Here is the second in our occasional series attempting to de-mystify the jargon surrounding conservation.Continue reading “Habitat loss”
Most birds can’t create pigments, other than melanin, on their own. This bluetit, high in the park’s canopy, can’t produce the pigment, carotene, that makes his tummy yellow; it comes from pigments in the green caterpillars he eats. The more caterpillars he eats and the brighter his tummy, the more likely he is to attract a mate.
Header picture by DKG; others CC0 from pixabay
Auricularia auricula-judae is one of the few fungi that produces fruiting bodies all year round. Winter hardly seems to trouble it and we found these specimens in the strip of wood between Lambrok Meadow and Kestrel Field, in the second week of January with the early sunshine just beginning to melt the frost that had covered them overnight.Continue reading “Wood ear”
First work party of the year
by DKGContinue reading
More about our oaks.Continue reading “Oak gall ink”
Who does this? Who wraps their dog’s faeces up in a green plastic bag and then throws it into the trees next to the path alongside Lambrok Meadow? There are bins specifically for dogs’ faeces at each end of that stretch of path and a bin for general rubbish somewhere in the middle.
What do they think will happen to their dangling green bag of poop? Who do they think clears it up? The Friends of SCP clear it up; that’s who.
We should be braver; all of us should be brave enough to say something when we see fellow park users do stuff like this. We should be polite and non-confrontational and, for the sake of the park, we should ask people to clean up properly after their dogs.
By Ian Bushell.
Southwick Country Park has a number of veteran oaks and one identified ancient oak, but what is a veteran or ancient oak? There are no hard and fast rules; in different environments and soils oaks grow at different rates. Here the underlying Oxford clay provides an excellent medium and the trees are large. One criterion for assessing veteran trees is those with a girth of 3.2 m are considered of potential interest, and those with a girth of 4.7 m as being valuable in terms of conservation.Continue reading “The Park’s Old Oaks”
By David Feather
A newish hazard for dogs is Alabama Rot Disease which is caught from walking in muddy woody areas. Not a lot appears to be known about it, but it is a very dangerous disease that can lead to kidney failure.Continue reading “Check your dog after a walk”
“It is that range of biodiversity that we must care for – the whole thing – rather than just one or two stars.” David Attenborough
Our park doesn’t have snow leopards or white rhinos. Our rarities are small and fragile: water voles, pondweeds, dragonflies zipping past so suddenly they make you jump, a visiting marsh tit, a linnet singing in the trees, little bottom-feeding fish. Then there are the hundreds of flowering plants, thousands of invertebrates and probably tens of thousands of species of fungi hidden away where we can’t see them.Continue reading “The whole thing”
Swan mussels have growth rings on their shells, inside and out, and you can tell a mussel’s age by counting the rings, just like counting the growth rings in a tree trunk.
We have asked the police to help us to reduce vandalism in the park in 2019. PCSO Melissa Glover and Community Policing Team 5 are collecting intelligence. If you have information that you think will help or see anything in the park that you know shouldn’t be happening , please contact her or her team. The contact details are below:
Conservation is full of jargon, full of words and phrases that sound good, as if you really did know what you were talking about know. We all do it and we do it to save ourselves the trouble of finding out stuff.
FoSCP is going to begin 2019 with some eco-definitions. We’ll start here with habitat fragmentation, a serious problem for British wildlife in its intensely farmed and increasingly built-up environment, a particular problem for the park’s Odonata and water voles.Continue reading “Habitat fragmentation”
The life cycle of a swan mussel (Anodonta cygnea) is extraordinary, a real illustration of the complexity of the park’s freshwater ecosystem, and the reason for the picture of a little shoal of three -spined sticklebacks . . .Continue reading “Life cycle of a swan mussel”
Our willow warblers are among the park’s smallest birds; at 8.7 grams, they are only half the size of a robin. Their migration route, though, is the longest of any of the park’s birds: over 8,000km all the way to sub-Saharan Africa, an astonishing feat of endurance, and in April they will come all the way back to the park.
by keithwlarson (CC BY-SA 3.0)
Another migrator from the spring of 2018:
The Chiffchaffs are back
Water voles and their burrows are fully protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act but Natural England can grant developers a licence that permits disturbance. In fact disturbance is the very name of the game; the licence allows vegetation to be removed from up to 50 metres of bank in order to drive water voles from areas where development is planned.Continue reading “New research on water voles”
Back from our Christmas break with an interesting tidbit of scientific discovery from 2018.Continue reading “Migration”
Many of our little songbirds abandon their territories in the winter and flock, sometimes in large numbers; but not the robin. Robins stick to and defend their territories right through the winter and their winter song is part of that defence.
Singing in winter is a high risk strategy. It uses a lot of energy when food resources are low but hanging on to a good territory right through the winter gives a robin an advantage in the spring when the breeding season begins. His winter song is shorter, quieter and altogther smaller than it will be come the spring.
Header photograph by Suzanne Humphries
We are posting the first part of our comment on RPS’s Preliminary Ecological Appraisal (PEA) of the Church Lane Site for two reasons: firstly the PEA seems particularly ill-informed about the park, the Lambrok and dismissive of their ecological importance; secondly, so that anybody who might like to comment before the public consultation ends on Dec 21st can use any of our data.
The FoSP volunteers met in the car park at 09:30 for what was to be the last get together for 2018. The weather was on our side with some sunshine and just a gentle but chilly breeze.Continue reading “Wednesday Work Party Report (12th Dec 2018)”
Our Famous Tree
A message from DKG
“Just to let you know, my photo of the lone oak with the cloud halo above it was shown on the BBC Weather report this morning”
The deadline for comments on RPS’s planning application 18/10035/OUT has been extended from the 14th to the 21st of December. The application had not been properly advertised at the beginning of the consultation period.
FoSCP feels strongly that development on this site will damage Lambrok Stream. There are protected and vulnerable species in the park that live or breed or feed in the Lambrok. If you feel the same way, please comment on Wiltshire Council’s planning website.
Joan and Patrick Jones are the chairman and treasurer of the Friends of Southwick Park. They emailed us:
To all of the Country Park Team and all the wonderful extra helpers.
Joan and I would just like to extend our very biggest thanks to all concerned for the marvellous work that you performed on Sunday. We pulled in to the Country Parkon our way back today and were astounded by the amount and quality of the work you had done. Talk about “Dog poo fairies,” we reckon it was the action of “CAR PARK SUPER HEROES”.
Thank you all so much and we promise to be with you in March. See you Wednesday.
Joan and Patrick
This is tree number 5552: an old pollarded oak standing in the eastern-most corner of Sleeper Field.
by DKG and Ian B
Today saw the FoSCP volunteers giving up their Sunday lie-in to turn out at eight o’clock in the morning to fill the potholes in the car park. The early start was intended to keep disruption to the park users to a minimum and we apologise for the inconvenience
FoSCP now has a phone number for text and voicemail.
Use it to report litter, things broken or damaged, and abandoned or dumped; the phone will be checked daily by one of our volunteers.
Continue to report antisocial behaviour to the police; their contact details are in the menu.
A gallery of winter colour by DKG: