The OBSERVER reports that the seasons seem topsy-turvy, but this is still a time of new beginnings. Here’s how to help your flowerbeds and veg plots thrive. Flower power – as soil warms, it’s time to plant perennials, but don’t just impulse-buy the first thing you see that promises pretty flowers on the label. If your garden got frazzled by the weather last summer, put drought-resistant plants that double as pollinator magnets to the top of your list.
Hungry hedgehogs breaking their winter hibernation can roam up to 2km in a night in search of food, but only if their path isn’t blocked by fences and walls. Consider cutting a hedgehog hole into existing fences or, if winter storms mean you need to replace panels, fit hog-friendly gravel boards at the base.
Once hedgehogs are in your garden, make them welcome by setting up a feeding and watering station in a sheltered spot: a dish of cat biscuits or specialist hog food are ideal. Dishes of fresh water will help hogs and other wildlife: an old dustbin lid set into the ground will make for easy access; add a pile of stones on one side so bees can come for a drink, too.
Proposed development that could have a detrimental impact has returned to the village, with Guildford Borough Council’s (GBC) proposals in the revised local plan. Policy A64 proposes 105 houses at the site between Flexford and Normandy.
We urge you to consider responding to the proposal before the deadline of Tuesday 23rd October (noon), 2018.
If approved this would almost certainly have a detrimental effect on our wildlife through removal of feeding grounds for wildlife and through the destruction of habitats. Development here could impact on the UK’s red listed yellowhammers, as well as barn owl and bat foraging, plus impact on freshwater, pasture and hedge habitats and create potential loss of habitat connectivity. This area is within the Wanborough and Normandy Woods and Meadows Biodiversity Opportunity Area.
The aim of Biodiversity Opportunity Areas (BOAs) is to establish a strategic framework for conserving and enhancing biodiversity at a landscape-scale, making our wildlife more robust to changing climate and socio-economic pressures. Recognition of BOAs directly meets National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) policy for the planning system to contribute to international commitments for halting the overall decline in biodiversity, by establishing coherent ecological networks that are more resilient to current and future pressures. Safeguarding BOAs via local plans fulfills NPPF requirements to plan for biodiversity at a landscape-scale.
This land has been offered for sale before and GBC only recently refused a planning application to have 9 houses built on it (which is currently under appeal). However, the government’s Planning Inspector challenged GBC recently to start building houses earlier in the Local Plan and thus this amendment has been proposed.
For more information and other considerations (such as erosion of Green Belt) of this proposal please refer to the Normandy Action Group’s website.
It’s National Insect Week! You can celebrate the wonder of insects and take part in the Great British Bee Count.
Set up by Friends of the Earth, and supported by Buglife, this count has run since 17 May and will continue until 30 June. Download the app to make a note and report any bumblebees and solitary bees you see. It has a handy guide for identification as well as advise on how to create habitats for pollinators.
[Photo by Rob Gallop under creative commons
While you’re out on your dog walk, cycle or stroll through the countryside you could also be helping our local mammals. The Mammal Society have launched a new app, Mammal Mapper, to record mammals sightings or signs of mammals and send them to a national database.
The app is simple to use and provides a very handy detailed guide to identifying British mammals.
Most wild mammals, including rabbits and hedgehogs, are poorly monitored. Records from the app could provide vital information about locations and population trends of our precious mammals, aiding better management and protection.
Learn more about the app here. The app is free to download and available on android and iOS in app stores now. For more information and to download from the Mammal Society website go to http://www.mammal.org.uk/volunteering/mammal-mapper/.
The 2018 results for the RPSB’s Big Garden Birdwatch have been released. The headlines:
- House sparrows were still top the sightings list.
- Siskin and brambling numbers were up.
- Small birds have overall increased.
- Goldfinches were seen in over two-thirds of gardens.
- Greenfinch sightings increased by 5% on last year.
- Blackbird sightings were down by 18%.
- Robin sightings were down by 12%.
- Changes could be down to a milder winter meaning more food elsehere so birds weren’t so reliant on gardens, good/bad breeding seasons and other factors.
- House sparrows
- Blue tit
- Great tit
- Long-tailed tit
Do look at the results from the RPSB (Royal Society for the Protection of Birds) for more detail and explanation. And do consider participating next year. An hour of observation provides valuable information for understanding trends and guiding conservation efforts. And it’s a great excuse to just sit and enjoy your garden for an hour!
It’s annoying when something breaks and you’re not sure how to fix it. No need to give up and throw it away. Learn to repair your broken items for free at the Guildford Repair Café. Volunteer experts are on hand to help you repair a whole variety of items. Save money and the environment – save on waste and reduce the manufacturing of replacements.
Please visit the Guildford Repair Café website for more details. At time of writing, the next session is the morning of Saturday 7th April, 10-12, at the Park Barn Community Centre, Cabell Road, Guildford, Surrey, GU2 8JH.