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News Winter 2023-2024

Join the World's Largest Garden Wildlife Survey -  it's the Big Garden Birdwatch 26th - 28th January!

Every year, hundreds of thousands of nature lovers like you take part in the Big Garden Birdwatch run by the RSPB, helping to build a picture of how garden birds are faring.

Across the UK, over half a million people took part in Big Garden Birdwatch 2023, counting a whopping 9.1 million birds! House Sparrows took the top spot, but sparrow numbers are down by 57% compared to the first Birdwatch in 1979. In fact, we’ve lost 38 million birds from UK skies in the last 60 years. With birds facing so many challenges, it’s more important than ever to get involved in the Birdwatch. Every bird you do – or don’t – count will give a valuable insight into how garden birds are faring.

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All you have to do is:

  • Sign up here to register and get your free RSPB guide to garden birds.

  • Choose an hour between 26 and 28 January and make yourself comfortable somewhere you can watch your garden, or in your local park if you don't have a garden.

  • Record the birds you see that actually land in your patch (not those that fly over or are in a neighbour's garden) and enter your findings on the RSPB website - see https://www.rspb.org.uk/whats-happening/big-garden-birdwatch for details, FAQs and lots more information

A Wildlife Gem Right On Our Doorstep needs OUR help!!
Here's how you can help your local Toads and Frogs with the Toad Fence Project

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A job well done! Last year's toad fence successfully installed

The great annual toad spawning migration will begin soon - when it gets warm enough. So that is when our invaluable work begins too: we try to ensure that as many toads as possible safely navigate our roads to spawn, and return home, without becoming road-kill on the way.

 

This year our Toads on Roads Project Leader Regena Coult is organising a working group to install a 'toad fence' in Woodhill Lane, Shamley Green, prior to the migration. The Toad Fence Project will help her erect a 300m stretch of tried and tested lightweight fencing system: this essentially prevents amphibians from getting to the road en-route to their spawning sites, and instead they are gently caught in buckets allowing the ToadsOnRoads patrol to move them safely across roads in the evenings. After spawning, the patrol ensures the toads migrate home safely again.

 

The Toad Fence Project kicks off in the week beginning Monday 22nd January at 10am. Regena will be leading the work, no expertise is required, just some pruning and digging is all that’s needed - and she could really use your help! Could you spare an hour or two for this important work? - if so please click here to sign up

Toad Fence Project queries?  Contact: Kate Elmes Rudd kate@shamleygreenenvironment.co.uk

UPDATE: HUGE THANKS TO ALL THE WONDERFUL VOLUNTEERS WHO HELPED REGENA PUT UP THE TOAD FENCE - WE ARE NOW READY FOR THE MIGRATION, WHICH IS STARTING ALREADY!

THE FIRST TOADS WERE HELPED TO THEIR PONDS ON THE NIGHT OF 25TH JANUARY

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the 2024 toad fence complete

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2024 toad fence close up, showing one of the many buckets ready to catch migrating toads, and a beautiful piece of repair work!

What next?
Join our Toad Patrol! - Help Shamley Green's amphibians to get safely to their breeding ponds in the Spring

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A lucky toad sitting on the leather glove of a VOLUNTEER HELPER as he is safely delivered to his/her breeding pond - please do get in touch if you would like to help too!

With the toad fence in place we will then be waiting for some mild wet weather for the annual migration to begin - THEN OUR TOADS WILL NEED YOU AGAIN - watch this space for details of the next phase of our mission, which is dictated by the weather so we can't give you dates! We keep in touch via WhatsApp to quickly mobilise helpers on damp spring evenings - if you are interested please contact us with your mobile number to join the WhatsApp group.

WHAT EXACTLY DO WE DO?

Wearing high-vis jackets and using powerful torches we spot any amphibians near to or attempting to cross the road, pick them up (with gloves if you prefer), put them in a bucket, and take them safely to their pond - click here for a video showing our plucky toads, frogs and newts being helped to safety.

WHERE DO WE DO IT?

There are currently three known toad crossings in Shamley Green. One is in Woodhill Lane / Madgehole Lane. The second comprises the roads close to the village ponds and the third comprises the roads around Lords Hill Common and Norley Lane.

Go to our latest reports to see how many amphibians we have helped to cross busy roads in order to get to their breeding ponds: last year (2023) we assisted a total of 1514, mostly toads, on their way to and from the ponds.

Successful toad talk

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Congratulations to our very own Regena Coult for a very successful toad talk in Guildford on 16th January in conjunction with Guildford Environment Forum and Zero Carbon Guildford.  Regena treated a sell-out crowd of about 60 people to a very informative and engaging talk.

 

We learnt all about toads and other amphibians, their development and life cycle, their mass migration over the next few months, the dangers they encounter and how we can help them. Guests also had an opportunity to get up close and meet some of them. 

 

One of the aims of the evening was to encourage and offer help to new toad patrols in Surrey. Some of the guests had already identified a need in their areas and already there has been progress towards starting new patrols in Frensham and Guildford.  It was such a worthwhile evening.

Recording Shamley Green's moths - local insect enthusiast shares his records

In December Shamley Green resident John Portess contacted us to offer us his recent moth records to add to our natural history database. The records were submitted to the Surrey County Moth Recorder (CMR) in early January 2024 and once they are formalised he will let us have them - Thank you John!

 

An invertebrate survey was done for Wonersh and Shamley Green in 2021 and the Parish council is planning to update this soon, so John's report will be a great addition.

 

UPDATE : we now have a new page  Moths in Shamley Green

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An elephant hawk moth indoors in Norley Lane - this is one of our biggest moths

Birds new to Shamley Green, including some problematic Parakeets!

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One of the three new species of bird which were identified recently in Shamley Green was the Rose-Ringed Parakeet - Charlotte Gray saw two in her garden - as she said ’it was not what she wanted’.  The other new species to add to our list were the Woodlark which was seen and heard several times near Long Common in October, and two tiny Goldcrest seen hopping about on gorse on Blackheath recently.  This makes 76 species in total - see our latest SGEG Bird Life List (which also gives the first date that each species was seen).

And please do tell us about any interesting birds you see.

The parakeets are a bit of a worry. Concerns have been raised by Dr. Hazel Jackson, an expert in invasive species and conservation at the University of Kent, over the impact of the growing numbers of rose-ringed parakeets in south-east England. Scientific research programmes have analysed the behaviour of parakeets and found that they compete with native bird species and bats for food and nesting sites. Although not aggressive, parakeets have been shown to deter smaller birds due to their behaviour and noise; their large size means that they often crowd small bird feeders, further increasing competition for resources and disrupting local ecosystems.

How exactly this parakeet population first came to exist and thrive in the wild in England is not known. Escaped parakeets have been spotted in Britain since the 19th century, but there has been a noticeable increase in numbers since the 1990's.

It's the UK's only naturalised parrot, a medium-sized bird with a green body, red beak and a pink and black ring around its face and neck. In flight, it has pointed wings and a long tail. It flies very steadily, directly and speedily. It's often found in flocks, which can reach hundreds at a roost site and its loud call often gives it away.

9th and 10th December - Volunteer days removing nasty plastic tree guards

Wonersh Environmental Advisory Group (WEAG) organised two sessions to remove more of the nasty disintegrating tree guards on Barnett Hill: 

Volunteers (including those from SGEG) met on the Barnett Hill footpath wearing gloves and bringing a sharp knife and a builder's or large bag.

A skip, kindly sponsored by a resident, was in place at the bottom of the new fields to take the tree guards.

 Volunteers also came out in good numbers on 13th January to continue the job.

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Members of SGEG had two Autumn inspections of Shamley Green’s trees in October and November 2023. With 140 trees to check this takes quite a while, but it gives us the opportunity to spot any problems, some trivial like missing tags or stakes that need removing, others potentially signs of disease like fungal fruiting bodies or flaking bark. It’s also a great forum for discussion about wider issues – do we want to maintain areas of coppice for instance, to provide shelter for wildlife? How do we manage trees affected by diseases - like the ash trees around the Red Lion pub for instance - and plan for their replacement?

Here we are in action checking the pin oak (no.33) on Malt House Green, and discussing the sprouting stump of the horse chestnut (no.46) on Duck Pond Green felled in 2022. 

October/November tree inspections

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For maps and an inventory of the trees in Shamley Green see our reports page

If you have any suggestions or concerns about the trees on Shamley Green common land please let us or the parish council know. Any urgent safety issues should be reported directly to clerk@wonershparish.org.

Waverley, as the landowners,  have ultimate responsibility for the trees and any tree work required needs to be done by qualified insured contractors.

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