Great Black-backed Gulls

New park residents 

For the last week or so we have had some new winter residents on the shoreline, the latest visitors being a pair of Great Black-backed Gulls.

They are often seen in Lytchett Bay and Holes Bay but not usually along the park shoreline. The picture does not do them justice, but they are very impressive and very large!

Giant seagulls

This gull is the worlds largest and it becomes most noticeable when it spreads its wings for take off, it has a wingspan of just over five feet.

It is also quite long-lived at least one being recorded as 27 years old.

Hamworthy Hedgehogs – how to tempt hedgehogs into your garden

Now that Spring has finally arrived, Hamworthy hedgehogs are stirring. We’ve never seen any hedgehogs in Hamworthy park. But if you have, let us know!

Here are 8 top tips from our friends at Hamworthy Hedgehog Rescue to make your garden a hedgehog haven.

1. Water

To encourage hedgehogs to stay in or near your garden ensure they have a fresh supply of water available. Put some shallow dishes at different points in the garden and keep them topped up – especially in very hot weather. It’s great for other wildlife too.

2. Food

Yes please – leave a dish of hedgehog food, meaty cat or dog food or cat biscuits, in a place where the hedgehog can get it, but not the local cats (see pic for ideas to keep the cats out).

No thank you – Mealworms, sunflower hearts or peanuts are bad for hedgehogs.  As is cows milk and bread.

Hamworthy hedgehogs

3. Fences

Hedgehogs need a gap or hole in your fence to be able to get into your garden in the first place. Leave a hole in fences or newly constructed walls so the hedgehogs can come and go.

4. Hedgehog houses

You can buy hedgehog houses from garden centres or online, but it’s just as easy to make your own with a pile of logs and leaves…and saves a trip to the tip with that garden waste.

5. Hog proof your pond and garden

Hedgehogs love water but can easily fall into a garden pond or paddling pool. Make sure there is a ramp or some plastic coated wire to help them get out. Similarly, make sure any garden netting is raised off the ground so hedgehogs don’t get caught. Holes are another hedgehog no-no as they can easily fall in. Fill in any holes or cover them over.

6. Check and double check

Hedgehogs love piles of leaves, compost heaps and long grass -they all make comfy hog homes. So before you get your fork or strimmer out, check the area for hedgehogs. The same goes for bonfires -check the pile or, even better, use a garden incinerator instead.

Hamworthy hedgehogs

7. Dogs and hogs

Dogs are inquisitive and soon learn the hard way to keep their noses away from hedgehogs! But it can still be stressful for the hedgehog. Try turning on an outside light a few minutes before letting the dog out to give any hedgehogs time to get out of the way. Or if your hog has a set routine, make sure to keep the dog in when it’s hedgehog time.

8. What should I do if I disturb a hedgehog nest?

If you do accidentally disturb a nest with a single adult hedgehog in it, replace the nesting material. The hedgehog can then either repair the nest or build another elsewhere. If the disturbed hedgehog is hibernating and wakes up, a dish of dog food and some water each night until it starts hibernating again would be helpful. If there are babies in the nest, replace the nesting material, handling the nest as little as possible so as not to leave your smell on it. Keep an eye on the nest to see if mum returns. If there is no sign of her by the next morning telephone Hamworthy hedgehog rescue for advice on 07587 925476.

Tempting as it may be, do not allow friends, children etc to uncover the nest for a peep.

 

So there you have it. The above are ways to help visiting hedgehogs as they pass through your garden. But the best way to actively encourage them into your garden is to provide easy access,  good food, and cosy nesting sites.

If you find an injured hedgehog, you can contact Hamworthy Hedgehog Rescue on 07587 925476, or catch them on Facebook to see all the great work they do.

Happy hogging!

Hamworthy in Bloom?!

If you’ve been following our progress on Facebook over the past few months, you might have noticed our volunteers have been taking an interest in the planters all around Hamworthy.

Planters in Hamworthy

Some years ago a number of these planters were positioned at various points along the Blandford Road. But for some time they have been sadly neglected, becoming overgrown with weeds and something of an eyesore.

The Friends of Hamworthy Park decided to tidy them up and make them into something to be admired. There are now signs that we have gone some way to achieving this.

Colorful displays

As you can see, the big square planters have really come up nicely with some great displays of colour.

Hamworthy planters

Hamworthy planters

And when we carried out the litter pick in the surgery area, it was apparent that the bed in front of Boots/McColls was in desperate need of attention. So over the last few weeks, we have been gradually getting that one under control, adding some colorful plants and chopping down the thorny bushes.

Hamworthy planters
From grott spot…
Hamworthy planters
…to hot spot!

Guardians of the planters! 

As you can imagine, it’s easy for FOHP to arrange some days to get the planters sorted out, but we need local help to keep them looking good. We already have a volunteer guardian for the planter near Symes Road. This community-minded person is willing to give the planter a bit of care, pull any weeds and chuck on a can or two of water when we have a dry spell. Thank you!

What we need now are guardians for the ones near Dawkins Road, the Library and Tuckers Lane. Ideally, someone who lives adjacent to give them a bit of care. If you are willing and able to be a planter guardian, please get in touch: contact

FOHP will continue to replace the plants as and when required. We are also planning to get a lick of paint on the planters once the weather changes. 

 

Get involved!
Do you fancy making a difference in your community, meeting some new people and getting some fresh air? We have a selection of volunteering events:

Wednesday Volunteers – meet every Wednesday in Hamworthy Park, 10.00am outside the park cafe.

Saturday Volunteers – we run a programme of Saturday volunteer events roughly once a month. The next event is the Tucker’s Field spring clean on Saturday, April 6th.

See our website or Facebook for further details. Or get in contact.

 

Saturday volunteers – Hamworthy Recreation Ground

Getting started

On Saturday, 9th March, FOHP volunteers met up at Hamworthy Reaction ground for a litter pick. At first, it looked like being an easy job – but there ended up being a lot more litter than anyone had thought!

Areas covered

The size of team changed as people came and went, but we had around 13 volunteers who made short work of the litter in the main recreation field.

 

Large amounts of rubbish were found near the BMX track and particularly in the woods behind. This is where the work really started! As well as the usual bottles, cans and plastic wrappers, we also found road work barriers, metal posts, old towels and a number of old tarps. The children we had on the pick dubbed this area “litter land”!

Before
After

How much rubbish?

The Council refuse guys who came to collect the litter said, and I quote, “This is the biggest amount of rubbish I’ve ever seen from a community litter pick!” We had 21 bags of litter plus a large old sign, some road work barriers and old assorted bits of tin roofing. Not bad for an hour and a half!

Lizards!

As an added bonus, one of our volunteers saw a common lizard sunning itself on the fringes of the rec ground. It managed to scuttle off before we could get a picture, but we are happy to have tidied up it’s home a little bit.

Thank you

A big thank you to all the volunteers who came along to pick the litter, and to the refuse guys for taking it all away.

Get involved!
Do you fancy making a difference in your community, meeting some new people and getting some fresh air? We have a selection of volunteering events:

Wednesday Volunteers – meet every Wednesday in Hamworthy Park, 10.00am outside the park cafe.

Saturday Volunteers – we run a programme of Saturday volunteer events roughly once a month. The next event is the Tucker’s Field spring clean on Saturday, April 6th.

See our website or Facebook for further details. Or get in contact.

Wildlife in the park – black swans and wagtails

Wagtails

The wagtail is the most common small bird found in the park and has a year-round presence. We were talking to a lady in the Coop last week about the birds in the park, and she had some photos of this cheeky little wagtail.

Photo by Joyce Cox
Photo by Joyce Cox

There are two kinds – a grey wagtail and a yellow wagtail. Slightly confusingly, the grey wagtail can have some yellow in its feathers as can be seen below. But, the yellow wagtail is much more yellow than that!

As you can see, they are tiny and easily startled. So well done for getting close enough for a picture!

Black swans

On the same day, we had reports that a pair of black swans were visiting Hamworthy park – we couldn’t run down with our cameras because we were tied down at Coop. But luckily, the wonderful park users came to the rescue with these amazing photos.

black swans hamworthy park
Photos by Denise Winwood
black swans hamworthy park
Photos by Denise Winwood

 

Wednesday volunteers – Nuts, bolts and snowdrops

Nuts and bolts

The Wednesday volunteers are getting quite used to picking up unusual litter. But why would anyone take the trouble to bring this tray full of new nuts, bolts and washers to the park then throw them into a bed of shrubs?

They had not been there long and there had been no maintenance work in that area that we know about for some years. We would love to know the story behind them!

Snowdrops

Snowdrops can be a bit temperamental, they either like a location or they don’t. If they decide they like a place they will thrive. Over a few years, they will multiply providing a wonderful display in our more dismal months giving some hope of better days to come.

Last year, with that in mind, at various locations in the park we planted a number of snowdrop bulbs in the green – a term used particularly with snowdrops when transplanting just after flowering before their leaves start to wither. Since early January, the volunteers have been keeping a careful watch for any signs of flowers. We had all but given up hope, when suddenly, in early February, the first signs of life appeared as seen in the photo.

So if you are enjoying a walk in the park keep your eyes open. If you see any more please let us know as we are still not convinced they like it here – let’s wait and see.

We will be planting more snowdrops later in the spring as we have been promised a further donation of bulbs.

The Paddling Pool

Those taking a walk in the park recently can hardly have failed to notice that a start has been made on what the Friends and much of the local community have been dreaming about for some considerable time, A NEW PADDLING POOL.

There has been good progress with the old base being broken up and removed. There was a bit of trouble breaking up the base of the original 1931 pool underneath.  Being of 1930s quality workmanship the steel rods had been welded at the crossing points making it harder going than anticipated. With that removed, the pilings are now being driven in to provide a firm base for the concrete slab.

 

Let’s keep our fingers crossed for good weather and an easy, problem free build. The time for celebration is when we see our children and grandchildren enjoying themselves in the new paddling pool in the sunshine!

We are keeping track of the renovations on Facebook so check in there for more information.

Erosion – update

In our last newsletter, we raised the issue of erosion affecting the eastern end of the park. At that point, we were waiting on Natural England to give permission for stones to be used to combat the erosion. This has now been given and the Council plans to put roughly 120 large stones along the beach at the eastern end of the park.

We are obviously very happy with this outcome and will monitor to see how these measures work and whether they are enough to combat the erosion.

On a related note, we are very concerned that recent high tides have been reaching up to the base of the footbridge over the railway. This has lead to corrosion which, if unchecked, will cause substantial and expensive damage to the bridge.

We have been in contact with the council to get this dealt with asap – watch this space for updates!

Saturday Volunteers – Litter Picking the Blandford Road

 

On Saturday 9th February, 15 FOHP volunteers of all ages were out and about for a spot of litter picking and gardening.

Areas covered

The Saturday Volunteers made short work of the litter along Blandford Road. We started from the parade of shops with McColl’s, Boots and around Adam’s Practice, then south down to St Michael’s Church and Cobb’s Lane, and north up the road as far as Hamworthy Dental practice.

FOHP volunteers with Councillor Julie Bagwell who joined us for the pick

Planters

The planters outside McColl’s and Boots were in a much worse state than we had anticipated. There are two small concrete planters and one large brick planter with trees and shrubs.

We litter picked the larger planter and hoed the soil over.  There is a large and thorny bush that needs trimming right back – we will need to return with better gloves and clippers! Ouch!

We emptied a mixture of water and mud from one of the smaller planters – roots from a nearby tree had blocked the drainage hole. This planter will need to be moved and, after the roots are cleared, refilled and planted up.

FOHP will return later in the spring to finish the job and get the planters full of colour.

Plan for improving the parade of shops

While we were litter picking, we were approached by a local resident. He showed us this plan for improvements to the space outside the McCool’s/Boots parade of shops. The proposed improvements include a salt bin so the steps, ramps and steep pavement can be treated in icy weather, the replacement of uneven paving, the installation of a cycle rack and a line of bollards to prevent illegal parking. Looks good to us!

Next litter pick

Hamworthy Recreation Ground is next on the list for some litter picking and TLC. Saturday 9th March, 10.00-12.00. All welcome for 5 minutes or 2 hours of community action. More details to follow on Facebook and the website.

Winter Wildlife in Hamworthy Park

It may be deepest, darkest winter but there is still plenty of wildlife in Hamworthy Park.

The Turnstones are still turning stones – we reckon there are 25 in the photo below, but they naturally camouflage themselves against the rocks, so there could be more.

We had a flock of 18 visiting Brent Geese just recently but when we returned with camera in hand a few days later only one remained. This is rather unusual as normally they stay together.  This solitary one remained with us for two weeks before disappearing – hopefully going off to join the rest in Holes Bay.

Here is some wildlife that is a bit more controversial.  If only the gulls could find somewhere else to roost as they make such a mess on the children’s swings.

And finally, don’t panic! It’s not what you may think at first glance. Luckily,  this turned out not to be a snake, but just part of a child’s stuffed toy.