Swift nest box scheme launches in Shamley Green
Swifts are extraordinary birds. For many their piercing call is the promise of summer’s arrival and better weather ahead. You are very likely to have heard their high-pitched calls in Shamley Green and spotted their boomerang silhouettes darting high overhead.
Sadly swift populations are rapidly declining due to a perfect storm of far fewer airborne insects, climate change, and dramatic habitat loss, resulting in their numbers halving in recent years.
But now we can help them! We can take part in The Shamley Green Swift Project, a simple initiative with an important goal: to ensure swifts can continue nesting during the breeding season, by increasing the number and density of nesting sites in Shamley Green. In short, knowledgeably putting up swift boxes in the village.
Last year, after a large-scale installation in Merrow, Sarah Davis from the Guildford Environmental Forum came to Shamley Green with volunteers from Hampshire Swifts and installed boxes under the eaves of two houses in the village. This year house sparrows have taken up residence while the swifts are flying overhead, which is good news because the swifts are likely to see the sparrows' activity and note the nesting opportunities for next year.
A swift peeking out from a nest box installed in Guildford
But it’s all about numbers and clustering of boxes, so these two installations are not going to make much difference alone.
The initial goal is to gather expressions of interest from 20 households in Shamley Green who each agree to one box for each site, or ideally two given swifts’ gregarious nature.
The Project has been given the green light for Autumn installation if this goal is reached. Wonersh and Shamley Green Primary School has already committed to installation of a bank of boxes and to engage the children in learning about the swift story to kick-start the Project.
Is Shamley Green becoming more wildlife friendly - we think so!
With the greens being mown less by the Council and everyone mowing a bit less in their gardens, Shamley Green is fast becoming a haven for wildflife.
Claire Porteous sent us her photo of this wonderful grass snake which slithered right past her feet in her garden recently, a fine looking specimen which looks like it's getting plenty to eat!
If you are lucky enough to get a photo of any local wildlife, do send it to us to share with everyone else. Thanks Claire!
The Big Butterfly Count starts on the 15th July - get your identification chart now!
Common Blue at Lords Hill
The Big Butterfly Count is a UK-wide survey aimed at helping us assess the health of our environment simply by counting the amount and type of butterflies (and some day-flying moths) we see.
It begins on Friday 15th July 2022 and will run until Sunday 7th August, and with the many more butterflies we are seeing around Shamley Green this year it should be fun to do, and it's a great opportunity to take part in valuable research. We were thrilled to see this Common Blue butterfly on Lords Hill Common last month while out recording flowers for the Wildflower Diary.
For more details and to download a brilliant chart of 15 common butterflies click here
Duck Pond Update - Water Depth Gauge Installed
After heavy rain the duck pond finally filled up in early June, ending a long period of the water level getting lower and lower, however we are still concerned about it.
To monitor the situation and assess whether or not there is a leak SGEG have installed a water depth gauge, paid for by the Parish Council. It is attached to the Duck House because a post would have risked puncturing the clay lining of the pond and encouraging seepage. It is easily readable without entering the water. It is set so that the 0.5m reading aligns with the top of the weir. The level on 13 June was 0.475m so water flow over the weir which we saw during the early June rains has now ceased. This small drop in level is consistent with an expected evaporation rate of about 3.5mm per day in a week without significant rain though there is still a small inflow to the pond. It remains to be seen whether there is significant seepage from the pond, but the current evidence suggests not. SGEG will take weekly readings from the gauge and record them, and the pupils of Longacre School are going to install a rain gauge and monitor village rainfall.
There is no easy solution to the seasonal variability of water in this pond, given the small catchment area. It would not be appropriate to fill it with tap water, given the purification chemicals used. More info about water level monitoring, the proposed management plan, thoughts on the catchment area, future works, and the Bricklayers Pond can be found on our Ponds page.
A huge thank you to our new and very knowledgeable friend Jeremy who has been an enormous help in putting together a management plan.
Two winners for the Shamley Green Fete Quiz
Lots to see on our stall at the Shamley Green Fete on 11th June, with live frogs and toads and a gorgeous colourful display of wildflowers, plus photos, maps and wildflower species lists. We had plenty of visitors keen to know more about the environment in Shamley Green, and keen to get involved.
Well done to everyone who entered the Shamley Green Environment Group Fete Quiz! Here are the correct answers and VERY WELL DONE to the winners, John Jack Ockendon and Jimmy James from Hullmead, who got 7 right. A £10 prize is waiting for each of them, so John and James please can you contact us to claim your prize.
Battling the Himalayan Balsam again
We are looking for volunteers to come and help pick some Himalayan Balsam. It is a very invasive non native plant which needs to be kept from spreading. It is rampant and offers absolutely nothing to wildlife. It prevents other plants from growing. It begins to flower early/mid July and then will be hard at work, popping and spreading its seed well into August.
We are starting off with a pick on the afternoon of 21st May on Norley Lane at 3 p.m. then will come up with other dates. 21st and 22nd June are already earmarked along with 6th July, 14th July and 17th July. If you would like to help please contact us.
The Big Plastic Count starts Monday 16th May
Naturalist and TV presenter Chris Packham is supporting the Big Plastic Count
We all do our bit to recycle, but somehow, plastic is still everywhere! Recycling alone isn’t going to solve this problem – big companies are producing too much in the first place and our recycling systems can’t cope.
But right now, nobody really knows how much plastic we’re throwing away or what happens to it once it leaves our homes… enter The Big Plastic Count.
Greenpeace has partnered with non-profit Everyday Plastic to launch this nationwide investigation into household plastic waste, to uncover the true scale of the plastic problem. Together with your help, they will gather the evidence needed to demand that the Government, big brands and supermarkets get on with making some big changes.
For one week in May, thousands of households across the UK will be counting their pots, packets, and wrappers, to really find out how much plastic we throw away and what happens to it. If you would like to take part, click here for more information and to sign up for a free counting pack.