Parish Council – May 2020 Meeting


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.


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:  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.


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

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 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 07942 674867

The Prattler – April 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.



Community Wildlife Area – March 2020

View from The Wildlife Patch

I have never really explained the underpinning belief that provides our framework for planning development of The Wildlife patch. Before Spring “springs” and there are many other subjects waiting to be aired I will now attempt to remedy this.

You will already know that as a team we seek to recreate local habitats (often “micro habitats”) that existed on this site in past times. In doing this we try to provide as many ecological niches as we can in the available area. Before doing this we consider likely species and their lifestyles. We know that each species needs its` own unique conditions in order to thrive. They need to eat and to drink, they need to be safe night and day, winter and summer and they need to perpetuate their species. Each species needs to do this without competing with other species.

We narrow our search to seeking to attract sustainable populations of insects and invertebrates. Some would ask “Why focus on these? Why not try to attract Birds or Mammals? Or a really varied flora maybe?”

The answer is that Invertebrates (insects are invertebrates) underpin the entire Ecosystem of life on Earth. Life on Earth depends on Invertebrates thriving. A recent study measured the effect of restoring neglected farm ponds. This demonstrated an increase of insects due to this restoration which led to an increase both in numbers and in species of Farmland Birds feeding nearby. They attributed this rise in birds to the rise in insects numbers stating that these creatures (invertebrates) are “at the very heart of nature’s food web) (Waterlife Magazine, Spring 2020).

We believed this when we put the wildlife pond on the site but it is gratifying to see good research supporting this belief. The same report found that active ponds can act as “insect chimneys” pouring vastly greater numbers of insects into the surrounding countryside. We decided to put our pond in as there had previously been a brook flowing alongside the patch. We could not recreate the brook so a pond is the next best thing. In addition to the pond we have piles of logs-and are hoping for more. We have a pile of dry grass mowings with a hedgehog nest box inside. It is used by something, maybe not hedgehog. We are intending to create and maintain a bare earth area for Mining Bees, maybe a sandy patch as well. We already have 4 or 5 bird boxes ready for occupation.

The area is just entering its second year as a Wildlife Patch so is still in its infancy. Necessarily we have destroyed some good habitat in creating the pond and reshaping that area generally to provide better habitat. It will be interesting to find at the end of next year if we still have our 19 species of butterfly etc. on the site. Our hope is that due to work completed in this first year the count will rise and continue to rise in following years. That will be the measure of our progress to an ideal species rich local habitat.

Dave Musson

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
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

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


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.