Wildlife of the River Wey” by Glen Skelton, Thursday 27th April 2017, 7.30pm Froyle Village Hall.

Banded Demoiselle female near River Wey

Our rivers have been called ‘Nature’s Super Highway’. The talk will cover the North Wey describing the ingredients for a healthy river ecosystem. The wildlife species present on our local river depend on habitats including instream and the flood-plain. Current impacts such as pollution and invasive species can be partly offset by river restoration techniques. Glen Skelton has the experience of being involved with the Wey Landscape Partnership and Surrey Wildlife Trust.

Do come along and find out more about our river in Froyle and its wildlife, all welcome. Doors open at 7pm for 7.30pm start, entrance £2, non members £3, children free, refreshments.

Update after the talk:-

Glen Skelton, from the Surrey Wildlife Trust, gave an interesting talk about rivers being ‘Nature’s Super Highways’ at the end of April. After rising from a chalk aquafer in Alton, the Northern branch of the River Wey flows through Upper Froyle, and Farnham before joining the South Wey at Tilford, and ultimately joins the River Thames. This chalk stream is an approximately 80km wildlife corridor. There are only around 200 chalk streams in the world and 85% of these are found in England, so we are fortunate to have the River Wey in Froyle. Coming from groundwater aquafers, the water is of high clarity and good chemical quality, making it precious for certain wildlife species, potentially supporting a rich flora and fauna. However, unfortunately man’s activities are having a detrimental effect on rivers including the Wey. Consequently volunteers, including those led by Glen, do restoration work with the aim of improving the biodiversity and health of the river, to enable them to function naturally.

A meandering river, as Nature intended, is an ideal situation. Where rivers are artificially straightened this effectively turns them into fast flowing drains with minimal wildlife opportunity.  Some areas of the Wey, such as near Kings Pond, have had diverters placed to create meanders, allowing varying river water flow rates. A meander allows fish fry to develop at the slow inner bend, and fish such as Pike to live at the faster outer bend.

Well vegetated banks are used by small mammals, butterflies and damselflies for shelter and basking. Channels provide fish, such as the Bullhead or Miller’s Thumb, (a fish of international importance for conservation), with shelter from predators. Bank restoration has been carried out upstream from the watercress beds in Alton, removing trees and shrubs allowing light in, enabling the bankside vegetation to improve. In other areas bankside trees provide valuable perches for Kingfishers looking out for their next meal of fish or aquatic insect. In addition, caterpillars falling from tree leaves into the water provide food for fish.

There are many ‘riffle’ areas on the River Wey, where the water flows over the rough surface of a gravel bed. This enables oxygenation of the water, allowing fish eggs to develop and provides good habitat for aquatic invertebrates. This equates to the ‘larder’ of the river. Invertebrates include Freshwater shrimps, Banded damselfly and Dragonflies. Clean gravel beds also allow marginal plants to establish, which are important as cover for small fish, invertebrates and birds such as coots and moorhen.

Otters, the apex predators of the river, are tentatively recolonising our rivers, having died out in the 1970s through sheep dip pollution in rivers. However, the last sighting on the River Wey was 2 years ago near Frensham. Unfortunately, water voles are also currently not seen on the Wey, through habitat fragmentation and mink invasion. On a more positive note, harvest mice, that like wetlands, have been found near the Wey source at Alton.

There are opportunities for volunteer river conservation work through Glen, involving mapping, monitoring for possible water vole return, and restoration.

Jayne Fisher

Organic farming, Walk at Mill Farm 8th Sept 2016

The Mill Farm walk and talk was on 8th September 2016 with thanks to Nick Shaylor for an inspirational evening.

Mill Farm cattleWe enjoyed a lovely late summers evening for our walk and talk at Mill Farm Organic, bordering Froyle and Isington. Owned by the Mayhew family, the farm extends to around 600 acres and has been managed organically for over 16 years, certified by the Soil Association. The main enterprises found on the farm are a herd of South Devon and Aberdeen Angus beef cows, a flock of Black Welsh Mountain and Easycare sheep and a herd of traditional breed pigs. These all produce meat which is sold at the farm shop  and at local Farmers Markets.

Mill Farm walk 2The farm covers a diverse range of habitats ranging from traditional water meadows bordering the River Wey to larger rotationally cropped fields and several pockets of ancient woodland. Managed with a close eye on conservation, many initiatives have been adopted to try and preserve and create important habitats for wildlife. Over the last sixteen years over 5 km of new hedgerows have been planted and many new native trees. Six metre grass field margins surround fields that are rotationally cropped. These are left completely undisturbed and provide a vital buffer between the rich hedgerow habitat and the more intensively managed farmland.

Mill Farm walk 1The farm has been gradually increasing the diversity of its pastures for several years. A species rich mixture of up to fifteen different varieties of grasses, legumes and herbs are now commonly sown. These mixed swards are much more resilient to drought conditions (due to the inclusion of many deep rooting species such as chicory and red clover). They also are great fertility builders, adding organic matter to the soil and helping to feed the soil food web – which is crucial as no chemical fertilisers or pesticides are allowed under the organic standards. When in flower these leys are a magnificent colourful sight and are rich in wildlife especially pollinators and butterflies. Newman Turner, who was a great advocate of herbal leys described them as his “fertiliser merchant, food manufacturer and vet all in one”.

The farm also benefits from a range of traditional farm buildings which have been left largely undeveloped. Several pairs of barn owls have been nesting in these this year.

Mill Farm walk 3A key focus of the farm is to offer as much diversity as possible. This is currently achieved in many ways, including the several different livestock enterprises present, the range of crops that are grown (and the season in which they are established), species rich grazing leys, hedgerows that are only cut every three years and pockets of land that are left completely undisturbed. The aim of the farm has and continues to be to develop and maintain a sustainable farming system, ensuring that plenty of room is left for nature.

To find out more about Mill Farm, please visit millfarmorganic.com and for more information about organic farming visit the Soil Association.

 

Enjoying the Wildlife of Froyle, June 2016

Enjoying the Wildlife of Froyle

We have lived in Froyle now for nearly 12 years, relatively new residents compared to many, but every day I am appreciative of how lucky we are to live here, with the countryside and wildlife on our doorstep. This was highlighted on a recent two mile dog walk around Lower Froyle.

House MartinIt was a gloriously sunny morning. We left our resident house martins behind in the nests around our house. After their long journey back from Africa we are hoping they will be successfully breeding, to help keep up, and perhaps swell, their ‘amber listed’ population. Shortly afterwards we encountered a Red Kite, another ‘amber listed’ bird, magnificently gliding low over the houses and gardens. ‘Amber list’ includes species where there is falling populations or contracting ranges.

Log seat FroyleWhilst walking close to the quarry, Skylarks were in songflight, some so high in the air that they were barely visible. This is a relatively common occurrence here, but not typical generally for the UK now as Skylarks are on the ‘red list’ of endangered or vulnerable species. In the hedgerow we heard the ‘little bit of bread and no cheese’ song of a Yellow Hammer, another species on the red list.

A Roe deer doe was standing in the shade of a tree at the edge of a field behind long grass. Luckily the wind must have been in its favour as the dogs were unaware of it. It remained there just watching us, perhaps it had a kid nearby.

Grass snakeAs usual we stopped to admire the view from the thoughtfully placed ‘tree bench’ at the top of Hussey’s Lane. On returning down the lane, a Grass Snake slithered back into the vegetation at the edge of the track, having been disturbed from basking in the sun by our footsteps. A Blackcap sang its melodic song further down the track.

Sown wildflowers Froyle recComing across the Recreation Field, we admired the blooms of the ‘Wildflower area’. Once back in our garden, the hedgehog droppings were evidence of a visitor or two the night before, presumably consuming the food that we put out for them each evening.

Whilst I appreciate this is by no means an exhaustive list of Froyle wildlife, I feel very fortunate to be able to experience the sorts of encounters mentioned above.

Jayne Fisher

River Wey talk 12th April 2016

The River Wey illustrated talk is on Tuesday 12th April 2016 in Froyle Village Hall.

River Wey near Froyle Mill
River Wey near Froyle Mill

This month we welcome Dr June Chatfield chairman of the Northern Wey Trust and local natural history expert. June will be giving an illustrated talk about the River Wey northern branch, including its passage through Froyle.

Do come along and find out more about our local river and its wildlife, all welcome. Doors open at 7pm for 7.30pm start, entrance £2, refreshments. For other events download a list of our ‘walks and talks’.

A Dragonfly’s World -talk 15th March 2016

We start this year’s programme of Froyle Wildlife events with Dr. Bill Wain’s illustrated talk on Tuesday 15th March which will Common Darters paired Froyle 1Aug15introduce us to ‘A Dragonfly’s world’. Who hasn’t delighted in watching dragonflies patrolling purposely over a pond or delicate damselflies fluttering along streamside vegetation but did you know there are nearly 6,000 species worldwide? Around 40 species breed in Britain many of which have differing needs. Bill’s talk aims to shine a light on habitat and management requirements for these beautiful insects whose ancestry goes back over 300 million years. All welcome to come along at 7.30pm in the Village Hall.

Download the list of 2016 Walks and Talks

Dragonflies seen in Froyle in 2015

Froyle Wildlife news Nov 2015

Our first AGM followed by a Barn Owl talk was well attended by about 60 people on 30th October. Thanks to those that helped to organise the evening and provide the drinks and nibbles. Your generous contributions boosted our funds by £231 after £100 was donated to the Hawk and Owl Trust.

A new wildflower area on Froyle recreation ground was sown this autumn with the help of 14 individuals after over 100 hours of volunteer time. The meadow mixture of Spring/summer flowering perennials have germinated with cornfield annuals included to provide a display in 2016 and act as a nurse crop for the perennials that take longer to establish.

The plan for a wildlife pond near Gid Lane had to be changed to a single pond 300m2 area when the topographical survey revealed buried pipes on the site. Recently the required planning application has been submitted to EHDC ref 56422, comments by 15 Jan 2016. The owners of Froyle Park have been asked to permit access for local residents to the proposed pond area.

_1st Pale tussock moth caterpillar by MBOur 2015 competition of photos taken in Froyle had a variety of interesting wildlife images. Congratulation to the winning entries; a Pale Tussock moth caterpillar by MB and a Peacock butterfly by WB in the junior category.

Species recording in Froyle this year noted a significant increase in the number of dragonflies and damselflies seen and demonstrates the benefit of new wildlife ponds. Bird recording for 11 target species has produced 134 records for 245 sightings. Red Kite and Skylark were the species most often reported.

Wildlife pond planning application Oct 2015

Site location plan 1in2500 at A4 lqAfter a slow start, the plan for two wildlife ponds near Gid Lane had to be changed to a single pond 300m2 area when the topographical survey revealed buried pipes. Recently the required planning application has been submitted to EHDC reference 56422 and here is a link to the documents:- supporting statement, site location plan, block plan and cross section. Froyle Park developers NJG say they are committed to completing this project to enhance biodiversity. An experienced contractor has been recommended to carry out the work and the soonest that pond digging could begin is Spring 2016.

Wildflower area July-Sept 2015

Work has started with the help of volunteers to create a wildflower area on Froyle recreation ground.  A turf cutter was hired as part of removing the top layer to leave bare soil.  Thanks to the 10 helpers who rolled and lifted the 3 tons of turves then stacked them into two habitat piles layered with wooden pallets.  These potential ‘homes for wildlife’ can benefit lacewings, solitary bees, beetles, toads and other species –so lets us know what you see there.

Turf cuttersRolling the turfStarting the turf stack

Stacking the habitat pileHomes for wildlifeBare ground for wildflower area

Next we will hoe weeds every 3 weeks on Sundays 9th and 30th August and 20th September at 9am and again assistance would be appreciated.  The Wildflower seed should be sown in late September depending on weather.

Updates-  On 9th August we removed deep rooted weeds such as dandelions and started to hoe. The ground was too dry and hard to easily break up the soil. By 30th August, rain had softened the ground and 5 volunteers lightly forked over part of the area and weeded. The loan of a vintage ‘Merry Tiller’ the following week proved invaluable to cultivate the whole area. On 20th September we raked and levelled the soil to produce a good tilth, then broadcast sowed the seed before it rained the next day.

Vintage Merry Tiller 8Sep15 Wildflower seed sowing 20Sep15

image_print