FoEP: Improving the Park for the benefit of the whole community
Click pictures for larger view.
Clearly, any work we carry out will need to follow the current Government guidelines on social distancing, size of groups, etc. It will still be some time before we can organise activities involving community groups or volunteers from business and industry, but we are pleased to say that St Gregory's Catholic Primary School has already started work tidying up the insect-friendly herbaceous border along the west-facing fence separating the Park from Eleonore House.
Members of the FoEP will continue to cut back branches that overhang informal pathways through the Park's wooded areas and we also hope to start trimming back any vegetation, such as nettles, that encroach onto the paths. It is likely that we will also help with the work on the insect-friendly border, particularly at the southern end which has become heavily overgrown.
The Coronavirus lockdown restrictions are starting to ease and the FoEP can now think about the resumption of certain volunteer activities in the Park. Indeed, some work has already begun.
We have permission to pick up litter in the Park but we have decided not to organise any litter picking activities for the time being. If people decide to collect litter on their own initiative, they should take extra precautions during the current pandemic. As well as following the current Government guidelines about social distancing and size of groups, they should wear disposable gloves and sanitise the handles of litter pickers before and after work. Hands must be thoroughly washed at the end of the litter pick and people should not touch their faces during the litter picking. People may have left tissues and gloves in the Park and these should be regarded as contaminated items and disposed of accordingly.
The bare strip on the right-hand side of the picture is a pathway that we mowed through the long grass last autumn; it is pleasing that park users have followed this path. The bare patch under the trees, however, should be teeming with wildflowers. It seems, though, that the unusually wet winter followed by an exceptionally dry spring has not favoured the germination and growth of the seed sowed by the FoEP last autumn.
As pointed out in last month's news, this is not true of the yellow rattle seed planted last year. There is now a good growth of yellow rattle under the shade of the trees at the centre of the above picture.
The planted meadow north of Eleonore House is looking rather neglected at present. However, this is more to do with weather conditions than the recent Coronavirus restrictions.
Members of the FoEP will collect seed from this year’s yellow rattle in late July or August and will sow them after the grass has been cut and the ground scarified later in the year. Hopefully, this will produce an even better coverage of yellow rattle next year and that this will help to produce a greater number and variety of wildflowers.
We have written to idverde about this but so far have not received a reply. We supect that it was done by tractor drivers unfamiliar with the Park and that the message not to cut the grass in these areas did not get through to them (probably because of the unusual circumstances existing during lockdown). No permanent damage will have been done since most of the flowers growing in the set-asides are perennial and will come back again next year.
We have received a number of comments and questions about the disappearance of one of the adult swans that had been successfully rearing a group of cygnets on the Eastfield Park Lake. We have no firm knowledge about why the swan disappeared. The RSPB say that the main predators of swans are foxes but that the principal threats to swans are pollution, lead weights (that used to be used by anglers and may still remain in bodies of water), fishing tackle, overhead power lines and, in some areas, vandalism. We leave it to readers to decide which of these is most likely in Eastfield Park but there is an unconfirmed report of a swan caught in fishing tackle being reported to the RSPCA.