Rough Around the Edges, June Update
by Katie Horgan, BBOWT
The main focus has been on surveying – or learning to spot and count the plants and animals that we share our outdoor places with.
The past 5 weeks have largely involved trialing some basic surveying training to get people started on recording the wildlife on their sites. I prefer to call them ‘spotting and counting’ sessions, giving people the basics of where to start. In simple terms, if you can count the number of different plants in a given area, you can begin to have an idea of how much diversity there is on a site, even if you can’t identify everything you find. If you have more than 12 different plants in a 50 x 50 quadrat, chances are you have somewhere with high plant diversity. By regularly surveying the same spot over time, you can also get an idea of how things are changing, especially if you’ve altered how you manage the area.
As well as plants, we’ve had a go at doing some Flower-Insect Timed (FIT) counts, part of the national Pollinator Monitoring Survey (PoMS) run by the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology (CEH). We were supported by Martin Harvey from CEH, who gave an online introduction to how to do the counts. Last year’s recorded session is below. FIT counts are really easy to do and are a great introduction to identifying pollinating insects –they only take 10 minutes and can be done out on sites and in your back garden.
We didn’t forget about the birds either. Rough Around the Edges was really lucky to have Nick Marriner leading a ‘Dawn’ (7am start) Chorus walk from St. Andrews Church to Donkey Lane, the Ridgeway and Kiln Lakes, around Chinnor. Most of us managed to hear or see about 20 species but I think Nick’s final list came to about 40 different species. Quite a bit more practice needed for the non-experts but a great way to be out and noticing the life going on around us.
With the focus still on Chinnor, work has moved on at the Community Garden on Mill Lane, with wildflower seed sown around the edges and some larger plant plugs added as well. Their bee homes are almost full and the pond seems to be teeming with life. It’s lovely to see how much work is happening in a project combining food growing and wildlife. The Chinnor Churches Go Wild! group had a superb visit from the Caring for God’s Acre team, supported by TVERC, with a more in depth wildflower identification session. We finished the day with a list of over 30 plants in the churchyard at Sydenham.
Over in Great Missenden, the hedgehog project has also really picked up speed. I spent a noisy Wednesday morning hammering together hedgehog boxes with members at Missenden Walled Garden, and then a quieter afternoon with members of Prestwood Nature who were giving a training session in surveying for hedgehogs. These sessions have fuelled enthusiasm for more surveys in Missenden but also across the Rough Around the Edges area – so I am anticipating some more hedgehog themed projects.
We also had the exciting discovery of some rubble at Donkey Lane Orchard. Rubble may not sound exciting, but the group are fairly certain that marks the edge of one of the buildings that was on the site many years ago. If it is, it’s a really nice way to show how and where the site was inhabited before it was abandoned by the residents. The orchard we have there to day has grown from the householders’ fruit trees.
It’s been a busy month and I hope the rest of the summer carries on in a similar way!
All of the in person sessions have been supported by online training being delivered for the Tracking the Impact project, and recordings from previous training sessions as well. They can all be found here.
Written by Katie Horgan, Rough Around the Edges project officer from BBOWT