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Newsletter No. 76 March 2019

  News from the Reserve from Shirley 

We ended last year with our usual mulled wine party which was well attended by exhausted bonfire workers, but now, after an incredibly warm February, we are well into the spring season with one more work party in March and the cowslip count in April (see Events page for dates and further details)

I’m afraid that I haven’t been able to visit the Reserve for a while, but, given a few more weeks to recover from my hip operation, I should be able to visit it again soon. 

Over the winter of 2018/19 Chiltern Rangers held three sessions on Holtspur Bank LNR. Further work was carried out on the chalk grassland, mostly involving brush-cutting regenerating dogwood and thinning or reducing the islands of scrub. Preventing scrub encroachment is important on the site, but islands and marginal pockets are of considerable conservation value when managed as an integral part of this grassland environment. The management of areas of scrub on a rotational basis helps create a real mosaic of structure and habitats which are of great value to invertebrates and birds.

In February a large area was coppiced in a sizeable ‘coup’ in the woodland, part of a 10 year plan for Cut Throat Wood. As well as bringing this area into active management this work creates an improved habitat. Removing some of the canopy through coppicing leads to increased levels of light and heat reaching the woodland floor. This provides greater opportunity for woodland flora to establish which, in turn, benefits butterflies and other woodland pollinators.  As the coup becomes older it becomes a denser area of cover which is a valuable resource for nesting birds.

On 6th January Friends volunteers concentrated on brush-cutting with raking and burning of cuttings. On 27th January, volunteers cleared and burnt the arisings from the recent coppicing by Chiltern Rangers, undertook a fence survey and cleared undergrowth to re-establish a short alternative path in the far top corner of the chalk bank. On 24th February, the majority of the time was taken up clearing scrub and saplings from both sides of the fence line in the area above the Riding Lane entrance field and the arisings were moved to a bonfire site. The paths in Cut Throat Wood were walked and any fallen trees across paths removed.

A puzzle for you. To the left is a photograph of a branch from the wood - one of many found on the ground. What do you think made the marks on it? Suggestions so far are:

a) deer

b) squirrels

c) a chain saw slipping

Chiltern Rangers has successfully applied to Bucks County Council (BCC) for funding for work on the Reserve. £10.000 is available to be shared between three separate projects in Beaconsfield. The first place project will get £5,000 with the others getting £2,500. Selection will be via ‘Beaconsfield Decides’, a public vote being run by BCC Communities Team. This will be promoted at The Beaconsfield Society’s ‘Beaconsfield Now’ event at the Rugby Club on May 11th 2019 where the Friends will have a stand.