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Local and Topical

Published on February 3rd, 2014 | by Steve Budden


Update from the Commons

We start a new year with the same problems that we ended last year with. Like the rest of the region, the Commons have taken a bit of a battering. As many of you will have seen, the Royal Victoria Grove suffered the most dramatic damage, with the largest tree in the avenue coming down on Christmas Eve complete with it’s root plate, taking down another tree from the adjacent line with it. This has opened a big hole within the Avenue and we will have to assess the situation when we have cleared away all the timber. It will be some time before we can accomplish that however with the ground so sodden; any attempt to get the necessary heavy equipment onto the Common at the moment would cause a terrible mess.

We are currently clearing trees and scrub between the Grove and the Racecourse to open a view towards the High Street and create another open, heathy glade for our reptiles and invertebrates to re-colonise. Because of the same problems with sodden ground we will be stacking this timber as well until we have some dry, or freezing conditions. At least this way we can make sure all our cutting is done before the nesting season is upon us.

As we get closer to spring, this clearance and the other one we have made between Wellington Rocks and Edgcumbe Road will be seeded with our restoration grass mix to help keep out Birch and Sycamore seeds and allow any dormant seeds left from before the trees overwhelmed the heathland to have a chance of germinating.

Over on Rusthall Common we have been busy opening up the drainage ditches and trying to get excess water away from roads and properties; we definitely chose the right time to upgrade the system! We are also cutting a new path through the little valley that runs along the Rusthall Rd side of the Tarry Path. The new path starts at the bottom of the flight of steps half way along the Tarry Path and will finish near the junction of Rusthall Road and Sunnyside Road. When this path is finished, we will be moving on to the Marlpit Ponds area on the other side of Coach Road, where we will be cutting another new path back towards Common View. Rusthall will also be the focus of this years work in our programme to push back the woodland from our road edges, as we will be clearing many of the old, ivy covered trees adjacent to Rusthall Road.

So far, we have escaped any snow or severe cold and as seems to have regularly happened in recent years, many of our plants and a number of our birds seem to think that Spring is already upon us. I have seen catkins on Hazels and crocus and daffodils emerging, as well as hearing Great Tits calling for a mate and even a Woodpecker drumming. This probably means that we are in for the harshest and longest Winter for years but you never know; it is worth bearing in mind that the frogs have often returned to our ponds by Valentines Day. At the moment, Spring seem far away but at least the days are definitely lengthening.

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