A fascinating evening was enjoyed by those attending the Newbury Friends of the Earth Open Evening in Goldwell Park on Thursday 20 July.
A group of 20 people listened to a talk about Lockdown Woods by Dr Susan Millington, who leads the project, then were led on a ramble through the area of young saplings. They learned interesting facts about some of the 20 tree species growing in this new woodland from Joan Stacey, who is very knowledgeable about plants, and tales of some of the wildlife found in the area by Dave Webster, a local naturalist.
For instance, Joan pointed out one of the alder trees, which often grow in swampy ground, as their wood does not rot in water. Many of these have been planted in the lowest part of the park, in the dampest ground.
Dave told the group about finding hundreds of the alder leaf beetle laying eggs, and spending hours squashing the eggs and larvae to minimise damage to the young trees. Despite his efforts, several of the alders were stripped of their leaves, and the team thought they had died. Surprisingly, they have produced new leaves from their bases, showing great resilience. Bacteria in their roots can ‘fix’ nitrogen, which makes alder trees very successful in poor soils with low nutrients.
A local moth expert, Paul Black, had set three moth traps overnight, and showed us some of the 200 individuals he had caught in Goldwell Park. He told the group about some of the 53 species he identified, including a ‘Waved Black’ which is on the Nationally Scarce (B) list. All the moths were released after the event.
Newbury Friends of the Earth coordinator Dr Susan Millington said “We had a fantastic evening. Everyone learned a lot, and we all went away with a greater appreciation of our natural world, and how we can help it thrive. I would like to take this opportunity to thank West Berkshire Council, Newbury Town Council and Greenham Trust for their recent grants towards this project. We are hoping to extend the benefit to nature by linking two of our Lockdown Woods in Newbury with the development of a ‘wildlife corridor’”’.
Photos courtesy of Lucie Robinson