Welcome LEAP Bloggers. The first signs of autumn are here; I noticed that evenings in the garden are no longer cheered by the high pitched notes of the swifts as they wing the sky in pursuit of flies. Early in the month the rowan trees had bright red berries, presaging a fruitful harvest. This year the word summer has lived up to the promise of its name and there have been many glorious days, which makes up for the dismal weather last year.

Generally August is a quiet month for LEAP, following the Clear Out Day we have earned a rest. However, a group of footpath wardens spent one Saturday morning battling with the thorns of brambles and blackthorn along the path running from Old House on Ewhurst Green. Apparently blackthorn bushes have always been favoured as hedges to keep stock in, as it forms an impenetrable mesh: I think all the volunteers discovered this for themselves and had the scratches to prove it! Un fortunately we had to sacrifice a number of the sloe berries as we cut a passage through, which will no doubt upset the sloe gin drinkers. When all is said and done the footpath scheme is getting underway and hopefully we will be able to clear several more in the coming months. We are always looking for more volunteers to help us and it is remarkable how much a group can achieve in just a couple of hours.

The good weather has also meant that there have been lots of insects around. I have seen lots of different species of butterfly this year and there seem to have been many bees pollinating the flowers. I am told by Debbie Vivers that the honey yield has been good and that national concerns about the threats to bee populations do not appear to be a problem in Ewhurst. This might well be because we are lucky to have a richly diverse habitat, sustaining a wide range of plant species. Keen gardeners in the village also contribute and many introduce flowers which attract insects to their gardens, (a much better idea than block paving the frontage for car parking).

I believe LEAP should campaign and engage in debates concerning the environment. Our local area is home to many badgers, inhabiting very ancient setts; these endearing animals are threatened by culling on a countrywide basis and this seems a premature and misguided approach to a long standing problem. I am sympathetic to farmers who have to endure the vicissitudes of the weather, the depredations of pests and disease, as well as the unpredictable fluctuations of the economy, but reading the research on the expected success rate of mass killing I remain unconvinced that it is the best way forward. Surely there is a more humane, if more expensive way, to ensure that we can live alongside the natural world without crushing it for our own ends.

We welcome your comments on any of the discussions in our blogs and would love to hear from readers.

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