2015 Pond and Meadow Maintenance

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Unfortunately the 29th March, was not a very good start to the  2015 Maintenance Programme.   It was necessary to cancel the  session at the last minute due to rain and very wet soil conditions.    We were very disappointed, especially as the weather had been marvellous two weeks earlier (remember the crocus display).

One month later, 26th April, we tried again!  The weather still wasn’t ideal and the sunny  weather since the previous cancelled session had certainly had an impact on plant growth.  The problem now was, “where to begin”!

Nettles out of control

Nettles out of control

Brambles

Brambles

With only two volunteers it seemed somewhat overwhelming – we do not have much hope that the wildflowers seeds planted in October will survive the vegetation.  The nettles were dense and rapidly spreading, brambles were shooting up  everywhere and

 

Dock

dock

Hawthorn ?

Hawthorn ?

docks had scattered throughout the meadow.  We also discovered a sapling (hawthorn ?) which will have to be removed. Of course there was the usual rubbish to be removed (cans, plastic bags, fallen tree branches, etc.).

 

We removed a lot of the rubbish and decided to concentrate on a small area near the gate/platform rather than trample over the meadow as the ground was quite wet in areas.  We thoroughly removed nettles and docks (but I am sure they will be back!).  We were concerned to see the nettle roots were growing in the tarmac path and causing damage – something that will need special attention.   Removing the nettles isn’t particularly difficult, the problem is making sure all the fibrous roots are removed, but docks are harder as they have such deep tap roots that often break and will grow again.

Tansy

Tansy

Yellow Loosestrife

Yellow Loosestrife

Red Campion

Red Campion

 

 

 

 

 

Having cleared a small area we have planted some clumps of tansy and yellow loosestrife which will spread easily and red campion which should self seed everywhere (hopefully).  We did plant some last year (on the opposite side) and they seem to be surviving.

VLUU L200  / Samsung L200VLUU L200  / Samsung L200“Our resident” pair of mallard ducks and a robin were with us most of the time.  The robin was constantly collecting worms or grubs while we were weeding out the nettle roots and the mallards patrolled the pond perhaps checking out possible nesting sites?

VLUU L200  / Samsung L200 VLUU L200  / Samsung L200Our next Maintenance/Tidy up Session:

Sunday 31st May 10.30 am-1.00 pm

Look forward to seeing you.

 

 

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Pond Maintenance/Pond Dipping

VLUU L200  / Samsung L200At last we can see signs of Spring and for FOEP that means we are planning the maintenance/tidy up schedules for the pond and surrounding meadow.  It is always very difficult to say exactly what we will be doing – it depends on the weather and conditions of the soil.  But we can at least programme dates into our diaries.

We will begin our regular “last Sunday of the month” sessions on March 29th, between 10.30 am and 1.00 pm.   At the moment treading on the very wet soil would do more harm than good, especially as we planted wildflower seeds in autumn.   Hopefully there will will be improvement to the soil conditions before 29th March.   The following poster provides dates for all the sessions for 2015 (subject to weather!)

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We do hope more people will join us this year.  I really enjoy spending a couple of hours working around the pond; it’s so peaceful and relaxing and provides a wonderful opportunity to really notice the froglets, butterflies, damselflies, listen to the birds and of course, share a cup of tea and chat with friends and recall the words of  William Henry Davies’s poem“Leisure”

VLUU L200  / Samsung L200What is this life if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.
No time to stand beneath the boughs
And stare as long as sheep or cows.
No time to see, when woods we pass,
Where squirrels hide their nuts in grass.
No time to see, in broad daylight,
010oStreams full of stars, like skies at night.
No time to turn at Beauty’s glance,
And watch her feet, how they can dance.
No time to wait till her mouth can
Enrich that smile her eyes began.
A poor life this if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.

If you are able to help out, I’m afraid we do not have any gardening equipment.  We would therefore ask that you bring your own e.g. garden fork/spade, rake, secateurs, gloves and don’t forget the wellies.

VLUU L310W L313 M310W / Samsung L310W L313 M310WDuring our tidy up sessions we do try to provide Pond Dipping opportunities for anyone, Young or Older !    We can provide help and pond dipping equipment.   We also have reference material for identifying the pond creatures and meadow insects.

If you have any comments or suggestions, we would like to meet you.

 

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The Sky at Night from Eaglesfield Park

What a fantastic show watching the Leonid Meteor Shower !  images-22

The Leonids are visible for much of November with the best nights for viewing this year predicted to be 17 and 20 November.

In terms of numbers, the Leonids do not compare to the Perseids, which reach 100 meteors an hour, but it’s quality not quantity that counts here. Whereas the Perseids can often be faint, the Leonids have a reputation for brightness.

Extremely bright meteors, known as fireballs, are often associated with this shower.  These are produced by dust grains about 10 millimetres across burning up in our atmosphere.  All meteor showers result from the Earth ploughing through streams of cosmic dust, jettisoned by comets as they orbit the Sun.

images-5The Leonids originate from Comet Tempel-Tuttle, which was discovered by prolific hunter Ernst Tempel on 19 December 1865. The comet bears a second name because American astronomer Horace Parnell Tuttle independently reported it on 6 January 1866.

Around 5 billion tonnes of dust are estimated to lie in the various streams associated with Tempel-Tuttle. During this month’s meteor storm, some 10-15 tonnes of that will end up in our atmosphere to produce the shooting stars.

Tempel-Tuttle orbits the sun once every 33 years. Every time it completes another orbit, it lays a new dust stream. These go into orbit around the sun, and Earth usually hits a different one every year. Computer simulations can predict their movement and even date the year each was deposited.   People can view about 20 meteors an hour at the peak of the Leonids meteor shower.

According to Russian astronomer Mikhail Maslov, although the general peak of all the accumulated dust streams takes place on Saturday 17 November, on Tuesday 20 November Earth will encounter debris that dates from the comet’s passage of 1400.

Unknown-2The Leonids will peak on November 17 and 18 in 2015.  A waxing crescent moon means that the sky will be dark enough to easily view the shower. We suggest that observers try their luck after midnight.

 

images-4Where to view the Leonids – The Leonids can be seen by viewers from both hemispheres.  While it is not necessary to look in a particular direction to enjoy a meteor shower – just lie down on the ground and look directly above and you are bound to see some meteors. Astronomers suggest lying down on the ground and looking at the sky between the East and the point right above you to view the Leonids.

When to view the Leonids – The best time to view the Leonids is just after midnight and right before dawn. In 2015, scientists believe that observers in Asia and Middle East will have the best chance of viewing the meteor shower after midnight on November 17. Those in North and South America, Europe and Africa are expected to have a better view of the Leonids on the night of November 18.

images-8Date for your diary –  17th/18th November 2015 to see the next spectacular shower of the The Leonids from Eaglesfield Park (the second highest point in London).  Another reason why Eaglesfield Park is so unique.

It would be great to understand more about the mysteries of The Sky at Night – would anyone be willing to share their knowledge?  

I understand there are different types of meteor showers at various times of the year.  Could The Sky at Night add another dimension to FOEP activities?

 

 

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Planning Application for Bug Hotel !

 

Bug house

de luxe Bug Hotel

I’m really looking forward to the better weather so that we can start work again on the pond and meadow.  However, I have been thinking about how we could encourage more wildlife and visitor  interest and wondered if a BUG HOTEL could provide an additional attraction.  See what you think.

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Might the creation of a Bug Hotel be a great project for a youth club or a group of like-minded folk?  But everyone can help provide a safe over-winter home – see below  (Smaller Bug Dwellings ? ).

 

Why do bugs need hotels?

In natural habitats there are endless nooks and crannies where mini-beasts, properly known as invertebrates, can shelter.ladybirds_av2 Crevices in bark, holes in dead wood, piles of fallen leaves, gaps between rocks, hollow plant stems, spaces in dead logs – all these can provide a home for the myriad small creatures that need somewhere to nest or to escape from predators or bad weather. Established gardens can also provide lots of hiding places, but gardeners often like to tidy away the debris where invertebrates might live. Schools may feel pressure to keep their plots tidy and in a new garden, or one that consists of containers surrounded by hard surfaces, the amount of natural cover will be limited.

However giving Nature a helping hand by creating bug hotels,  are often interesting and attractive creations in their own right.  They also enable us to get close to all things creepy crawly (not that I like to be too close !).

The following video produced by Billow Farm provides a great example of a Bug Hotel and the enthusiasm of the “architects”, but I’m think the mouse may have been overwhelmed by the attention ! 

What makes a good bug hotel?

The best bug hotels have lots of small spaces in different shapes and sizes and made from different materials. Ideally some should be nice and dry inside, and others a bit dampish. Bug hotels are generally made from reclaimed materials, or natural objects, which reduces cost, helps them blend in with their surroundings and is probably more attractive to the mini-beast guests.

What might check in to your bug hotel?

A surprisingly wide variety of invertebrates including nesting mason bees and leaf cutter bees, woodlice hiding from the sun – and woodlice spiders hunting woodlice, earwigs hiding their babies from predators, ladybirds and lacewings hibernating over winter, beetle larvae feeding on the dead wood, funnel web spiders spinning their traps and centipedes hunting down their prey.

Where to site your habitat

Many invertebrates like cool damp conditions, so you can site your habitat in semi shade, by a hedge or under a tree. Putting the habitat close to other wildlife features, such as an overgrown hedge, a shrubbery or a pond will make it easier for small creatures to find it. Not all creatures like to be in the shade: solitary bees like a warm sunny spot, so put tubes for bees on the sunniest side of the habitat, or put them elsewhere in the garden. Choose a level, even surface: the hotel may end up fairly heavy, so will need a firm base.

The basic structure

Old pallets for the basic structure. The more you can use recycled or reclaimed materials the better. The habitat does not need to be more than 5 pallets high and can be all the same size.  If you place the bottom pallet upside down, this should create larger openings at the ends, which can be used for a hedgehog house. Although the structure should be stable, you might want to secure each pallet to the one below.

Filling the gaps

There are many different ways to fill the gaps in the structure, here are some suggestions and details of who may use them –

  • Dead wood. Dead wood is an increasingly rare habitat as we tidy our gardens, parks and amenity woodlands. It is essential for the larvae of wood-boring beetles, such as the stag beetle. It also supports many fungi, which help break down the woody material. Crevices under the bark hold centipedes and woodlice.
  • Holes for solitary bees.
    image003_Internship_project_Bor_Borren
    There are many different species of solitary bee, all are excellent pollinators. The female bee lays an egg on top of a mass of pollen at the end of a hollow tube, she then seals the entrance with a plug of mud. A long tube can hold several such cells. Hollow stems, such as old bamboo canes, or holes drilled into blocks of wood, make good homes.
  • nest sites for solitary bees. Holes of different diameters mean many
    different species can be catered for. You can make a home for solitary
    bees by collecting old canes or pieces of hollow plant stems, then
    images-9placing in a length of plastic drain-pipe or a section from a plastic drinks bottle. You can also build a wooden shelter, similar to a bird box. Solitary bees like warmth, so place your habitat in a sunny spot, perhaps on a south-fencing wall. Bees use differing ways to seal their egg chambers: look out for canes blocked with dried mud or bits of leaf.
  • Frog hole. Frogs eat many slugs and other garden pests.
  • Unknown-6Although they need a pond to breed in, they can spend most of the year out of water. We use stone and tiles as these provide the cool damp conditions amphibians need. Newts may also take advantage of these conditions. Amphibians need a frost free place to spend the winter; this could be in the centre of our habitat, inside the base of a dry-stone wall, under a pile of rubble or deep underground.
  • Straw & Hay. These provide many opportunities for invertebrates to burrow in and find safe hibernation sites.
  • Dry Leaves. More homes for a variety of invertebrates; this mimics the litter on the forest floor.
  • Loose bark. Beetles, centipedes, spiders and woodliceimages-12 all lurk beneath the decaying wood and bark. Woodlice and millipedes help to break down woody plant material. They are essential parts of the garden recycling system.
  • Crevices. Many garden invertebrates need a safe place to hibernate in through the winter. Our insect hotel has many different types of crannies and crevices that different species of invertebrate can hide in over winter.
  • images-14Lacewing homes. Lacewings and their larvae consume large numbers of aphids, as well as other garden pests. You can make a home for lacewings by rolling up a piece of corrugated cardboard and putting it in a waterproof cylinder, such as an old lemonade bottle.
  •  Ladybirds. Ladybirds and their larvae are champion aphid munchers! The adults hibernate over winter, they need dry sticks or leaves to hide in.
  •  Bumblebees. Every spring queen bumblebees search for a site to build a nest and found a new colony. An upturned flowerpot in a warm sheltered place might be used.
  •  Nectar producing plants. Plant some nectar-rich wild  flowers around your habitat and perhaps a honeysuckle to scramble through the shrubs. These provide essential food for butterflies, bees and many other flying insects.

Another Video for a super bug hotel  ….

I thought you might like to see another video produced by Horniman Museum which is a good example of how to construct a Bug Hotel and their value to the environment.

Smaller Bug Dwellings ?

images-9“A hotel or an apartment block” is wonderful, but the bugs will be attracted to the smaller “semi or detached” property and happy to take up residence – perhaps hanging in a tree, secured in a shrub, attached to a wall, or even a crevice in a wall.  The smaller bug homes are simple and quick to make.  Here are a few ideas that could be sited in gardens, or in the trees and shrubs surrounding the Eaglesfield Park pond.

1407993015531.jpg-300x0        images-18                   images-12             

images-17          images-4

 

Anyone interested ?   

 

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Top of the Hill

Water Tower

 

 

Describing the location of Eaglesfield Park is not easy.  Unless you live in the local vicinity, you may not have even heard of it.  Some people may know it as ‘the little park tucked away behind the Water Tower, just off Shooters Hill’.  Well I suppose it is !

 

 

But it’s a little gem ! 

Eaglesfield Park is an “open” park and is fully accessible to the public 24 hrs a day.
There are two distinct areas, which are divided by Eaglesfield Road.

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The lower part is managed as a Wildlife Meadow and is a great place to study insects, butterflies, wildflowers and observe birds and foxes.

 

 

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VLUU L200  / Samsung L200The upper slopes provide the more traditional recreational grassland with children’s playground, picnic benches, park benches, space for ball games, or simply a chance to relax and admire the view.

 

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However, since the creation of the wildlife pond and surrounding meadow, perhaps we can now describe Eaglesfield Park as ‘having 3 distinct areas’.  The pond has certainly become a focus for local visitors (human and wildlife).  Do you remember what it used to look like – an overgrown eyesore being used for dumping rubbish?   Few people knew a pond had ever existed.

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Eaglesfield Park is well worth a visit.  The environmental charity Keep Britain Tidy awarded Eaglesfield Park the Green Flag which recognises and rewards the best parks and open spaces across the country.

We hope you enjoy your visit to Eaglesfield Park –  walking your dog, relaxing, enjoying the views, wildlife spotting, supporting community events, pond dipping.

So where are we ?   Hope the map is helpful.  There is plenty to do at “Top of the Hill”.

Click on the map and navigate !  Then click on the “grey box with lines” in the top left-hand side of map.    This will display drop down menu.  Please note that the blue lines indicate two walking routes (A – B = Toilets/Cafe at Oxleas Wood, and A – C = Woodlands Farm)

 

And now, take a look round Eaglesfield Park 

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New Signage

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The new Interpretation Boards and Signposts have now been installed.   What do you think about them?  The new signage has been mainly paid for by the FOEP as part of the agreed programme funded by the lottery.  The “Friends” … Continue reading

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New email address

Keeping in Touch…..

Friends of Eaglesfield Park (FOEP) have a new email address:

Unknownfoepshootershill@aol.co.uk

Unfortunately we were experiencing technical difficulties with the original address and reluctantly the only solution was to open a new account.    We apologise for any inconvenience this may cause.

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Ready For Winter

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Winter Preps now complete ! Despite the cold and wet weather and only 2 volunteers, the maintenance session went ahead on Saturday 22nd November !   The Parks and Open Spaces Department had cut the meadow surrounding the wildlife pond, … Continue reading

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Waders of the Park

Continuing our maintenance programme for the Pond and surrounding Meadow ………..

VLUU L200  / Samsung L200 VLUU L200  / Samsung L200 On Sunday 26th October we began preparations for Spring 2015.  We were very disappointed that the Parks and Open Spaces Department of Royal Greenwich had not yet arranged for the surrounding meadow to be cut .  We were therefore unable to rough rake the meadow and sow wildflower seeds.

VLUU L200  / Samsung L200Hopefully the Parks and Open Spaces Department will be able to allocate staff as soon as possible.  However, with the worsening weather, and the small number of FOEP volunteers, it may not now be possible to sow the seeds before winter is upon us.

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Unable to work on the meadow, we turned our attention to the wildlife pond, but this time we were prepared!

We had FULL LENGTH WADERS !    Only two volunteers tried on the waders and “got stuck in” (thankfully not literally) thinning out pond vegetation, and two of us stayed on land clearing the meadow and collecting litter hidden in the dense growth.

Although there were only four of us, we did make a difference and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves.   The waders were a great success!    Here are a few photos/video of the team hard at work.

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So what’s next …….

Providing the weather is favourable (or at least reasonable !), we are hoping to be able to have one more session to thin out the pond vegetation. However we are not sure whether we will be able to make further progress with the meadow preparations.

The provisional date for our last session is SATURDAY 22nd NOVEMBER between 10.30 am and 12.30/1.00 pm.   If you would like to join us, it would great to see you – but please check the notice board at the Foxcroft Road entrance to the park.

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Preparing for Winter – 26th October 11am – 1 pm

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Continuing our maintenance programme, this coming Sunday – 26th October (11.00 am – 1.00 on) will be our last session for 2014. Weather permitting, and hoping the Parks and Open Spaces of Royal Greenwich have been able to cut the … Continue reading

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