Join us for a leisurely stroll (about 1 mile) around Bentley Station Meadow, 10.30am-12.00 on Saturday 29th July 2017. This SSSI is owned and managed by Butterfly Conservation and borders Alice Holt Forest – a large Ancient Semi Natural Woodland so many woodland species can be seen on the reserve. We expect to see the large and graceful Silver-washed Fritillary whose caterpillar foodplant is Common Dog-violet growing in shady or semi-shady positions.
Meet at the reserve entrance 10.30am or share lifts from Froyle Village Hall leaving at 10.15am. Please note that the date may be postponed at short notice if the weather forecast is unfavourable. Parking at Bentley Station, cross the railway line and walk 100m along the tarmac path to the reserve entrance.
All welcome on Sunday 25th June, 3-5pm to an opening event for the new wildlife pond and meadow near Gid Lane, Froyle. If arriving by car (see map), please park at Froyle Park which is about 400m from the pond.
Enjoy some refreshments courtesy of Froyle Park after 3pm and view information displays about the importance of fresh water habitats. Then walk down the Lime Avenue to the pond for the ‘ribbon cutting’ event at 4pm. See the wildflower meadow that surrounds ‘Froyle Park Pond’ and linger to observe what’s flying and flowering. Dragonflies have already found the new habitat and the wildflower seed sown last year is blooming. The pond area will then be open at all times to members of Froyle Wildlife and can also be seen from the adjacent public footpath. This project was funded by developer contributions through East Hampshire District Council and completed with the kind permission of Froyle Park Ltd.
Conditions of our access licence include visitors using only the stile for entry/exit (see plan) and no fires, BBQs or picnics. Advice from wildlife pond experts is to let the pond colonise naturally over time. So please do not introduce any fish, aquatic species or pond plants because this could bring in diseases or potentially invasive non-native species.
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.
A talk on ‘Wildlife and Hedgerows’ by Jon Stokes, Thursday 16th March, 7.30pm Froyle Village Hall (doors open 7pm).
It’s surprising that the hedgerow network represents Britain’s largest nature reserve. Jon Stokes from the Tree Council will show us the importance of hedgerows and the how to improve them to boost their wildlife potential. Hedgerows adjacent to roads, green lanes, tracks and wooded ground tend to be particularly species-rich and can act as wildlife corridors.
All welcome, members £2, non members £3, children free, Refreshments.
This month we are delighted to welcome Dr Andy Barker of the charity ‘Butterfly Conservation’ www.butterfly-conservation.org/ as our first speaker of 2017. A talk on the Butterflies of Hampshire, Thursday 23rd Feb 2017 at 7.30pm, Froyle Village Hall (door open at 7pm).
There are 45 species of butterfly which can be seen in Hampshire and Andy will especially highlight those found in our local area (Froyle, East and North East Hampshire) and give us tips on identification. We’ll also hear of important habitats such as woodland, chalk downland and heathland which sustain many of the less common species. So forget the winter for a while, come along and be inspired to seek out some of these fascinating and sometimes elusive insects.
All welcome, members £2, non-members £3, children free, Refreshments
All are invited to our short AGM at 7pm followed by a talk ‘Return of the Red Kite’ on Thursday 20th October 2016 in the village hall. There will also be a display showing some of the local wildlife seen and an update of this year’s events in Froyle. Non-members are welcome and drinks and nibbles will be available during the evening.
Our excellent speaker Keith Betton has been studying Red Kites for seven years and is the Hampshire county bird recorder. Red Kites were exterminated in Hampshire in 1864 and have now returned only with help. In the 1990s chicks were brought over from Spain and released in the Chilterns. These were the ancestors of the birds we see in Froyle today. Keith will tell the story of their return and give us an insight into their lives.
The talk will start at 7.30pm, doors open from 6:30pm.
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.
Join us for a guided farm walk at Mill Farm Organic, Isington, GU34 4PN on Thursday 8th September. Lead by Nick and Jenny Shaylor, meet at the Farm Shop at 6pm and finishing about 8pm. Outdoor clothing and sturdy footwear recommended.
Learn about what we do on this mixed organic farm and how we produce great quality, fully traceable meat locally in Isington under a low input, forage based organic farming system. The farm spans a wide range of habitats and has a strong focus on sustainability and nature conservation, which will be a key focus of the evening. It would be useful to email firstname.lastname@example.org to let us know numbers or you are all welcome to just turn up on the evening.
On the 23rd July come along and hear about “The Magic of Bees” followed by a walk to see what’s buzzing in Froyle. – Meet at the Village Hall at 10am. We will be visiting the rec and nearby gardens. Please check this website page if weather conditions look uncertain. We are fortunate – our walk leader, Mike Edwards, co-authored the ‘Field Guide to Bumblebees of Great Britain and Ireland’!