How to feel good in February?
Step onto Chislehurst Commons, pause for a moment, take a deep breath, and look and listen. There is always something in the natural world around us to lift our spirits, feed our senses and engage our minds.
This fantastic early morning scene across the heathland on St. Paul’s Cray Common is just one example of the wonderful views on offer.
In our monthly newsletters we aim to illustrate the amazing diversity of flora and fauna to be found on our 180 acres of common land.
They also show you some of the work involved in maintaining and enhancing the area for present and future generations.
Our Fantastic Keepers and Volunteers
Recently our volunteers have been working on the heathland on St. Paul’s Cray Common.
At the end of the 19th Century, heather grew across much of our 180 acres. Together with gorse, bracken, brambles and grass it covered the common land that had for centuries been used by local people for grazing their animals. As patterns of life changed, and grazing died out, saplings were able to grow, and the area gradually became wooded.
The heathland on St. Paul’s Cray Common was restored about 20 years ago and has been tended carefully ever since. However, some silver birches have managed to take root and the photo above shows volunteers removing them to let the sunlight in. The trees were also dividing the heathland, and removing them will make a more connected area for wildlife such as the voles, shrews and lizards that live there.
Another group of volunteers was engaged in clearing encroaching foliage from the bridle path to the side of the heathland ………
…………when some regular visitors from Bansome Wood Livery Stables in Hawkwood Lane came along. We hope their outings will be even more pleasant now the way ahead is clearer.
Will you be a true friend of the commons?
The 180 acres of local common land are protected by an Act of Parliament. Chislehurst Commons has responsibility under the Act for the management and maintenance of the area. The Act, however, made no provision for funding, and we rely on our wonderful volunteers and the generosity of local people to enable us to continue our work. We have two Keepers whose knowledge, skills and dedication are invaluable. Everyone else who works to maintain and develop our beautiful Commons does so on a voluntary basis.
We need a new truck!
Our truck is a feature of life in Chislehurst and an essential tool for Jonathan and Peter to carry out their duties on the Commons. It needs to be available every day. Unfortunately, our current 15 year old truck is proving to be unreliable, costly to repair, and suffering corrosion, and so the economic solution is to replace it. The cost of replacement will be £32,000 after excellent discounts from Toyota, and we are seeking to raise £10,000 towards this cost. Your support in achieving this sum would be greatly appreciated. Without funding, our essential work for the Commons and the community could be severely impacted. You can donate via our website www.chislehurstcommons.uk or via PayPal Giving Thank you!
News from the Ponds
Canada geese can sometimes be seen rolling over and over in the water and this photo caught one mid-roll. The British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) told us that geese often roll over when bathing to ensure a good all over clean.
We were in touch with the BTO again when this duck, one of a pair, appeared at Rush Pond, and received the following reply.
“The duck in your photograph is a domesticated form of a Mallard, sometimes referred to as a Manky Mallard, the dainty bill suggests a hybrid with a Call Duck which is one of the forms of domesticated mallard that occur.”
The pair seem to have been accepted by the other waterfowl. They have settled in well and have been at Rush Pond for a month now
This great cormorant was included in the monthly bird count at Prickend Pond on Sunday. A different one was seen the day before, with more white on its chest, so there may be several that visit. This is the cormorant subspecies which prefers fresh water to sea water. They develop the white filoplumes in evidence here, prior to breeding, the amount being dependent on the bird’s age. Further observation needed!
About one hundred black-headed gulls were also counted. It is hard to be exact because they are rarely still, and continually rise up in a flock, moving to wherever the next benefactor has spread seeds around for the ducks.
A clear illustration of our varied climate is given by these two photos taken a year apart. The one above shows the Overflow Pond now, empty and dry, and the one below shows it a year ago, in January 2021.
More fabulous fungi
Bracket fungus can grow on living trees or, like this one, on dead wood and fallen branches, where they play an important part in the process of decay and the return of nutrients to the earth.
Spring is around the corner
A welcome reminder that the days are getting longer, and spring is coming. These snowdrops were transplanted from one site at Prickend Pond to another last year, and are now in flower.
The Commons in Close-up
If you look down as you walk across the grassland you may see stars at your feet – buck’s-horn plantain, a common plant of our acid grassland.
Our Commons are the treasure at the centre of Chislehurst, the natural world on your doorstep that offers you an opportunity to feel good in February.
The 180 acres at the centre of Chislehurst enhance our lives in so many ways. We will continue to do our best to maintain and improve them for present and future generations.
Show your support for Chislehurst’s commonland while you shop!
We are registered with Amazon Smile.
Visit https://smile.amazon.co.uk instead of the normal Amazon website and select Chislehurst Commons, and, for everything you buy, Amazon will donate 0.5% to help maintain the Commons. This is another excellent opportunity to support the greenspace on your doorstep.
Thanks for this month’s photos to Peter Edwards, Kevin Jennings, Brian Knights, John Stiles, Ross Wearn and Mary Wheeler.
Thanks also to the Editorial Team – Caroline Fraser, Christine Wearn, Ross Wearn and Mary Wheeler.