Pages Common is the corner area of land to the right of Richardsons Lane from Longwood Cottage to the top of the hill where the road splits - it is about 1 acre in size. See the the area outlined in red on the map below for approximate location - this is different to the OS map which (incorrectly) shows Pages Common to the North of the path leading to the Pin Mill from Richardsons Lane.
The Common, now woodland, contains a mixture of scrub and mature trees and has a natural spring running through it which feeds into the Grindle River.
Back in the 1980's the Chelmo Brownie Troup under the guidance of Yvonne Catchpole planted several trees to enhance the area. There was a bridge that crossed the stream and two footpaths passed through the common.
Through the 90's bird ringing activities showed that the common was rich in bird life, with breeding Whitethroats, Blackcaps and a host of resident species such as Song Thrush, Robin, Blackbird and Dunnock. It was also a prime passage site for migrant birds with a good number of warblers and even Redstart being recorded during early autumn. For a few years in early 2000's Nightingale was a regular breeder with its song filling the common at night. Stag beetles were also very common in the area, with several males flying around, with little control at head height on a warm June evening.
However, over recent years as the trees became taller, the canopy closed over and the under story became very open. Many of the elm trees died and fell over. Unfortunately this was detrimental to the wildlife. The area towards the bridge become unusable with the bridge rotting so it had to be removed. The main footpath through the common has though been kept open by trimming back the nettles.
This year with the approval of the Parish Council, a decision was made for a concerted effort to clear out rubbish, remove a lot of the dead trees, coppice some others then replant with Hazel, Hawthorn, Field Maple, Mountain Ash (Rowan), Elder, Dogwood and Crab Apple. A new hedge will be planted to mark the eastern boundary. For habitat in some areas nettles and brambles will be encouraged. As will ivy to cover the remaining deadwood. This hopefully will help create a diverse structure, providing for a wide range of wildlife.
Our intention is to bring the bird life back to the common. Log piles and old stumps have been left these are vital for Stag Beetles. Habitat piles and “dead hedges” will provide homes for small mammals and invertebrates.
Nest boxes for Tawny Owls, Great Tit, Tree sparrow, Blue Tit, Woodpecker and Bats have been made from wood cut down and planked. If we are very lucky we may even attract the Hazel Dormouse, which is working its way across the peninsular thanks to nest box schemes.
Temporarily whilst some of the work is being carried out from time to time it will be necessary to close the footpath.
So as not to alter too much in one year, it is planned to take at least 2 years to complete this project.
There will of course still be footpaths through the common for all to use and enjoy.
John Glazebrook and David Latter.
For more information contact David Latter @ firstname.lastname@example.org