Nick Unwin will lead a birdsong walk on Sunday March 20th at 7.00am . This year we will explore parts of Headley Heath to see what birds are around and help us to identify their songs. We tend to go where the birds lead us so we could be walking up and down some slopes. Good footwear will be needed and binoculars could be useful, but no dogs please.
We will meet in Brimmer Car Park in Headley Common Lane, the first car park you would come to if you are approaching from the Box Hill direction.
Please let Lyn Richards (firstname.lastname@example.org) know if you are intending to come as we restrict numbers for this walk.
This is the Friends of Box Hill AGM, followed by a talk from Surrey Wildlife Trust.
Nigel Davenport, Chief Executive for the Surrey Wildlife Trust (SWT) will give us an illustrated talk about what the SWT does, the challenges it faces and some of the interesting projects it is involved in, such as the Big Deer project. SWT is the largest wildlife trust in the country and manages 5% of Surrey’s land and, of course, manages the grazing cattle on Box Hill.
Sadly, the NT were recently forced to remove the holm oak that has been growing inside the flint tower known as Broadwood’s Folly at Box Hill. The tree has been looking decidedly ill for the last year or so and was having a detrimental effect on the stability of the Tower. See the full explanation of the decision on the NT website.
The work was carried out by tree surgeons who used a “cherry picker” to access the Tower from the top. Branches were carefully lopped off to avoid too much sudden movement of the tree which was actually resting on the Tower at the top causing a large crack and severe crumbling of the mortar. Once the top branches were gone the tree surgeon climbed onto the trunk inside the tower to lower the crown, leaving the majority of the trunk in place. Hopefully it can be incorporated in whatever restoration work NT decide on for the future of the Tower.
Once the work was complete, the Friends’ Chairman, Lyn Richards, was offered the opportunity to go up in the cherry picker to see the result of the work from the top, and also admire the even more magnificent views of Box Hill from well above the Tower.
Please note that the Zig Zag Road will be closed from 11th to 15th January from 8.00 am and 6.00 pm so that the National Trust can undertake the reinstatement of the roadside verges. The Car park and Servery will be able to be accessible from one side or the other during this period except on Wednesday 13 Jan which will be NT’s official annual Road Closed Day when the Zig Zag Road will be closed to all unauthorised traffic for 24 hours.
Parking may be limited through January and February as works to improve the car park will be undertaken.
A festive Christmas wreath making workshop for Friends was held at Warren Farm Barns, led by NT ranger Amanda McCormick. Everyone went away pleased with their wreath and full of Christmas cheer (helped by an excellent lunch and some very welcome mulled wine and mince pies).
Amanda McCormick, NT Ranger will help us to make our own Christmas Wreath and other decorations. The natural materials will be collected beforehand. Please bring gloves and secateurs if you have them. At the end you will have a lovely wreath to take away. A light lunch and mulled wine will be provided. £12 per head.
Mark Dawson, NT Head Ranger, will talk to us about the different UK deer, their lifecycles and habitats. He will discuss the management of deer – and a venison stew and glass of wine will be provided after the talk. A vegetarian option will also be available. Please contact Lyn Richards to book a place.
The Belties are back! Autumn has arrived on Box Hill and the cattle have returned to take over the grassland conservation work. Look out for them in the Zig Zag valley (14 of them) and Lower Viewpoint (just 6). Not that this means the Box Hill NT volunteers can now take it easy as there is still plenty of work to do. The Belties are just a little fussy over what they eat so the volunteers have been tasked with getting rid of the nasty prickly hawthorn and other scrub that the cattle won’t touch before they move into their new areas. Scrub clearance work has already been finished on the slopes above the old Military Road (bearing in mind that the objective is to thin it out not completely remove it) and work has started on Dukes. It’s all a balance between clearance and leaving enough for the invertebrates to have shelter over winter.
Sam Bayley, NT Lead Ranger for Leith Hill will talk to us about bird ringing and we will watch while he catches and rings some birds on Leith Hill. Sam has been bird ringing for many years as a volunteer for the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) and has been building extensive knowledge on the birds at Leith Hill and their conservation and habitat needs. Sam has undertaken ringing expeditions to The Gambia, Singapore and Spain as well as other parts of the UK and funds the ringing himself as well as training new people for the future. There will be a lot of standing around so you might like to bring something to sit on. Please contact Lyn Richards to book.