Tuesday, 28 June 2016

Day 28 of 30 days wild in Hedge End

It looks like our local magpies have turned our garden bug hotel into a bird breakfast buffet. Here's what it looked like on 13 June:

Monday, 27 June 2016

Day 27 of 30 days wild in Hedge End

I seem to have missed quite a few days of blogging about 30 days wild in Hedge End and now find myself almost at the end of the month. I have tried to keep up with a random act of wildness each day but somehow have not found the time to write about them.

We have had a lot of bees and hoverflies, and a few damselflies in the garden. I have been a lot more aware of the wild flowers growing in Hedge End's verges. There were rabbits and mute swans on the new golf course at the cricket ground. Yesterday we had a sparrow hawk fly through the garden and a neighbour reported seeing a red kite above our houses. The sparrow hawk is not unusual, but the red kite is a bit more exciting.

Today we went a bit further afield and drove to Hengistbury Head in Dorset. We walked round the nature reserve and along Mudeford spit. Jack had a swim, we felt refreshed and we saw this lovely cinnabar moth on ragwort.
Beach huts at Mudeford Spit
Jack going for his swim

Friday, 17 June 2016

Thursday, 16 June 2016

Monday, 13 June 2016

Day 13 of 30 days wild in Hedge End

After much looking in books, we have decided that the bees nesting in our bug hotel are red mason bees.

Planning inspector approves new takeaway for Hedge End

Despite objections from Hedge End Town Council and one of the neighbouring shops, a planning inspector has overturned Eastleigh Borough Council's decision to refuse planning consent for a new hot food takeaway in the centre of Hedge End.

The unit at 5a Lower Northam Road has been empty since Hedge End Butchers closed. EBC had refused consent for a change of use from retail to hot food takeaway because there are already too many non-retail businesses in the centre of Hedge End. The inspector's logic is that as there are already too many non-retail businesses in the centre of Hedge End, one more won't make any difference. They also made the point that an empty unit is not good for the vitality of Hedge End.

Sunday, 12 June 2016

Day 12 of 30 days wild in Hedge End

On day 12, I read Eastleigh Borough Council's Biodiversity Action Plan. As most of the land within the boundaries of the civil parish of Hedge End has been developed, there is not much in the plan for our area apart from three priority biodiversity links.

Here is my blog entry from 21 July 2012 about the PBLs:

Eastleigh's Lib Dem cabinet last week agreed a new draft biodiversity action plan for the Borough.  For the first time it recognises the importance of wildlife corridors in linking together high value biodiversity habitats.  In an era of climatic uncertainty it is vital that species have routes along which they can migrate to new habitats if forced out by climate change.

Unsurprisingly for an area that continues to be a Lib Dem target for large scale housing and commercial development, Hedge End does not have any "priority biodiversity areas" (PBA), but it does have three "priority biodiversity links" (PBL) which - according to the action plan - should be enhanced.

Hedge End's  PBLs are the motorway and railway corridors and a more meandering link named the "Wildern Priority Biodiversity Link".  Starting at the M27 Junction 7, it has one leg which follows the "heavily modified" urban stream through Hogsty Copse and along Turnpike Way, which it crosses via a culvert at the "superstore" footpath.  It continues through Wildern Nature Park, crossing Wildern Lane just south of the school.  It then follows the boundary of the school playing fields, crosses Grange Road, passes through the grounds of the hotel and into the Lib Dems' preferred strategic housing development area west of Woodhouse Lane where it joins up with the second leg which has taken a bendy course from the railway line through what is at the moment agricultural countryside, but is doomed to disappear under tarmac and concrete.  The BPL then continues through Bottom Copse, across Woodhouse Lane and on through Botley Parish where it connects with the upper reaches of the Hamble Estuary PBA.

The document acknowledges that the link is and will be constrained by development along much of its length, but it does give some recognition to local wildlife habitats including rivers, meadows and fen, floodplain grazing marsh, grass and rush pastures, hedgerows, and woodland, all of which - it says - have potential for restoration.

Watering Down

Sadly it coincides with a watering down of the Council's commitment to work to "protect, conserve and enhance networks of natural habitats and features, including watercourses and trees and hedgerows important to biodiversity and local character" in the Draft Local Plan.  The latest version merely requires the Council to "have regard to opportunities to protect and enhance the Priority Biodiversity Links set out in the Council's Biodiversity Action Plan".

A glance at the map shows that the Wildern PBL divides the area designated for housing West of Woodhouse Lane into two unequal parts (one looking west to the existing Grange Park estates, and one looking east towards Woodhouse Lane), which is going to make things more difficult for future developers.  It will be interesting to see if council planners and Borough councillors are capable of keeping their own wildlife links intact in the face of pressure from those developers.

The full Biodiversity Action Plan can be read on the Council's web site.

Day 11 of 30 days wild in Hedge End

On day 11, I wrote a blog post about a new road which is proposed in the countryside near Hedge End - http://hedgeendblogger.blogspot.co.uk/2016/06/24-million-botley-bypass-consultation.html.

Plans include the widening of Woodhouse Lane which passes a site of interest for nature conservation known as Bottom Copse.

The mature trees to the right of the road in this picture are part of the copse. As yet there is no commitment from the council that the widened road will not encroach on Bottom Copse. There is a stream through the copse. When we walked past the copse today there was a moorhen in the stream. The future for moorhens in Hedge End is a little bleak today.

£24 million Botley bypass consultation

The Conservatives at Hampshire County Council have finally woken up and realised that building thousands of houses in the countryside around Boorley Green and Whitely will increase traffic through Botley and Hedge End. Botley already has an air quality problem, which is not helped by having a commercial vehicle test station on the edge of the village.

So the Tories' solution is to dust off the plans for the "historic" route for the Botley bypass through the countryside to the north of the village, make a couple of tweaks and slap them out for consultation.

There will be an exhibition about the plans in the Botley Centre on 21,22 and 25 June, and the consultation will run until 29 July.

It's important for Hedge End too because as you can see from the map, the proposed bypass goes to the north of Botley but seems to stop at the border of Hedge End. As nice as Hedge End is, I suspect most of the traffic from Boorley Green and Whitely will be wanting to get through Hedge End to the M27. There is no proposal to upgrade the roads through the residential areas of Hedge End to accommodate the additional traffic or mitigate the impact on people living along the route to the motorway.

Other concerns include:

There is no mention of provision for cyclists and pedestrians. The proposed route crosses the recently established cycleway from Hedge End to the outskirts of Botley at the Maypole roundabout, bringing cyclists into conflict with cars.

There is no mention of protecting or improving the priority biodiversity link along the route of the railway.

There is no mention of protecting Bottom Copse which is a site of interest for nature conservation threatened by plans to increase the width of Woodhouse Lane.

The details of the council exhibitions are:

Tuesday 21 June 2-7pm, Wednesday 22 June 2-7pm (Diamond Jubilee Hall); Saturday 25 June 1-4pm (Main Hall) at The Botley Centre, High Street, Botley, SO30 2ES.

More information is available on the Hampshire County Council web site: http://www3.hants.gov.uk/transport-schemes-index/transport-schemes-eastleigh/botley-bypass.htm

Friday, 10 June 2016

Day 10 of 30 days wild in Hedge End

Goodalls Lane is a footpath, which despite being close to Wildern School, B&Q and the commercial centre of Hedge End still retains a definite rural feel. You can really imagine yourself back in the middle of the 20th century before the fields to the north of Northam Road were built on and it was still the track from Wildern Lane to the farmhouse.

Today it led us west from Wildern Lane to a
little lawn between the house that is now called Wildern Farmhouse and the back gardens of houses in Thistle Road. Not yet mown by the council, it was a carpet of buttercups.

Goodalls Lane

Thursday, 9 June 2016

Day 9 of 30 days wild in Hedge End

At lunchtime I thought I would spend five minutes or so watching bees in the garden to see if I could add any species to our list. Instead I was completely distracted by a painted lady butterfly. For an insect that must have flown for some time over the sea to get to Hedge End, it was in very good nick and not showing any signs of fatigue. It was just a shame I didn't have my phone with me to take a photo of my own.

stock photo

That was definitely today's highlight. Although a close second was the goldfinch which was singing its heart out perched on our neighbour's television aerial when I returned home later in the day.

Wednesday, 8 June 2016

Day 8 of 30 days wild in Hedge End

We paused on today's dog walk to mark the demise of this tree. Sadly it seems not to have survived the disturbance caused by the development of Shafford Meadows and its nearby corner shop.

They did plant a couple of oak saplings nearby though.

Day 7 of 30 days wild in Hedge End

The other side of the Wildern Nature Park grazing field lies Goodalls Meadow, another of Hedge End's small green public spaces. Perhaps the Town Council should look at joining them up, then we could have one big green public space!

We passed through on today's dog walk. There was a nice patch of (I think) common mallow, two pairs of red damselflies by the stream and pond, and on the mown part of the meadow, evidence of recent mole activity...

Day 6 of 30 days wild in Hedge End

We have been counting bees in the garden this year.  So far we have identified:

Common carder bee
White tailed bumble bee
Buff tailed bumble bee
Early bumble bee
Red tailed bumble bee
Honey bee
Red mason bee

Tuesday, 7 June 2016

Day 5 of 30 days wild in Hedge End

On day 5 I went to the cricket. Hampshire lost to Essex by the way.

I remembered a column in The Times by Simon Barnes. Mr Barnes was that paper's correspondent for both sport and countryside matters. He is also the author of  How to Be a Bad Birdwatcher, a book I find it easy to relate to.

In his Times column, Mr Barnes wrote how he liked to combine his duties reporting on sporting events with his interest in birds by keeping a list of species seen at Wembley, Badminton or more exotic sporting venues. So I thought I would do the same at the home of Hampshire cricket.

The only bird I saw land on the pitch was a pied wagtail. There was a domestic pigeon resting in the roof of the Colin Ingleby-Mackenzie stand, and a small flock of domestic or feral pigeons flying about. Other birds seen on the wing were a starling, a carrion crow, a black headed gull and three herring gulls.

In total six species, or one for every hundred runs scored in the course of the one day match.

Day 4 of 30 days wild in Hedge End

.... an unexpected fish.

It has been a busy few days, and blogging about 30 days wild has fallen a bit behind, but day 4 took in a visit to the Wildern Nature Park during the daily dog walk. This is another of Hedge End's small green open spaces which are managed on behalf of the people by the Town Council.

Most of the park is taken up by a grazing field -
The grazing field
although there were no cows in evidence at this time of year - and a large pond. The pond suffers a bit from having to coexist with nearby people, but I have seen moorhen and mallard on it in on previous visits. The weather on day 4 was not great, so there was not much insect life to see either.
Consequences of nearby people

The pond
The koi
In fact, the most conspicuous living thing was a large koi carp which has presumably been released into the pond by some unthinking numpty who may have committed an offence under the Keeping and Introduction of Fish Regulations 2015.

Prospects for the carp look grim once it has hoovered up all the native wildlife in the pond.

Sunday, 5 June 2016

Day 3 of 30 days wild in Hedge End

... a coy bullfinch

I have seen bullfinches in the woods around Goodalls Lane in Hedge End which are only a hundred yards or so away from where we live. But I'm pretty sure this was the first time we have seen one come to visit us in the garden. Although a neighbour spotted them in his garden a couple of days ago.

It was certainly the first opportunity Kim had to take a photo of one on the sunflower seed feeder. It just needs to learn from the goldfinches and greenfinches to perch on the side nearest the window so we can get a decent photo.

Other birds I have seen nearby but never in the garden itself are pied wagtails and green woodpeckers.

Day 2 of 30 days wild in Hedge End

An unexpected mallard....

Bridget Mary Garden is one of Hedge End's small green oases. Donated to the people of Hedge End by a local doctor and alderman in memory of his wife, the history of the garden has been researched by Hedge End Town Council.

From Upper Northam Road the garden looks like a building plot sized gap between two houses. It is hard to imagine that the owner of a similar plot today would do anything but sell it for development. We have to be vigilant. Local Lib Dems have shown they cannot be trusted to protect land designated as public open space. I have blogged about the recent decision to hand part of Hatch Farm public open space in nearby West End over to developers.

Bridget Mary Garden is a green space which is not overly managed by the council. Nature is pretty much left to its own devices most of the time. This means there is lots of healthy green undergrowth in the form of brambles, nettles and other common wild flowers, including a foxglove. There are some splendid mature oaks and beeches as well as younger trees.

On day 2 of the Wildlife Trusts' 30 acts of random wildness challenge the garden was also host to a squirrel, a blackbird and - which was more of pleasant surprise - a mallard.

It has been a busy couple of days. The challenge has only just started and blogging is already three days behind the events!

Wednesday, 1 June 2016

Day 1 of 30 days wild in Hedge End

Juvenile starlings on the bird table
I spotted the other day that the Hampshire Wildlife Trust is encouraging us to engage with nature during the month of June. The challenge is to carry out 30 acts of random wildness in the month, and it doesn't matter how small they are. Engaging with nature is supposed to make us happier and healthier. So what's not to like, I thought. I can make contact with the natural world and blog about it afterwards.

Friendly cooperation on the bird table
Living in Hedge End, a largely built-up suburb to the east of Southampton but administratively part of Lib Dem controlled Eastleigh Borough, there are unlikely to be huge numbers of rare species to spot. And working full time means during the week any contact will be with the nature that happens to come into our garden or is not scared away when I am out walking with Jack. However there are pockets of green space in Hedge End where nature is hanging on - not least in people's back gardens.

Adult starling nicking the robin's breakfast
So for day one I am going to celebrate a garden bird which used to be very common, but - I understand from Springwatch this week - has been on the decline. There have been at least three successful starling nests nearby.  Earlier in the spring we had adults raiding the mealworms put out with robins in mind, and in the last week or two juveniles have been descending on the bird table. I counted 15 today, but there have been 21 at times. We just need to attract them off the bird table and onto the lawn to eat the leatherjackets so we don't  have a crane fly population explosion in late summer.

We can't claim a Hedge End murmuration but 15-21 is a healthy sized flock for our average back garden. And worth putting up with the noise.
Adult starlings are handsome birds though
(All photos courtesy Kim Day)