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Newsletter No. 78 December 2019

News from the Reserve from Les 

The autumn weather is now here and the work parties have started again. Volunteers meet on the last Sunday of the month at 10.00am and new members are always welcome.  Before that though, we held the autumn walk which was once again led by Derek Bourne whose account is given below. 

AUTUMN WALK September 2019

Despite earlier rain, eight hardy souls assembled for our autumn walk.

The grassland was looking parched with only a few summer flowers remaining because it had been so dry. We did manage to see a few scabious, knapweed, autumn hawkbit and yellow wort but most plants were in the seed stage.

In the wood the holly berries were ripening and acorns, beech masts and hazel nuts were seen underfoot. It had been a very good year for hornbeam with many of the winged seed clusters already on the ground.  There was little sign of autumn colours either in the wood or on the grassland but a few dogwood, guelder rose and spindle were just starting to colour up. Many types of berry were to be seen around the grassland including dogwood, sloe, wild privet, guelder rose, buckthorn, spindle and black and white bryony.

During the walk the different types of seed dispersal were discussed and examples of each were noted. One very obvious result could be seen with the presence of wood avens along the sides of almost all the paths in the wood, the hooked seeds having been spread on the clothing or fur of the paths` users.  The photo shows the Spindle (Euonymus europaeus).

 FUNGAL FORAY October 2019

Despite rain in the morning, the afternoon brightened up and 16 of us gathered for the foray led by Penny Cullington. After a very wet few weeks, hopes were high that there would be lots to see, but on entering the grassland area few fungi were to be found. However, once in the woodland things improved with plenty to see. The visual highlights were the two large rings of the parasol mushroom, but many more species were recorded including sulphur tuft, false deathcap, stinkhorn, coralspot, honey fungus and puffballs. There were lots of smaller fruiting bodies, most of which Penny could identify immediately and explain their distinguishing characteristics. Altogether on a very successful afternoon, a total of 50 species were found of which 11 were new to the reserve. So far this gives a total of 155 species of fungi recorded on the reserve.  The photo (courtesy of Wikipedia) is of Xerocomus subtomentosus, suede bolete, first seen on the reserve on this walk. 


These focussed on scrub clearing the lower slope of the chalk bank near the Riding Lane steps, particularly the ever-present dogwood.  The photos show some of what we achieved:

We plan to graze the chalk bank again with Joe Hope’s sheep this Autumn.  At the time of writing they are awaited (they have now arrived).  Other work on the reserve will be carried out by Chiltern Rangers. They always welcome any Friends to join them on these sessions which we publicise by email and Facebook

Friends work parties will be continuing in the New Year of course, but because of the Christmas holidays the first one will be on 5th January, and as in other years we are delighted to say that this will be followed by a mulled wine party at 10, Burgess Wood Grove.  We hope to see many Friends there whether they can get to the work party or not.

2019 AGM

On 6th November the AGM was held in the Beaconsfield Council Chamber.  After the formal business, which we always manage to keep fairly short, Mick Jones, Warden for the Dancers End BBOWT reserve gave a very interesting talk called ‘The Duke, the Gentian and the Beefly’.  This was fascinating and well received.

A message from the Chairman of the Friends of Holtspur Bank Local Nature Reserve (LNR)

Dear Friends of Holtspur Bank LNR

I’m writing to ask for your help and support for our future activities. 

The Friends have achieved a lot since Shirley Scrivener formed it almost 25 years ago.  Working with Beaconsfield Town Council, the owner of the Reserve, the Friends have maintained and enhanced Holtspur Bank Local Nature Reserve so that it has become one of Beaconsfield’s natural jewels.  The Friends have gone from strength to strength thanks to its hard working, effective and talented Committee members and working party volunteers.  All the activities of the Friends are driven by the Committee as our regular Newsletters show with a love of this rare and delightful part of Beaconsfield’s natural environment being implicit in all that we do.  In addition, we promote the Reserve to a wider audience through our regular guided walks to ensure we maintain viable levels of membership and that we are financially stable.  

You will note from our latest Newsletter No.77 above that Shirley has decided to retire as newsletter editor having written all 77 of them.  We owe her a debt of gratitude for her staying power and dedication to the Reserve. 

Committee members move on, move away or retire and we need your help.  There are plenty more things we could do but we need more Committee members.  Without them it will be difficult to maintain our impressive list of activities or to initiate new ones.  We are in particular need of a Secretary (modest list of tasks available), Newsletter editor and someone to handle Promotion/publicity.  You would not necessarily need to join the winter practical conservation work parties although we could use some help here too.  

If you were to join us, you could expect to be well supported by other members of the Committee.  Even if you cannot make time to join the committee, please remember that we are always seeking “active” members who are prepared to help at specific events.

Remember, volunteering also has a positive impact on your own life.  You’ll meet new people living near you, you can take a refreshing break from your everyday routine, share a skill and make a difference in your community

Have I sparked your interest?  Like to find out more?  Browse this website to find out more about the Reserve or call me on 07919 336713.

With very best wishes

Les Davies