Che­sham and Dis­trict Nat­u­ral His­tory So­ci­ety

Buckinghamshire Advertiser - - GETTING TOGETHER -

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

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