Monthly Archives: December 2019

Volunteer Session Saturday 14th December 2019

Here is Jonathan’s email

Hello All,

There’ll be a volunteer session at Fairfield Orchard, Fauna and Flora
this Saturday, December 14th, commencing at 10.00am and finishing at
1.00pm.

There are two tasks for this occasion, both with a strong ‘hedge
sapling’ theme…

* To continue and hopefully conclude the planting of this year’s batch
of hedge saplings from the Woodlands Trust. We received 1375 saplings
and the Wednesday Group have made a start but there is still lots to do.
Bring a spade if you can!

* To check out the hedge saplings we planted last year to strengthen
fallen canes / protectors and remove the worst of weed growth.

And now for news of a development regarding the contents of these very
volunteer emails.
At its last meeting of the Fauna, Flora and Orchard Group (snappily
shortened in this Age of Abbreviations to FFOG) it was agreed that the
‘volunteer session notification’ emails should include some explanation
of *why* we will be performing that month’s key task.

But before we discuss why we value our hedges as much as we do, let’s
first get the Explanation Ball rolling with a few words about ‘FFOG’
itself.

The tasks undertaken by you, the volunteer, are agreed at a bi-monthly
Fauna, Flora and Orchard Group meeting, the Fairfield Association’s
management meeting for the Nature Reserve.
FFOG is an open meeting and members are very much encouraged to attend.
Meeting minutes can be found at
http://www.fairfieldassociation.org/support/meetings.html.
To find out where and when FFOG meets please use the email option for
the Chair of the Association at
http://www.fairfieldassociation.org/support/contactus.php

So why Fairfield’s commitment to hedge planting?

It is widely recognised that hedgerows are a vital resource for
wildlife, providing food, shelter and channels of communication for
birds, mammals and invertebrates. They also provide shade, containment
for livestock and act as windbreaks.
The Woodland Trust believes “around 118,000 miles of hedgerows have
disappeared since 1950,” as a consequence of the intensification of
agriculture. Its ‘position statement’ on hedges and hedgerows can be
found here:
https://www.woodlandtrust.org.uk/media/1808/hedges-and-hedgerows-position-statement.pdf

As recommended by two of our expert advisers, the Fairfield Association
continues to extend the hedgerows on the Nature Reserve. We are assisted
in this by participating in the Woodland Trust’s ‘moreHEDGES’ scheme by
which we purchase hedge and tree saplings at greatly reduced cost.
Hence, this month we are planting 1375 saplings at various locations
both extending hedgerows and infilling gaps.

And that’s quite enough from me for now, except to wish you a happy and
restorative festive season,
Jonathan.

Too icy for snipe?

With the onset of a colder spell of weather, we were hoping for a high count of snipe this morning. The reality was another modest tally. With the marshes frozen, the estuary is probably a more attractive feeding ground. The breakdown was 22 common snipe and 3 jack; 5 of the birds jumping out of the rush around School Pond, the rest flushed in Big Meadow.

The highlight was a very close and clear sighting of a female sparrowhawk. She took off from the depths of the Big Meadow marsh and landed at the top of the ash tree by the bend in the Fauna path. She may well have been responsible for the two pigeon carcasses spotted in Upper Sowerholme.  Field voles seem to be present in good numbers in the Hay Meadow. They have been nibbling the rushes and were seen running about. A heron took off from the vicinity of Friars Pond, and there were several meadows pipits in Big Meadow.