Posts Tagged ‘Friends of Chorlton Meadows’

John Agar

It is with great sadness that we have learned of the death of John Agar on 17 April 2020.  John was a very committed and enthusiastic member of SACV and right up until recent weeks he was a stalwart of the group, for many years our most frequent volunteer.  John was out with us most recently at Chorlton Water Park on Sunday 1 March, where he busily got stuck in to the construction of a willow arch.

John had a passion for the natural world and conservation and he especially enjoyed having more time to indulge these interests in later life.  In former years, John was a fixture on our residential weekends in the Peaks, until he “retired” from weekends away in 2013.  On those weekends, John continued his working life’s habit of very early starts, so by the time the rest of us were up John would inevitably have been for a walk to listen to the local birdsong as well as got the breakfast porridge, tea and toast on the go!

John was a founder member of the Friends of Chorlton Meadows, a group we have worked with many times over the years.  Having lived in Chorlton all his life, John was a source of fascinating memories of the changing local environment.

Since the loss of John, tributes have come in from the volunteers who have worked with him over the years: it is clear he was held in huge affection and warm regard, a vocal advocate for the natural environment, infectiously enthusiastic and always willing to share his knowledge with others, warm and welcoming to volunteers of all ages, good-humoured and good company.  He will be greatly missed.

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For our last activity of 2019, we joined the Friends of Chorlton Meadows, this time to work in an area of grassland which (it is hoped) will return to being used for the grazing of cattle for part of each year from 2020.  Careful management and grazing at the right time of the year will help to maintain this important habitat. We continued work already started by the Friends to remove areas of bramble encroaching onto the grassland – and had fine weather until the very end of the day.

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Yesterday we were back in a familiar pond in Chorlton Meadows and with familiar company: members of the Friends of Chorlton Meadows, of course!  We’ve worked here several times in the past, and once again were clearing reeds to maintain an important section of open water, in order to keep this habitat as diverse as possible.

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Well, our activities for 2018 are now over. Our last two outings have been with the Friends of Longford Park on 25th November and with the Friends of Chorlton Meadows on 9th December.

In Longford Park, we helped the Friends with a number of activities for the maintenance of the wildlife garden including seeding wood anemone, foxglove and yellow rattle; coppicing hazel; removing blackthorn which was invading the grassland area; and managing areas of dogwood, rose and flag iris near the pond.

At Chorlton Meadows, the Friends are currently in the process of trying to restore the only remaining area of old grassland. The aim is to re-introduce cattle grazing once the new fence has been completed. Sadly, many years of neglect has resulted in several species invading the field, not least bramble. The cattle will keep the invasive plant species down and allow the rarer plant species to thrive once again. SACV members spent the day working with the Friends in removing the bramble.

Hard work, but well worth it and our efforts were rewarded with an early Christmas soirée after the task, kindly hosted (as in previous years) by Elaine. Thanks to Elaine for the perfect end to the day!

And of course big thanks to everyone who has come out to volunteer with us in 2018!

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Our last two activities have been in Chorlton Meadows (Sunday 28th October) and Birch Moss Covert (Sunday 11th November). The first of these was to help the Friends of Chorlton Meadows with their work on the reed beds, maintaining an area of open water which is important for wildlife.

Next, at Birch Moss Covert, we worked with the Cheshire Wildlife Trust volunteers to prevent woodland encroaching on an important area of low heathland heather. 

For our next activity, we look forward to joining the Friends of Longford Park on Sunday 25th November!

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As in previous years we today worked with the Friends of Chorlton Meadows to maintain an area of open water in the reed bed here.  The reed bed and surrounding area continue to be one of the most diverse parts of the meadows: kingfisher, reed warbler, sedge warbler, water rail and the fastest declining British native species, willow tit, frequent the area. Throughout the summer large numbers of damselfly and dragonfly were hawking over the adjacent meadow.

Recently a local bird group ringed a sedge warbler. The same bird was caught again thirteen days later on the south coast having travelled over three hundred miles. Sedge warblers winter south of the Sahara desert.

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Yesterday we were out with the Friends of Chorlton Meadows.  We and the Friends were edging and gravelling a section of path that has been getting extremely muddy (sometimes impassable!) in winter – all being well it’ll now be better able to cope with the winter ahead!

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Today SACV members were out with the Friends of Chorlton Meadows.  We haven’t worked on this pond for the past couple of years, but as in 2012 and 2013 our task was to clear some of the reeds and overhanging willow in order to maintain an area of open water.  Without this, the pond will continue to close in and silt up, and might gradually cease to be the important habitat it is, including for the variety of birds – such as reed warbler, reed bunting, water rail and willow tit – which can be sighted here.

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Today SACV members teamed up with the Friends of Chorlton Meadows (FoCM) for some hedgelaying on the aptly named Hawthorn Lane.  The long stretches of hedge alongside the lane have been neglected for many years but FoCM and the wardens have started laying parts this autumn and winter.  Because of the age and thickness of the stems, this was a challenging hedge to work on (but it wasn’t all manual work – we did have a lot of assistance from a chainsaw!).  However, some good progress was made and there was even some root-laying done.  FoCM might manage more work on the hedge in the remainder of the winter and doubtless SACV will perhaps be back to work on it next year too!

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So, we finished 2014 with an event at Chorlton Ees on 23rd November: working with the Friends of Chorlton Meadows, we removed trees and scrub to the south of one of the ponds to allow more light in. Then on 7th December we were at New Moss Wood, which is one of the Woodland Trust’s sites and a new one for us. We carried out some coppicing and thinning at this relatively young woodland. It was a day of mixed weather (mostly wintry brightness but lunch in hail!) so we were glad afterwards to get into the dry for our annual seasonal get-together with mulled wine, mince pies and the like!

Now we’re into 2015, and we’ll be swinging into action next Sunday (11th January) at Chorlton Water Park, when we’ll be helping with some management of the willow groynes around the lake, which are important in protecting
the lake banks from erosion and providing a valuable wildlife habitat. New volunteers are welcome to join us!

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