SHARING EXPERIENCE WITH YOUNG NATURE CONSERVATIONISTS FROM TURKEY – February 21st
PHOTO Names l to r: Dan Bradbury (WLT), Ozlem Parlar, Muge Ocal, Sevgi Kaynar (NATURA), Sal Jenkinson (Millennium Green), Okan Urkur (NATURA), Charlotte Beckham & Jesse Timberlake (WLT) at the entrance to Arthur’s Wood.
The Green and the World Land Trust have worked together on many things, and in February the Green was delighted to be included in a visit to Suffolk by some pioneering conservationists from Turkey (NATURA) whom WLT have been hosting. The NATURA campaign is to prevent further loss of precious and antique Oriental Sweetgum forest (Liquidambar orientalis) which can be found only in southwestern Turkey, and on Rhodes and Cyprus. In the last 70 years the area of this unique forest has shrunk by two-thirds (from over 6000ha to under 2000ha) as a result of urban and agricultural encroachment, and is close to being unsustainable.
These young volunteers who have done serious scientific background work are mounting a campaign to reconnect dispersed segments of the remaining forests by planting connecting corridors. They aim to increase the total amount to a much more sustainable 2500ha. Getting the local people behind this campaign will be hard because of the apparent conflicts with urban and agricultural needs, and setting up the organisation to deliver the project will be a challenge all in itself because there are no precedents in Turkey of land management for the environment by bodies other than government. So on one day in February these representatives of NATURA visited Minsmere (possibly the largest non-governmental conservation charity in Britain with an army of paid staff and substantial premises) and Halesworth Millennium Green (one of the smallest, with no paid staff and to date nothing more than a garage for tool storage! ) As well as the question of how to organise, engagement with the public is enormously challenging for NATURA and we were glad to share our experience of working with local people, from those who do the land management to those who support the Green with funding or sheer enthusiasm. We wish NATURA and WLT well.
WINTERLIGHT! FESTIVAL – February 12th
The last wherry to use the New Reach as a commercial waterway was Fred Lambert’s Star, in the early 1900s. More than 100 years later at the WinterLight! Festival in February in 2017 we saluted his memory and raised a 30 foot mast on the willow wherry to celebrate the days when these HGVs of water transport would have sailed between the meadows and right into Halesworth. More than 70 people,
including many children who had made lanterns at the Library’s afternoon workshop,
made a lantern-lit evening procession led by the Oxblood Mollies from the Library to the Green.
White Bridge twinkled as never before, a bright blue star was hoisted on the mast,
and finally the ghost of the Green made his appearance biking down to his wherry – as many wherrymen did, morning and evening, to begin and finish their day’s work.
BRING AND BUY PLANT SALE – May 27th – to support the Green and Halesworth Library
We talked to at least 5 people who knew nothing about the Green previously, we consolidated our good links with the Library, and we raised £200 which we split with the Library. And, thanks to the weather, I think we even enjoyed the morning!
ANNUAL MEETING – July 2nd
The Green was glad to take part in Halesworth in Bloom’s celebrations of the town’s very own top scientist, Joseph Dalton Hooker born 200 years ago and recognised as having made a crucial contribution to the development of natural science. At the same time, we ran a 5-day exhibition about the Green in the Library setting out events of the last year and inviting people to comment and suggest how the Green might contribute to the enjoyment of local people over the coming year.
An outdoor event in October? always a risk and the rain did come down for a while. Nevertheless, many people enjoyed the displays and games of the Green’s Drop-In Annual Open Morning. There was lots of interest in, and feedback on, our suggestions for what might be done with Chestnut Meadow.
The wildlife highlight of the Drop-In morning was the attendance of not one or even two, but three water voles along the New Reach.
ANGLIA IN BLOOM
Certificate presented to Halesworth Millennium Green in recognition as Halesworth’s
Nomination for The Best Biodiversity Award 2016
WINTER GLOW WORMS 14th February
from Monday’s Eastern Daily Press ” The people of Halesworth gathered to bless the town’s fruit trees in the hope of a good harvest later in the year.
Organised by Halesworth Library and the Millennium Green volunteers dozens gathered at dusk to take part in the ancient tradition at the community orchard and, while the ceremony itself may be historic, it is the first time the event has been held in the town.
Nicky Rowbottom, one of the co-ordinators, said: ‘we wanted to encourage people to get out into the community orchard and see the Millennium Green at different times of the day and different times of the year. It’s not just a place for summer and it’s not just a place for daylight. It’s really lovely to have so many people, we never dreamed that so many would turn up’.
Earlier in the day, children made lanterns in a special craft session at the town’s library, then all were invited to the Green for a candlelit procession to the orchard led by the Oxblood musicians.
Once at the orchard each person took a small piece of fruit cake to put in the trees’ branches and poured apple juice on their roots while reciting a short poem.
Librarian Meraylah Allwood led the blessing, known as ‘wassailing’ and said; ‘for a couple of years we’ve thought it would be nice to have a winter festival of lights on the Millennium Green and this year we just thought we’d go for it. What’s great is we’ve got really little children here and the oldest person is about 85.’
CHRISTMAS TREE FESTIVAL in St Mary’s Church
The theme this year was A Christmas Carol and with a few suggestions from the Volunteers our two great friends, Doreen Hale and Maureen Anstey, decorated a tree on behalf of the Green.
Doreen also wrote a poem:
In Praise of the Millennium Green (to the tune of “Oh Tannenbaum”/”Oh Christmas tree”)
Millennium Green oh Millennium Green
Your meadows, trees and branches
Millennium Green oh Millennium Green
Blyth River and Six Arches
Cows come to graze in Summer time
Your home to wild life all the time
Millennium Green oh Millennium Green
You give so much pleasure.
Millennium Green oh Millennium Green
Such wide and open spaces
Millennium Green oh Millennium Green
Green and pleasant places
The Young and old have so much fun
In winter snow or summer sun
Millennium Green oh Millennium Green
You are such a treasure.
WINTER FAYRE STALL 13th December 2015
Green Volunteers were glad to take part again in the Lions’ Fayre and, in spite of the rain, lots of people enjoyed our games and helped us to raise over £150 – guessing the weight of the chocolate cowpat, with fly, was hotly contested and won by Caroline who came within 3oz of the proper weight. The hampers for guessing the distances between the new signposts went to Sally and Reg and Tricia got the name of the cow (Cowslip, of course!) Even more than fund-raising, the Fayre gives us the opportunity to talk to lots of local people about the Green, especially the far corners that not everyone knows.
15th ANNUAL OPEN MEETING 4th October 2015
HERITAGE WEEKEND, NEW REACH TRAIL WALKS 12th/13th September 2015
Dan Bradbury and Scott Guiver from the World Land Trust – leading a group walk as part of the Halesworth Arts Festival they were telling us about having seen owls and egrets on Blyth Meadow when a little egret helpfully flew past, bang on cue. Dan & Scott have been visiting the Green every lunchtime for at least 18 months now and are contributing enormously to the Green’s natural history records.
You might have noticed that a strange structure appeared briefly in the New Reach near White Bridge. This was to show the true astonishing size of the wherries which once came up that waterway all the way into town, and was there during Halesworth’s Heritage Open Day event. This has inspired us to plan an extension to the willow wherry (on the bank, in Folly Meadow) to 50 feet, to reflect the proper size.
DUSK WALK 12th August 2015
O’er folded blooms
On swirls of musk
The beetle booms adown the glooms
And bumps along the dusk
a poem by James Whitcomb Riley
There weren’t too many bumps in spite of the dark on our Dusk Walk which a record number of 65 people (and two dogs) shared. That wasn’t the only record for the night: our youngest visitor that evening, Jack, who came all the way from Ipswich with his family for the Walk, pointed out a micro moth that turned out to be a Mother of Pearl – that’s a first for the Green, so thank you Jack for that sighting. Other wildlife sightings in August include common darter, ruddy darter and migrant hawker dragonflies, a painted lady butterfly (another new record) and several holly blue butterflies who are having a very good second (summer) brood this year.
FOLLOW THE NEW REACH TRAIL 3rd June 2015
In early June more than 30 walkers strolled the gentle mile of the New Reach Trail for the first time, using a leaflet and information put together by the Green with the help of the Museum.
FROM GREEN TO SCREEN TALK 20th May 2015
World Land Trust staff Scott Guiver & Dan Bradbury gave an excellent talk at the United Reform Church about their lunchtime walks on the Green. Thanks to them we have a whole new understanding of the range and beauty of the wildlife that lives on, and visits, the Green.
DAWN CHORUS 17th May 2015
May saw the arrival of spring on the Green with the emergence of the first dragonflies and damselflies and the appearance of spring plants such as yellow rattle, adder’s-tongue fern and ragged robin in Folly Meadow. The birds have also been busy and a group of keen and slightly demented birdwatchers set their alarms for a 4am start to witness the delightful sound of the dawn chorus – around 25 species were heard or seen. Highlights included the sight of a female whitethroat collecting nesting material while the male sang away in the tree above, and a grey wagtail hopping about under one of the railway arches.
NATIONAL ‘Sing to the Trees Day’ 22nd April 2015
The community orchard trees will grow all the better for having been serenaded in late April by the music of the U3A (University of the 3rd Age) Ukelele Group at the Sing-to-the-Trees picnic. There are apples, pears, plums and cherries, all local varieties, along with hazelnuts there for scrumping once the fruit is ripe.
LIONS FAIR December 14th 2014
This was a great success – we talked to masses of people and raised nearly £200.
ANNUAL MEETING September 28th 2014
WALKS AND TALKS May – July 2014
Special Walk for Dogs July 24th
Twenty-five people and fifteen dogs responded to our invitation to this experimental walk. What a terrific group of dogs and owners as there wasn’t a moment’s tension. The weather was on our side and many present were introduced to areas of the Green (and it’s wildlife and history) that they didn’t know existed- including Rails End. A big thank you to Elaine Brown (qualified dog trainer, instructor and behaviour practitioner) for being on hand to offer advice and answer any dog walking related questions.
Looking for glow worms July 15th
The weather was perfect for the evening Glow Worm Walk but unfortunately wildlife does not come pre-ordered and not one was spotted during the walk itself. However, 30+ people had a terrific time as we explored the Green while waiting for dusk – whirligig beetles, dark bush crickets and red soldier beetle were just some of the mini beasts found on the night who share the Green with the glow worms. The children were very excited about seeing bats flying above them as we walked along the track. Everyone was inspired to hunt for glow worms themselves now they know what to look for, where and when.
Water life walk July 8th
Despite more wet weather accompanying one of the Greens summer walks we were joined by a group of eager young wildlife fans (and accompanying adults) for the water life walk and pond dipping activity led by John Harold- they were rewarded with tanks full of boatmen, backswimmers, stickleback, louse, leaches, nymphs, snails and larvae and the mornings star turn…a Great Diving Beetle. An extra treat was the sight of a grass snake and slow worms under the tin sheets specially situated to monitor and record the reptiles on the Green.
Wildflower walk June 28th
The Green welcomed members of the Southwold branch of the Suffolk Wildlife Trust, along with some of our regular walk attendees, for this Saturday morning wildflower walk. The threatened heavy showers held off until later that day and the 32 people present were treated to a tour of the Greens varied flora by experienced local botanist Graham Peck and added bonuses in the form of meadow brown, ringlet and comma butterflies, male and female banded demoiselle and a grass snake in Folly Meadow.
Bat walk May 27th
There was something of the ‘Dunkirk Spirit’ to the late May Bat Walk. Constant heavy rain threatened to keep both the Bats and those wishing to hear and see them away, but 19 hardy souls braved the conditions and persevered for two drenching wet hours. Spirits were kept high by the enthusiasm, knowledge and communication skills of walk leader Dr Iain Barr, who brought the hidden and mysterious world of these creatures to life even before we’d encountered any. The perseverance paid off as we saw and – thanks to the bat detectors brought along by Iain – heard Common Pipistrelle and Soprano Pipistrelle bats. Everyone went home drenched but with big smiles on their faces.
Dawn Chorus walk May 18th
A 4.15am start in the middle of May didn’t put twenty people off listening to the sound of a dawn chorus on the Green and experiencing the place at a time of the day that was new to the majority of us- the early start rewarded us with fading moonlight followed by the sight of mist shrouded meadows and finally a sunrise over Blyth Meadow, the perfect backdrop for the 31 species of birds that were heard and seen during the morning.
PLANT SALES May 10th and 21st 2014
The Sunday Plant Sale on the Green raised £161.60 ! Seriously impressive for a dismal rainy morning. Lots of plants contributed by many different people, an astonishing number sold. The remainder are stored pending a clear-up mini-sale which we’re aiming to have in the Thoroughfare on Wednesday 21st May – this was much easier going with better weather and a bigger footfall. We raised another £60.60 and the remaining plants have gone to the library for their Plant Sale on June 8th.
ROYAL OAK PLANTING March 19th 2014
Thanks to The World Land Trust, the Green was able to play a crucial role with Edgar Sewter School in a lovely event in March.
“The Promise” is a powerful and charming children’s story (written by Nicola Davies and illustrated by Laura Carlin) about the transforming power of doing small acts to help make the world a better place.
In particular, by planting a tree – so having heard Nicola and Laura read the story to a school assembly, Year 3 came down to the Green to plant a Royal Oak.
This tiny sapling had come from one of the Royal Parks and had been given to the Green by Rob Hall as part of a Jubilee Hedgerow Pack from the Woodland Trust – the rest of which have been planted alongside the New Reach towpath.
COMMUNITY TREE PLANTING November 24th 2013
FESTIVAL OF ECOLOGY June 19th to July 17th 2013
”I’m coming to every one, it’s like going on a course”
”I don’t remember everything that I was told on the walks but now sometimes when I see something I suddenly remember what was said about it and I LOOK much more than I used to”
”I never realised the Green was such a good nature site, I thought it was just a green space to take the dog for a walk”
”Oh, how sad it’s the last one”
”Please will you do some more?”
Just some of the feedback the organising team got from those of you who joined us during the four week long festival- A HUGE THANKS to those who have been quoted above and to everyone who attended the events and who made it all possible.
The planning for the festival began as far back as October 2011 when the Millennium Green Trust applied for a grant from the British Ecological Society in order to put on a series of ecological themed events that would form part of country wide series of events to celebrate the centenary of the BES in 2013. We were the only successful candidate in Suffolk and the funding was put toward staging the following walks, talks, surveys and creativity;-
19th June- Geology & Ecology Walk (Dale Peck)
Gathering at White Bridge for the first event and Dale starts his introduction to the various geological layers and habitats that make up the Millennium Green. A story that covers over 2 million years of turbulent change from warm shallow seas to ice sheets and boggy fen. It’s hard to believe all this went on what is now the Green when you see it today.
26th June- Plant Walk (Graham Peck)
Graham leads the walk, with umbrella’s both up and down, to discover the many varied plants that are to be found on the Green- tall ones, short ones, some growing on the bottom of water courses, some floating on the waters courses, others growing in the cracks of manmade structuers. There’s a rich variety of flora to be discovered on the Millennium Green.
30th June- Reptile & Amphibian Survey (Etienne Swartz)
It was well worth the early 8am start as Etienne taught those that had set their alarm clocks all about our native reptiles and amphibians including their habits & habitats and how to survey for them- two Slow worms, a Grass snake and toad tadpoles were all recorded during the morning
30th June- Small Mammal Survey (Kelly Jacobs)
From Reptiles & Amphibians to Small Mammals. Kelly explains the methods of humanely trapping and recording small mammals- using tube traps (visible in the top photo), that were set the night before and filled with a ‘mouth watering’ treat of peanut butter, porridge oats, apple and maggots, to catch any resident small mammals. These are then checked and any occupants carefully recorded and released back to where that particular trap was set. Three Common Shrew and one Wood Mouse were recorded via the trapping, one other Common Shrew was noted under a galvanise sheet during the morning.
3rd July- Hedges, Trees & Orchards Walk (Richard Woolnough and Mike Wade)
The group was split into two for this walk with one half heading for the Community Orchard (top photo) with Mike to learn about the various fruit trees planted there and how to go about pruning them while the other half went with Richard to discover the many trees that can be found on the Green and how they can be identified, aged and recorded. It was all change half way through the evening in order for both groups to partake in both walks/workshop.
7th July- Dragonflies & Damselflies Survey (Graham Peck)
A sunny and hot Sunday morning saw Graham teach us all about Dragonflies and Damselfies- including their evolution and life cycles. The following species were spotted on the day;-
Dragonflies- Four-spotted chaser, Black-tailed Skimmer
Damselflies- Azure, Blue-tailed, Large Red, Emerald, Banded Demoiselle
10th July Bat Walk (Alan Miller & Etienne Swartz)
A 9pm start did not deter fifty people from turning out on a July evening to learn about Bats, and how to use Bat detectors, from Alan and Ettiene. It was not the best of conditions to carry out such a survey- although three species of Bats were detected, these being Soprano pipistrelle (Pipistrellus pygmaeus), Common pipistrelle (Pipistrellus pipistrellus), Noctule (Nyctalus noctula)-however as the light faded and night took hold we discovered that we had the following residents on the Green…
…yes Glow Worms. In fact they are not worms at all but beetles. The male is winged but the ‘laviform female’ is flightless. She sits in grass and low vegation at dusk and uses a form of bioluminesecence (the glow itself) to attract the males. Five Glow Worms were noted on the walk itself and as people dispersed 14 more were reported. This was a very exciting discovery (and one of the highlights of the festival) because apart from a well known sight in a nearby churchyard very few (if any) other sights have been recorded in the area surrounding Halesworth.
13th July Eco Fair- Science & Surveying Day
Linda (with help from Graham and Jill) carried out an ‘invertebrates safari’ in Folly Meadow, The Folly was also surveyed and the following was noted on the day;-
Greenfly, Field Grasshopper, Formica Fusca Ant, Figwort Weevil, Black Ant, A species of Red Ant, Woodlouse, A species of Snail, Thick-legged Flower Beetle (Oedemera nobilis), Aphid, Woodlouse, ‘Oak’ Weevil, ‘Garlic’ Snail, ‘Oak’ Spider, A Springtail, Black Ant, Digger wasp.
The pond dipping activity (led by Kelly) proved to be very popular, the following was found over the course of the day;-
Wandering Snail, Flatworms, Water Boatmen (both species), Leech, Whirligig Beetle, Midge larvae, Water Fleas, Springtails, Hoglouse, Water Beetle larvae, Peashell (a small fresh water Clam), Cased Caddisfly larvae, Freshwater Shrimp, Snail eggs, Beetle larvae, 10-Spined Stickleback, Mayfly larvae, Dragonfly larvae, Tadpoles, Damselfly larvae, Colymbetes Beetles, Eft (immature Newts).
John on the nature table where people could come and study Owl pellets, shed Grass snake skins and various bones & remains of creatures that both live and don’t live on the Millennium Green.
The festival volunteers take time out to relax and enjoy a BBQ around the camp fire- further Glow Worms were spotted during an informal night walk and a Tawny Owl and Fox were both heard during the evening.
14th July Eco Fair- Craft & Creative Day
Under the guidance of willow artist Maggie Campbell the willow sculpture begins to take shape.
Meraylah Allwood runs through the process of making paint pigment from natural materials and how this was used by artists in the Tudor period- those who wanted to had the opportunity to produce their own scroll using these old methods.
Lots of activity around the natural dyes demonstration led by Jayne Stansfield and Heather Calo.
Nature themed poetry transformed the ‘willow tunnel/seat’ into the ‘poetry tunnel/seat’- pencils and paper were left at the seat for anyone inspired enough to have a go at their own poem.
All hands on deck to finish off the willow sculpture…
…the finished piece!
17th July Owl Walk– Steve Piotrowski
Steve rounds the festival off by educating those gathered all about Owls, their habitats and the positioning of nest boxes. The evening ended in perfect style as those present were treated to the sight of a Barn Owl hunting over Lester’s Piece.
ALL WEATHER TRACK LAUNCH May 18th 2013