In the last month, a pair of Turtle Doves has occasionally visited a garden in Upper Froyle. They used to be widespread but have suffered a 94% UK population decline since 1995. At this current rate of change if we don’t find a way to help them scientists calculate that complete UK extinction as a breeding species will be a real possibility within just a few years. In Hampshire there are just a few sites where these birds hang on. Finding extra food in gardens can be an important source of nutrition for the birds. Turtle Doves are ground feeders, although you may see them on a bird table and even at a hanging feeder. They often struggle to find sources of water in the summer so please do fill up any bird baths that you may have – or simply put out a shallow dish with water.
Keith Betton is the County Bird Recorder for Hampshire and is keen to hear from anybody who sees these birds around Froyle – or hears their gentle purring call when out on walks. If you can help with sightings (which will not be made public) please contact Keith on 07809 671468 or at email@example.com.
The wildlife pond and surrounding meadow near Gid Lane is adjacent to Ryebridge Stream that rises from springs in Upper Froyle and flows down to the River Wey. It’s seasonal flow usually dries up in summer and appears to be no more than small ditch. After this year’s exceptional rainfall in February the stream overflowed into the field like a river and made a temporary new lake about 200x20m in size. By mid-March the flood had subsided and the overflow ceased.
What better way to connect with nature than to capture images of what you see. So get out and about with your camera or phone to record what makes Froyle appealing to you. The competition is open to all.
Photographs must have been taken within the parish of Froyle and could include views, wildflowers, trees, animals or insects -whatever you enjoy about local nature. See previous entries and our photo galleries.
The winning photos will be displayed on the Froyle Wildlife website along with at least one photo from each person entering. Entries from under 14’s will be judged as a separate category.
Please submit up to 4 entries by 30th September 2019 either by email to firstname.lastname@example.org or at one of our walks and talks. Images should preferably be in landscape format sent as .jpg files or prints maximum 7”x5” size.
Are you interested in wildlife and reconnecting with nature? Then come along to the Bentley Wildlife Launch Event on 7.30pm Friday 12th April at Bentley Memorial Hall. Come and hear illustrated talks on
The Story of Froyle Wildlife by Barry Clark
Wildlife Recording in Hampshire by Lizzy Peat from HBIC*
followed by Q & A session and discussion to take the Bentley Wildlife Group forward.
We need a logo! Bring your designs along and you decide which one should be the Bentley Wildlife logo! All entries will be recorded on our facebook group.
A Froyle resident spotted an unusual spider this summer while out walking and sent us some photos. Forbes said:-
“Living in Westburn Fields I regularly walk my dog Stanley around the Froyle Recreational Ground and especially enjoyed the wildflower area during the summer. This summer I was fortunate to spot a wasp spider on the poppy stems. With striking yellow and black markings and an impressive spiral orb web, the wasp spider makes for an impressive sight and I was pleased that the photos came out. It was mid August with the early morning dew really showing off the spiral orb web.”
Forbes also included some photos of the cornfield annuals with poppies in full bloom at the beginning of July.
One of our members, Simon sent us photos about his afternoon in Froyle, he wrote …
Visiting the wildflower area on Froyle Recreation Ground this Friday revealed a wealth of diverse wildlife. The meadow had a lovely mix of Common Poppies, Corn Flowers, Oxeye Daisies, and Corn Marigolds amongst others. Can you also see the Meadow Brown hiding in the wildflowers meadow picture. The Common Poppies are in various stages of development, from just appearing out of their buds as they un-crease and unfold, to losing their petals for bees to collect the remaining nectar, whilst others have lost all their petals with a 7-spot lady bird and soldier beetle racing to the top. Finally a Gatekeeper and hoverfly gathering nectar from Corn Marigold.
I then decided to visit the wildlife pond near Gid Lane, Froyle which was teeming with life. There was an abundance of Blue-tailed Damselflies around, as well as Emperor Dragonflies laying eggs in the pond. There was a Meadow Brown butterfly resting on a Knapweed, as well as a freshly emerged Common Blue butterfly on a spent Ox-eye Daisy. You can see many wild flowers in various stages of development, shown here with a dead and new Ox-eye Daisy side by side. There was also a pretty pink and white wildflower -Wild Carrot (usually white flowered). As I then rested on the wooden stump watching the Damselflies and Dragonflies, there was a crack of thunder, followed by a rapidly increasing downpour. That was my time to leave!
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.
Update August 2018: The new area of cornfield annuals flowered well this summer despite the exceptional heat and lack of rain. In July the poppies were at their peak and then the corn marigolds and corn camomile extended the flowering season.
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.
A talk on “Wildlife of the River Wey” by Glen Skelton, Thursday 27th April 2017, 7.30pm Froyle Village Hall.
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.
The Mill Farm walk and talk was on 8th September 2016 with thanks to Nick Shaylor for an inspirational evening.
We 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.
The 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.
The 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.
A 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.