Wednesday, 19 February 2014

WEBs Count Open Sunday 16th Feb

Egyptian Geese - Photo by Tony B

With assistance? from a goodly gathering of Friends Andy recorded the following species:

G.C.Grebe                 5
Heron                      14
Little Egret                 1
Cormorant                 3
Mute Swan              16
Canada Goose       22
Greylag Goose        82
Wigeon                    94
Teal  also                94
Mallard                      6
Gadwall                   22
Shoveler                   1
Tufted Duck             38
Egyptian Goose         2
Coot                         16
Woodcock                  1
Lapwing                   90
Kingfisher                   1

As Andy says "Not bad given the flooding"

Monday, 10 February 2014

Nicholas Watts, RSPB Nature Farmer of the Year, 2013 - 12th March at HESC

It's been a while since I've contributed a personal take on any or all things natural at HESC..... 
Today's offering is slightly off-topic, but at the same time wholly pertinent.
Most of you reading this will be as interested as I am to learn about conservation projects both nearby and throughout the UK.  
        Anyone who has travelled through crop-growing areas in Britain must have noticed the oddly sterile feel of a landscape in which there is much growing. Yes, there are verdant fields of wheat and barley, the green turning to gold as the year progresses. There are swathes of yellow early on, from rapeseed. Look closely, however, and you realise what's giving you that feeling of unease  - it's because of what's not there, and how the ground between crop plants is mostly devoid of any weed, or inconvenient shrub, to break the monotony of form and colour. 
         And if you've had time to stop, look and listen, you might also notice the lack of birds, and a very precious sound - birdsong.
          Nicholas Watts is a man who noticed. Awarded the MBE in 2006, and the Lapwing award (for a second time) in 2011, he farms on Vine House Farm in Spalding, Lincolnshire. 
          In 2013 he was awarded the RSPB 'Nature of Farming Award'.  Just before that, here in Milton Keynes, I heard him talk about his farming life, his growing realisation that birds were no longer abundant on the lands he worked and walked, and about his efforts to bring them back to farmland on which his family has farmed for generations. 
        He is a very engaging speaker, passionate about farming, and passionate about birds and nature.  His talks are illustrated with fascinating photographs both of the birds on his land, his collected data, and the old and new farm machinery which his family has used over the last 100 years or so.
His aim is to educate and inform everyone about how things can be done differently......

I'm delighted that he's agreed to return to MK to talk to us at here at The Hanson Centre on  Wednesday, 12th March.  Come along and support him - and us, in our efforts to ensure that HESC and the Reserve  are conserved and kept appropriately for the birds, plants and all other things bright and beautiful, including yourselves....!

Doors will be open from 7pm.
Entry is £3.00 for permit holders and under 18s, and £4.00 for non-members/guests. 
Refreshments, books, bird food will be available to buy, and the usual warm welcome guaranteed!

As many of you know, seating is limited in the Centre. 
If you'd like to reserve a seat:
tel or text 07801 735860, or email

(For more information about Nicholas Watts and his farm, visit

Thursday, 6 February 2014

Stanton Low Country Park
For those of you interested in the development of the park around HESC you may like to attend the following:
Stanton Low Park Landscaping
Saturday 15 February 2014
from 9am until 12 noon at Oakridge Park Medical Centre
All local residents and representatives are welcome to drop in to view and discuss the proposed phase 2 plans for Stanton Low Park. The plans include a neighbourhood play space for children of all ages, additional footpaths to enable inclusive access to the canal and countryside, a horse trail connecting to existing bridleways, areas of open space for informal public use, meadow, pasture and a paddock, community orchard, habitat creation and the conservation of existing habitats to increase diversity.
Community Engagement Drop-in Morning
The archaeology, heritage assets and wildlife of Stanton Low are at the very heart of the phase 2 proposals which address visitor parking and confirm the intended long term management of the park by The Parks Trust.
The conceptual masterplan for phase 2 of the park is available for download at

As the design evolves over the coming months, the latest proposals will be uploaded here for your information. All comments are valued and we encourage all residents and representatives to communicate their thoughts. This is important to enable the design team to effectively gauge the communities overall support for the scheme.
Comments should be emailed to by 10 March

Architecture, UDLA, Civic Offices, Saxon Gate East, Milton Keynes, MK9 3EJ. If you would like a copy of the masterplan posted to you, please call 01908 252109.

We look forward to seeing you on 15 February 2014, where tea, coffee and biscuits will be provided by Oakridge Park Residents Association.