Worthys Conservation Volunteers

"Our Local Natural Environment .. for Life"

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St Swithuns Wildlife Habitat

Chalk stream habitat, St Swithun's Church, January 2008 (612KB)

Habitat, St Swithun's Church , June 2007(464KB)

Footpath from School Lane to St Swithun's Church, Headbourne Worthy, January 2008 (512KB)


About the project:

St Swithuns' wildlife habitat is a fantastic micro-nature reserve, the church stands at the centre on an island being completely surrounded by several brooks.  Otter, heron, little egret, stag beetle and bats are just some of the wildlife species observed, and banks provide a good wildflower area, look out for water avens, hemp agrimony, comfrey, cuckoo flower and meadowsweet to name just a few.  A public footpath (FP7) runs down from School Lane down to the church, and then to London Road.

In the past this habitat has been managed for wildlife, and in particular for water voles. Water voles are Britainís fastest declining mammal, and the habitat where they live is protected.  Headbourne Worthy parish council has been working in partnership with Hampshire & Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust, specifically to protect and encourage water voles, but also other wildlife living in this beautiful habitat.

Management of the habitat has included pollarding of bank side trees to allow in more light, encouraging vegetation to grow both on the banks and in the water channel. This provides food and shelter for the water voles which make burrows in the banks.  In addition, water vole-friendly hazel faggots (bundles of hazel twigs) have been positioned in the water channels to shore up the banks, speed up the water flow and thereby remove some of the silt.

Each Autumn, the vegetation on the bank sides and wilder areas of the churchyard is cut on rotation. A section is always left to provide cover for over-wintering wildlife.  The mature willow in front of the church porch is unfortunately nearing the end of its life.  It has been heavily pollarded to leave a sculptural trunk. This will in time provide and excellent dead wood habitat for a wide variety of wildlife.  Woodpeckers and other birds, insects, fungi and climbers such as ivy all colonise standing dead wood.  Native honeysuckle has been planted to grow up the trunk, and bird and bat boxes erected on this and other trees, to provide extra nesting and roosting homes for wildlife here.

St Swithun's Church is located at grid reference SU 487 319.

Worthys Conservation Volunteers has been carrying out conservation work on the site for a couple of years now.  This will continue for the foreseeable future.

Tasks undertaken:

St Swithuns Habitat Article - October 2011

Bat & Moth Watch Task Report - August 2009

St Swithuns Habitat Improvement Task Report - November 2008

St Swithuns Habitat Improvement Task Report - January 2008

St Swithuns Habitat Improvement Task Report - October 2007

St Swithuns Habitat Improvement Task Report - September 2007

St Swithun's Church Habitat Improvement Plan - September 2007

Footpath 7 Improvement Task Report - September 2007

Footpath 7 Improvement Plan - September 2007


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