Great Crested Grebe

These articles are written for the Godstone Parish magazine and reproduced here with the permission of the author, Keith Brandwood (01883 742740). If you would like to reproduce them in your magazine, it would be courteous to ask him - he would be very happy to give permission if he gets a credit. He would also probably be able to adjust the article to suit your own area as these are generally aimed for the Godstone and Bletchingley areas. 

My Thoughts: Over the next few years we could see some dramatic changes to our environment and therefore our way of life. Brexit, climate change and the potential increase in housing and the associated infrastructure that will go with it, could all have a major effect on the environment and the countryside. Hopefully Brexit will provide legislation to improve the environment and therefore safeguard the countryside and wildlife, among other things.

It is well known that wildlife species are declining across the board, and there are various reasons for this decline. One noticeable factor is the serious decline in insects. Insects are a major influence in the pollination of plants, including plants that are subsequently used for food, as well as insects that form the major diet of many birds, mammals, reptiles etc. To try and improve the numbers of insects we could plant many more suitable trees, dramatically improve our hedgerows by allowing them to grow taller (five to six foot) than we do, and ensure that the growth of such hedgerows are thicker and wider at the base, and that they act as corridors from one natural habitat to another. Planting our gardens with flowers for the benefit of wildlife, and providing such things as nest boxes, boxes for bees and not using pesticides could all help. We could allow some areas to revert to wilderness where appropriate; this would mean that such areas would be free of insecticide, herbicide and fertiliser, another factor in the decline of insects. These areas could be kept in check by grazing animals such as deer.

The possible potential of dramatic increases in housing and the associated infrastructures in our area need to be carefully monitored to ensure that any reduction in natural habitats are somehow replaced, that serious thoughts are given to providing replacements trees, proper boxes etc for birds and bat facilities, and for hedgehogs to move from one area to another. Landscaping in areas of new housing needs to be much more than a few ornamental shrubs and trees. Over the next few years we need to consider and provide answers to the many hazards that could overwhelm us, and  pass on to future generations a world fit for purpose.


A new aspect of offshore windfarms maybe emerging as it would appear that the underwater sections of the turbines are creating increasing feeding sources for fish. Parts of the turbines on the seafloor are creating a habitat similar to that of reefs and shipwrecks, and are encouraging the fish.
Apparently there is a ban on fishing within a mile of these offshore windfarms and talking to local fishermen in the Shoreham area they  mentioned how good fishing has been in the last year from the beach or pier, bearing in mind that the large windfarm off the coast of Brighton has just become fully operational. This winter has seen a substantial increase in numbers of guillemots, razorbills and gannets feeding off the coast of south east England. So maybe the windfarms are improving the fish stocks in their vicinity, or maybe it was that the wind direction in the first two weeks of this year has driven vast shoals of fish further south.  I have also read of reports of sea duck in northern Britain moving their winter feeding from inshore to the vicinity of windfarms.