Work of Holmedale residents to improve natural environment steps up

Nest box building.

Work by residents of Holmedale to improve the natural environment in the dale is continuing to gather pace.

Spring 2024 has been a busy time for the Holmedale Nature Group which has adopted an official title of the Holmedale Nature Network.

Volunteers say the series of monthly talks and activities has proved popular with residents and will continue through June when the group will start some summer volunteer sessions.

In February, Carl Watts, reserve manager at Foxglove Covert Local Nature Reserve, provided a talk entitled Away with the Birds, which charted his journey through various conservation roles and provided commentary on the natural world and the challenges and tough decisions faced in conservation.

The talk was followed by a bird nest box building workshop run by Brian Rogers, a volunteer at Foxglove.

The workshop was well attended and enjoyed by adults and children alike.

In March, Malcolm Hockham, formerly of Eggleston Gardens and Plantsman’s Corner, presented an evening talk on planting for pollinators, starting with a reminder that bees are not the only pollinators.

Malcolm also presented a well-attended workshop on seed and plant propagation the following week and used a mixture of video, photos and practical demonstrations to aid understanding and retention.

Colin Heppenstall, of Kirby Hill, said: “I found the whole talk/demonstration fascinating, and Malcolm’s passion for what he does shone through.

“I learnt more in two hours there than I have looking at endless Youtube videos and TV programmes, and he gave me the confidence to just have a go and try things I wouldn’t have before.”

In April, the group hosted a talk on Healthy Rivers by Charlotte Simons of the Yorkshire Dales Rivers Trust.

harlotte explained the framework used by the Environment Agency to classify watercourses based on their ecological and chemical characteristics.

She also described all the elements that one would expect to see in a healthy river and why a diverse range of physical characteristics is needed to support a wide range of species.

Work to improve the local watercourse will be a focus of the Holmedale Nature Network this summer.

Residents, trained in January on a Natural England citizen science project, have been surveying publically accessible sections of the Dalton/Holme/Skeeby watercourse which originates on moorland above Newsham and runs through Holmedale down to the Swale.

The group will evaluate physical characteristics, flow trends, signs of pollution and the presence of invasive non-native plant species, such as Himalayan Balsam, a beautiful plant with pink flowers that was imported for garden use in the 19th century.

Himalayan balsam has become a huge problem in the UK due to its rapid spread, particularly along watercourses where it outcompetes native species and results in bank erosion in the winter months.

The Holmedale Nature Network will be running volunteer sessions from June to August to tackle this problem plant.

More information about the Holmedale group can be found at:  www.whashtonparish.co.uk/holmedale or by emailing wildwhashton@gmail.com