Sevenoaks Living Landscapes

SOLL News

SOLL website – Lynne & Peter Flower – What in the News!

Summer 2014 –

The Story of the Birds and the Bees! Go down to the meadow to find the first page!

Here at SOLL, ‘Meadow Mania’ is gathering pace.

From the Medway Valley Countryside Partnership ‘Save our Magnificent Meadows’ to the Eden Project ‘Returning Eden’s Meadows’, and Adrian’s splash of colour in Sevenoaks to Tom’s tracking of roadside verges, colourful wildflowers and a mix of long grasses are creeping across Kent.

The immense importance of pollinating insects to the human race is a great incentive to bringing back wildflowers, but the vast array of other wildlife which will benefit is the driver for many meadow enthusiasts.

Indeed, there are not many who are not touched by the sight and scent of flowers, the hum of bees, chirps of grasshoppers and butterflies flitting above!  Not forgetting the creatures that scuttle and squeak down below at the grass roots, hidden from preying eyes!

And so it follows, that where there are fields and meadows there will be bees and barn owls.

Barn Owls – in the last two years an initial stage of 12 new barn owl boxes have been built to the highest specification and placed across the SOLL area, particularly where barn owls have been observed.

The weather has been kind to small mammals and in turn supplied plentiful food for the owls, and good conditions for hunting.  2 boxes in the area (one of our newly erected, and one placed by a farmer in his hay barn) have had a pair of nesting barn owls, and both have produced 4 chicks.  The records of these nests will be sent to the BTO and help in their understanding of barn owl populations.  Barn Owls have a special protection, and their nests can only be inspected by licenced operators.  The young chicks in these boxes have been ringed by our Licenced ringer.  Retrieval of rings from dead or injured birds also helps build the picture of their movements.

Pics added: Ringing – careful handling and accurate recording are essential.

Sporting my new ring bling!  My baby sister is rather shy!

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Honey Bees – Fidelity and Martin Weston at Romshed Farm have become hosts to a brand new colony of honey bees.  The bees will be looked after by Lynne and Peter Flower under the kind and helpful mentoring of David Rea.  The colony was a wonderful gift from the site where they were no longer able to keep them, but hoped that they would be used for education.  Fidelity runs many school visits to their organic farm, and the honey bees will be an important additional message about sustainability and care for the environment which produces our food.

More about the bees in the coming months, but for the moment pictures tell the story.

The move to Romshed Farm

Checking the colony

Collecting our first honey

How pleased is Martin

    Bough Beech Apple Day 2013 Water trickled and bubbled and gurgled and guggled over the dam, while delighted ducks dabbled and moorhens paddled – at last their dreary, waterless world was transformed into a swirling jacuzzi.

Bough Beech Apple day
Bough Beech Apple day

Sadly the picture was somewhat different in the faces of the gathering volunteers, huddled under the barn, peering out from varying hat-wear into the grey, sheeting rain – gazebos dumped at their feet, reluctant to be subjected to this onslaught from the sky – then whoosh, a car swept to a halt – the group stepped back smartly to avoid further soaking, and Joanna leapt out, smiling broadly – “Oh, come on you lot – we’re British” and the wind in the willows (aspens actually) whispered back – “oh come on you lot”. One by one, John, Bill, then Steph, Viv and Clive ventured into the puddly car park and soon cheery voices raised in friendly dispute as to which pole fitted where – then on with the roof covering – ah, this looks better – look how many activities we can fit under here and look, how much room there actually is upstairs Pat, Sue and Marie quickly began hoovering up the bat droppings and preparing a wool-apple table, while Fay got familiar with sand-decorated bees, Joanna was soon settled in a corner with Gill, modelling clay creatures, as Maggie and Nicky ran back from the orchard with armfuls of apples to make a domesticated indoor version of the usually wild apple pigs. Petra and Carol were unmoved by this cheeriness and set out their stall, determined to terrify Mums and Dads as kids gleefully carved ghoulish Halloween faces from apples. Damp spirits were gently rising, as Gareth kneaded flour, lard and seeds into a delicacy for birds, Bill and Clive manned the hammers and workmates to improve the life of lonely bees, Cliff and Pauline turned the press and squashed apples until golden juice ran freely – and then – all faces began smiling, even laughing, as the whiff of frying batter rose from the back of the barn – The Fritter-Girls, Sue and Janet, were in action – everything would be fine, and the Merry Band struck up with ‘Singing in the Rain’ – we can do it! We really can! Peter abandoned his orchard station and displayed his colourful array of freshly gathered apples under the car park gazebo, but Oh! Ah! There’s not quite enough room for witches brooms – but before you could say ‘raining cats and dogs’ Dick had fashioned a rustic shelter where very young trainee witches could be taught to fly their newly-made brooms. The Biggest Witch of all put a spell on him, and his cup of tea disappeared! (whoops, sorry). Then real punters began to appear, Margaret and Joan tempted small change from them for cakes and lucky dips, the Fritter-girls performance drew larger sums. Steph shared her new-found skill for willow-weaving with littlies and oldies alike, and as the Oast Urns began to bubble Maggie, Rindy, Mary, Colin, Wilna and Valerie rewarded all visitors, who had braved the elements and graced our Festival, with hot tea, coffee and other goodies at most reasonable prices! – all overseen by the Master of Ceremonies. This is the BIGGEST THANK YOU EVER YET to you all from Peter B, and the Flowers – everyone of you amazing volunteers. As you know everyone’s input is equally valued, and I NEVER pick out anyone for special praise – but …. on this occasion … who did really get wet? – Hi-Vizzed, squinting through the rain drops, gesturing car drivers to parking spaces (in a most friendly way) showed admirable stoicism,– Yes, Hugh and Chris – you went the extra mile (well, up the drive in the rain actually!) Thank you. Oh, and Bill said Lynne’s hat was a better choice than the last one! Uh!