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8th December 2006
 
Well we did get some gusty winds this week, with a fair amount of minor damage to our trees. As far as I am aware, all paths are passable although you may have to step over a branch in one or two places. If any of you know of anything serious that I have missed, let me know and I will get it sorted. Otherwise, clearance will continue next week.
 
The volunteers were out last weekend, clearing saplings and scrub to extend the glade created last year on the path that leaves Fir Tree car park on the A264 side. I wll be organising contractors in the next few weeks to clear the cuttings, take down the few trees that were too big for the volunteers and grind out the stumps so that te area can be maintained.
 
Some of you may have noticed the piles of cut heather on the cleared area by the drive to Gorse Cottge. These cuttings have come from the Cinder Hill reserve at Matfield where the Kent High Weald Group have been coppicing their heather. The cuttings will remain in place whilst the seeds drop out.
 
 
1st December 2006
 
Well, it turned out to be more Michael Fish based BBC weather paranoia, which was a relief.
We have spent part of this week demolishing and levelling the huge numbers of holes and jumps made by kids for their mountain bikes. It is a difficult one. I have been turning a blind eye to this for a while because, as I suspect many of you will agree, I would rather see them playing on the Common than either roaming the streets or sitting at home playing computer games. However, as ever, things are taken to extremes and we are now getting huge holes and ramps being constructed in the middle od footpaths, even in the middle of the racecourse. Some of them are so extreme that we are worried about the kids themselves gettting injured. So, if any of you are reading this, be sensible. don't dig up the footpaths and I might be able to ignore you again.
 
 
24th November 2006
 
It was a great holiday but it is nice to be back. It seems that I have missed most of the autumn colour but the beech woods still look fabulous. To judge from the number of trees and branches I have had to clear, you had some windy weather whilst I was away, but it seems I have made it back for the main event if the weekend forecast is to be believed. 70 to 80 mph gusts. If that does take place, watch out, we still have plenty of trees that could be dangerous in those conditions.
 
 
31st October 2006

We are going to be offline for a couple of weeks whilst our web site software is upgraded and this will coincide with me being away on annual leave. No updates for a while therefore. I return the week starting November 20th, by which time hopefully I will be able to get back on line (if I am not too sunburnt).


27th October 2006

Well, the clocks go back tomorrow and its bonfire night on Rusthall Common, but its still 20 degrees outside. The world has gone thoroughly mad. About the only thing that seems to be on time is the deer rut, which is in full swing in places like Eridge Park.

It is also the last weekend for horse riding on the Commons and I see that quite a few people have been getting in a last fix over the half term period. Just for a change, the restriction on winter riding looks to be justified this year as we are getting a significant amount of rain. Although having said that, the ponds are still low and we need plenty more.


20th October 2006

I am beginning to wonder if we are going to be able to finish our cutting with the big flail. It is frustrating that we only have about a days work left but the ground remains too wet to risk it. The area in question is on the other side of the new pond next to the Tarry Path on Rusthall Common. I realised that the dry period forcast last week was an illusion as soon as I saw the fair setting up at the bottom of Major Yorks Rd; it always rains when they come to town.


13th October 2006

We have one last area to flail now; the area around the new pond by the Tarry Path on Rusthall Common. We are waiting for a good dry period before we send the heavy machine onto this ground and the weather looks hopeful for next week. It seems we are in for a period of bright days and easterly winds Good drying weather. Hopefully, it will start to slow the grass down as well!


6th October 2006

We still haven't finished the grass cutting, thanks to the intervention of the weather. There are only one or two days work left, so hopefully we will complete next week. Perhaps last week I should have said "we must all hope for an exceptionally wet winter ..... once we have finished the cutting"

We are still waiting for identification of the fluxing from the horse chestnut trees mentioned last week but there is another odd thing happening on the trees in question. Some of the lower branches have produced new leaves and strangely, flowers. Whether this is some side effect of the suspected phytopthera, or a reaction to the weather we have had this year it is difficult to know. However, whatever the cause, it can only deplete the trees' energy reserves, leaving them more stressed and, therefore, more prone to other infections. I have also been told by a local tree surgeon that he has seen the same unseasonal leaf break happening on many chestnuts across the area. Worrying.

 
Close up of the bark 3.10.06


29th September 2006
Whilst we have all been enjoying the Indian Summer for the past few weeks, it is a relief to see that a change seems to be coming with the equinox. Although there has not been so much publicity recently, we are still in a period of persistent deficit as far as rainfall is concerned and we must all hope for an exceptionally wet winter.

Our grass cutting programme is now nearly completed and we have had both machines in operation this week. I have been particularly pleased with the results at Common View on Rusthall Common, although the number of anthills on part of the site means that the clearance will not be as extensive as I would have liked.


You may have read or seen news recently of a new disease that is affecting horse chestnut trees. I was aware that some cases have been reported as near as Ashford and I now fear thtat it may have reached Tunbridge Wells. The two large trees adjacent to Church Rd have lost their leaves very quickly and are now showing signs of fissures in the bark that are exuding black slime. It would obviously be a great tragedy to lose our chestnuts and I am sure I am not the only one in the town for whom these two trees in particular are favourite indicators of the arrival of Spring, since they are nmormally the first two major trees to put out leaves each year. I wiil be carrying out further inspections with a treee surgeon next week and will keep you informed.


2nd September 2006
Well, our new tractor did arrive and we have been busy cutting the minor paths across Tunbridge Wells Common. We have now been interupted by the weather but in spite of this, we should finish TW early next week and will then be moving on to Rusthall. The big collector-flail has also been in operation, clearing the areas previously treated with spray to control the bracken. This machine was purchased because it was clearly the most robust available on the market. However, it is not really a match for the Common, because we had pretty much destroyed the main bearing by the end of the week. We are re-building over the weekend and it should be back in action next week. We are becoming aware that these new machines are mainly designed for the golf-couirse market and that the Common is a much tougher proposition. We have already had to re-build sections of the machine with 5mm plate rather than the 3mm plate that the manufacturer used and I suspect that in six months time thetre will be little left of what we originally puchased. Having said all that, the areas that it has cleared do look great.


15th September 2006
As promised, the big collector-flail has been in again this week. We have cut and cleared the heather regeneration sites on either side of the old racecourse as well as the new areas of wood-pasture, and we have cleared the North side of the Terrace Walk. Next week we will be moving on to the area behind Fir Tree Rd car park, the area adjacent to Bracken Cottage Pond, the slopes at the junction of London Rd and Church Rd and the area around the Queen Anne Oak. When that is completed, we will move over to Rusthall Common to clear the area opposite Common View and the Marlpit Ponds, as well as the newly cleared areas adjacent to the Tarry Path. As I mentioned last week, we are still awaiting the arrival of the new tractor for our smaller flail and it looks as though it should finally arrive today (Friday). We hope very much therefore to be in full action with it next week on the minor paths.


8th September 2006
We have been struggling on with our old tractor for the cutting of the minor paths but it has been slow going. We are promised that the new equipment will arrive next week but I will not be holding my breath. On a more positive note, the big tractor and cutter wil be returning next week and we can commence clearing the areas that were treated with Asulox at the end of July. Now that the school holidays are at an end, we will also be having a sweep through to remove the camps that have been made over the Summer along with their associated rubbish and will also be clearing a number of encampments previously occupied by rough sleepers.


1st September 2006
We have managed to get part of the flailing of the minor paths done this week before the tractor that has been giving us so many problems recently broke down again, so apologies if you are still having to brush through overhanging vegetation on your favorite walk. The contractor involved is trying to source some new equipment asap but obviously this can take some time. Unfortunately, our new all singing, all dancing collector-flail that we aquired recently is simply too big to fit down the little paths.

There has been a noticable shortage of swallows and house martins in the region this year although there were plenty in Wales when I was there in May. We have had a few skimming the grass below Wellington Rocks in the past few weeks but I suspect that they are birds from the north and west on passage back to Africa.


25th August 2006
Sorry for the late posting of this weeks report. We seem to have a few problems with our software at present.

Although we have enjoyed a much coller period during August with reasonable amounts of rain, we are still losing water through evaporation from our ponds. All are at low levels, with the new pond adjacent to Cabbage Stalk Lane now being completely dry. This is not really a bad thing. Heathland is one of the strongholds of both amphibians and reptiles in the UK. Amphibians in particular are subject to heavy predation on their young from fish. Heathland ponds, therefore, drying out on a regular basis and being so inhospitable to fish, are excellent breeding sites.


18th August 2006
Many thanks to the Friends for their clearance of the Cold Bath and Chalybeate Spring last week, it certainly looks much better

The Schools Cricket Festival is due to take place on the Lower Cricket Pitch next week. At present, the forecast looks fairly gloomy so keep your fingers crossed for them.


11th August 2006
We have now completed our treatment of the bracken for this season. I am not sure if it will be quite as effective as usual since the bracken has hardened off very quickly this year due to the hot conditions and lack of water. We have also been cutting back bracken and scrub to reveal the rock outcrops at Happy Valley.

We will be cutting the main amenity grass areas this weekend after a four week gap. I am always pleased to be able to extend the gap during dry periods as it gives me another cut in reserve for the end of the season which seems to go on longer every year. It is certainly not unusual to still be cutting at the start of November these days.


4th August 2006
We have been removing a number of dead Elm trees this week. Dutch Elm disease is still with us and affects trees when they reach the height at which the beetle that is the vector for the disease flies. We still have quite a lot of elm scrub left on both Commons but sadly, it never reaches maturity. The disease triggers small bladder cells in the trees stem called tyloses. These cells are designed to stop the spread of infection by inlating and stopping the flow in the area of the tree affected by wounding. However, Dutch Elm disease somehow triggers all the tyloses in the tree at once, completely blocking the flow of nutrients and killing the tree very rapidly.


28th July 2006

We have now completed the current operations with the flail collector. It will be back in operation later in the year to clear some of the heather areas and some areas of bracken which will soon be treated with Asulox. This is a specific herbicide that only affects bracken and is widely used by English Nature and many County Wildlife Trusts. This will take place in early August during what is a very narrow time window when this herbicide is at it's most effective.


21st July 2006
We have again spent the week cutting and clearing our hay-meadow areas with our new flail collector. We have had a few teething troubles, in fact the reason I am looking rather glumly at the machine in the picture below is that we had just lost a hammer after hitting a lump of stone at the base of Edgcumbe Rocks. However, we were soon back in action and have accomplished far more than expected in the time. The first cut was always going to be the most awkward so I am very pleased how well we got on.

We seem to be suffering a number of fires at the moment, especially on Rusthall Common. I am pretty sure that most of them are being started deliberately. I hope for the sake of the culprit that he does not get caught by any of the Fire Brigade staff we keep having to call out. They look very hot in all their gear and I suspect that they may not be in a very good mood!

Flail Collector
Flail collector in action - 18 July


14th July 2006
We finally have our new flail collector up and running and it has accomplished a surprising amount in its first week of use. We have cut and more importantly, cleared the rear of the Fairground car park, the recently opened up area adjacent to Cabbage Stalk Lane and the margins of the new pond, the area behind Master Transcriptions, the area opposite Bretland Road, the grassland at the rear of the Bishops Down triangle and the entire area of grass opposite the wellington Hotel. Not bad for four days work. We will be continuing next week with areas such as Edgcumbe Rocks, the Bumps, part of the area opposite Gorse Cottage.


7th july 2006
For those of you who don't get to see the local paper, I guess I should explain why there are a number of huge concrete blocks positioned on the edge of Rusthall cricket pitch. A closer look will reveal that the wooden posts are missing, having been sawn off at ground level by a group of travellers who then drove onto the pitch and stationed their vehicles around the edge of the ground. I am delighted to report that our local Police attended at once and were absolutely resolute in getting the travellers off the site as quickly as possible. Within an hour and a half they were gone and we were organising the blocks as a temporary barrier. We will be replacing the posts at the start of next week. Even though they were only there for an hour and a half, we still had several bags of rubbish to remove.


30th June 2006
We have carried out the first flail cut on our main paths on TW Common this week and will be back to continue on Rusthall in a couple of weeks time. I hope that our new cutter-collester will be in action in the next week and am intending to start with the newly cleared area by Cabbage Stalk Lane and then move on to Mount Ephraim, which will be a much more awkward task because of the number of ant-hills in the area (we want to retain them if we can).

Some of you will have noticed the huge hoarding that has been erected outside the Mount at the "South of France " on Bishops Down. This has been put up illegally by the developers on Common land without permission and we have instructed them to remove it. The developer is seeking our consent to temporarily widen the access road to the site, so hopefully that will make sure that they comply and remove this eyesore promptly.


23rd June 2006
We are staring to get an idea of how last years bracken control treatment worked now as this years crop develops. I have been very pleased to see how little is appearing on the slopes above the traffic lights opposite the Lower Cricket Pitch. I hope to have enough money in the budget to cut and clear this area with ouir new flail collector later in the year and thus start to reduce the soil fertility and encourage more floristic diversity.

I am seeing quite a number of lizards foraging in our new heathy areas which is encouraging. I have seen quite a few grass snakes too, especally around Cabbage Stalk Lane pond but I have not yer spotted any adders this year. If anyone has made any sightings, I would appreciate an e-mail. There seem to be far more green woodpeckers in evidence this year than usual. they are becoming a very common sight feeding in ths grassland between the Wellington Rocks and the Victoria Grove. They can be easily distinguished by their typical bounding flight of a few flaps then a dipping glide, their sulphur yellow rumps and af course, their distinctive laughing calls.


16th June 2006
Sorry there was no report last week, I was away for a few days. The grass cutting is finally under control and we will be cutting again this week. I am now starting to prepare for the cutting of the hay-meadow areas and the longer grass which will commence as soon as the seeds of the wildflowers have had time to set.

Further to the worries about the geese and her offspring, there was a report in the paper last week of a goose and her goslings being spotted walking up the high street. We thing they ended up in Calverly Grounds!


2nd June 2006
Thanks for asking; it was a disaster, with the entire Wye system on flood alert all week. However, the flood conditions meant that otters were foraging in the undercuts of the banks where the fish were hiding, so we had some great views. What total masters of their environment they are.

It seems that you had pretty dismal weather here too. I was surprised by the amount of further tree damage there has been with some quite large trees affected. I think that rather more damage was caused by the snow a few weeks ago than we thought. I will be making arrangements to have all the damage cleared away over the next few weeks.

I am aware that there is some concern over the wherabouts of the greylag goose and her brood on Brighton Lake. Having reported the happy event three weeks ago, I too was concerned when they vanished but I could find no evidence of fowl (!) play so I suspect that she has lead her brood to a quieter area. If anyone has any other information, please e-mail me. Subsequently, a clutch of mallards has hatched out on the same pond and I notice that they star in the Courier this week.


19th May 2006
The unsettled forecast for the next few days could easily produce more damaged trees and branches so take care. We hoped to be cutting the grass again this weekend but once again it seems we will be thwarted.

I am off for a break to the magnificent Wye valley where it is always sunny and warm, so no report next week.


12th May 2006
To my surprise and delight, the Greylag geese on Brighton Lake have successfully hatched their clutch of eggs. After all the disturbance of having a couple of fire extinguishers discharged onto the pond around the island the nest was on, they are to be commended for their tenacity

We are finishing the last of the grass cutting today and hopefully we can then settle into our two weekly routine. It has been an awkward start to the cutting season this year and I apologise that the grass has looked so untidy over the last few weeks

As well as the grass, everything else is growing at a fantastic rate as spring reaches it's climax. Don't wait to get out and enjoy it. It will be past it's dramatic best in another week.


5th May 2006
We have had to wait a long time for it but now that spring has arrived, it has done so with a vengeance. I hope many of you have been able to get out there and enjoy it.

We will again be attempting to get all the grass cut this weekend but the weather looks as though it may turn against us. If that is the case, we will be making a concerted effort at the beginning of next week.

Fir Tree Pond


28th April 2006
We have been having a bit of a purge on grafitti over the past few weeks; removing it as best we can from signs and seats and simply painting over the mess on litter bins. I know it will soon be back but the place looks so much better for this weekend at least.

We replaced the fence at the top of the slope above Fir Tree pond for the thirds time in three weeks yesterday. Our local youths are determined to turn the area into a cycle track and I am determined that it will remain a popular site for family picnics as well as for wildlife around the pond. I suspect that we could have problems over the bank holiday weekend.

In spite of our recent tribulations, the Common is looking lovely at the moment with all the new leaves emerging and all the wild cherry and blackthorn in blossom. Why not go for a wander this weekend and see for yourself.


21st April 2006
It was with immense relief that I watched the kids go back to school this week. It has been a lot more peaceful on the Common!

I will not dwell any more on the tragic events of last week. Suffice to say that the cricket club hopes to hold its first home game of the season next weekend. We should all admire their Dunkirk spirit and if anyone shakes a bucket at you during a game this summer, please give generously.

Many of you will have noticed the problem at Brighton Lake this week where two fire extinguishers were discharged onto the lake. To make matters worse, the foam was sprayed all around the island where a greylag goose is sitting on her nest. She was scared off her nest by the event and did not go back for several hours; time will tell if she returned in time. I am assured by the Environment Agency that the foam is non toxic, so we are letting it disperse naturally. There is also one of the extinguisher casings still in the pond where it was thrown. I have left it there for the present because it is close to the island and every time I try to reach it I am scaring the goose off her eggs again.


14th April 2006
Given that we are in the middle of the worst drought for decadea, I thought I was on safe ground in announcing the start of grass cutting last weekend. Obviously, we were overtaken by events, starting with heavy rain, turning to heavy snow and then back to heavy rain again. We ended up with a Common too wet to cut and covered in fallen trees. We have now cleared all the major paths allthough some minor paths still involve a bit of scrambling through fallen branches and we started a limited cut of the grass today on those areas dry enough.

Not a very good week all in all, but it got a lot worse last night when the cricket pavillion near the Wellington Rocks was gutted by fire. In what appears to have been a deliberate act of vandalism, the club have lost not only their pavillion but also all their mowers and rollers as well as their main source of income; namely hiring out the clubhouse for functions. The future looks very uncertain at the moment, which is a tragedy not only for the members but for all Commons users. It is difficult to imagine the Common without cricket in the summer. The first game of the 2006 season was due to take place tomorrow.


10th April 2006
The heavy snowfall of Sunday night has caused a great deal of mostly minor damage to our trees and we are working as quickly as possible to clear the paths. As you will understand, most tree surgeons are fully tied up with roadside trees across the area but as soon as the worst of that is dealt with, we will be in full swing. Our priorities will be footways next to roads, then major paths and the racecourse and then minor paths. I hope to have all major paths clear by the weekend so until then please exercise some caution and remember to look up occasionally!

Dog By Rocks in Snow

Wellington rocks on 6 April

Children making the most of the snow

7th April 2006
We will finally be starting on the grass cutting this weekend. Some areas, such as the junction of Coach Rd and Rusthall Rd, remain wet longer than the rest of the Commons and may in fact be too wet to cut for another week or so. So don't panic if you think your bit has been missed.

Although it is still slow, spring is unfolding before us. The spawn has now hatched in the ponds, woodpeckers are drumming and it was warm enough on Thursday out of the wind for bees to be active and for me to spot several brimstone butterflies as well as a comma around Cabbage Stalk Lane pond.


31st March 2006
March winds and April showers....... I suppose really, spring is not late at all. It is simply that we have had short mild winters so often recently that we take them for granted. At least we have had enough rain in the past week to ensure May's flowers, even if it is too little, too late for the reservoirs.

I see that a pair of Greylag geese were exploring Brighton Lake this week. I wonder if it is the pair that successfully bred there last year.


24th March 2006
What a difference a week makes. It looks as though a sustained mild period is finally with us. The frogs finally appeared back in Fir Tree pond again this week and are currently in a spawning frenzy. In Cabbage Stalk L:ane pond however, in which spawning took place two weeks ago, most of the spawn has been left high and dry by water levels that have dropped about three inches, solely because of evaperation due to the persistent strong easterlies. It is quite scary really, It is not surprising that filling our reservoirs is such a long process, even with pumping from the Medway.


17th March 2006
It feels as though we are in suspended animation at the moment with everything poised and just waiting for a little warmth. Wednesday gave a glimpse of what we would be normally expecting by now but by the next day cloud and easterly winds were back. Still, I must look on the bright side, we would normally have started grass cutting this week so we are saving a little money.

One bright and surprising note this week. I received a letter from a Ramslye resident telling me that the previous Saturday he and his wife spotted three deer grazing near Brighton Lake. He didn't give the species, just saying that they were small. I cannot imagine that Roe deer would be in such a spot in full daylight so I suspect they may have been Muntjac. Did anyone else spot them?


10th March 2006
Honestly, they are just teases those TV weather girls; they get you all excited about the weather warming up, the frogs appear in the ponds and then suddenly winter reappears! Well, the frogs did put in a brief appearance at Fir Tree Pond as well as at Cabbage Stalk Lane Pond last week but they soon changed their minds. The frogs at Fir Tree never really got started but those at Cabbage Stalk Lane have left a fair amount of spawn that is now locked in the ice. It will be interesting to see if much of it survives. I expect it will, frogs would have been extinct a long time ago if they couldn't survive the odd spring set back.

The volunteers were out for the last time this season last week. We removed a fair amount of scrub from behind Fir Tree car park which is now stacked by the path. This will be rmoved in the next couple of weeks and the stumps will be ground out so that the newly cleared area can be brought into management.


3rd March 2006
This high pressure system is very persistant as it keeps spring at bay. The birds are able to get on with their preparations but there is not much our amphibians can do till the ponds un-freeze. There has bben some open water during the week and some it on Fir Tree Pond was playing host to a pair of Mandarin Ducks. Not something I have seen on the Common before but I suspect that they probably came from somewhere like Dunorlan as they did not seem alarmed by my presence.


24th February 2008

Another quiet week but at least some rain fell, which is most welcome.


17th February 2006
We are undergoing a brief lull in activity as I have spent all our budget for this year! Fortunately, there will be a new financial year starting soon, so the lull gives me the chance to plan how to spend that budget.

Well, still no frogs and it looks as though the weather will be colder next week. The level of birdsong has increased dramatically in the past week though, so they certainly think that spring is nearly on us.


10th February 2006
With the weather becoming much milder, I will be keeping an eye out for the first of our frogs to re-appear in the Commons ponds over the next few weeks. Fir Tree Pond has always been first as it is in a sun trap protcted from the northerly and easterly winds. I have frequently seen frogs in this pond by valentines day. However, the new pond next to Cabbage stalk Lane is in a similar south facing and sheltered position, we shall se which one wins this year.

I am pleased to see that work on the new zebra-crossing at Bishops Down has resumed, it will be a great benefit to people attempting to cross this busy road to reach the Common. However, I must admit that I am very dissapointed to see that the refuge in the road outside the Wellington Hotel has been removed. I can not understand the reasoning behind this, the crossing point leads directly to a very heavily used path that heads for the centre of town.


3rd February 2006
Having pretty well polished off our budget, we are now virtually at the end of our winter's work. All that remains of the scheduled tasks is the collection and removal of the tree butts left by the recent clearances. However, there is not much time for rest as I fully expect to be grass cutting within six weeks.

Some of you will have seen the three sets of dropped kerbs that have been installed on Coach Road and may be wondering what they are all about. The nearby Marl Pit Pond is well populated with newts, including the now very rare Great Crested Newt. Each spring some of these animals will go prospecting for new breeding sites and should help the spread of the species. Unfortunately, the nearest pond is on the other side of Coach Road and newts trying to cross cannot get up the vertical face of the kerbs. Instead, the unfortunate beasts follow the line of the kerb and frequently end up dropping into the storm drains, from whence there is no escape. The new dropped kerbs will hopefully allow them to avoid this fate. Our thanks go to the Friends of the Common who have funded this work.


27th January 2006
Work on roadside trees continued all this week as well as the clearance work at Denny Bottom. There remains a small amount of tree work to be carried out on Major Yorks Rd.

I am aware that many people take logs and cut timber from the side of the road when we have been carrying out work of this kind. However, I was a little concerned to recieve reports of people turning up with chainsaws and starting to log up the intact trunks that have been left ready for collection. Strictly speaking this is theft, as all timber cut on the Common remains the property of the Manor of Rusthall. More importantly, these people are not wearing protective clothing and are a potential danger to themselves and other Commons users. Remember, it only costs about 30 for a load of logs to be delivered to your house, there are adverts in the local papers every week; how much are your legs worth to you? I have suffered a chainsaw cut in the past and it is not a lot of fun.


20th January 2006
As Rusthall readers will have noticed, we are now well underway with the tree work detailed last week. I have also been contacted by English Nature who again find themselves able to contribute 2,000 towards clearance work at the Denny Bottom SSSI. However, they need me to complete this work as quickly as possible; ideally by the end of January, so we will be starting work on Apsley St next week. We will be carrying out some crown-lifting of the large oaks in front of the rock face and then clearing bramble and bracken from the rock ledges and coppicing some of the gorse before it starts to die back. If we still have any money left at the end of that, we will remove one or two of the hollies from the top of the cliff face.

Two nice sightings this week on Tunbridge Wells Common. The kingfisher has been back at Fir Tree pond again, hunting from a branch of the yew overhanging the pond; and a glimpse of a stoat crossing Fir Tree Rd. I have seen weasels a few times up there but never before a stoat.


13th January 2006
This has been a week of preparation for the forthcoming quarterly Conservators meeting. I have also been organising a considerable amount of work on roadside trees which will commence next week. There are one or two trees on Major York's Road that require attention but the vast majority of the work is on Rusthall Common. Several large trees will be removed or pollarded on Rusthall Rd. near it's junction with the A264 as well as several ivy covered trees opposite Sunnyside Rd. There are also a few leaning trees to be felled on Coach Rd, plus a group of leaners adjacent to the A264 opposite the entrance to Rusthall Elms.


6th January 2006
Most of my week has been spent surveying roadside trees to enable the planning of the next few years work. The new management plan that the Conservators have adopted calls for the grading and scalloping of our woodland edges. There is also a need to remove or reduce a number of our roadside trees to avoid potential liability problems. Many of you will have noticed the work being carried out this week on the two large horse chestnut trees outside the Forum. These were scanned with a tomograph last year ( it's an x-ray machine for trees ) and we have been undertaking the recommended 20% reduction.




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