The Prattler – Editors Notes – July & August 2020

Editors Note

This Prattler covers the months of July and August. The next one will be published on
September 1st by which time hopefully we will be more or less back to normal with our
clubs and activities.

Thanks are due to everyone that has helped and entertained the villages during the
lockdown. The community spirit of the Heyfords is alive and well.

Sue

The Prattler is run by an active voluntary committee comprising of Sue Boutle,
Christine Watts, Vicki Hamblin, Jez Wilson, Nick Essex, Richard Musson and
Mary Rice. If you would like to submit articles or have any suggestions for future
issues, please contact us.

The newspaper is supported by donations from the Parish Council, the Parish Church, the Baptist Church, Heyford W.I., Heyford Gardening Club, Heyford
Singers, the Bowls Club, the Village Hall and Heyford Picturedrome as well as
our advertisers.

Thanks are also due to the volunteers who distribute it every month.

Advertising in The Prattler

Advertising costs per month:
£5 for a small business card advert
£10 for a quarter page
£15 for half a page
£30 for a full page

For more information and examples of advertising visit: https://heyfordprattler.org/contact

Parish Council – June 2020 Meeting

Nether_Heyford_Parish_Council_2019

Due to government regulations prohibiting public meetings the June 1st, 2020 Parish Council meeting was held online, using the Zoom platform. This is in line with national advice and is the first interruption in public meetings in the history of this parish. At this time there is no indication of how long these conditions will persist, but it is almost certain that the next meeting will also take place online on July 6th. Realistically, it would seem unlikely that any public meetings will be held before September. The August Meeting is usually restricted to Planning and Finance. Parishioners wanting to participate in the Public Session should check the Agenda on the Public notice boards, or the Website, for the meeting ID on Zoom.

Due to difficulties experienced by Councillors unused to using the internet, a reduced number of Councillors attended the online meeting, but a quorum was achieved and was supplemented by the District and County Councillors and one Member of the Public.

The Parish Council are very grateful for the work of all the volunteers during this emergency and are proud of the community spirit that it has engendered.

Reports from the District and County Councillors. Cllr Adam Brown reported that the first meeting of the West Northants Shadow Authority would shortly take place on Zoom, with potentially 130 Councillors. This will also be on Youtube. The first meeting of the Shadow cabinet would be on June 9th, as part of the process moving towards the full authority on April 1st, 2021. NCC are expressing concern about the unexpected additional costs of the Unitaries.

Country parks and waste centres are re-opening.

Cllr Phil Bignell reported that SNC were not looking to re-open the Forum for the time- being and could not see normality returning this year.

Reports.

PCSO – reported concerns about groups of people of all ages not maintaining social distancing on the Green.

Lights – Quotes had now been received from Sparkx and Balfour Beatty, and one was expected from Aylesbury Mains. The next stage would be to apply for funding.

Roads and pavements – In poor condition, many repairs needed. Hedge near the canal bridge on Furnace Lane was overgrown. Resident to be contacted. Holes had appeared in the grass around the bungalows in Hillside Rd.

The Green and Play Area – Grass in good condition. Play area not able to be reopened as yet. Play Area had been inspected. There were no items in need of  immediate attention, but a number to monitor.

Playing Fields – In good order. Tennis courts being re-surfaced.

Trees – Some wind damage in churchyard and cemetery.

Allotments – Waiting list of 3, allotments felt to be in good order.

Footpaths – Church Lane to river had been reported as in poor/dangerous condition, but Councillors had walked it and found it in reasonable and passable condition. A tree had been felled blocking the permissive footpath from the canal to Weedon Rd.

Youth Club will remain closed until at least September. Trees had been cut down adjacent to the Youth Club.

Planning – An application for land behind Denbrook was proving controversial and a report had been put in to the Planning Dept at SNC.

Reports on effect of Covid 19 emergency – No additional report, situation much the same as last month. Although restrictions starting to be lifted, but online meetings likely to be the norm for the time-being. Large table could be removed to Youth Club to discourage gatherings.

Internal Auditor report and External Audit. The internal Auditor’s report was positive, and made some minor points that the clerk would endeavour to follow up. Council accepted the report, and agreed the annual general report for submission to the External Auditors.

Reporting Highway and Footpath Issues. The Clerk will report issues that Council is made aware of, but Council would encourage residents to use the FixMyStreet service to report issues themselves as there will then be no time lag and first-hand reports are almost always better than 2nd or 3rd hand reports. The service can be found here: www.fixmystreet.com  It is easy to use; you can have your own account and can check up on any issues you have reported.

Parish Council meetings in 2020 will continue to be on the first Monday of each month, (unless a Bank Holiday) and start at 19:30. The next one is on July 6th.

NetherHeyfordParishCouncilMay2020_List

Clerk to the Parish Council: Guy Ravine, c/o Old Dairy Farm, Upper Stowe, Weedon, Northamptonshire, NN7 4SH
Telephone: 07935 931787
Email: netherheyfordparishcouncil@gmail.com

For further useful information about Nether Heyford Parish Council and full contact details for the clerk and the Councillors please visit:

Nether Heyford Parish Council Website 

Revitalising the Allotments – July & August 2020

Revitalising the allotments

Sharing

I was pleased to report, in last month’s edition of the Prattler, that allotment holders had been generously sharing their surplus plants with other allotment holders. That has continued throughout June with more and more excess being offered. What a generous group of people we have in our growing community. I am sure that when excess produce is forthcoming later in the season, there will be fruit and veg to hand out too. I won’t even attempt to guess how many oversized courgette’s are likely to appear! An old wheelbarrow now sits proudly in the picnic area and hopefully by the time this article goes to print, there will be a sign attached directing you to place all surplus items there.

It has been encouraging to see more and more villagers making use of the picnic area. It is a tranquil place to sit and while away some time.

We are also encouraging people to visit our community flower patch (clearly signposted) and, if they so wish, help themselves to some cut flowers. Cutting carefully should enable everyone to have a bunch – so bring a pair of scissors or secateurs. Sweet peas benefit especially from regular cutting and will continue to flower all season if that happens. Later in the year we are hopeful that we may have sufficient soft fruit to offer to you as well. Just keep an eye on the notice boards at the entrances to the allotments and on the large shed in the middle of the site.

A spare watering can be found by the sweet pea wigwam, so if you are cutting flowers you might also give the plants in that area a drink. Every little helps.

Links to the past

We were very pleased to accept a donation of old tools from two allotment holders who found them at the back of their parents’ garden shed. They’d once rented an allotment in the village and it was wonderful to think that the tools were “coming home” and again being put to use. If you are a new allotmenteer or just want to make use of some unusual hoes and hand cultivators, let us know. They are stored in the community shed and available to borrow.

If you too have any unwanted garden tools let us know; someone can probably
make good use of them.

Wildlife

One of the joys of working on the allotments is the amount of wildlife you see. Even if we do seem to spend a lot of time and effort protecting crops from greedy pigeons and butterflies anxious to lay their eggs on our tasty greens, the benefits from creating a rich and diverse eco-system far outweigh any small loss of produce. It has been wonderful to see more and more people visiting the allotment wildlife area, created and curated by Dave and Pauline Musson and Mark and Mary Newstead.

An indication of the richness of our eco-system has been the presence of more frogs, toads and hedgehogs on the allotment. They are beneficial visitors to allotments and gardens, hoovering up large quantities of slugs and snails. A note of caution however: try to avoid using larger gauge netting to protect crops as it can snag and trap hedgehogs. One conscientious allotment holder recently spent an hour disentangling one of our prickly friends from a piece of netting before taking him off to the vet! I am pleased to report that the hedgehog made a full recovery and when set free, limped off across the allotment site to find more slimy treats for dinner.

Equipment
A range of equipment is available for allotment holders to borrow when working on the allotment site; this includes mowers, rotavators, wheelbarrows, brooms and watering cans. Many people will own some or all of the above, but for those who wish to get access to such equipment, please contact Bill Corner (sue.corner@sky.com 01327 342124), Lynda Eales (01327 341707) or Mike Langrish langrish_heyford@hotmail.com 01327341390). We can ensure that you get the equipment you require at a mutually convenient time.

Allotment Holders
If you are considering growing your own fruit and veg, act quickly by contacting Sue Corner on 01327 342124 or Lynda Eales on 01327 341707.

Mike Langrish 

I believe in the life enhancing virtues of
pure earth, clean air and blue sky.
Octavia Hill – founder of the National Trust

Community Wildlife Area – July & August 2020

View from The Wildlife Patch

Dytiscus marginalis (Great Diving Beetle) is a large and voracious predator of underwater life in both larval and adult stages.

Pauline and myself were watching life in the pond and spotted a Newt trying to shake off something that had a hold of its neck. When the newt eventually managed to shake it off, we could see it was a nearly full grown larvae of the above species. At around 50mm long it was maybe half the length of the newt. As we watched it became evident that there were a number of these larvae who were mostly attacking tadpoles but would try for anything that was moving underwater. Always grabbing from underneath with strong jaws around the neck area. I was watching the pond with Mark and watched one of these larva rise from the shallows to grab a good sized tadpole then swim across the surface to hide, with it’s prey under a lilly leaf, no doubt to consume it’s prey out of sight. That pond may look peaceful but underwater it’s a “proper jungle”.

My own first experience of this beetle was when at the age of about 7 years I caught a adult whilst collecting frog spawn. I put it on an old white enamel bowl along with the spawn. By the next morning the beetle had eaten around half of the centres from my Frog spawn. I remember it well as I told my parents that it was eating the yolks and leaving the whites of the eggs. Both adults and larva of Dytiscus are said to deliver a painful bite. Mine did not bite me despite much handling.

On the rest of the patch Mary found and photographed a lovely Scarlet Tiger Moth. This is another large, showy moth that is gradually moving its territory Northward. We found one there last year so could have a breeding population of these. We would love to find Garden Tiger Moths there. Their larvae are the once common Woolly Bears that people over a certain age remember from their youth. They have sadly declined drastically -possibly due our warmer winters. I have not found a Garden Tiger or a Woolly Bear since moving back to England in 2015.

Despite the drought we are seeing some fruits from earlier sowings. New species of Grass, Yellow Rattle (which could be important to our plans) and other plants are gradually showing their heads. Unexpectedly, a few specimens of Night Flowering Catchfly are growing on last years “Annuals Patch”. This is member of the Campion family that was introduced to the UK sometime in the past. It looks quite insignificant in daytime but comes into it’s own when the sun sets, showing intense, almost luminescent, white blooms that fade with the dawn. Undersides of leaves and stems are covered with sticky hairs, hence the name “Catchfly”. We did not knowingly sow this plant and did not see it last year last year. It is an annual and very easily overlooked in daylight hours so it may well have been among the Wildflower Annuals planted last year.

Dave Musson

Davemusson073@gmail.com 07942 674867

 

The Prattler – June 2020

The Prattler is run by an active voluntary committee comprising of Sue Boutle,
Christine Watts, Vicki Hamblin, Jez Wilson, Nick Essex, Richard Musson and
Mary Rice. If you would like to submit articles or have any suggestions for future
issues, please contact us.

The newspaper is supported by donations from the Parish Council, the Parish Church, the Baptist Church, Heyford W.I., Heyford Gardening Club, Heyford
Singers, the Bowls Club, the Village Hall and Heyford Picturedrome as well as
our advertisers.

Thanks are also due to the volunteers who distribute it every month.

 

Community Wildlife Area – June 2020

View from The Wildlife Patch

It’s hard to believe that the year is nearly halfway over. I am still waiting for the spring rains to bring the Patch into life. Of the wild plant mixtures sown, some seeds have germinated but many are still awaiting the right conditions before raising their little green heads. This is a bit disappointing but not a disaster by any means. These are wild plant seeds and adapted to survival in adverse conditions. They will come up sooner or later, sometimes after laying dormant for years.

The pond now has its full compliment of plants and is looking good. Tadpoles are growing and the Smooth Newts are eating tadpoles and laying eggs which will duly develop into “Newtpoles” which are like frog tadpoles but a bit slimmer with external gills. My Wife Pauline, and I were there today removing blanket weed which is a type of algae. It is surprising how many invertebrates are in the pond already. Many like the Great pond snails and Water hog lice – a close relative of Woodlice – and others will have been introduced with the plants. Some insects including several Water Beetle species, Pond Skaters and Water Boatmen have flown in attracted by the sight and smell of the pond.

Whilst we were there, Dragonflies and Damselflies were landing on the water plants. These lovely insects must surely be familiar to everyone. Dragonflies are the large, often huge and colourful four winged insects that sometimes visit gardens, especially if there is garden pond around. Damselflies include the smaller, often brilliant coloured insects that look a bit like bits of blue of green straw floating on air around water margins. There are also larger, often blue bodied damselflies that often have a black band on their wings. These latter are often in abundance on the River Nene in the height of summer. It’s safe to say that Damselflies rest with their wings along the back in parallel with the body, whereas Dragonflies rest with their wings sticking out, often at a right angle to the body also Dragonflies are usually larger.

Both groups are carnivorous in all active stages of development. Dragonflies patrol a “beat” catching insects on the wing whilst damselflies mostly catch smaller prey by sitting on a fixed object and rising to catch small flies etc. All lay eggs in water or on plants above water. I remember watching one of the banded Damselfly species at an old stone quarry in South Warwickshire. They flew joined in pairs. Both would land on a rush sticking out of maybe 4 feet of water. We could watch the female in the crystal water, as she descended the rush stem to it’s base, then deposit an egg there whilst the male waited, sometimes flying a short distance before returning to collect the female as she reached the surface to repeat the process on another stem. Maybe we will eventually see this in our pond. All have highly predatory larvae that develop underwater often taking years according to the species. Some Damselflies were seen last year laying on plants in the area where the pool now sits. Maybe they had a premonition.

Dave Musson

Davemusson073@gmail.com 07942 674867

 

Parish Council – May 2020 Meeting

Nether_Heyford_Parish_Council_2019

Due to government regulations prohibiting public meetings the May 4th, 2020 Parish Council meeting was held online, using the Zoom platform. This is in line with national advice and is the first interruption in public meetings in the history of this parish. At this time there is no indication of how long these conditions will persist, but it is almost certain that the next meeting, will also take place online on June 1st. Parishioners wanting to participate in the Public Session should check the Agenda on the Public notice boards or the Website for the meeting ID on Zoom.

Due to difficulties experienced by Councillors unused to using the internet, a reduced number of Councillors attended the online meeting, but a quorum was achieved and was supplemented by the District and County Councillors and one Member of the Public.

The May meeting is the Annual Meeting of the Council at which the Chair is elected, and councillors’ responsibilities apportioned.

Election of Chairman & Declaration of Acceptance of Office. Charles Kiloh elected as chair.

Election of Vice Chairman and Acceptance of office Lesley Dilkes elected as vice – chair.

NetherHeyfordParishCouncilMay2020

Public Question Time Jez Wilson reported on volunteer activities during the emergency, and wondered whether councillors were happy with the website. Councillors thanked him for his efforts with food parcels etc during the last months.

Cllr Adam Brown reported that NCC were looking to re-open tips. He reported a tremendous response to the coronavirus all round, but 200 plus deaths. There had been a severe impact on NCC Finances that they would look to central government for help. On Local Government Reorganisation the first meetings of the Shadow authorities were due to take place. Highway repairs were still being carried out.

Cllr Dave Harries reported that SNC finances had been in good order; but that the Emergency had severely affected all Council incomes and felt central government would have to plug these revenue holes. He expressed concern for Councils who were less well placed.

Cllr Phil Bignell reported that the first virtual Planning meetings had taken place, and re-iterated that no site visits could take place. He encouraged applicants to send photographs with applications.

Annual Parish Meeting. There had been no Annual Parish Meeting due to the Covid 19 Emergency and the meeting was postponed until the situation improved.

Reports. Lights AW reported that it was hoped that quotes from Aylesbury Mains and Balfour Beatty would be forthcoming. AW had consulted the latter regarding “Smart Management” but it was not felt that this would be cost effective in such a small lighting system. NHB scheme had been reopened. DH cautioned that the wording on an application would need to be carefully considered.

Roads and pavements. It was noted that repairs were still being carried out, but that some areas such as Hillside Road were in very poor condition and were not being attended to.

The Green and Play Area Inspection due. The Play Area was still locked up, but it was felt that the inspection should go ahead. CK continued to do weekly inspections.

Allotments Allotments were felt to be in the best condition for years. There were no empty plots now. LE commended DM for work on the wildlife area.

Footpaths Felt to be in reasonable condition; apart from the section between Church lane and the river footbridge which had subsided and was felt to be dangerous.

Churchyard Tree work has had to be paused.

Joint Burial Board There had been complaints about the grass and foliage in the cemetery. CK would check this.

Covid 19 Emergency reports Leaflets had been delivered. It was reported that food parcel distribution was proceeding well and now included Upper Heyford. Medications from Bugbrooke surgery were now routinely delivered. It was felt that village volunteers were on top of the situation. Councillors thanked Jez Wilson and Faye Brassett for their efforts.

Internal and External Audit Clerk reported that the AGAR forms had been received from the External Auditor PKF late because of the Emergency, and that the Internal Audit would take place remotely. It was hoped to keep within the standard timeframe, although deadlines had been relaxed.

Further Grant Funding for Church Roof In light of NCALC advice, the Chair felt that further contributions should not be made; as Council had been advised that it was unclear whether such donations could, or should, be made to a religious organisation. Council were, however, obliged to take responsibility for the Churchyard, and there was a power enabling them to pay for the upkeep of the church Clock.

Reporting Highway and Footpath Issues. The Clerk will report issues that Council is made aware of, but Council would encourage residents to use the FixMyStreet service to report issues themselves as there will then be no time lag and first-hand reports are almost always better than 2nd or 3rd hand reports. The service can be found here: www.fixmystreet.com  It is easy to use; you can have your own account and can check up on any issues you have reported.

Parish Council meetings in 2020 will continue to be on the first Monday of each month, (unless a Bank Holiday) and start at 19:30. The next one is on June 1st.

NetherHeyfordParishCouncilMay2020_List

Clerk to the Parish Council: Guy Ravine, c/o Old Dairy Farm, Upper Stowe, Weedon, Northamptonshire, NN7 4SH
Telephone: 07935 931787
Email: netherheyfordparishcouncil@gmail.com

For further useful information about Nether Heyford Parish Council and full contact details for the clerk and the Councillors please visit:

Nether Heyford Parish Council Website 

The Prattler – May 2020

The Prattler is run by an active voluntary committee comprising of Sue Boutle,
Christine Watts, Vicki Hamblin, Jez Wilson, Nick Essex, Richard Musson and
Mary Rice. If you would like to submit articles or have any suggestions for future
issues, please contact us.

The newspaper is supported by donations from the Parish Council, the Parish Church, the Baptist Church, Heyford W.I., Heyford Gardening Club, Heyford
Singers, the Bowls Club, the Village Hall and Heyford Picturedrome as well as
our advertisers.

We have also recently received a grant from the One Stop Shop to help with
printing costs over the next few months.

Thanks are also due to the volunteers who distribute it every month.One_Stop

 

Community Wildlife Area – May 2020

View from The Wildlife Patch

2020 is proving to be a strange year in the Musson Household. We are all “locked down” and somehow, time seems to standing still whilst we wait for life to return to “normal”. Regardless of personal feelings the year is moving on quite rapidly. On “The Wildlife Patch” grass is growing slowly. The Seed mixtures that were chose with care and sown in anticipation are looking a bit sparse and patchy. Maybe now that we have had a ½ day of rain, a bit of warm sun will bring them on a bit.

With early butterflies in evidence I realised that I did not have decent photo of a Male Brimstone Butterfly. -The common name comes from the old name for Sulphur, alluding to the yellow colour of the male. These large, leaf winged, pale yellow/green butterflies can be seen visiting flowers from early April till middle or late May. Females are white with similar, leaf shaped wings. They emerge later in the season than males and can still be on the wing in early June. These Females can be mistaken for Large White (Cabbage) Butterfly to which they are not related. To my mind Brimstones are one of our most beautiful butterflies. There is something very special about the delicate leaf shape and colour, especially the underwing which even has an imperfection by way of a small spot on this “leaf”. Really, this is winter camouflage which enables them to hibernate whilst clinging to the underside of Ivy leaf clusters unseen. If you want to find one hibernating, you will need to take a torch to Ivy plants on a winter night. If you shine your torch on the underside of the Ivy leaves, the butterfly’s wings will reflect the torchlight whilst Ivy leaves stay dull.

Eggs are laid on Buckthorn (which we have in the Watery Lane Hedge). The Caterpillars grow quite large and lie along the centre of the food plant leaf. They are almost impossible to see as the colouration gives the effect that the larva is no more than a bit of extra shadow along the leaf midrib. We have both Buckthorn and Ivy on the wildlife patch so as long as early spring flowers persist we should have Brimstones for a long time. To go back to my photo, I found a really large Brimstone male, lined my shot up and pressed the shutter button. That is when the camera auto focus failed so I still need decent picture of my favourite butterfly.

Elsewhere, the Wildlife Pond is looking good; plants are being added as they turn up on walks or from donations from garden ponds. (no visiting aqua culture centres this year). We have bought some oxygenators and one Lily online which should arrive in May and some money was donated which was used to buy two marsh marigold plants. There are Tadpoles of Common Frog in the pond. These are preyed on by water Boatmen. There is also large round version of Water boatman. This is a species that usually lives in white water rapids (must have got lost). This one swims manically around and also catches tadpoles. We also have a few Pond skaters and some Whirligig Beetles that have flown in. If you have never seen this latter just go to the pond where it will swiftly become evident where they get their common name.

Dave Musson

Davemusson073@gmail.com 07942 674867

Community Wildlife Area – April 2020

View from The Wildlife Patch

I was looking round the patch today. It is wet, cold and at first sight inhospitable. Yet there is lots going on really.

We have 4 Blue Tit boxes on the patch and at least one is occupied. The prospective occupants were twittering angrily at me as I took a close look at the box. This indicates they have decided to take up residence there again. These Birds almost entirely depend on the larvae of the Winter Moth (Operophtera brumata).

This moth is an interesting species in itself. The sexes differ in that only males have wings, the females being entirely flightless. As the name would suggest adults are only active in winter having developed means of generating heat from inside their bodies. The female hatches from the pupae in Late Autumn/Early Winter. She emits a Pheromone (aerial hormone) which wafts through the cool air to attract an eager male. After mating she lays eggs at the base of the buds of many species of deciduous trees. The Larvae hatch in early spring. They feed first in the expanding buds, then on the leaves of the same plant. They pupate in Late May to hatch in Late Autumn. These are the Small Green Caterpillars that are often seen hanging from mature trees and shrubs in Late Spring.

Being unable to fly could mean that these would struggle to distribute their species to new locations and areas. These caterpillars overcome this by a means of Aerial distribution. They let out a silk thread from their tail end. When this becomes long enough to be caught by a breeze, the caterpillar lets go of earth to fly as if on a parachute. Of course they have no means of steering or governing height but it works for them.

Many species of invertebrates use this form of Aerial distribution. Spiders, mites as well as Lepidoptera all “fly” in this manner. So many in fact that different species accumulate in the air to form a sort of “Ariel Plankton”. A reduction in the volume of this Plankton Layer must surely be a factor in the shortage of Swallows, Swifts etc. we are experiencing today.

Now back to Blue Tits. In Late Winter/ Early spring these birds can be seen in parties of 6 or more pecking at the Buds of deciduous trees. When they do this they are thought to be searching for Winter Moth Eggs. It is believed that the amount of eggs consumed by the birds has an effect on the amount of eggs the Tits lay in that the more moth eggs the birds eat, the more eggs the birds lay. Moreover, it is thought that Blue Tits are so closely tied in with Winter Moths that they react to a substance in the developing Moth egg that stimulates the birds breeding behaviour. This enables the birds to have an abundant source of food timed to feed the hatchlings at the right time.

One more thing. If anyone fancies making a couple of Hedgehog Hotels (plans on the internet) we can find good home for them on The Patch.

Dave Musson

Davemusson073@gmail.com 07942 674867