Scots lead roadside litter war

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Scotland is leading the war on roadside litter with a national campaign targeted at reducing the menace.
Launched in December by Keep Scotland Beautiful, the campaign highlighted a number of key research findings, including:
  • 96.2% of motorways and A class roadside verges recorded a presence of litter, with one in seven classed as ‘significantly impacted’
  • More than half of Scottish adults had seen someone throw litter from a vehicle and not pick it up
  • 68% of Scottish adults think there is a problem with the amount roadside litter
  • 88% of Scottish adults agreed that roadside litter creates a negative impression of Scotland

The types of roadside litter noticed most are drinks bottles/cans (63%) and food/fast food packaging (61%), with takeaway cups (30%), plastic and paper bags (33%) and cigarette related litter (31%) also significantly noticeable.

Writing in The Scotsman, Derek Robertson, CEO of Keep Scotland Beautiful, said:  “Whilst poor local environmental quality can manifest itself in a range of ways, through graffiti, dog fouling, flytipping and general disrespect for our surroundings, I guarantee you that it will be our continuing blight of roadside litter that will most obviously shame us all.

“It does so because there is something especially clinical and disrespectful about choosing roll down the window and throw litter out. It seems so easy – one act that both cleans our car, and trashes the environment for those in a place we have already left behind. It’s a national embarrassment that Keep Scotland Beautiful is committed to fixing, but it needs action from us all.

“First, we need to recognise the sheer scale of the problem. With almost 83% of roadsides blighted by litter, it is no surprise that over 50 tonnes of litter are collected every month. A shocking 112 bottles and cans are to be found on the average mile of Scottish road network, and half of all roadsides are littered by disposable cups and cigarette butts. Those statistics make for sobering reading, and they demonstrate that this blight is caused by consumption on the move – and a disgusting disrespect for our country. ”

 

The campaign aims not just to raise awareness of the problem but encourage people to think carefully about what part they can play in finding a solution.

Happy hunting ground

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Across The Water, by Kevin Day

THERE was a deer park  at Langley Marish as long ago as 1202, continuing in use throughout the Middle Ages.

Today, Langley Park is part of the Colne Valley Regional Park, managed by Buckinghamshire County Council and offering a peaceful oasis of colour and tranquillity looking out towards Windsor Castle.

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Cows Explore Misty Field, by Jerry Lake

Once Crown Property, the park and manor were granted to Sir John Kederminster in 1626 and sold in 1738 to Charles Spencer, third Duke of Marlborough, who used it as a hunting lodge.

In 1756, he commissioned Stiff Leadbetter to build the present house, finished in 1760. His son George, the fourth Duke, succeeded in 1758 and commissioned Lancelot Brown (1716-83) to landscape Langley Park during his time working at Blenheim.  In 1788 Robert Bateson-Harvey bought the estate which remained in the family until 1945 when it was sold to Buckinghamshire County Council.

It’s only a stone’s through from Slough – 3km from the town centre, in fact – but you wouldn’t know it from the rural setting, with the heath and woodland of Black Park to the north and agricultural land to the south and east.

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Love Swans, by Kevin Day

Between March and June the masses of rhododendrons in Temple Gardens burst into bloom and in summer many species of butterfly chase around the heather and gorse on the open land leading down to Langley Lake, where a variety of wildfowl congregate.

Sir Robert Grenville Harvey planted the gardens in the early 20th century, apparently transporting 1600 tonnes of peat from Scotland by train to Langley Station for mulching the plants and employing local men to move the mulch by horse and cart to the garden.

The lake was originally rectangular, thought to have been created by the extraction of brick clay from the ground to build  Sir John Kederminster’s ‘Chief Lodge’ in 1710. One of the main landscape features influenced by Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown during the mid-1700s was the creation of a longer, serpentine-shaped lake.

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Pincer Tree, by Jerry Lake

The Arboretum is a fine collection of specimen trees and gardens running around the outside of the walled garden, which originally was a kitchen garden for the residents of Langley Mansion where they grew their own fruit and vegetables.

The western stretch of the arboretum is known as ‘Queen’s Walk’ because Queen Victoria used to pass through the arboretum when visiting Sir Robert Bateson-Harvey.

Nowadays the former royal hunting ground provides the perfect base for family days out, with trail guides, an orienteering course and conservation volunteer days, as well as a varied events programme.

Parkland trees range from English oaks to Wellingtonia and Cedar of Lebanon – and there’s a history trail produced by the Heritage Lottery Funded Friends of Langley Park, an organisation which also boasts a wonderful gallery of pictures, some of which are featured here.

The Park Pictures photostream on Flickr includes around 50 superb pictures taken by local photographers Kevin Day and Jerry Lake in 2009 and the Friends website includes details of how to contact these photographers.

The park is open daily from 8.15am. Accessible toilets and baby changing facilities are located in the cafe. More information from the website or call 01753 511060.

 

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Winter Sunshine, by Andrew Knight

 

 

Park for all seasons

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With 10 miles of footpaths through woodland, heath and open space, Black Park Country Park near Slough really does have something to suit everyone.

It’s the perfect escape for families needing some fresh air, with a big adventure play area for youngsters wanting to let off steam and an extensive network of surfaced tracks to walk, cycle or run.

The surfacing is subtle and non-intrusive, so it still feels as if you are at one with nature, but it does make the park a little less muddy in winter than most footpaths.

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And since the park is spread over 530 acres, it allows older teenagers and more ambitious walkers to lose themselves for a little on the less well-trodden paths.

Although the 14-acre lake and popular San Remo cafe tend to be packed with families and dog walkers at weekends, it’s still possible to get away from the crowds – especially during the week or early in the morning, when many of the pathways through the towering trees can be virtually deserted.

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As part of the historic Langley Estate, Black Park was first mentioned in 1202 and has been in the ownership of Henry VIII and Elizabeth I, although it is now one of three country parks in the area managed by Buckinghamshire County Council.

While the lake is a haven for waterfowl – ranging from grebes, coots and moorhens to the pretty mandarin ducks – under the water bream, pike, roach and perch swim. The other habitats provide a home for an intriguing cross-section of wildlife, from grass snakes to lizards, although you may have to be sharp-eyed to spot them.

A number of information boards provide a “habitat trail” with information about some of the less familiar flora and fauna which visitors can look out for.

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A year-round attraction with accessible toilets and baby-changing facilities, the park hosts a range of special events and activities from night walks to Easter Egg hunts.

There’s seasonal fishing on the lake, off-road cycling and Go Ape adventures for more ambitious souls wanting to take to the treetops.

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One-off events are publicised on the park’s website and Facebook page, with April highlights including a den-building day and outdoor activities for toddlers. Picnics are encouraged but fires and barbecues are not permitted.

The park is open daily from 8am and closing times are seasonal and displayed in the car parks and on the main website.

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For more information use the links above or call 01753 511060.

Springwatch fans shocked

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SPRINGWATCH fans have reacted with shock and anger to the news that presenter Martin Hughes-Games is to leave the popular BBC series.

More than 1,300 followers of the programme’s Facebook page were quick to voice their horror at his departure – with many attacking the BBC for “political correctness” and airing their concerns that he might be replaced by newcomer Gillian Burke.

The wildlife presenter announced he was quitting on Twitter – prompting an outpouring of support and sympathy from his 50,000 followers.

Hughes-Games has presented on the programme for 12 years and said in his resignation tweet: “It’s good to go when the show is looking strong. Massive thank you for your support.”

The BBC said in response: “Martin has been a vital part of the success of the Watches– both on and off screen– for the past 12 years, so we’re very sad to see him go. We wish him every success in his new ventures. We’re excited to be bringing Springwatch back to BBC2 in May.”

It brings to an end an uncomfortable last 18 months for the presenter who appeared on the show alongside Chris Packham, Michaela Strachan and new girl Gillian Burke.

In September 2016 he announced, again on Twitter, that he was being axed by the BBC in order, he felt, that diversity targets could be met.

That claim was denied by the corporation – but many of the show’s Facebook fans said they believed he was being marginalised for reasons of political correctness and hit out at Gillian Burke’s presenting style.

Death of a colossus

@THETREEHUNTERThe Buttington Oak in its prime, pictured by Rob McBride @THETREEHUNTER

ONE OF the oldest trees in Wales, thought to have been planted 1,000 years ago as a boundary marker along Offa’s Dyke, has fallen down.

The Buttington Oak was spotted collapsed in its field two miles from Welshpool in Powys by a man nicknamed the “tree hunter” – Rob McBride.

Mr McBride, who records ancient trees in Wales, said the oak had enormous cultural significance as it would have been planted by local people to mark the site of the Battle of Buttington and also as part of Offa’s Dyke – the border earthwork built by King Offa in the 8th century.

“It’s such a pity as this was the largest tree on Offa’s Dyke and the second largest in Wales,” he added.

@THETREEHUNTER2The collapsed oak, pictured by Rob McBride @THETREEHUNTER

Landscape masterclass

BB+D810+1645Stunning. That’s the word which springs to mind when you first glance through Paul Mitchell’s amazing portfolio of pictures chronicling the seasons in one of Britain’s most famous woodlands.

It’s a magical world which is constantly changing through the seasons, as Paul demonstrates in his startling photographs of Burnham Beeches – that tiny remnant of the ancient woodlands which once covered so much of the country.

BB+D810+1730Paul’s ‘album’ contains dozens of uncaptioned shots of the woods throughout the year – draped in snow, dappled by sunlight, looking mystical and enchanting, sometimes intriguing and welcoming, sometimes otherworldy and even scary.

He explains: “The portfolio is my response to this world of wonder and features images made in the icy grip of winter, the vibrancy of springtime, the green canopy of summer, through to the richness of autumn.”

Burnham Beeches was bought by the City of London Corporation in the latter part of the 19th century to safeguard the area from property developers and to protect its future for generations to come.

As Paul explains, the landscape of the Site of Special Scientific Interest was created by human management going back many centuries and has provided grazing land for livestock and fuel via the pollarding of beech and oak trees which has not only helped to  prolong the lives of the trees, but help to give them their characteristic  gnarled appearance.

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Born in East Yorkshire, Paul now lives and runs his own design consultancy in Buckinghamshire and tries to devote most of his free time to photographing the landscape.

He has had numerous exhibitions and has had articles and images published in many photographic magazines.

Tree of inspiration

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NEW DAWN: the gnarled tree in Langley Park

Those who love an early morning walk in Slough’s Langley Park or Black Park may already be familiar with the work of landscape photographer Kevin Day.

The Slough-based photographer has contributed a number of pictures to the gallery linked from the Friends of Langley Park website – and the story of one major photography project is told in an old profile article in Amateur Photographer.

“I often get up at five or six in the morning and go to the park, which is a ten-minute walk away,” says Kevin in the article. “It’s the light that interests me, and the way it affects the landscape. It’s constantly changing, at different times of the day, different times of year.”

The gnarled tree in Langley Park showed how you can return to the same subject again and again and get a different picture every time. But Kevin goes on to explain how the tree was also a symbol of his photographic renaissance.

Today, his personal work continues to complement his professional output and a selection of his nature pictures reflect this. “It’s more of a little hidden gallery occasionally people stumble across!” he says.

For those who share Kevin’s love of those two local parks, it’s a real treat – with 185 pictures to choose from – and the option to purchase copies too.

Miniature mariners

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It’s great to see tiny sailing boats out on the Black Park lake – and other marvellous scale models like this little rowing boat.

The figures look so lifelike it’s sometimes hard to believe you are looking at models, unless there are a couple of ducks around to help put everything in perspective…

The park is home to the Black Park Model Boat Club, a friendly, non-competitive club which is open to new members at any time and covers all aspects of model boating from yachts to scale models.

The club uses the lake at Black Park on Thursday afternoons from 12pm and Sunday mornings. The park itself is signposted from the A412 between Slough and Iver Heath and  has toilets and cafés.

Once a year there is a whole-day regatta at the lake where other clubs are invited and money raised for a local charity.

For more information turn up at the lakeside on sailing days and ask for Frank or Alan, or e-mail the secretary at: secretary@blackparkmodelboatclub.org.uk.

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Winter wonderland

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It’s not too late to catch up with this year’s instalment of Winterwatch, broadcast in January from the Sherborne estate in the Cotswolds.

It’s the familiar format, with good-humoured knockabout exchanges between the three main presenters, cameras installed in key hotspots across the estate and recorded inserts from around the country, with Gillian Burke on the road once more, coming live from Islay in the Scottish highlands.

But beyond enjoying the repartee between Chris Packham and Michaela Strachan, the argumentative badgers, majestic eagles and the site of Martin Hughes-Games dabbling in the brook to find baby trout and marvelling at the size of a horseshoe bat’s penis, it’s an opportunity to be briefly reunited with a team who have done more than most to boost ordinary people’s interest in the natural world.

The programmes may lack the breathtaking drama of David Attenborough’s Blue Planet series, but it’s the BBC’s largest outside broadcast event and nowadays incorporates a range of behind-the-scenes clips, extra footage, blogs from the team and articles frompartner organisations which delve deeper into the stories and science on the show.

Unmissable! Roll on the spring bank holiday and the return of Springwatch…

Hedgehog numbers ‘halved’

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Hedgehogs are continuing to decline in the UK, according to a new report.

Surveys by citizen scientists show hedgehog numbers have fallen by about 50% since the turn of the century.

Conservation groups say they are particularly concerned about the plight of the prickly creatures in rural areas.

Figures suggest the animals are disappearing more rapidly in the countryside, as hedgerows and field margins are lost to intensive farming.

But there are signs that populations in urban areas may be recovering.

David Wembridge, surveys officer for the conservation charity, People’s Trust for Endangered Species (PTES), said two surveys of the number of hedgehogs in gardens and one of numbers killed on roads show an overall decline.

But he said there is “a glimmer of hope” that measures to create habitat for hedgehogs in urban areas are paying off.

“Numbers haven’t recovered yet but in urban areas at least there’s an indication that numbers appear to have levelled in the last four years,” he said.

In rural areas, the number of hedgehogs killed on roads has fallen by between a third and a half across Great Britain, The State of Britain’s Hedgehogs 2018 report found.

Emily Wilson, Hedgehog Officer for the campaign group, Hedgehog Street, said the apparent decline in the rural population of hedgehogs was “really concerning”