This new local group was recently formed out of opposition to the council’s planning proposals for Panshanger. The main focus of the group at the moment is to make sure that the plan to build 700 homes in Panshanger is roundly challenged. Group members are convinced that there are many questions to be asked as to the due diligence undertaken and subsequent robustness of this proposal. There are also open questions around procedural issues, particularly the decision-making around opting for only two broad locations for growth in the borough, when several more were identified as viable and available by the council’s own survey teams. Lumping all new major housing developments for the next 18 years in only two locations detracts from the economic and environmental balance across the borough. A point made in the council’s own Sustainability Appraisal report. This decision should be questioned.
The proposed site for housing that has been put forward by the council (known as WGC4) comprises a greenfield and natural habitat. It includes the airfield itself and adjacent uncultivated fields which represent an increasingly rare natural habitat in the south-east. It appears the area has had little surveying of its wildlife over the years and Panshanger People are keen to ensure the value of this area as a haven for wildlife is recognised. It seems clear to us that unless it’s known what wildlife and supporting habitats exist, we won’t know what is likely to be lost if the area is developed.
Endangered bird ringing programme at Panshanger Airfield:
Panshanger People is happy to co-sponsor a new initiative by licensed bird ringers for the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) as part of their population and migration monitoring survey. Monthly bird ringing is being carried out at the airfield over more than a year in order to collect valuable data on the resident and migratory bird species that use the site. This will be fed into the Trust’s national database. The ringing data will also be sent to the Herts Biological Records Centre as evidence of the bio-diversity that exists on the site. Very little surveying has been undertaken at the site previously to build up a picture of the bird species that use the airfield area. Of course, great care is taken that no birds are harmed during the process.
Of particular interest to the ringers are the ‘red listed’ species. These are globally threatened with declining populations in the UK. Birds such as linnets and the yellowhammer’s are on this list and are thought to breed on the site, along with perhaps several others. Skylarks are also a fairly common sight although there seems to be fewer than in the past according to local reports.
Find out more about Linnet’s here.
Find out more about Yellowhammer’s here.
Have you spotted either of these or other rare birds in our area?
So far one ringing session has been carried out and caught a total of 18 birds most of which were blackbirds, robins and chaffinch. However, two migrant warblers were also caught. Bird ringing is very weather dependant as wet or windy days are no good and it is also requires a very early start 4 – 5am. The activity is planned in advance so as to maximise the effectiveness of each session, no birds are harmed.
Barn owls are an internationally important species and the Herts Biological Records Centre are very keen to hear from anyone who has seen one in the area. It is not thought they currently breed around the airfield but it is known that they do roost and hunt there, unless of course you know different?
You are invited to contact us if you see any barn owls in the area (please note time and location) and we will pass that on to the ringing team and relevant record keepers. Any photos would of course be very welcome. Barn owls have a lot of protection under the law and many new building schemes must accommodate them. There is already one barn owl box up on the airfield site and another will installed soon. You can find out more about Barn owl’s here.
Panshanger People are happy to co-sponsor this initiative and have donated some funding towards it. We feel it is important to conserve wildlife in our area and collecting records like this means that the ecological value of the airfield site will be increased. This in turn should help protect the area from inappropriate development and preserve our rich natural habitat for many years to come.
You can find out more about the Herts Biological Records Centre here, and British Trust for Ornithology here.
The Herts Bird Club is also has a lot of information about local birds and a record of sightings, their website is here.