It seems a long time since the last Horley Conservation Group (HCG) task was undertaken. Indeed the last official task was undertaken on March 14th to tidy the areas around Tanyard Pond and the community orchard at the Fieldings. Since then literally hundreds of local residents have discovered the area and enjoyed the diversity of wildlife and space that it has to offer. Behind the scenes Reigate and Banstead Borough Council (RBBC) workers, members of the HCG and some local residents have busied themselves keeping the area clean, tidy and safe for all to enjoy. With playgrounds closed many families have taken the opportunity to explore the area and witness the wildlife on offer. Over 40 different types of birds to be spotted including birds of prey such as Red Kite, Buzzard, Sparrow Hawk and Kestrel as well as the elusive Great Spotted and Green Woodpeckers. Anyone who has been really lucky will have seen some of the deer that roam freely in the fields and noticed that we have a couple of fawns this year.
RBBC have maintained the fields, regularly emptied the bins and are now starting to erect information boards and signage across the area to both help and inform all those who visit. With the variety of wildlife it is vital that all of us who use this area for recreation and pleasure keep it clean and tidy. Discarded waste including plastics, paper and dog poo can soon accumulate and have a devastating effect on the wildlife as well as on the cattle and sheep that regularly graze the fields in and around the area. An ongoing threat to the habitat every year is the appearance of Himalayan Balsam in the Burstow Stream. The largest annual plant in Britain Himalayan Balsam grows up to 2.5m high from seed in a single season. Himalayan balsam spreads quickly as it can project up to 800 seeds from a single plant up to a distance of four metres. Many seeds drop into the water and contaminate land and riverbanks, downstream and upstream because of the explosive nature of its seed release. Commonly found along riverbanks and streams, around ponds and lakes, in wet woodlands and in ditches and damp meadows. It spreads quickly and forms dense thickets, altering the ecological balance and character of wetland habitats. The thickets out compete our native plants. Every year the HCG undertake ‘Balsam Bashing’ events to help keep our rivers clear of this menace and whilst ‘lock down’ has been in place a few of our members have been out and about clearing the worst spots