Showing posts from July, 2017

Oil drilling and fracking in the Surrey Hills

'Having been harrassd by too much thinking and too many trivial engagements, and an employment that I shall never like, I determined that I would respire one mouthfull of real country air if possible and I know at the same time that pollution of smoke reaches ten miles round the Metropolis. I had heard much of Leithe Hills and of Box Hill in the neighbourhood of Dorking. . . . Remember that I am no Welshman, therefore to me these Hills are Cader Idris's and Snowdens.— (The Letters of Robert Bloomfield: to George Bloomfield, 17 April 1803)'. John Clare's Swaddywell  Landyke Trust So I wonder what his friend and defender of the environment, John Clare, would have made of the current plans for oil drilling at Leith Hill; that threaten archeological and wildlife features alike. Some of the ancient droves and sunken lanes will be destroyed by vehicular movements and current wisdom suggests that oil drilling carries the same risk of water contamination as does frac

Eels in the Hogsmill river

  Electrofishing eels     River levels are lowering, which in summer can mean that so are  levels of dissolved oxygen.  Dead fish were found last week (5.7.17) although it takes a lot to kill an eel; so the Environment Agency were informed when this one was located near Knights Park, near to the university campus. There were a abrasions on the skin but otherwise it seemed in good shape.     Skin lesions on eel R. Hogsmill     A virus known as HVA- a type of eel herpes- can lead to lethargy and necrosis of the gills and other organs. It may be spread by the addition of pet 'goldfish' into the Hogsmill, which have been reported upstream and downstream of this location (use the search box). Last November, while  electrofishing in the Hogsmill, the EA took cell samples from an eel displaying symptoms, or spots, which turned out to test positive for HVA. Also added to the Hogsmill are a number of terrapins and the one below was seen basking on a log - along with some Chines

Bats and lighting

Brown Long Eared bat photo S. Sivanesan This brown long-eared bat (Plecotus auritus) is one of the bats brought into care last year as it weighed only 4g - half optimum. We still have a small population of this species along the Thames, due to the  ideal habitat provided at Home and Bushy Park Site of Special  Scientific Interest. Plecotus bats are light - shy,  along with the genus Myotis (Daubenton's bats)  and are at a competative disadvantage with those bat species, which fly and foragage over more open habitats. This means that they are special in London. Recently, Richmond Council placed 20 cowls onto the the luminiares overlooking the Wick Pond to reduce the light spillage onto the water. We are not so lucky in Kingston, where development along the river has led to light pollution noticeably reducing the number of bat (and other nocturnal) species -and their abundance- routinely recorded along the Thames at Canbury Gardens and Queens Promenade, where much of t

Tolworth Area Plan

see Tolworth Area Plan         I was disappointed in a number of inaccuracies in the Tolworth Area Plan consultation, as seen at Tolworth Community Library (13.6.17).  After showing these flaws to the consultants at the time, I expected to see them corrected in the on-line version. A large area of the 'green' shown within the boundary already has development  planned and by not including this as brown land, makes it  appear as if Tolworth could 'afford' to lose some of its open space to yet more development, such as Crossrail; as the first item in the Guiding Principles (see left) it rather biases the consultation. Another unfortunate omission is the Tolworth Apple Store at Riverhill - a publicly owned 19th  century building- that could provide the focal point for a rich narrative about the orchard heritage that exists in the area; linking current small-holdings, farms and former large estates such as Gosbury Hill to Chessington Hall, with its former fruit growing

Harp Trapping east and west lagoons Hogsmill Sewage Works 23.6.17

East Lagoon West lagoon   Two teams of ten participants spent the night of 23.6.17,  harp trapping bats, as part of the National Nathusius' Pipistrelle project. We surveyed five sites last year and intend to  cover a similar number of local water bodies this year; starting at two lakes at different locations across the Hogsmill Sewage Works.  The eastern lagoon forms part of the nature reserve, which is open to the public (on obtaining the code from Kristine Boudreau, Hogmill Reserve Manager :     Recently a second bird hide has been installed and lower water levels and habitat improvements have provided plenty to watch and listen, including a cettis warbler. The reserve is rarely seen at night so although  small numbers of swifts and house martins breed locally along Chiltern Drive, we were surprised to see ~100 swifts feeding well after sunset.       Both traps caught Daubenton's bats - see the characteristic hairy fe

Kingston Wildlife Day Tolworth Court Farm Moated Manor

  Last Saturday Kingston Wildlife Day  was attended by almost 100 people. First on the scene were participants on a Duke of Edingburgh Award Scheme (left) who helped make sure the paths were in order for our visitors. In combination with Kingston University, there were regular walks  looking at the wildife interest; including coils of slow worms under the mats at the sports field.   The barbeque, was deliciously crafted by Tariq, especially the baked bananas and ice cream. The  bird walk provided information on  three recently - fledged kestrels that have bred in the barn this year. Children were shown the disused nest of a song thrush, which requires a lining of mud; wet mud is available at the nearby pond. During all the walks clouds of butterflies were noted, included the marbled white but also gatekeeper, small copper, red admiral, comma etc.   At the end of the day there was a walk to the Tolworth Apple Store, almost invisible now as the oak canopy shields