Cranleigh Parish Council

Beryl Harvey Nature Conservation Area

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On Sunday 10th January 2016 a group of 18 volunteers had fun installing new and replacement nest boxes, cutting back brambles, planting primroses and clearing path ways at the Beryl Harvey Field. More dead hedges were built and the nest raft was dragged out of the pond to reduce the foliage, repair the structure and replace the polystyrene floats.

About the Beryl Harvey Nature Conservation Area

The Beryl Harvey Field in Knowle Lane, was given to the Parish Council in 1970 by Mr Gordon Harvey in memory of his late wife. The field covers 3.5 acres and in 1987 the Council designated the southern end of the Beryl Harvey Field (around two acres) as a Nature Conservation Area. The remaining 1.5 acres is laid to allotments.

The Nature Conservation Area has been managed by Cranleigh and District Conservation Volunteers (CDCV) since 1987 as a wildlife area, with funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund and the Co-operative Society Ltd. The group has installed bat and bird boxes and used natural materials to form woodland habitats for insects, small animals and birds.

The CDCV continue to meet once a month to undertake the following tasks:-

  • Cut back invasive scrub, saplings and blackthorn.
  • Cut back any tree branches that overhang pathways.
  • Lay sections of the central hedge on a rotational basis.
  • Clear invasive weed/plants from in and around the pond.
  • Build dead hedges and wildlife friendly log piles.
  • Repair newt hibernaculars.
  • Install nest boxes.
  • Repair and replace benches as required.
  • Preparing and maintaining a wildflower area
  • Keeping access pathways in a good condition, especially with a view to promoting access for those with disabilities.
  • Any other repair of maintenance work to gates, paths or surfaces as necessary.

All of the work that is undertaken is in partnership with the Parish Council. Establishing a conservation area, rich with flora and fauna such as the one on Beryl Harvey takes years of work and dedication and maintaining this area requires specialist knowledge and sensitivity. An interpretive board can be found at the entrance of the Beryl Harvey Field to help visitors to make the most of their experience.

Cranleigh and District Conservation Volunteers meet every second Sunday in the month from 10am to 1pm to do the tasks indicated above and are always looking for new volunteers to join in.

You will require sturdy footwear, gloves, secateurs and loppers but the CDCV have some spares if required (except footwear).

For more details contact Tony Fox 01483 272899 or Julia Reed 01483 276740 or e-mail nickandjulia@waitrose.com.

A description of the Beryl Harvey Field from the Cranleigh and District Volunteer members

In spring a wide range of flowers start to bloom - amongst the earliest are roses, bluebells, an increasing number of cowslips and many common spotted orchids (These are quite rare in Cranleigh). A small number of native wild daffodils have been established. A good variety of birds can be seen and heard, some undoubtedly attracted by the pond and nest boxes. In June 2015 there were over 150 orchids established on the field and a mature Grass snake was observed.

As we move into summer more flowers appear including ladyís bedstraw, betony and birdsfoot trefoil (food plant for the common blue butterfly). Later, in good years, clouds of Common Blue Butterflies can be seen, together with Meadow Brown, Gatekeeper, Large and Small Skipper, Large and Small White, Comma, Small Tortoiseshell, Painted Lady, Holly Blue, Orange-tip, Peacock and Red Admiral, enjoying nectar from the profusion of knotweed flowers. There are also occasional sightings of Small Copper and Green Hairstreak. Several species of dragonfly can been seen around the now, well established pond and itís not unusual to see a fox with her cubs that were born on-site.

Autumn can produce large numbers of fungi and wild fruit for birds, lots of conkers on the southern boundary and good leaf colour. A flock of gold finches feed on the knotweed seed heads.

In previous winters we have had a small flock of sheep grazing, to keep the grass in check, as they, unlike a mower, do not destroy the developing ant hills.

Public Access

The Public are welcome to visit the Beryl Harvey Nature Conservation Area, although there could be restrictions in winter if sheep are grazing.

The Beryl Harvey Field is accessible from Knowle Lane and the Down's Link and is situated south of the Beryl Harvey allotments. If you need any further directions, please contact Cranleigh Parish Council on 01483 272311.

Dogs are not allowed at any time of year.