Odiham Biodiversity Group - Newsletter October 2007

by otmg on Saturday 20th October

Canal Walk

We were lucky with the weather – perfect conditions for observing dragonflies whilst strolling leisurely along the canal. We had good viewings of several species including the Banded Demoiselle, the Red-eyed Damselfly, Migrant Hawker, and Emperor Dragonfly. Peter proved to be immensely
knowledgeable about his subject and provided us with much information. Did you know that dragonflies can fly backwards?

And it was not only the dragonflies – the family of swans joined us – and robins, wrens and blackcap alerted us to their presence. Many wildflowers were in bloom including Fleabane, wild Angelica and Yellow Loosestrife. Gatekeeper butterflies (also known as hedge browns in some localities) were also in evidence.

Courses/Workshops

Some people have expressed an interest in learning more about wildlife and habitats. This is something that we may be able to arrange if viable. The sort of things that we may be able to cover, possibly in conjunction with HWT: Identification of trees and shrubs in hedgerows, maybe a workshop on bats, identification of garden birds, butterflies, moths, farming and conservation. I suspect few would be able to commit to a series of courses but maybe one-offs at a local venue led by an expert in his/her field, probably at a week-end or evening if indoor based. Do let one of us know what you think – the sort of things you would be interested in.

Swifts, Swallows and House Martins

We are fortunate in Odiham to have significant numbers of all these summer visitors and this year was no exception. The swifts around the church tower are a familiar sight and at least two dozen were recorded on one of the surveys. They have now gone on their long journey south, but the swallows and martins should be with us for a couple of weeks yet. If you want to see them skimming around searching for insects or gathering on telegraph wires, just wander into the Deer Park or look up when you’re in the High Street to see the martins coming back to their nests under the eaves of the houses.

We may lose our summer visitors but I have heard the geese arriving!

Hedgerow Surveys

The Odiham Hedgerow survey was put on hold at the time of the foot and mouth outbreak, but we have now resumed. We are continuing our training/practice sessions – just small groups of 3 or 4 – so you can still join in! There are potentially some 240 sections of hedgerows to survey in the parish so we need all the help we can get. Don’t worry if your identification of hedgerow species needs a bit of brushing up – we are compiling a series of laminated pages to help and Lindsay has kindly donated a number of 2m poles – essential for measuring the width of a hedgerow!

You may wonder what this is all for. Well, hedgerows have been classified as a biodiversity priority habitat by DEFRA – they support a number of species and provide a vital link or ‘wildlife corridor’ between habitats. Not only that – they are an essential component of the landscape of this part of the world.

Broad Oak Meadow

Tony Mundell carried out a flora survey of Broad Oak Meadow on July 12th and we now have a list of some 77 different species, although sadly, we found no evidence of any orchids. No doubt if we do a survey in the spring we could add to this total. Species included some grasses typical of old pasture, such as Meadow Barley.

We did find some examples of Grass Vetchling at the side of Broad Oak Lane. This is an interesting plant and easily overlooked as for most of the year it just looks like grass. However, in July it flowers – just one or two pink pea-like flowers at the top of the stalk. A large patch of Michaelmas Daisy was recorded on the east side of the meadow. This was presumably a garden escape!

Small Mammal Surveys

As part of this year’s surveys of the Churchyard and Cemetery we have enlisted the help of Ian White of the Hampshire Mammal Group. He will be coming along in the next few weeks to undertake a survey of the smaller, furry inhabitants of ‘God’s Acre’. Watch this space!

OTHER ORGANISATIONS EVENTS

Bat Walk 5th September
Hampshire Wildlife Trust are holding a bat walk along the canal on the evening of Wednesday 5th September. You don’t have to be a member of the trust but donations are requested. Meet at Colt Hill (Odiham) Wharf at 7.30 pm with your torch and bat detector if you have one. More details from Audrey Moss-Bradnam on 01256 780074.

Basingstoke RSPB 19th and 23rd September
The indoor meeting in September is on the 19th and is entitled ‘Not so Scilly!’ Peter Hutchins and his family will be talking about their recent visit to the Isles of Scilly. The outdoor meeting is to Pagham Harbour and will be on September 23rd. More details from Peter Hutchins 01256 770831 or Maureen Brailey 01256 702006.

Odiham Biodiversity Group Committee and Hedgerow Group Meetings
We meet in the evening of the first Tuesday of the month. If a room is available, Rachel and James Watt kindly let us meet at The George. If you would like to become more involved with the group, do let us know and come and join us!

For more information contact Sheila Bates 01256 701187 or [email protected]