Saplings by Janey Marriott – 08 January 2019

Saplings

For the past 4/5 years I have been watering young trees in my road. It is a sad sight to see saplings struggling then dying because of the lack of water. We are fortunate to have a Council that so readily responds to the request for trees to be planted on our roadsides. The introduction of the green bags around newly planted trees has puzzled me; I couldn’t see how it helped with the retention of water and it certainly wasn’t to protect  them from any passing deer. I have however, recently discovered how they work. Down one side is a double layer of the green material; in my years of watering, I had not noticed it; this double layer opens up  to form a “sack” into which water can be poured;  the water then seeps slowly through the bottom enabling more efficient hydration of the tree. May I encourage everyone to look out for saplings in their area and give them the occasional good watering; in the height of the summer when there has been little or no rain, it is particularly important to give young trees sufficient water so that the water can seep down into the roots. You are then likely to be rewarded by a happy, healthy, adult tree to bring pleasure for years to come.

Janey Marriott

2018 Plant Survey Report by Christine Wallace

Plant Survey 2018

 

Using the same Area plan as last year, Sue Hayes and I have completed the 2018 Plant Survey of Darrick and Newstead Woods.

 

There are 14 “Areas” grouped broadly into Meadows (4), Wet Areas (3) and Woods (7).  Please see attached map.  Inevitably of course, the meadows have woods or shaws on the boundaries and the woods have wet areas or open glades/ woodland edges etc. but the areas are fairly well defined geographically.

 

In 2014 we identified some 196 species; in 2015, 288 species and in 2016, 321 species.  In 2017, we were up to 328 species and this year, rather to my surprise, we are up to 345 having added 17 although not all have appeared this year.  I should perhaps say that just because we don’t see any particular plant one year, I don’t delete it from the list because it may be either that I haven’t found it or it may not have fully developed enough to be seen e.g. biennials or orchids that only appear when conditions are suitable.

 

The new species identified this year are:

110   Columbine                                                                    305   Box

114   Common Poppy                                                         320   Shining Crane’s-bill

114   Welsh Poppy                                                          366   Vervain

120   Wych Elm                                                                389   Buddleia

144   Red Campion                                                          392   Great Mullein

152   Sticky Mouse-ear                                                   394   Foxglove

178   Trailing St John’s-wort                                          402   Wall Speedwell

210   Hairy Bitter-cress                                                   R14   Downy Oat-grass

—-    Bay (Laurus nobilis)

 

Page references are to:  The Wild Flower Key ———————- by Francis Rose

or:   Grasses, Sedges, Rushes and Ferns — also by Francis Rose

 

Things we have noticed:

  • The weather has been distinctly odd this year: very cold (snow in March), very wet then hot in April, then cold, then a heatwave and dry since May until recently. The bluebell season was very poor. Early Purple Orchids gave a good display but the rest of the orchids were largely lost in the grasses. No Pyramidals at all in Newstead Meadow and only one Common Spotted. Lots of Southern Marsh and Common Spotted in Broadwater Meadow but very hidden in the grass and not growing very tall. There were a few Pyramidals and Common Spotted in Tubbenden Meadow – but again quite overwhelmed by grasses.
  • Having rediscovered the large patch of Creeping Cinquefoil in Newstead Meadow last year, I was somewhat surprised to find an even larger patch of it nearby this year — although it isn’t any easier to find in the long grass.
  • The moles in Newstead Meadow, after a late start (very dry, no worms) have been busy again in October and I look forward to seeing what seedlings develop in their tailings.
  • The Amphibious Bistort flowered this year. Oh dear.
  • Where the Friends have been working in the Triangle, removing bramble and heavily overgrown ivy – and no doubt churning up the earth, Red Campion, Great Mullein and Foxglove have appeared for the first time.
  • Similarly, where the Friends were working to remove bramble and blackthorn behind the houses near the Plane Crash site, Common Red Poppy has popped up in the disturbed and exposed ground.
  • Welsh Poppy is a new species and has had a very good year. It is all over the Stables End entrance and in the gulley behind Brian’s house (and has popped up in my garden too).
  • Bay (Laurus nobilis) is not normally considered a native wild plant but since I can see it in 5 of the 14 Areas of DNW, I have included it in the Plant Survey. It appears to be becoming naturalised!
  • Black bryony has been quite prolific this year, thankfully not in my garden. It has strong white roots that go deep.
  • A very poor year for walnuts and chestnuts – just too dry. (Poor squirrels.)

 

Our very grateful thanks are due especially to Judy John who has been the final arbiter of identification and to the members of the Thursday work party who have contributed to our lists by acting as extra pairs of eyes.

 

Christine Wallace   5/11/2018

DNW Plant Survey 2018 by Area DNW Plant Survey 2018 by Area

Map of DNW Areas

Badger Memories -West Kent Badger Group

 

 

 

This article and photos was originally written for the West Kent Badger Group website and Newsletter and is not based on Darrick Wood. However, I thought it may be of interest to ‘Friends’ members.

Badger Memories!

It seems a long time ago now but, following a career as a primary teacher, I went on in the early nineties to obtain a job managing an environmental education centre near Dartford for KCC. It was an old village school built in 1857. One of my responsibilities was to develop a range of habitats for wildlife to inspire visiting Key Stage 1 and 2, (5 – 11 year old) children on a 2 acre site. This included a newly dug out pond which was soon teaming with invertebrates, a small meadow and a tiny wooded area.

In addition to enhancing the site for small wildlife I also had the ambition of building a simple badgers Sett. I mean ‘simple’! I didn’t use plastic piping or build a concrete floor like other badger groups have appeared to produce. My brother and I found a corner of the meadow and dug three channels leading to a couple of bed chambers of which we dug down around 50cm to produce a snug sleeping area.(It seemed so comfortable I even wondered if I could be reincarnated as a badger!) We then covered these channels with large builder’s patio slabs. Then a layer of soil on which grass, Cow Parsley and Stinging nettles later grew. My plan was for the badgers originally to have a basic home which they could then extend (without planning permission!) perhaps downwards or sideways – whatever way that suited them – and they later did. Read on.

My original aim was really to build a ‘release site’ for the West Kent Badger Group to use for perhaps recovering injured badgers into the wild. However, unfortunately (if that is the right word!) local wild badgers apparently like it so much that they moved in a matter of weeks before I had a chance to tell the badger group of my plans.

The following year others moved in so that a family group was formed. ‘Hey presto!’ You can guess what happened next. Three cubs were born and in that April they showed themselves above ground. Cubs were born in most years until I retired seven years ago. With friends and volunteers we were able to have the artificial sett wired up with cameras. We had cameras connected to a digital whiteboard in the main classroom so that we could see when a badger emerged without setting a foot outside. Indeed one clever volunteer managed to enable me, using a password, to watch the badgers from the comfort of my home. There were many occasions when my wife Jane rang me in the centre office often as early as 5.00pm when I was just about to leave to tell me not to come home yet as ‘they’ were out.

Our digital interests lead to fitting cameras in nest boxes, cameras pointing on bird feeders, and a camera looking at the whole site for security, together with, of course cameras over the badgers Sett. All could be seen inside the centre classrooms and from home.

I usually managed to get the badgers to emerge very early by enticing them with peanuts which I threw high over the Sett so they would feel them dropping on the ground above. However, I was always conscience of the fact that perhaps the badgers might have been in danger being out so early. However, there were no dangerous roads nearby and the fenced in centre land was very secure. They invariably went straight back to bed after their treat. I often used the badgers as a tool (excuse) to keep the pupils quiet. Whispering to the children with a finger over my mouth, ‘be quiet, the badgers are sleeping, don’t wake them up’. I was able to show film of the badgers to the visiting class groups, however, later in an evening, the local Cub pack, Scouts, Beavers, Rainbows and Guides etc often saw them live. Local companies, Lions groups and the village society, gave the centre funding for some ‘camera traps’ so we were able to obtain film of the badgers in our absence. Indeed, I often felt we were pioneering some aspects of digital equipment. BBC Natural History Unit ‘eat your heart out’!

Soon I decided that we really needed an outhouse and I thought the simplest and cheapest construction to build was a straw house. However, the only place we could build it was rather too close to the Sett; about forty metres. I managed to get a local farmer to deliver and donate about50 redundant straw bales to the centre. In addition, I bought a number of iron poles and large bricks etc for stability and together with volunteers set about constructing the ‘eco’ building.  A number of infant classes carrying out a mini-beast hunt soon also used the straw hut for singing. However, the badgers had other ideas and it wasn’t singing, if you see what I mean. For those who don’t know badgers regularly bring in bedding, perhaps dried leaves and other forms of undergrowth to their Setts. They must have thought Christmas had come early! Soon great piles of straw, which became their bedding, appeared on the Sett taken from the building. Unfortunately we soon had to dismantle the straw hut as it was a safety hazard, not before I had left a camera trap inside the structure and caught one intruder ‘red handed’, or should I say ‘red pawed’! Not one of my best ideas!

The badgers circulated the village at night, probably many of them from ‘my’ sett as I used to have frequent remarks from the locals that ‘my’ badgers had visited their gardens the previous night. I remember many days when I would take a class out to the river or village and hurry past gardens and their front lawns that I had been told about (say no more!)

It seems a long time ago that I/we were in ‘badger heaven’, living the dream.

I often think back to those wonderful days.

Gary Cliffe

Committee Member

Friends of Darrick and Newstead Woods

West Kent Badger Group

Latest Bird Survey 30th November – Trevor Morgan

We have finally observed a Goldcrest on the 20th Of November; they obviously breed in the woods but we have not seen them in the leaf cover. The temperature was 5 degrees celcius but they survive much colder temperatures throughout the winter. They feed on insects: it amazes me how Britain’s smallest bird, which only weighs a few grams, can manage to survive the winter.

After dark I have been hearing tawny owls in the woods. We have not been able to record them officially yet.

On this  survey we observed two pure white domestic pigeons. There are sparrow hawks around so I hope they are able to find their way home.

The latest report is attached below:

Bird Survey as at 26 November 2018

 

We have been conducting a bird survey, mostly weekly, since 19th April 2018. We have been counting the number of birds of the species that we have seen. Three areas have been surveyed – Darrick Wood and Meadow, Newstead Wood and Meadow and Darrick Wood Hornbeam area/Broadwater Wood.

 

It should be noted that this is not a scientific survey and bird numbers cannot be accurate as birds are very mobile. We have only recorded species which we can positively identify by sight.

 

A list of bird species seen and recorded is shown below (29/30 Species):

Carrion Crow

Magpie

Jackdaw

Jay

Wood pigeon

Greater Spotted Woodpecker

Song thrush

Blackbird

Robin

Great Tit

Blue Tit

Long Tailed Tit

Marsh Tit

Starling

House/ Tree Sparrow (difficult to distinguish between the two species from a distance)

Swift

Wren

Ring Necked Parakeet

Stock Dove

Treecreeper

Nuthatch

Dunnock

Common Redstart (06 November)

A Warbler species not a blackcap (06 November) probably a chiffchaff

Goldcrest (20 November 2018)

Collared Dove (20 November 2018)

Common Gull (26 November 2018)

Domestic Pigeon (26 November 2018) pure white

Chaffinch (26 November 2018)

 

 

Birds heard on survey but not positively identified by sight (2 or 3 species)

Garden warblers, Black caps – these two species can easily be confused by song.

Chiffchaff – warbler family

 

 

Other birds reported as seen or heard by members but not recorded on survey (9 Species).

NB, some members are better at identifying birds by call rather than sight. Also some bird species such as starlings and jackdaws are capable of mimicking other bird species to the confusion of humans and the mimicked species.

 

Sparrow Hawk

Buzzard – Photo Member’s article in News Letter

Black Caps – heard

Possible sighting of Black Cap on Darrick Wood meadow during survey – too fast for positive identification.

Tawny Owl – heard and seen

Bull Finch

Mallard

Black Headed Gull

Green woodpecker

 

 

Not seen on Bird Survey but expected (2 species)

 

Green Woodpecker

Mistle Thrush

Orpington Field Club Talks Autumn 2018 and Winter 2019

Orpington Field Club – Autumn/Winter Talks – 2018/19

Five talks have been arranged for mainly the second Saturday afternoons from October to February at BEECHE, High Elms Country Park, Shire Lane, Farnborough, BR6 7JH. These will be between 1.30pm and 3.30pm giving members and visitors a chance to network! All visitors are  welcome, especially those from Bromley’s Friends Groups, Kent Wildlife Trust and Local RSPB members and anyone with an interest in natural history. Entrance is by a £3.00 donation which includes refreshments.

 

October 13th                            Kent’s Wild Year                             Simon Ginnaw

Simon makes a welcome return to show us more photographs included in his multi-media presentation.  His talk outlines his travels around Kent through the seasons looking at the county’s wildlife and landscapes.

November 17th                             20 Years of Nest-boxing                       Bob Francis

An illustrated talk about Bob’s 20 years experience of checking nest boxes of all type (Birds and Small Mammals) and being fascinated, horrified, surprised and sometimes puzzled by their contacts.

December 8th                                Urban Reserves                                    Alison Ruyter

A positive look at how nature can thrive in some of the places we least expect. The talk will be based mostly on some Kent Wildlife Trust Reserves.

2019

January 12th        A Wildlife of Yellowstone National Park        Duncan Mc Donald

Duncan gave the Orpington Field Club a talk last year on his wildlife journeys through Europe. He is now making a welcome return. He has previously worked as a Countryside Ranger for the Highland Council within the Cairngorms National Park as well as being a guide for Speyside Wildlife. His passion for wildlife and conservation has taken him across the globe. His illustrated talk this time will outline his trips to the Yellowstone National Park, USA

February 9th           The Spanish Bluebell – Menace or Misunderstood     Fred Rumsey

Fred’s talk will firstly focus on what we know about the Bluebell (Hyacinthoids – non scripta) and related species and describe the research he was involved with aimed at addressing the alarmist claims which have been made about the imminent demise of our native Bluebell and the Spanish Bluebell’s introduction and spread.