It has now been a year since I was thrust into the position of Chair of the OBCG. It was a role I took on with some trepidation as it seemed a big responsibility to be following previous chairs Alison Hull and Clare Shorter who had, successively, and very successfully, worn the Chairperson’s mantle since 2005. However, I am glad to report the job has proved more pleasurable and rewarding than I had expected, largely thanks to all of you (Members and supporters of the Group) and your continued enthusiasm for the Group’s success.
Fortunately, with Covid restrictions relaxed, we have been able to meet freely again, to carry out work on the Wildlife Area and to participate in other community events. I have kept a diary of the Group’s activities during the past year, and I think we have been quite busy.
Our first event was a Midsummer Madness Bio-Blitz held on 24th June when seven of us met to strim, scythe, and rake the wildlife area to clear away troublesome hogweed and bramble, and generally tidy it up. This was followed by two further sessions in August (strimming off hogweed seedheads) and in September when Adrian scythed the wildflower meadow, and Teresa showed us how to roll and pitch the arisings. This was followed up by eight more work sessions over the winter, in which we carried out major coppicing of hazel trees, removal of excess blackthorn seedlings, and pruning of bramble. Colin, our pyromaster, organised two bonfires.
Martin and Colin have worked together to create a map and a proposed management plan for the Wildlife Area’s distinct habitat areas, to assist us and any contractors employed by the Parish Council.
A very pleasant duty in October was to collect a cheque for £500 from Waitrose following Alison’s application to their “givealittlelove” initiative. We have yet to agree how to use this windfall.
We have been involved in local community events, the first of which was the Oliver’s Battery Green Picnic on 4th September. We had a large-scale map of OB Parish on which we asked visitors to record wildlife habitats in their gardens, and a pond dipping station.
Later in September, artistic members of the OBCG masterminded by Wendy, Teresa, Jane B, and Jane S, created a Chris Packham effigy for the OB Scarecrow competition, winning a rosette, over three thousand “likes” on social media and commendation from CP himself!
More recently, Clare, Brian and Rebecca have invited us to take part in OB Sustainability Group’s events, where we have encouraged people to grow pollinator friendly wildflowers for their gardens and communal areas in the parish.
Early in May we arranged a public walk one evening, to the Wildlife Area and Yew Hill to show people how the local landscape is being managed for wildlife. We have other events planned in the WA in July and August.
In March, we had a ceremony at the Wildlife Area to remember Peter Land, one of our founding Members whose major and most valuable contribution was setting up and maintaining our website, on which he recorded the changes and wildlife in the area. Liz and their daughters planted a crab apple tree “Red Sentinel” and they have kindly made a donation to OBCG too.
I’d like to thank you all for your support over the past year. I am especially grateful to Martin for spending time to get to grips with the OBCG website, and bringing it up to date, and for remaining as original treasurer. I would also like to thank Colin who has tackled the (literally thorny!) issue of how we manage the Wildlife Area and who has liaised with the PC and their contractors.
Over the coming year, I do hope we can build on what we have achieved over the past twelve months, through managing the wildlife area’s habitats with more practical work sessions, and holding more special events. It would be good to grow the membership of the group, too, especially if we could involve some younger people, which would enable us to be even more ambitious.