NOVEMBER 2023 – GOING GREEN

What an interesting month October has been! Some of us had the pleasure of meeting a remarkable couple Li an Phoa and Maarten van der Schaaf. They were walking the length of the Thames from source to mouth for Drinkable Rivers. This charity set up by the young Dutch couple highlights the fact that rivers all over the world are becoming polluted by human activity. As she walks along rivers Li an meets with people involved in the life of the river, anglers, water treatment executives, environmentalists and connects the various people and organisations to get them to work with each other in improving the quality of the rivers.


Since Li an and Maarten were in Henley, I have read their fascinating book ‘Drinkable Rivers’ and met in print the indigenous peoples, the forward thinkers, philosophers and environmentalists who have shaped Li an’s purpose to get people walking and talking and doing something for their own particular river.


“ We abuse land because we regard it as a commodity belonging to us. When we see land as a community to which we belong, we may begin to use it with love and respect.” Aldo Leopold ‘Sand Country Almanac’.


If we think of the river as a habitat, rather than an amenity, and consider our neighbours the non-human species who need this natural corridor to survive, shouldn’t we feel ashamed for the way we have abused it?________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Some of us from Greener Henley met with Andy a member of the Berkshire Bat Group for a bat walk along the river. Andy had a clever gizmo attached to a tablet which recorded the echolocation of bats and could identify which bats were present by the pitch of their calls, which of course we humans can’t hear. With the amazing technology we managed to identify pipistrelles, soprano pipistrelles and a Debauton’s water bat – we also heard a tawny owl twooing from the other side of the river.

We would certainly like to do more bat walks next year after their winter hibernation. Anyone interested in joining us, or even forming a Greener Henley Bat Group? They are fascinating animals who are under threat like many of our native species.

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The Upper Thames branch of the Butterfly Conservation Society had a members’ day recently – and very educational it was too. Here are some things you might be interested in doing. Look out for the Liquorice Piercer Moth found on the wild liquorice plant. If you know of any growing around here I’d be most interested. NB it is not related to the plant we get liquorice from and is not to be eaten. Try growing some dark mullein in your garden and you might catch a glimpse of the striped lychnis moth.


A delightful young PhD student, Will Langdon, gave an enthusiastic talk on ‘Mothing without a moth trap’, which he loves doing when he is not studying. Many moths are active during the daytime, especially the micro-moths which can be quite difficult to find unless you know where to look. Have you ever noticed those squiggly tracks on leaves? These are made by the larvae of micro moths.


Vipers bugloss is a favourite plant for some of these moths, likewise lime trees and pellitory of the wall! First find your plant then get out your magnifying glass! Apparently there are about 800 species of micro-moths in this area.

PURPLE EMPEROR BUTTERFLY


We learnt that the Purple Emperor butterfly spends 10 months as a caterpillar. The butterflies like to feed on the honeydew on leaves at the top of oak trees. It used to be thought they only lived in oaks but we learnt that they really like sallow shrubs – pussy willows. The pussy willow supports more moth species than any other plant so if you’ve got space, you could plant one in your garden – you never know you might be able to increase the population of Purple Emperors.


While we are thinking of planting it’s not too late to plant a square metre of native plants for pollinators and other animals. Join our Nature Squared campaign and create natural stepping stones for our beleaguered wildlife – if you know of a forgotten scrap of land, ask the owner if you could do something
to help nature recover.


Finally Greener Henley are having their AGM at the Kings Arms Barn on November 29th from 6.30p.m. You would be most welcome to join us, if you can, and hear about what we have been doing this year and what’s in the pipeline for next year. Got any ideas on making Henley greener? We’d love to hear from you. https://greenerhenley.org.uk

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