Welcome to the May 2016 E-Bulletin
Some of you may have seen an article on our Facebook page about using remote cameras to monitor turtle doves. The cameras were purchased with money from the Sustainable Development Fund and will be used for a variety of projects across the AONB.
For the last few years the AONB has been working with local farmers and Martin Down National Nature Reserve (owned by Hampshire County Council and managed by Natural England) to secure the small but important population of turtle dove which return there every summer to breed. The diet of a turtle dove consists entirely of seeds, from weeds such as fumitory and chickweed, as well as wheat and oilseed rape. So efficient is modern farming that these are in short supply in our countryside. Using seed provided by Natural England, a local farm is growing a special mix aimed at providing seed for turtle dove throughout the summer.
We are using the cameras to monitor if the birds are using these areas. The cameras are triggered by a rise in ambient temperature and movement so we are expecting a whole host of wildlife to be photographed in the coming months!
We would love to hear from you if you have turtle dove in your garden; it helps inform our records as to the local population density and whereabouts. firstname.lastname@example.org.
An exciting opportunity...
...at Wiltshire Wildlife Trust's Coombe Bissett Nature Reserve
Wiltshire Wildlife Trust has been offered a rare and exciting opportunity to extend their existing Coombe Bissett Nature Reserve. This would give us the opportunity to build on our success in restoring chalk grassland in the south of the county.
Wiltshire contains 40% of the world total of chalk grassland. However, over 80% of the UK's chalk downland has been destroyed over the past 70 years. Sadly, many of the species associated with this historic landscape have become rare or endangered. The protection, enhancement and restoration of chalk downland is a UK Biodiversity Action Plan priority.
Buying this land will double the size of the existing nature reserve, reconnect two parts of the Homington and Coombe Bissett Downs SSSI and link the Coombe Bissett Down County Wildlife Site. It will become a strategically important large block of chalk downland.
On Sunday 22 May there is a meet and greet event in the Coombe Bissett Village Hall. To find out more, please see the Wiltshire Wildlife Trust Website.
The Wiltshire & Swindon History Centre
The Wiltshire & Swindon History Centre carries out a huge range of activities and one of the ways in which you can keep up with what's going on there, and with all the things that might be discovered and researched in this area, is to read their excellent blogs.
There has been a long-running Victoria County History project in the Deverill Valley and you can find out about some of the wonderful architecture in the Deverills and Warminster here: www.wshc.eu/blog.
Of course the Deverills have been in the news recently for the wonderful Roman floor mosaic that was uncovered at Brixton Deverill. There's a good summation of the find by one of the archaeologists responsible here: www.wshc.eu/blog.
However, you can get it first hand by going to the blog of Luke Irwin who has been so inspired by the discovery at his house that he is working it into his rug designs: www.lukeirwin.com/blog.
Taste of the Chase
April 20th - 'Taste of the Chase' was the first event of its kind but hopefully not the last!
Designed to bring local food and drink producers together with AONB tourism businesses like B&Bs, camping & caravanning sites, pubs, restaurants and cafes, the day saw much chatter and exchanging of business cards.
Local meat, fish, bread, cheeses, chutneys, marshmallows, veggie meals, ciders and wines are just a selection of the goodies on sale and for tasting.
AONB Locator Logo
The AONB Locator Logo was launched at the Taste of the Chase event. These locator logos clearly show that a business is 'located in', 'doing business in', or 'crafted in' Cranborne Chase AONB. There are several to choose from, whichever suits your business best; it can be used on labels, web sites, press releases, packaging/bags or however you wish to use it to promote your business. The logo is quite simply a statement that a business is operating within this beautiful protected area and/or utilising local produce.
It is free to use for the 2016-17 year, in return for some feedback at the end of the year. It is a way for local businesses to help promote themselves as being associated with this AONB. Around a dozen businesses took up the offer at the April 20th event and the logo comes with a CD with free photos and descriptions of the area that can be used by you to help promote your products or services. If interested please contact the AONB office for a simple application form. We can then send you the CD and whichever locator logo you want to use. Email: email@example.com for more details.
Planning in the AONB
Planning & Transportationn Seminar 10th May
As is our style, this year's seminar at Sixpenny Handley village hall was an interactive event with lots of participation from those attending.
It focussed on landscapes and planning. There were over 60 participants comprised of Parishes, landscape architects, policy and development management planners, colleagues from other AONBs, and private consultants. Participants learnt about landscape character and identifying key landscape characteristics for locations where developments might be proposed.
We had presentations from national figures - Christine Tudor, Natural England's lead on landscape character assessment; Karin Taylor, National Trust's head of land use planning; and Merrick Denton-Thompson, President elect of the Landscape Institute.
One topic covered how developers seek to put more development on sites than the recently adopted plans allow. There is the example of the West of Warminster extension, adjacent to this AONB, where the adopted Core Strategy puts an explicit limit of 900 houses on the site and developers are putting in proposals for more than 1500 houses. Wiltshire's strategic planning committee has not adopted the developers' proposed masterplan and wants them to bring it into greater conformity with the Core Strategy by addressing housing numbers, timeframes, flooding, landscaping, education and sports provision. Our chairman's local knowledge and links to the Warminster Neighbourhood Plan Working Group will, hopefully, enable Wiltshire Council to hold firm to its recently adopted Core Strategy which includes positive landscape and AONB policies.
The seminar also aimed to help private sector and Parish representatives appreciate how landscape character can and should be taken into account in considering options and opportunities in Neighbourhood Plans. There seem to be more neighbourhoods considering preparing a plan for their locality so there are opportunities for those who are interested in the future of their neighbourhood to volunteer and get involved!
Position Statements and Good Practice Guides
We have a new article in the Publications section of our website in the Position Statements and Good Practice Guides area.
This paper by Bob Mizon (Commission for Dark Skies) looks at best practice relating to external lighting - Different types of lighting through the years, terminology guide, threats to the environment from blue-rich white lighting, putting light where it is needed, part-night switch-offs and common misconceptions met when discussing quality lighting and good practice.
Download Lighting: types, qualities and impacts (1.2Mb).
While we are on the topic of Dark Night Skies, congratulations go out to South Downs National Park on Dark Sky reserve award - we're getting there as well - so far 39 of you have pledged to support our campaign - and we need more of you!. It will take roughly 1 minute, and you can send in your pledge at: www.surveymonkey.com/r/NL375VD. It will be a huge help to get as much support as possible.
The Donheads Ancient Tree Group
The Donheads Ancient Tree Group have planted four large trees that will go some way towards restoring the character of the parishes' landscape.
So many large hedgerow trees have been lost from this landscape, it is wonderful to see new trees being planted that could go on to be the ancient trees of the future. Trees have been lost through disease, such as Dutch Elm disease, indiscriminate war-time logging and agricultural improvements that necessitated tree removal. The Donheads landscape is in some ways an anachronism, the ancient of woodlands and clearings can still be seen in the shape of the fields and hedgerows of today.
There is more about "time depth" in the landscape here: www.historiclandscape.co.uk.
The work on ancient and veteran trees goes on in the Donheads and is extending to the Vale of Wardour. If you are interested in finding out more about this work, then please get in touch with Steve Russell at:
WOODLAND & COUNTRYSIDE MANAGEMENT LTD.
Office: 01380 831162 Mobile: 07873253425
Photo Competition Update
We are seeking entries to our year-long photography competition which runs from Autumn 2015 to Autumn 2016. The competition is for all ages and will be run in two halves.
Deadline for entries:
The AONB in the Autumn/Winter - 10th April 2016
The AONB in the Spring/Summer - 9th October 2016
We will pick a winner in each of the categories below in May 2016 and November 2016 respectively. In addition, we will pick a sixth winner: Young photographer 16yrs or under (any category).
All finalists will go forward for judging and the overall winners will then become 'Cranborne Chase Outstanding Photographer 2016' and 'Cranborne Chase Outstanding Young Photographer 2016'.
The categories are:
- Landscape, wildlife and heritage
- Health and recreation
- Rural economy
- Vibrant communities
- The sky at night
The winning images will be used in future AONB publications, promotional material and on the website so if you would like to see your photographs in prints please send us your pictures!
Prizes to include:
A selection of stunning books: British Wildlife Photography Awards; Landscape Photographer of the Year; Astronomy Photographer of the Year; Wildlife Photographer of the Year Desk Diary and one to one tuition with a local award winning photographer.
For further details on how to enter and submit your images, please see our website:
Bird of the Month - Is.....The Swift Apus apus
May is the month when our skies become alive with the swooping, diving and screaming swift.
They migrate to our shores all the way from Africa, some flying from S Africa, others from further north. Their stay is short, averaging 16 weeks and departing in August, long before swallows and house martins.
Contrary to popular belief, swifts are not a member of the same passerine family as swallows and martins. Passerines are sometimes known as perching birds because of their unique type of foot with 4 toes facing upwards enabling them to grip very slender branches. According to Birds Britannica, "it was once widely held that swifts had no feet, an idea echoed in the scientific name - apus means footless.."
Swifts have a forked tail, distinctive swept back wings resembling a scythe, with a very dark brown almost black plumage all over, apart from an off-white chin. In contrast, house martins and swallows both have white undersides.
Swifts are the most amazing bird, estimated to fly an average 500 miles a day in their search for insects. Given that the birds can live for at least 7 years this would give a lifetime total in excess of 1.28million miles! Apart from time in the nest, birds spend their life on the wing, even roosting in mid-air at high altitude until morning.
If you do find one on the ground they will probably need some help to become airborne. Here's what to do: www.rspb.org.uk/discoverandenjoynature.
Swifts use roof spaces in buildings where they construct a simple nest of straw or dry grass and feathers stuck together with saliva from the bird's mouth. These are not visible from the outside unlike nests of house martins. Nests can be hard to locate because swifts enter and leave quietly through a narrow opening (usually measuring 25-35 mm by 60-70 mm).
Swift numbers have declined in recent years; they are now on the Amber List - Birds of Conservation Concern. The RSPB is working with swift groups around the UK to try and address these declines. You can help by providing information on where they are nesting near you which will help their knowledge of swifts so that more nest sites can be provided and protected. See www.rspb.org.uk/discoverandenjoynature for details.
For more information on swifts and some great images of the birds go to: