Environment Agency at Hawley Meadows

 

Last week 14 volunteers from the Environment Agency, Sue from the Trust and Katie and George, our two Hampshire Futures trainees, joined Stuart and I at Hawley Meadows. It rained heavily for most of the day but the volunteers worked industriously hard and demonstrated fantastic spirit and team work.

 

Luck was on our side in the morning getting the benches onto site as Stuart drove over the wet north meadow with a heavy trailer and benches. Not wanting to hang around in the rain we got straight to task installing the first bench over the river from the car park. Another group improved the car park by fixed large pot holes with left over tarmac and gravel. Whilst the final group litter picked the riverside and surveyed  for Great Burnet. This early survey found 92 plants which shows that it is continuing to thrive. Great Burnet numbers are quickly declining in the UK. Hawley Meadows is the only site in Surrey where this rare plant can be found.

 

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Environment Agency volunteers and George testing out their handwork

 

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New Hawley Meadows bench

 

After lunch we headed to the northern meadow where we installed the third and final bench under an old oak looking south across the meadow. These benches help to meet the Blackwater Valley Countryside Trust’s aim to provide more resting places along the Blackwater Valley Path. We also created a stumpery on the western edge of the meadow as part of another Trust project to encourage more stag beetles across the valley. A stumpery is a 50cm deep hole in the ground filled with vertical logs. The logs will rot from the bottom up and make fantastic homes for lots of invertebrates. Particularly stag beetles, the UK’s largest land beetle, whose larva live underground feeding on rotting wood for several years.

 

The northern stumpery

The northern stumpery

 

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Beautiful view from the northern meadow bench

 

Thank you to all who volunteered! We hope to see you again.

 

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Environment Agency volunteers, George, Katie and Stuart

 

Ast. Ranger Jenny

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About blackwatervalleycountryside

The Blackwater Valley is located on the borders of Hampshire, Surrey and Berkshire and runs for approximately 30km from the source near Aldershot, northwards to Swallowfield. At its confluence it joins the rivers Whitewater and Loddon. The Loddon eventually flows into the River Thames near Reading. Work in the Blackwater Valley is co-ordinated by the Blackwater Valley Countryside Partnership on behalf of the local authorities that border the Valley. Despite being surrounded by urban development the Valley provides an important green corridor for local residents As well as the Blackwater Valley Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and a small part of the Basingstoke Canal SSSI, three nature reserves within the Valley catchment and many other areas have been recognised for their ecological importance. The local planning authorities covering the Valley have designated 31 other areas as ‘Wildlife Sites’.
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