Saturday, 15 June 2013

Mixed emotions at Lake Farm - warning, this is going to be a long blog post !

Today my blog will start with me having a rant.
I would have a good swear as well but it wont get me anywhere.
 The mature hedgerow that divided the corner of the park containing the toddlers playground and manicured grass from the wilder expanse at Lake Farm, has been torn down. The destruction of Lake Farm for the building of a primary school has begun.
The last time I was at LF was the 27th May, so between then and now, the hedgerow has been decimated. What a stupid stupid STUPID time of year to do it !!! There were Dunnocks, Blue and Great Tits and House Sparrows nesting in that hedge, not to mention Magpies, Wood Pigeons and Collared Doves. What idiot at the council allowed this to happen ???? If the hedge had to be removed, why wasn't it done either before nesting season or after ????? I've read the ecologist report that was drawn up when the building plans were submitted, and even that recommended no works were to be done until after August. It's against the law to destroy any active nests. I hope the pratt that ordered this wanton destruction is named, shamed and fined. There were on-going reptile surveys that I don't believe had been completed either. That hedgerow was a major part of Lake Farm. I've seen Meadow Pipits, Reed Buntings and Skylarks sit atop it.
 This isn't green land management, this is utter destruction and vandalism, and for no valid reason other than to get the school built as soon as possible.
The majority of locals don't even want a school there, its going to not only destroy the only green land we have, but traffic congestion is going to be dreadful. Even Transport For London had said bus timetables would have to be revised to allow for all the delays this school will cause. Why isn't the council listening to the locals ? Why is the planning committee made up of councillors who don't even live in the area and have never even visited the site ? Why chose Lake Farm when so many other sites around Hayes were, and are, available ?
What on earth is wrong with this council ???????????
The 'curve' is where some of the hedgerow used to be.
This wasn't pruned down, this was hacked down.
Dying debris left over from the hedgerow removal.
Rant over, but I'm not happy, and will be e-mailing the link to this blog to the local paper and to John McDonnell, our local MP.
On a brighter note, I spent a lovely few hours at the park this morning. Bird fledge season is truly underway. I met up with Tony, and later Sue, Roy and Jasper, for a gentle stroll around the park. The first bird of note that Tony and I saw, was this juvenile Common Whitethroat.
We also had great views of a female Kestrel hunting overhead.
She was as interested in us as we were in her.
Lots of Linnets around again today, this female stopped just long enough for me to grab a shot.
We heard more Reed Buntings than we saw, but this male showed well briefly.
By the path alongside the BMX tracks, we spotted this female Green Woodpecker.
She was intently delving into the soil.
Just above her a Skylark kept flying up and calling. We guessed the woodpecker was either too near a the Skylarks nest or its fledglings. We followed the Skylarks progress until it dropped on the other side of the BMX track. All of a sudden another, or possibly the same, Skylark appeared on one of the tracks humps. Too far away to get a decent photo or to even say if its a juv or an adult clearly. But all the same, it was nice to see one out in the open.
Tony, Sue, Jasper and myself made our way to the old willow. Tony and I saw a juv Great Spotted Woodpecker on one its branches earlier, I couldn't get any photos but I think Tony managed a couple. It's proof that they youngsters have recently fledged. We don't know how many chicks they had in the end, but its a nice ending for a bird not often seen at Lake Farm.
Roy joined us at this stage. He's a daily visitor to Lake Farm, and was a good friend of the late Pete Naylor, and is the best source of local bird knowledge we know. He informed us there are definitely Bullfinches around (ooooooh I so want to see one there) and that a Cuckoo had been seen and heard at both nearby Stockley Park and at Lake Farm. He also said Reed Warblers were abundant at Stockley. We accompanied him on his daily trek from Lake Farm, down the canal and onto Stockley Park. Neither Sue, Tony nor myself had even been there. I've been through Stockley on the bus, and seen the reed beds and expanses of water, but always presumed it was private land. Roy took us on a great tour. He showed us where he thinks Sparrowhawks are nesting, where he's seen a Kingfisher fishing, and to a large reed bed where he said there was a very showy Reed Warbler. He wasn't wrong. The bird sat just feet away from us singing.
The tour didn't stop there. He led us through a meadow and down to another patch of reed beds criss crossed by wooden board walks, which led to another meadow area and another large expanse of water. This is a part of Stockley I never knew existed, and one that all three of us swore we would visit again. After the shock of finding the Lake Farm hedgerow had been torn down, this new found area of nature was just what we needed. So a huge thank you to Roy.
On the way back to the canal four or five largish birds flushed from by the Kingfisher pond. They were juvenile, and very recently fledged, Jays. An adult was near by watching carefully, as we studied these gorgeous youngsters.
My first juvenile Jay.
So a really pleasant morning out with good company, and only marred by the discovery that the destruction of Lake Farm has begun. I just hope that any birds displaced by the building of the school, makes its way to Stockley Park.
And last, but by no means least, a photo of the best bird-watching dog ever, Jasper.
He's a credit to you Sue :)

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