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Working sessions
We are again planning to carry out some regular maintenance in and around East and West Hanney this year. We plan to work from 09:00 until noon, and as usual, the location will depend upon what needs to be done. Please add these dates to your diaries. It would be great if everyone could do at least one session during the year as it then spreads the load out.

REMAINING DATES FOR 2017:

Oct 21, Nov 18.

We are looking for volunteers to organise each weekend, so please contact Stewart Scott on 01235 868503 or via the contact form.

> Saturday 21st of October
Meet at Weir Farm for a 9:00 start. The weather forecast is good with sunshine, light winds and a predicted temperature of 16 degrees. We have planned, despite the warm dry weather, to spend the morning on dry land and hope to clear the important Lower Mill by-pass. Parts of this ditch have become very overgrown, and we want to make sure, should there be a need, that excess water in Letcombe Brook, can by-pass the mill weir should the need arise. There should be no need for waders this month but wellie boots are recommended as the area could be damp and there is a little water permanently in the ditch in some places. David Stubbington will be leading this working party so please email him djstubbington@icloud.com if you are coming, as this helps enormously with planning.

> Saturday 16th of September
The 16 volunteers who turned out on Saturday were rewarded with fine weather and dry waders!
Working in two groups we achieved what we set out to do to reduce the reeds and irises which have flourished in the Brook. We achieved a balance of increasing the width of the water channels without reducing the flow rates minimising the chances of silt being deposited.
Thank you to David, Paul, Steph, Phil, Meryl, Keith, Stella, Bob, Stewart, Ian, Dickon, Gill, Lamorna, Oliver, Karen and Clive.

Karen Davies, Letcombe Brook Project Manager, joined us in the hard graft removing weeds and kept her eyes open for signs of wildlife. Reassuringly Karen reported some positive signs, which I can confirm as I have this afternoon spent 20 minutes watching 3 water voles in the area where we were working, even managing to shoot home, grab the camera and take some photographs. They were quite happy chomping away on the reed roots we had exposed.
Amongst the usual debris of beer cans, crisp packets, vodka and more recently gin bottles we remove from the Brook we had the find of the year a complete bicycle in good condition. Wheels have been set in motion to trace the owner!

Jim Stagg turned out too to take some photographs of the group in action and will feature the work we do in a local publication soon.

> Saturday 19th of August
The weather turned out fine once again for this months working party. We were pleased to welcome two new volunteers, Keith and Meryl, and hope to see them again in the months ahead.
Thank you also to those who sent their apologies as this helps with planning what we can do each month. Unfortunately, we had to leave tackling the remaining Himalayan balsam below Lower Mill for another time.
Thank you to Stewart, David, Ian, Dickon, Meryl, Keith, Graham and Clive for getting stuck in on Saturday. Although low on numbers we achieved a significant reduction in the reeds which have grown across the Letcombe Brook since we were last able to do this. We also reduced some of the blanket weed near the Iron Bridge and greatly improved the flow for the first 50 yards or so from there. Similarly, flow was improved just upstream of the Lower Mill by-pass. There is much more to be done to join these two areas together so we will probably carry on with this next month.

> Saturday 15th of July
What a good turn out we had today; 15 volunteers to tackle the Himalayan Balsam downstream from Lower Mill to God's Ditch. Really disappointing that the sun did not turn out as well. Despite the rain Alan, Gill, Ian, Dickon, Paul, Lamorna, Guy, Stella, Steff, Jason, Sara, Nigel, Alistair, David and Clive (hope I have remembered everyone) set about reducing the extensive areas of Himalayan Balsam in this stretch of Letcombe Brook. Our combined efforts probably reduced the target species by 50% - an excellent achievement under the circumstances but clearly more work is required shortly.
Thank you to Ian and Dickon for towing the trailer.

> Saturday 17th of June
Stewart, Ian, Dickon, Phil, Lamorna, Guy, Graham and Clive were joined by Karen Davies (new Letcombe Brook Project Officer) this morning tackling a fallen willow between Brookside and the paddock of Garstane House. The branches and stems of the tree were swiftly despatched and some obstructing brambles and bamboo were also removed a little further upstream. Phil took Karen on a tour in the Brook to familiarise her with the sampling points for the river fly monitoring, which the HFG is participating in as part of the Letcombe Brook project, areas where Himalayan Balsam has been a problem and Karen identified some wildlife sensitive areas. The team were very grateful to the lady who kindly produced some cold lemonade initiating a deserved break.
Thank you to Ian and Dickon for towing the trailer.

> Saturday 20th of May
Cancelled due to unavailability of Stewart and many of our regular team.

> Saturday 15th of April
This Saturday we did some work on the ditch on the eastern side of the new field. The centre of the ditch was clogged up with thick brambles. We have carefully removed the brambles from the centre of the ditch and left the hawthorn and blackthorn on the banks intact. Paul checked that there were no nesting birds before we started. We also found the field drain that connects into this ditch.
Thanks to Guy, Myfanwy, Stella, Lamorna, Stephanie, Ian, Dickon, Paul, Clive, Phil and Stewart.

> Saturday 18th of March
We finished off the package of work upstream of Weir farm that we started in January.

> Saturday 18th of February
We had a warm dry morning and carried out working upstream of Weir farm on the Letcombe brook. Sally Wallington came again and gave us some advice. We continued cutting back the blackthorn in order to let more light onto the brook banks.
Thanks to Myfanwy, Guy, Dickon, Ian, Stella, Bob, David, James, Alan and Stewart.

> Saturday 28th of January
The early morning rain stopped in time for our session on the Letcombe brook. Sally Wallington, Project Officer for the Letcombe Brood Project, came and gave us advice on coppicing and stream management. We coppiced two small areas upstream of Weir Farm which will allow more light into the 'beach' sections of the bank and this should encourage the growth of plants on the bank and so improve biodiversity. A good session. Welcome to James who came along for the first time.
Thanks to Sally, Lamorna, Clive, Phil, Gill, Oliver, Ian, Dickon, Paul, James, David, Stephanie and Stewart.



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