Upcoming Conservation Day 13th July

If you go down to High Broom Wood this Saturday, you are sure to find our friendly volunteers, aged 7 years to … hahum… best not to say. For it is our conservation morning when we meet at 9.30am at St David’s Close to find out our mission for the day.

This week the weather promises to be excellent, so water, hats, suncream and insect repellent are advised. We will continue to work on clearing the banks of the gently flowing river Beck by the middle bridge and there is some bramble management in the offing as well.

If you’ve never come to one of our monthly gatherings, do join us. Being surrounded by nature is therapeutic after a week at work and it’s fun too! Absolutely no experience is required 🙂 We finish by 12 noon.

“We don’t inherit the earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children.” Native American proverb

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Winter stuff

Just a taste of what we do during the winter months, burning stuff is the most important, naturally. We are limited to the winter months because of birds nesting but we had built up a store of logs and bramble that was soon turned to ash in a safe and controlled fashion, of course.

Bonfire 01 Nov 2017

I wonder if January and February will bring snow, just to tempt you, here’s a picture from 2009 that shows that it’s always Narnia in High Broom Wood.


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Back at last !

After a very long break, the High Broom blog is back for 2018. This is really a test but I intend to publish more during this year, so watch this space.

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Conservation Day – 12th July

We’re dropping like flies here! Send more units!

A couple of injuries this weekend, feet and backs (get better soon Sylvia and Simon), meant we were a bit thin on the ground. But more units did indeed arrive and we had help from Claire, Sebastian and Isabel who did a sterling job pulling up the brambles on the Island despite all the midges. So thank you guys!

The midges were not the only ones enjoying the humidity, I found a load of slugs (any idea what a collection of slugs is?) feasting on cow parsley.  I didn’t know slugs were such good climbers.

photo 1 (5)

 The Butterfly Effect

There were loads of butterflies out, err brown ones and white ones! We think this was a Speckled wood:

photo 1 (6)

The abundance must have been due to the amount of flowers we have blooming at the moment, great displays of buddleia and bind weed. And if you are interested in butterflies check out Butterfly Conservation’s Big Butterfly count 19 July – 10th August –  http://www.bigbutterflycount.org  and there’s a great identification chart you can download to help.

photo 3 (1)photo 2 (5)

And there wasn’t just food for the butterflies around, for the forager there was nearly a full English:

photo 4 (1)photo 2 (6)

We strongly advise against foraging for fungi unless you are an expert mycologist as it can be deadly if you make a mistake.  But we were safe enough eating the wild raspberries, though they were a tad tart for my palate.

photo 3 (2)

And to end with a piece on health and safety in the wood.  We’ve had reports of cyclists speeding through the wood almost causing accidents.  We’ve put up a few notices asking everyone who uses the wood to think of others and act responsibly, we want everyone to enjoy the splendor of High Broom safely.

So until next time, August 9th, enjoy the wonders of the wood.

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Conservation Day – 14th June

Bramble Take Over

It’s incredible how quickly things have grow over the last month, the bluebell area is now a mass of brambles due to the sun and rain we’ve been having.  And even though the red tailed bumble bees photo 1 (3) seem to be enjoying the flowers we needed to get in and clear the area if we want to get the stunning display of bluebells again next spring.  So it was out with an array of tools, scythes, strimmers and good old fashioned tug-of-war to try and get the roots up.

photo 3photo 4

And honestly that is a scythe Austin has not a cricket bat, though I think our scythe is in desperate need of a sharpen.  It was likened to being ‘as sharp as a comb’, so if nothing else we’ll have the best groomed brambles in the borough! The midges were out in force as it was very humid, we had a very light, cooling shower but nothing compared to what had been forecast so we got away lightly. And after a morning of hard work it did look like we were making headway. Though a month is a long time in woodland habitat terms so I hope when we are back on the 12th July our hard work wouldn’t have been in vain and that all of the brambles haven’t grown back.

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Conservation Day – 10th May

Keep Britain Tidy

We all love our green spaces so it always makes me sad to see litter being left and no more so than in such a beautiful place as High Broom Woods.  This weekend we were back in the Beck clearing blockages, branches and the like that had fallen in the high winds.  But I’m sorry to say in among the natural debris was an endless array of sweet wrappers, cans and bottles.  I pulled out around 15 empty Stella Artois cans in one section.  So please people of West Wickham – do the right thing and take your litter home.

Whilst I’m on my soap box a few facts of the impact of littering:

The RSPCA  receive over 7,000 phone calls a year about litter-related incidents and their officers regularly rescue animals trapped or hurt by litter.

Local authorities spend nearly £1 billion picking up litter every year. – That’s your money that could be spent elsewhere – health care, policing etc.  And in addition untold, unpaid volunteer hours like the good folk of our own Friends Group.

It encourages anti social behavior – that one broken window syndrome, makes the area look shabby and neglected and reduces people’s desire to visit.  And if people don’t make use of their green space it is at risk of being taken away – and who wants another supermarket in place of a winding stream and leafy canopy?



On A Happier Note

We are heading to summer and the emergence of some glorious flowers.  The last of the bluebells and wild garlic were still on display as well as Red Campion, bellflowers and I think, the orchid like Hedge woundwort.

image image


South End

Following the Alder clearing work from earlier in the year we are keen to keep the south end of the wood open  and accessible.  So with chain saw and loppers in hand the team removed the fallen tree that was blocking access to the looped path.


Next Conservation Day- 14th June

David is recommending sun screen and insect repellent so good weather must be predicted -hope you can join us in the wood.





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Conservation Day – 8th March

A Feat of  Engineering

I wasn’t able to make the conservation day this month but the guys were back in waders and clearing more fallen trees from the river.  And with images of building Clifton Suspension Bridge in mind I heard they had been using a winch to get some of the larger logs out and up the steep banks.  Unfortunately we don’t have any photos to check their line pull ratios!

Orange Alder

There has been a lot of work done by the Bromley Council contractors to open up the south end of the wood. This will encourage a greater diversity of woodland plants to grow as more light shines through and also allows individual trees to grow strong and straight instead of all being crowded together. And Sylvia took this shot of the cut Alder which is an amazing orange colour.


And as always a bonfire to burn the piles of wood, but apparently there is still loads there if anyone would like to take a log or two.



And proof that spring has sprung we have Wood Anemone and Marsh Marigold in plenty.

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Hot of the Press

 A Heron was sighted in the Beck at the south end of the wood near La Rioja, how exciting!  We are hoping this is a good indicator of a healthy river and probably some fish in there rather than it just wanting to wash its feet :0)


See you all next month, April 12th.

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Conservation Day 8th Feb 2014

4 Seasons in 1 Day

And today we had glorious sunshine, thunder, hail and back to sun all in the space of a few hours.  But it didn’t deter us and with the on-going deluge it meant there were loads more trees and logs to be cleared from the river.  It was really deep in places so I was very glad of the waders, definitely the tool of the season.  And whilst clearing the river near the stepping stones we disturbed a frog, Meg’s sharp eyes saw it hop, slither back into the river and then disappear, a very exciting find.  I’ve created a wildlife pond in my garden this year so I’m hoping that the local amphibians will find it suitable accommodation and hop on over!  And another exciting sighting, a grey wagtail, but as usual I was just too slow with the camera, I really need to practice my quick draw.

And another thing I missed today was the marshmallows that Hillary and the boys had brought along, I was obviously too caught up in the work… next time!


Don’t Get too Close I think they can Hear you!

There were some weird and wonderful growths to be found today, this strange jelly like fungi was growing up by the stepping stones.  Does anyone know what its is?


Bog Alert!

The wood is the wettest the group has ever seen it and there are large flooded areas and small rivulets all over the place. There was even a massive trunk wedged under one of the bridges, the river must have been really high and fast flowing to have moved it.



I don’t know how all this rain will affect the growth of the Spring flowers but we are hoping for a good show this year and there are at least some signs that Spring is on the way.


So fingers crossed for some drier weather and see you at the next conservation day – March 8th.

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2014 – The First Meet of the Year!

Welcome Old and New

A new year and some new friends. We were very pleased to welcome Theresa this weekend and also Hillary and his three sons.  Everyone got stuck in and I think had a great time.


And we had double Ffoulkes expertise as Adam had joined his dad and did an excellent job getting the fire going.

The Storm Effects

The first meet of the year and a chance for some of us to see what the storms of December had brought.  Meg had taken a photo looking at the drain under South Eden Park Road over Christmas.  It had been badly blocked with branches, luckily one of the agencies had cleared this area but there was certainly lots to do further upstream.


So it was waders on and chainsaw out.

P1010368 Meg and me in at the deep end.  It was the first time in waders for me and it was quite a strange feeling but they did their job and for once I didn’t end up going home with soggy socks.

Some larger trees straddling the river and blocking it up needed a more robust treatment.


The river must have had quite a bit of power behind it during the storm as rings of tree trunks the guys had previously put down as stepping stones across some of the boggy areas had been totally washed away.  This is a photo of the Island area where we were working back in June, it looks like we have two rivers but I’m sure the flooding will subside eventually (if the rain ever stops!).  And it’s this kind of event that gives our wet wood the unique habitat it is.


We Really Are Fun Guys!

No honestly we are, but please excuse the pun.  We found quite a few fungi during litter picking duties this week.  Meg thought the bracket fungus on the owl bench made it looked like the owl had grown feathers.


Another busy day over with but the last job before we leave is to make sure we have completely put out the fire to ensure it can not re-catch once we have left.  And it was great being such a large group today as we had a bit of a water chain-gang going passing the buckets up the line so it didn’t take us long.


Team Photo

Well bye from the gang and hope to see you 8th Feb


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A Busy Pre Christmas Meet – Conservation Day, 14th December

Sweet Chestnut, clearing a new path.

A full day at the wood today our main activity was to make an alternative route around the fallen Sweet Chestnut.

During the storm of 28th October 2013, we lost a number of trees in five or six different places, several major trees were blown down including a very large Ash on the main path and one of the oldest trees in the Wood, a Sweet Chestnut, that fell across a path and into the grounds of St. David’s school. This tree was identified during our Veteran tree survey in 2008, when we measured it to be between 150 – 180 years old.

sweet chestnut 2

“Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail”.- Ralph Waldo Emerson.  And so we did……



We managed to cut through the main trunk so that the fence could be replaced, some valiant and skilled chain saw work by Simon Ffoulkes, our Bromley Council tree Officer. We also cut away bramble and small Hollies so that the path that had been severed, is now restored.

All the work in clearing the trees has resulted in lots of good wood for burning so if you want to take your wheelbarrow and load up the logs, you’re welcome.

Water Testing

In October I trained as a HSBC Water Programme, Citizen Science Leader.  My role is to tell people all about the issues surrounding fresh water and water quality in urban areas, as well as collecting data to go towards the global scientific programme.

And today was my first time of showing the High Broom Friends of the water sampling techniques.


We are testing for Phosphate and Nitrate levels, and turbidity or cloudiness using a Secchi tube and conductivity meter. Phosphates or nitrates from agricultural or domestic waste water run-off can lead to increased nutrient levels in the water and result in excessive growth of algae (eutrophication) to the detriment of the natural flora and fauna.

We have selected two sites along the Beck in our wood and will sample on each conservation day which should give a god idea of the health of our river. The Beck gets fed by a number of run off drains from the neighboring close. We have had a number of incidents in the past of pollutants being poured down the feeder drains which then end up in the river. So we have chosen 2 sites, one up stream of the main problem drain and one down stream.

The programme is being run in conjunction with Earthwatch, WWF and WaterAid.  For further information on the Water research check out these links.

Get involved at: freshwaterwatch.thewaterhub.org


But I’m hoping the two doves found bathing whilst we were busy with our testing is a good indicator of a bio-diverse ecosystem!


Only Rain Down the Drain – aka Yellow Fish!

In conjunction with the water testing we are also looking into rolling out the Environment Agency’s Yellow Fish initiative next year to to improve public awareness of the impact of what we pour down drains can have – Only Rain down the Drain. So watch this space and maybe your drain for Yellow Fish!


A Good Job Well Done – Cheers All

Mince pies, mulled wine and lunch at Sylvia’s – as we all worked so hard and it was such a long day we certainly deserved a treat so it was mince pies and mulled wine all round and a double treat as Sylvia kindly laid on a buffet lunch for us. Well they say an army marches on their stomach and it’s no different for conservation volunteers – thank you very much Sylvia!

Well Merry Christmas everyone and see you in 2014

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