Chesham and District Natural History Society
Environmental Survey at Berkhampstead Field Nature Reserve, Chesham.
The field and surrounding habitats situated adjacent to the recreation ground off Nashleigh Hill, at the Berkhamsted end of Chesham, is owned by Chesham Town Council (CTC).
When a local farmer stopped grazing his cattle in the field in 2008, the council took over the management of the grassland until 2010. However, questions were being asked by members of Chesham and District Natural History Society (CDNHS) about this management and agreement was reached with CTC to allow the field to remain uncut for the whole summer to assess its potential environmental value.
It was an immediate success, with many local residents saying how much they enjoyed seeing the wildflowers and the wildlife that was also attracted to the area.
Each subsequent year it improved and in 2012 it was awarded the designation of Local Nature Reserve (LNR).
Earlier this year when I, as chairman of CDNHS, recorded more than 100 bee orchids on the reserve, we decided that the time was right to carry out a detailed environmental survey of the area.
Help was clearly going to be needed so we invited some of the top environmental specialists in the county to come along and help.
Sunday, August 24 was the chosen day and it provided near perfect conditions for the survey of the LNR.
Our experts on the day included Mick Jones, president of CDNHS and manager of the Wildlife Trust Nature Reserve at Dancersend, near Tring, and Alan Nelson, who is the County Recorder for dragonflies and a specialist on birds.
Tony and Val Marshall were concentrating primarily on invertebrates in the grassland areas, but recorded all sorts of other flora and fauna as well, and Brenda Harold, a local plant and habitat specialist worked with Roy Maycock, County Recorder for wildflowers, noting all of the visible plants on the reserve.
All those taking part were impressed with the range of species found and are keen to come back again next year so that they can record the early species that will be visible in May or June.
Well over 100 different species of plants were recorded, an excellent range of birds including a sparrowhawk and peregrine falcon, various spiders, beetles, six species of butterfly, two dragonflies and a green spotted bush cricket.
The full list of species will be collated and made available to the County Environmental Records Centre.
The practical management of the LNR is carried out by the CTC, members of CDNHS and Chesham Environmental Group, led by Phil Folly and it ticks all the boxes as a superb community-led project.
meeting. They have visited Kenya many times and care deeply about the wildlife there.
Showing fantastic photographs of lions, elephants, leopards, crocodiles and hippos, they explained the wildebeest migration route in Kenya’s Masai Mara, and how it affects the rest of the wildlife.
They are particularly concerned about the poaching of elephants for their ivory tusks.
Mark and Jacky are constantly trying to raise money for the Masai Mara in order to compensate the locals for not poaching their precious elephants.
Particularly prized are the older Matriarch elephants, as they have the longest tusks. These old elephants, which are seriously diminishing in number, have a wealth of ‘survival knowledge’, which is not being passed down to the younger ones.
We are pleased to report that we have a full complement of 12 committee members for next month’s AGM, ready with sleeves rolled up to take us through next year’s activities.
While singing Jerusalem this month, we remembered WI member Mary Markham, who sadly passed away.
Our next meeting takes place on October 7 at 7.45pm at Holmer Green Village Centre. The AGM will be followed by a picture quiz and a produce sale in aid of ACWW. Visitors are welcome.
Little Chalfont (Evening) WI
PRESIDENT Gill began our September meeting by welcoming everyone back after the summer break and gave a special welcome to our three visitors.
Gill reported that since our last meeting some members had spent a lovely summer evening in late July joining together for a walk from Little Chalfont across ‘the ridge’ to Chenies where a very pleasant time was spent in the garden of a local pub before the walk home.
In August we held our President’s Lunch in a member’s garden: the weather stayed dry, if a little cloudy at times, and it was as usual a very popular event.
The craft group met to look at and plan how to use the materials bought on their day out in Wallingford and members received compliments from passers-by as they kept the village green flower bed tidy following our spring planting.
Our speaker for the evening, archaeologist Dr Jill Eyers, was then introduced.
While on a project in Brazil looking for fossil fish, she took the opportunity to fulfil a lifetime’s ambition to visit the Amazon. Her illustrated talk – Amazon Adventure – gave a
Well camouflaged: Can you spot the bush cricket on this leaf? Another of the interesting finds made by the Chesham and District Natural History Society at Berkhampstead Field