Monday, 30 December 2013

Ups and Downs of the Yule Tide

The KFB was completed about two weeks before Christmas and - as you can see from the picture of Alan finishing the roof - stood over 1.5 metres above the water line at that time.

With about ten days to go to Christmas, the KFB was still standing proud and we thought our only concerns would be regarding how easily a predator such as Mink might be able to reach the nesting chambers.

Kingfisher activity around the KFB showed no signs of diminishing as these super pictures taken by Neil Schofield show.

Neil's observations revealed that fishing around the KFB area was proving successful for our resident birds.

Then came the three days of storms and by Christmas Day, the Great Ouse had burst it's banks and flowed into the main lake. The water flowed right through our lake and crossed the fields into the adjacent fishing club lake.

Our concern now was should we re-christen the KFB as PNB (Pike Nesting Bank).

Four days after Christmas and the water level has fallen by around 2 feet - we now have a CLB (Cormorant Loafing Bank)

Or possibly CFB (Cormorant Fighting Bank)

As I write the rain has been falling most of the morning and the forecast is wet for the week ahead. I fear our multi-purpose bank may see many more ups and downs before the spring.

Monday, 23 December 2013

Development of Land Adjacent to HESC

Barratt Homes has submitted a screening opinion request for the proposed development of land off Wolverton Road at Great Linford.

The request for the proposed development of land at Linford Lakes Wolverton Road, Great Linford, Milton Keynes comprising approx. 70 ha; is for :

  • up to 250 residential dwellings,
  • new accesses onto Wolverton Road and Little Linford Lane,
  • internal access roads, ancillary recreation/play space and incidental landscape areas;
  • creation of country park (approx. 59ha) and visitor centre together with car and coach parking for up to 200 vehicles,
  • new access and internal footpaths and access ways                                                          


Wednesday, 18 December 2013

Re Cabinet Shuffle

The debate regarding the transfer of HESC to the Parks Trust due to take place at tonight's MK Council Cabinet Meeting has been deferred to a later date.

Word on the street, is that the Lead Councillors did not feel the report compiled by the Community Facilities Department, was complete enough to properly debate and so reach a decision.

It is also entirely possible that some of the concerns expressed by the Friends Group have struck a chord with our Councillors.

We are now hopeful that before the next meeting is convened, we will have an opportunity to meet with the decision makers to put our views on the subject and achieve a balanced outcome which matches the needs of the Good and the Great, the Green and the Grubby and the small feathered and furry.

We will keep you posted

Tuesday, 17 December 2013

Made Glorious Summer by ..............

Following on from yesterdays post, I am delighted to report that I have now received a response from David Foster, the Chief Executive of the Parks Trust, which (at least for now) allays many of our fears regarding the future for the reserve and the Friends Groups roll in its care, maintenance and usage.

Whilst my own natural, small minded, pessimism makes it difficult to totally accept the degree of altruism David claims the Park Trust are displaying, I also feel, it would be totally inappropriate for us not to give his organisation every opportunity to live up to their promises.

Once the Council hearing is complete and we know exactly what is going to happen I will report more.


Monday, 16 December 2013

 Now is the Winter of Our Discontent
A MK Council report, which proposes the transfer of the HESC Nature Reserve along with the new Stanton Low Country Park to the Parks Trust, is due to go before the MK Council Cabinet meeting this Wednesday (18th December).

Since the Parks Trust looks after much of MK’s green estate, this could be a good move. However there is no guarantee that it will continue to be used as a study centre for local schoolchildren. Nor that an unspent grant of £100,000 will ever be used for its original purpose; to fund improvements to the existing study centre.

As a result, the Hanson Environmental Centre may lose its position as one of the most interesting and diverse habitats for studying wildlife in Milton Keynes.
The Parks Trust have said they have not made any plans for the future of the Centre and Reserve, but since their education facilities will be based elsewhere, they say they would probably not continue the programme of school study visits to HESC.
Surprisingly, the Council report makes no mention of the Friends Group as stakeholders or even as an interested party.

As Chair of Friends of the Hanson Environmental Study Centre Chairman, I have written to the Council expressing the group’s concerns, and pressing for the Friends Group to continue to be involved in its running. I intend to raise these concerns at the Council Cabinet meeting this Wednesday, 18 December, when the subject is debated.

The hope is that should MK Council decide to proceed with the transfer, they will put in place sufficient caveats to ensure the continued success of the Nature Reserve and the Friends Group involvement in both its running and care.
Tony Bedford




Friday, 6 December 2013

Our Patron Coughs Up Towards KFB
(Well on it actually)

As they say on the TV, those of you of a delicate or squeamish disposition may wish to look away now..... OK, for the rest here we go.

On Wednesday afternoon, Macro Bob (no, not a  new form of twerking, but he of the super photo presentation) asked, if he could have a look at last Sunday's work on the KFB. Despite the perils of the mud, I agreed, and we carefully picked our way down to the site.

Whilst I was pointing out the excellent tiled patio roof, that Neil and Dave had constructed, Bob noticed there was a fair amount of white bird poo in one corner.

"Do you think that's from a Kingfisher?" he asked.
"Well it could be from any bird" I rather pessimistically replied. "But hang on, what's this?"

I had found, sitting on the corner of the KFB, a small white pellet consisting of dried fish scales and small fish bones.

The Pellet was extremely dry and fragile and fell apart as soon as I picked it up -
probably one of the reasons you normally never see them,
plus of course they usually fall in water.

I am sure that most of you will be aware, that along with Owls and Birds of Prey, our little friend the Kingfisher, also has a need to dispose of the indigestible elements of it's dinner, by regurgitating them in the form of a small pellet, and that is what I had found.

When I got home, I thought I might do a little research on the subject and came across these pictures by Andrew Adams. I contacted Andrew, and he very willingly gave permission for us to feature his stunning photographs, which graphically capture a Kingfisher ejecting a pellet.

She appears to have a tickle in her throat

Ah, What's This?

Nearly out

That's better

If the discovery of the pellet was not enough to confirm acceptance of the KFB as the place for a discerning Kingfisher to be seen. This afternoon, I again witnessed our girl (you can tell the ladies as they have a light coloured bottom half to their bill) sitting on the KFB and on the branches that we pushed into the mud close by.

My only concern now, is they think we have built them a bistro, rather than a maternity home!

Kingfisher photographs courtesy of and copyright Andrew Adams
Pellet by Bob Furness

Tuesday, 3 December 2013

Best Wishes for Your New Life on Orkney

On behalf of all the members of FoHESC I would like to wish Graeme Walker and his wife Gudula (or our lass as she normally appears in Graeme's blogs) the best of luck with their move to Orkney.

Graeme - proving men can multi-task

Graeme was a founder member of FoHESC and as our first Secretary really helped us get things moving. He sets sail this week to join his lass who is already on the Islands helping care for the Orkney folk.

"His Lass" in full focus
 We hope that you find the home of your dreams and wish you the very best in your new adventure.


Monday, 2 December 2013

KFB Gets Shipshape
(Although It's Not Always Plain Sailing)

I though I might use this post as an opportunity to look back over some of the events of the last month, as well as an update on progress on the KFB.

Firstly a big thank you to everyone who turned out on a pretty drab day to make this November's Open Sunday such a well-attended, successful and enjoyable day.

The bonhomie which seems to pervade FoHESC events, was again very evident, when we held our first photography group evening proper on the 20th November.

The budding macro-photographers gather for Bob's presentation

The session was hosted by FoHESC member and keen photographer Bob Furness and covered the subject of macro-photography. Bob gave an informative and enjoyable presentation which covered a little theory, plenty of useful tips and Bob's own take on and attitude to, this fascinating art. The presentation was illustrated with many of Bob's excellent photo's and was very well received by the thirty plus attendees. Our next photography group evening will be on 22nd January and will be an illustrated presentation on wildlife photography, by Chris Ward from the local RSPB Group.

A Bridge Too Wet - The route to the bund is rescued

Those of you who have been getting hands-on in the building of our Kingfisher bank project, will appreciate that getting materials to the building site has been more and more challenging, as the month has gone on. Firstly the bridge connecting the bund to the shore started to sink below the rising lake and needed recovering to the more traditional position - i.e. above the water. Then the mud on the bund became thicker, wetter and generally more yucky and made the use of wheelbarrows very difficult.

The offer from Martin Kincaid of the loan of a Parks Trust boat, to help transport material from the overflow car park to the KFB site, was therefore, received with delight if perhaps also a little trepidation.

Loading sand and gravel into sacks prior to shipment

As it turned out the boat became boats and after a few minor teething issues we were soon ferrying sand, gravel and tiles out to the bund.

The time honoured method of transporting goods by water is resurrected at HESC

The weather was - for the first day of December - unbeatable and our plucky crew cut quite a dash as they crossed an azure lake under matching blue skies. Boatiful.

Off loading at the KFB Docks
The KFB is filled to the top with sand

With a more reliable supply of materials the construction team were able to complete the filling of the main shell with sand and then lay a patio-style tiled roof to help keep the whole structure water-proof.

This is not just any KFB - This a FoHESC KFB and quality is our watchword

The tile roof has been laid with over-hanging edges to
provide a little more security from predators

The last part of the plan is to put a retaining row of single bricks around the edge of the top of the tiled roof and infill with gravel to finish the job.

If you check-out our Flickr site (FoHESC Images), you will see that Neil Schofield has captured some excellent shots of kingfishers around the KFB area, and once again one of the little chaps can be seen sitting on the bank itself.

Fingers crossed folks.

Photographs by Malcolm Stewart and Tony Bedford