News from Dave Haldane
This is the first of what l hope will be a regular blog on the MWHG website. The content will consist of items of interest relating to the natural history and heritage across the Manhood Peninsular. Its prime aims are to bring to the members attention up to date news on topical issues and hopefully provide a valuable supplement to the quarterly edition of the MWHG Newsletter. To achieve this we will require regular contributions from other members. Contributions can be e-mailed to Dave Haldane.
East Beach Pond Selsey.
The recent Gold Award at the South and South East in Bloom was a fitting reward for the dedicated work carried out by the regular members of the East Beach Pond sub group. We were however disappointed to have lost valuable marks because of a problem relating to public access. The netlon path which helps stabilise the ground has a tendency to buckle as a result of root disturbance. Despite our best efforts at root pruning and relaying the netlon surfacing, we failed to impress the judge on this issue. This will now be a priority task.
At long last, after many attempts by Mallards to successfully rear a brood beyond the first three weeks, one mother duck has achieved some small success by raising two of her clutch of five ducklings. The mother is very vigilant and the youngsters, who are not quite fully developed, have become masters of concealment.
Earlier broods were lost to predation by the Heron, Carrion crows, Herring gulls, Brown rats and Foxes. One unfortunate duckling was even killed when it was drowned by a Mallard drake, according to information passed to the group.
There are two young English oaks Quercus robur growing on the East Beach Pond site. Both have played host this year to several gall inducing Oak cynipids (Gall-wasps). The Marble gall Andricus kollari, Cherry gall Cynips quercus-folii, Ramshorn gall Andricus aries, Spangle gall Neuroterus quercus baccarium and the interesting Knopper gall Andricus quercus calicis. The latter is caused by a gall wasp which lays its egg in the emerging acorn often distorting its development and destroying its seed. Galls arise as a result of a growth reaction by the host to an invasion by a parasite. The resulting gall with its nutritious tissue is associated with the reproduction cycle of the parasite. Small infestations rarely harm the host plant.
The Brown tail tussock moth caterpillars, which at this time of the year are tucked up within their web tents, have recently been controlled by chemical treatment. Operators working on behalf of Chichester District Council were forced to take action to reduce the 500+ individual webs covering much of the bramble. The caterpillars are covered in barbed hairs which they shed freely and should they come into contact with skin will cause varying degrees of irritation and occasionally lead to breathing difficulties, if inhaled. The use of chemicals was sanctioned solely in the interest of public health and safety. Warning signs have been placed around the site.
Special congratulations to Selsey Town and Manor Green who shared in the environmental awards at this year’s South and South East in Bloom ceremony at Fontwell Park.