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Showing posts from January, 2016

What's over the fence?

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Whats happening over the fence?  Could it have been the continued improvements at the Hogsmill Sewage Works Nature Reserve, where  a dedicated group of volunteers were filling up the  bird feeders.
Or could it be the birds on the lagoon (that had completely frozen over after several nights of frost). It was funny to watch the birds walking on ice, which seemed much larger when their entire bodies were not half submerged.
The current large gull count is an  opportunity to practice gull identification especially for those who went to the excellent talk  at the Surbiton and District Birdwatching Society given by David Darrell-Lambert  entitled 'The Easy Way to Identify Gulls'. David is an acknowledged bird identification guru known as Birdbrain. He has had photographs published in a number of specialist journals. He has also appeared in Radio 4's
Questions, Questions, Thames News and has made appearances in the Telegraph.
So was that what was over the fence...... or might you…

Urbanisation and loss of green verges in Kingston

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Everyone has the opportunity to make amends. Under the tarmac there is a geology, a soil type, a seed bank and a memory of what used to be there. G. Greer

In the data holdings of the London Biological Records Centre, many districts in Kingston have been identified as 'areas deficiencient in green space'. Species already facing problems of urbanisation, can reach a tipping point with the continued increase of the built environment and severance of links with green spaces. This includes insects, especially the polinators and of course, many of the species that predate on insects.

For birds, the tipping point varies dependent on the 'community' they belong to: for example house sparrows have a greater tolerance to the process of 'urbanisation' than the woodland bird community. For bats the tipping point has been deemed as 60% built surface, which includes lighting. Some years ago the council   designated verges in Chessington as 'Sites of Nature Conservatio…

Manor Park Pond

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Rough Sleepers in Kingston and Murray Bookchin

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I have met many rough sleepers on areas of open space over the years, especially on Ham Lands in the neighbouring borough of Richmond. One chap lived on the lands for more than twenty years, a similar amount of time that I spent as a volunteer ranger for the council. When my Jack Russel, Dale, was alive he would make a bee line for the hidden encampment and you wouldn't see him again until he had hoovered up all of the incumbent's discarded Kentucky Fried Chicken bones.
Among the less fortunate people in residence was an  Italian man in his late fifties, who not being able to find work in his home country, decided to relocate here. He chose an area of woodland on the north side of the Lands, which floods with the rising tides. Whilst asleep one winter's night around 1997, he found himself surrounded by water. This meant that  his health was lost, along with his passport, and he ended up with a recurrent chest/lung infection, which I was concerned was TB.
Whilst most of th…

Hogsmill Wood

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This small block of woodland just to the north of Kingston by-pass called Hogsmill Wood Nature Reserve has remained locked for many years. From within it gives a different perspective on the Hogsmill river, although the recent in channel improvements can only just be seen due to the high water level.Features of interest include a  old oak trees and elder scrub with  little understorey except ivy accounting for the close canopy of the woodland.
London Wildlife Trust did negotiate a management agreement with Kingston Council many years ago. Unfortunately, little or no recent management has been carried out for wildlife and the woodland character has been harmed by the removal of mature oaks, thought to have been causing subsidence to a neighbouring property. Thames Water require access to pipework, which extends through the woodland from time to time. During our visit several species of fungi were noted especially those characteristic of elder and elm. There always seems to be roving f…

Increasing flood risk: Lower Marsh Lane

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Well the boards are down and clearance is underway on two parcels of land sold by Thames Water just before Christmas. The largest  0.44 acre plot was sold for 1.2 million with the smaller plot fetching a mere £750,000. This is before any development consent.

How easy will it be to build, given that the northern third has a covenant to prevent anything being planted on top of the sewerage pipes? The site has been woodland for many years and it is hardly surprising that woodland species, particularly badgers have drifted in from nearby areas. Woodland attenuates the flow of water, more important than ever now that the Environment Agency has updated the flood map to include Lower Marsh Lane in a zone of increased risk of flooding. Why has public land been used to store water as in the Browns Road Flood alleviation scheme (which ruined the ecology of Surbiton Fishponds) and high risk Thames Water land sold off. Development of this site could put many more of us in deep water. See previou…

Fishponds and the Green Spaces Strategy

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There were several patches of standing water on the grass at the Fishponds, which gave each group of duck its own domain.It was quite a  'wetland experience' for us and them and pleasant not to see the residents confined to the marginal ponds.

Necessary management has reduced the amount of pendulous sedge, which has been choking the waterways. Ideally the site would benefit from a  group of conservators that could undertake these tasks on a more regular basis, especially in these days of  budget restrictions.

There are a number of rare plants in the meadow, some of which were in flower or were exhibiting unseasonally well developed leaves after the warm December. There is some uncertainty as to their provenance, as the meadow was sown during the 1980's and the pepper saxifrage (shown) doesn't quite conform to type, although it was great to see it peeping through the grass in so many places.

The Green Spaces Strategy consultation is currently taking place at a library …