Nether Heyford Community Wildlife Area – February 2020

View from The Wildlife Patch

Well, 2019 ended very wet and 2020 has begun just as wet. This has meant that not much work has been done on the patch since Autumn last year. Before the rain came we did put the pond in place and fill it with water. However, there is still some tidying up to do round the pond edge and the pond needs planting ready for use by frogs etc. We will choose plants which provide habitats that attract species already known in the area or even attract new species. Although we have still to make a detailed list of what these plants will be. We will mostly use plants that are known to grow in the wild locally, then after establishing them in the pond, allow it all to develop with as little intervention as possible.

On the rest of the patch, Mary and Mark have sown most of the available ground with a wildflower and grass mixture that should form a sward similar to that which would have grown in antiquity and still exists in some parts of the county. It is hoped by doing this we we will encourage more species to make a home in Nether Heyford. There is also another plot planted with the “Cornfield Annual” mixture that was so successful in providing pollen as food for a variety insects last year.

What have we learned in 2019? One lesson for me has been to be prepared to change plans with new knowledge. For instance the original plan was to have a lot of flower rich grass that we could mow once a year as in many wildlife reserves. Our insect count demonstrated that long unmown grass with flower rich grassland easily available is much more conducive to what we want to achieve. Another surprise was when our insect recording (especially Butterflies and moths) demonstrated that southern species are colonising suitable habitat well to The North of their previous strongholds. We recorded a Jersey Tiger Moth and a Cream Spot Tiger Moth. Both are unmistakable large, showy, southern moths that are steadily moving North as our climate warms up. I logged a Dusky Sallow Moth which is a new moth to me and is similarly moving extending it’s range to the North.

The identification and recording of wild species is major part of our work on the patch and is the main way that we gauge success or otherwise of the project. This work can be very time consuming yet exciting and rewarding. Mary and Mark have done wonderful job of recording Bees, Wasps, Beetles, Flowers etc.. I have recorded a few Moths, Woodlice and Molluscs. There is still much work to be done in 2020.

We also have a target to involve local children in the project but have yet to decide on what form this work will take.

Dave Musson

Carols on the Green (December 2019) – Update – February 2020

Carols on the Green – December 2019

When I first envisaged ‘Carols on the Green’ I had a picture of villagers singing as in a Christmas card, with the weather ‘Deep and crisp and even’. At 2 o’clock in the afternoon, standing on the green, it was more like ‘Wind and rain and boggy’. The team who came to set up were incredible, completely ignored the weather and got drenched in the process. However, NEVER doubt the power of prayer as by 6.30 it had actually stopped raining and the wind was not as bad – I can’t claim that the green was perfectly dry but we can’t have everything! I would like to say a heartfelt, personal thank you to everyone who turned out to raise their voices to Christmas.

You raised £256.56p towards replacing our Church roof which, considering the conditions, was wonderful. I would also like to thank you all for leaving virtually no litter for me to pick up the next morning.

On behalf of Heyford Singers there are, as always, people who must be acknowledged for their help in the organisation of an evening such as this and I hope you will forgive me if I have missed anyone out!

The Parish Council for permission to use the green and help with insurance arrangements.
Unusual (Rigging) Ltd. for the use of power cables.
PPL PRS for a Charity Music Licence.
The Village Hall Committee for use of the Hall in the case of bad weather.
Alwyne Wilson for her co-ordinating skills.
Tony Clewett for the use of the sound equipment and being so sure it would stop
raining!
Geoff Allen for being an incomparable compere.
Peter Squire and Jeremy Rice for fixing the power cables in the rain without
electrocuting themselves (or anyone else)!
Keith Rands Allen, Jill & Mike Langrish + grandsons, Alwyne W and Tony C for
erecting the gazebo despite the wind and rain.
The Rev. Stephen Burrow for his closing prayer.
And Richard Musson for providing the collecting buckets.

I have been told that carol singing on the green used to happen in the past and I would love to hear from anyone who can tell me when this was. It would be lovely to start a new ‘ Village Tradition’ but equally exciting to carry on an old one – especially as Northampton seems to be creeping ever nearer along the A45.

Thank you all for your support; hope to see you again in December.

Mary Rice

Heyford Lodge 01327 340101

The Prattler – February 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.

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

 

 

Nether Heyford Community Wildlife Area – December 2019

View from The Wildlife Patch

Right now much of the ground on the patch is cold and very wet. The difference between the ground that has been cleared, sown or made ready to sow and that still covered in old standing grass is very clear. The latter is still relatively sheltered with a few dry places even after all of the rain we have had. There is evidence of runs made by mice and voles in this whilst the bare earth is cold, wet and exposed to all elements. It is very clear that untouched grassland is much more conducive to the bio diversity that we desire than that managed by other means.

One of the things that I noticed, at ground level in the long grass was the presence of small pieces of “bitten off” green leaf seemingly placed around the aforementioned runs. This is often evidence of Wood mouse activity. Previously named “Field mice”, these are large (for mice), brown, with whitish tummies and bulging, black eyes that look about to fall out. If you grab one by the tail it will shed the skin of the tail to get away and you will be left with just a mouse tail skin in your hand. They are relatively numerous, you will almost certainly have come across a Wood mouse at sometime.

As far as is known they are the only British mammals that place “markers” to help to find their way round. The pieces of leaf are some of these “markers”. They do use other material but green leaves are the most noticeable. In autumn a family of two parents with 4 or 5 young will live in a nest which is usually a burrow but may be anywhere warm and dry. They line the nest with dry grass etc and build up a store of grain, nuts, berries etc to keep them through the winter. My Wife has a family in her greenhouse right now that has stored an incredible amount of chestnuts. Unlike House Mice they never breed in the winter but all snuggle up as a family throughout the cold weather whilst using up their store. In Springtime parents stay together whilst the young find mates of their own. They then feed on young buds and invertebrates such as Caterpillars, Worms, Beetles etc. and start to breed again. In Spring and Summer months the broods are larger with 7 young not unusual. Populations are kept down due to a high level of predation.

As a young man I spent many winter months ploughing with tractors much smaller and slower than today’s tractors. There was usually a Kestrel or two watching the plough from a comfortable perch. There were also Carrion Crows doing the same. I often ploughed up Wood mouse families that were over wintering as described. Often alive but exposed they would run like mad to find shelter. The Kestrel would come down to pick one up, then take it to its perch to consume at leisure. A Crow would fly down. Then hop from one mouse to another, despatching each mouse with its huge bill. It would then pick them all up in one “beakfull” and fly off to eat them on the edge of the field. There must be lesson there somewhere.

Merry Christmas

Dave Musson

The Prattler – December 2019

ThePrattlerChristmasHeader

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 get in touch.

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

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

Please note that this issue covers December and January. The next issue will be available on 1 February 2020.

In the meantime, we would like to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas and a
Happy New Year.

The Prattler – November 2019

The Prattler

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 get in touch.

The Newspaper is supported by donations from the Parish Council, the Parish Church, the Baptist Church, Heyford W.I., Heyford Garden Club, Heyford Singers and Heyford Picturedrome as well as the advertisers.

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

Nether Heyford Community Wildlife Area – October 2019

View from The Wildlife Patch

The heads of Ivy in the bordering Roadside Hedge are now in full bloom and providing a bounty of nectar for a variety of insects. Right now there are several species of Wasp, Hover Fly, Bee, Butterfly and many more insects, including massive European Hornets which are really just huge Wasps. On warmer nights, nocturnal insects, especially moths will be found on the same flowers.

Elsewhere, we have cut down as much of the long grass as we are going to. This has been collected and put in heaps. One of these has a cavity underneath which will hopefully be taken up by a Hedgehog.

Grass has been cut and removed from the area where the pond will be. Most of the area exposed thus will be cut quite short and covered with spoil from pond digging. This will be planted with a wildflower /grass mixture though some will be kept as bare earth. This being essential for some solitary Bee and Wasp species.

Early in October we will sow the Cornfield Annual patch with the same mixture as the new ground and those patches now covered with plastic sheeting will be stripped bare and sown with Cornfield Annuals. The seating/picnic area will be sown with a Wildflower Lawn seed.

When the pond is in we will need to provide a barrier to keep small, unattended children from the pond. One of my Grandchildren, when younger, tried using my garden pond net as a trampoline which was not good idea. I think we will need to put a fence round the pond with a gate for access. This should be much safer.

Molehills are usually very much in evidence at this time of year. They live singly and feed mainly on a diet of Earthworms. Each mole digs series of subterranean tunnels which it “cruises” along, picking up any worms which drop into the tunnels. Earthworms migrate up and down vertically in the soil according to outside conditions. For example they go deeper in times of drought, then Moles dig their burrows at a lower level to trap them. When they dig these new tunnels they push the spoil to the surface to create Molehills.

I know that some gardeners believe moles eat vegetable roots from underground. This belief is erroneous. Moles cannot digest any form of vegetable matter, they are not rodents and just do not have the dentition to gnaw roots. Moles need to eat every few hours and dine EXCLUSIVELY on earthworms and insects. Having said that I did find a beetroot on my allotment that had been well and truly gnawed below ground underneath was what appeared to be the top end of a Mole Tunnel. A closer look at the damage showed very clearly the double tooth marks of a Rodent. This was no doubt the work of a Brown Rat which had modified a moles tunnel to burrow up to my Beet.

Dave Musson