2009 – September

We had a good afternoon on Saturday at the Chalfont St Giles Fair, receiving a general murmur of support and a number of welcome new contacts/potential volunteers.

Last Thursday, the few of us who met at The Village Hall agreed that there were plenty of tasks for the working parties this Sunday but that we would leave deciding what to tackle until we had a better idea of numbers and Dave had completed a recce of the various ideas.  As always, it would help a great deal with planning the day, organising tools etc., if you could let me know if you expect to join us.

Come what may, volunteers congregating at the Chalfont St Peter Community Centre will be welcome from 09.30 and the first focus will be removal of the redundant fence near the Greyhound and continuation of the general “civilisation”of that area.  Others have already said they will continue with removal of the worst of the overgrowth past the Council Offices and there are a couple of small jobs planned for the backstream.

The Chalfont St Giles cohort will meet by the duckpond at 10.00.  There is a thought that we should tackle the flooding at Bottom House Farm and/or clearance of overgrowth and debris downstream of the ford to encourage the remains of this year’s flow into the village.  On the other hand, if numbers are really limited, maybe just some local tidying and further easing of the channel downstream.

Rivers in England are affected by a number of invasive plants.  One of the most severe is Himalayan Balsam which has been an issue on the River Chess but, as far as I am aware, not on our stretch of the Misbourne.  We have however begun to see an increase in its cousin Orange Balsam .  If this week’s walks identify substantial outbreaks of one or the other, removal will be added to our job’s list.   More likely the orange balsam is still at the “here and there” stage and control – (i.e at least removal of the flowers before they can “pop” and seed) – as part of a gentle walk is probably appropriate.   At this time of year the river and the small tributaries are overwhelmed by Fools Watercress with its celery like stalks and white flowers, which is a native perennial.  While providing a marvellous protective habitat for all sorts of snails, small amphibians etc., it does hold the water back and, in extremes causes flooding such as of the fields at  Bottom House Farm currently.  Like it or loathe it, there is no way we will ever eliminate it nor should we wish to.  However, clearing a narrow channel through it appears beneficial and encourages the river to flow more quickly exposing the gravel bed.  Within a few months it will die back, to reappear next year, initially  as deceptively small and attractive tiny green leaves.

For the working parties, as usual, we can provide gloves, hi-vis, rubbish bags and a selection of tools but if you would prefer to bring your own, the most useful include strong rakes.  People are welcome for as long or as little as they wish.   We generally stop around 1.00, when some go home and some break for pub lunch and resume after about an hour and a bit, sometimes joined by others coming for afternoon only.  If you arrive during the day and can’t see anyone, call my mobile 0781 651 4868.


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