Welcome to Prestwood Nature

Prestwood and John Hampden Country

24th October - 10:00 - 13:00

A circular walk through woodland and fields from Prestwood to Great Hampden. The route will include Kiln Common Orchard and Sheepwash Pond as well as places associated with the Parliamentarian John Hampden.  

Helen Matthews will lead the walk which will be held in conjunction with the Chilterns Walking Festival .  Open to all but prior registration will be necessary.   Registrations are being handled by the Chilterns Walking Festival. For more information and a registration form go to the Chilterns Walking Festival web site www.visitchilterns.co.uk/walkingfest.html

Prestwood Nature Blog

The blog is still active and can be viewed by clicking here.   We need more entries, so if you would like to share your natural environment around us please send them to webmaster@prestwoodnature.org.

AGM 2020

We plan to hold our AGM as usual on the first Tuesday in November.

However,  it will not be possible to hold this in the Village Hall due to Corvid 19 restrictions so we plan to hold it virtually!

We will be using one of the video conferencing platforms and more details will be given closer to the time.

The Autumn Bee

by John Catton

Autumn is here, when summer morphs into winter.  Nature slows down. It is the last chance for wild bees to lay down fat reserves in preparation for hibernation and for honey bees to top up their winter stores from a dwindling number of flowering plants.  Amongst those flowers is the almost insignificant ivy; but there is one species of bee that lives its short active life feeding almost exclusively on it, the solitary eponymous Ivy Bee (colletes hederae).  

If you walk past a clump of ivy on a sunny day in late September or early October the buzzing sound from bees can be almost deafening!  A quick glance will suggest they are all honey bees, but closer inspection will reveal another bee there as well, very similar in appearance but smaller than the honey bee, this is the Ivy Bee.  It, like the now common tree bumblebee (bombus hypnorum), is a new arrival to UK, first recorded in 2001.

Incredibly, 90% of UK bees are solitary. They are gentle, non-aggressive insects and excellent pollinators so called because there is no queen heading up a colony of workers (as with honey bees and bumblebees).  Each nest is the work of a single female working alone.  Although there are over 220 species of solitary bee here in the UK, they all have the same lifecycle, albeit at varying times of the year to coincide with the availability of their food source.

The female emerges from hibernation, mates and seeks out an appropriate nest site - the ivy bee digs a burrow in loose earth or sand to create 8 / 10 underground chambers or cells. Each cell is provisioned with nectar and pollen prior to a single egg being laid. She then seals the nest and dies.  The fully formed bees emerge the following year.  The Ivy bee is the last solitary bee to emerge from its nest during early to mid-September. It is the only true autumn bee and can be seen flying till mid to late November.

Plants to look out for in October

By Karen van Oostrum

Black-berried lookie-likies   

There are plenty of clusters of small round black berries in our hedgerows and along our woodland edges at this time of year, but how do we tell them apart with confidence? We are going to focus on Privet, Buckthorn and Dogwood – all medium-sized shrubs, which favour chalky soils, and produce spherical black berries measuring 6-8mm across. At first glance they might be confused, but you can soon learn the difference.

Wild Privet (Ligustrum vulgare)

Very similar in appearance to the familiar garden privet, this wild relative has narrower leaves. It is widespread and a relatively common sight in our area, found within woodland, hedgerows and scrub. The leaves are the key to telling it apart from Buckthorn and Dogwood. Semi-evergreen (rather than fully deciduous) the leaves of Privet are more lance-shaped than the other two species, which have broadly oval-shaped leaves. They lack any conspicuous veins, other than the obvious midrib.

Buckthorn (Rhamnus cathartica)

I would describe Buckthorn as the ‘inbetweener’ of these 3 species. Its berries aremoresimilar to those of Privet thanthose of Dogwood, being shiny and lacking a noticeable nobbleat one end. Conversely, itsleavesare more similar to those of Dogwood, thanthose of Privet, being broadly ovalrather than lance-shaped.The leaf margins (edges) of this plant are toothed. Buckthorn is scattered around our area and is less common thaneitherPrivetor Dogwood. It couldbe confused with a species from the Prunusgenus, having some short thorns, similar leaves, and even noticeable lenticels (pores in the stem) marking the bark.

Dogwood (Cornus sanguinea)

The final member of our group of 3 is the only one with berries that have a small but noticeable nobble at one end. This is because the flower has an inferior ovary, meaning that it is located below the point where the sepals, petals and stamens are attached. Thus, when the fruit forms (from the ovary), the dried remains of the sepals, petals and anthers (the ‘nobble’) are at the far end of the fruit, separated from the fruit stalk by the fruit itself (similar to apples). Privet and buckthorn flowers have a superior ovary though, located above the sepals, petals and anthers. As the fruit forms the dried flower parts are left at the end of the fruit stalk, just before the fruit (like the tomato).

Click here for more …

We are the Local Environment Group for the area around Prestwood in Buckinghamshire, including Great Missenden,
The Hampdens, The Kingshills, North Dean and Speen

Our Aims

We aim to protect and enhance the quality of the natural environment through the involvement of local people.

Coming Events

Protecting Our Environment Registered charity No. 1114685

The Prestwood Nature web site does not use cookies

Prestwood Nature The Local Environment Group for the Prestwood Area