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News Spring 2023

Bird Watching update spring 2023

Summer visitors

The Shamley Green Bird Watching Group had an outing around Westlands Farm and the Wey & Arun canal at Birtley and Fanesbridge on Wednesday 5th April, hoping to see a few summer visitors.  We saw kestrels, red tailed kites and heron but only one probable summer visitor - a warbler but it was a gloomy evening and it would not sing for us so remains a willow warbler or chiffchaff. Overall we were disappointed with a small number of birds on view. But swallows had been reported over Westlands Farm earlier in the day.  We look forward to hearing the cuckoo and welcoming other summer birds.

Escapees

We did see a pair of mandarin ducks on the Wey & Arun canal at Birtley. These are colourful birds easily identified with unusual, upturned orange feathers on the back of the male.  They are native in Asia and collectors brought them to England in the early nineteenth century.  Some either escaped or were let go and have gradually spread across the British Isles.

A pair of mandarin ducks

A lot of our wildlife has been introduced over the centuries and gradually has been accepted as part of our fauna.  Another colourful but more invasive escapee is the Egyptian goose, held as sacred by the Ancient Egyptians.  Pairs are often seen on Westland Farm.

For lists of all the birds we have seen in and around Shamley Green since 2021 click here, and don't forget to contact us to share your own photos of local birds.

New Trees in Shamley Green

You may have noticed this line of new trees on Duck Pond green alternating with the big horse chestnuts there. Unfortunately the horse chestnuts are unhealthy and will sooner or later become dangerous if they start shedding branches etc. so they will have to be felled in the next few years, and in fact one has been cut down already.

What to replace them with was a tricky question: we needed to find something to cope with frequent waterlogging, but also possible drought and high temperatures as we had in 2022 and will doubtless have again with the changing climate. The species we decided on in the end, with advice from the Waverley Borough Tree Officer and endorsed by the Parish Council, was a hybrid ‘Rebona’ Elm. These should be an ideal replacement visually for the felled trees.

The Rebona elm’s parents are the Japanese elm Ulmus davidiana var. japonica and the Siberian elm Ulmus pumila. It has proved to be a very successful street tree in Europe, and is highly resistant to Dutch Elm Disease which has all but wiped out our UK population of elms. Not only that, Rebona is also heat tolerant, it’s wind resistant and it has proven to be resistant to flooding, so a good choice to resist climate change!

We are very grateful to the local residents who have funded these trees, and to others who have donated the new trees on the greens of Hullmead and Lords Hill. All of these very generous donors have paid through the Wonersh Foundation, which attracts Gift Aid enabling us to purchase bigger trees – and thanks to Claire Merriman for obtaining them for us and sending her team out to plant them all.

All our new trees have been registered with the Queen’s Green Canopy, a tree planting initiative created to mark Her Majesty’s Platinum Jubilee in 2022 which invited everyone across the UK to plant trees. Following her death and the wishes of His Majesty the King, the initiative has been extended to the end of March 2023 to give people the opportunity to plant trees in memoriam to honour the Queen.

Click here to see details of all the trees in Shamley Green, some commemorating events as far back as Queen Victoria's golden Jubilee!

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A young 'Rebona' elm

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Old horse chestnuts and new elms

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Apple 'Rudolph' planted Jan 22 at Hullmead

Large numbers of toads and frogs now crossing the road - but numbers are down in 2023 overall.

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Toad fence & volunteers

The toad fence (300 metres of it along Stroud Lane) went up at the end of January, followed by some toad signs, but as of 8th March very little amphibian movement had been spotted by the toad patrols.  This was because it had been very cold and not very damp.  However on 9th March everything changed and a massive 281 amphibians were spotted and many moved off the roads and helped on their way.

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Rescued toads and newts

The migration has continued apace, and now, towards the end of March, many amphibians are leaving and sometimes we do not know whether they are are coming or going.  Fantastic effort by the toad patrollers with an excellent Whatsapp group to help us to co-ordinate our efforts and keep us informed,  but we can always do with more volunteers on warm damp evenings at dusk.  

 

It seems there are lots more amphibians in the Lords Hill area this year (or at least a lot more witnessed and helped),  but fewer in Woodhill and Madgehole. This may be partly due to loss of habitat on Madgehole.  For the final figures see the link on our reports page, confirming a lower figure for Woodhill Lane and a big increase for Lords Hill.

One of our toad patrollers has made a super little video on an 'evening out' about the joys of being a 'froglifer': click here to see it.

Please look out for toads on the roads on warm wet evenings!

For more information see our amphibians page, and please do contact us to join the toad patrol.

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Blue hearts marking our bee-friendly areas

As has been done in other villages the council has acquired 10 blue ‘bee friendly’ signs for our commons. They’ve been placed where bulbs or wild flowers have been planted or sown to let people know and hopefully to reduce any disturbance, and to mark areas being managed on a 2-year mowing rotation. They will be moved around seasonally as required . Hardy members of the Environment Group risked hypothermia on a cold and wet afternoon on 6th March placing them!

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To see where we have been planting wildflowers have a look at the new map on our Wildflower Planting page.

Shamley Green actually falls on a 'B-Line',  an imaginative and beautiful solution to the problem of the loss of flowers and pollinators. The B-Lines are a series of ‘insect pathways’ running through our countryside and towns, along which the charity Buglife is restoring and creating a series of wildflower-rich habitat stepping stones. They link existing wildlife areas together, creating a network, like a railway, that will weave across the British landscape. This will provide large areas of brand new habitat benefitting bees and butterflies– but also a host of other wildlife. Our new reduced mowing regime and planting of bee-friendly species fits in really well with the scheme.

Swift boxes installed in Shamley Green

25 swift boxes were installed on Sunday 25th February as Phase 1 of the Shamley Green Swift Project, and another 16 on 19th March.  The goal is to increase viable nesting sites for this red-listed bird which is in dramatic decline: this project is fully supported by the village, the schools and members of SGEG, and it is very exciting! Thanks so much to Kate, Sarah and Roger.

More reports will follow from Kate Rudd in due course, and there is still time to get involved before the nesting season - see details on our birds page

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