Valley Wives May Report

From Joan Steel

“Changes in Cilterns Wildlife over One Million Years” was a very interesting talk with slides given by John Tyler. He explained how each chapter in the story does not wipe out the earlier ones. The original tropical seas still influence wildlife today because as they dried up clay was formed which is where bluebells thrive today, and as ponds formed toads flourished as now. Gradually trees re-established themselves eg silver birches which have light seeds that are produced in millions became blown about in the wind. A certain fungi that only grows on birch has been used as an antisceptic since stone-age times.

Oaks took a long time to establish as they are dependent on jays to spread acorns. Much later, forests of a variety of trees became places where nomads lived and started to make flint tools. Open areas were formed in the forests and nomads became settlers who grew food and kept animals. John’s talk included many other developments in the formation of the Chilterns we see today and how the history is recorded in the geology of the area, even showing that bison once lived here. Fossils show how chalk and flint is formed of dead sea creatures that became compressed into stones, and layers of chalk where Chiltern grassland now flourishes, containing more plant species than in the whole of the rest of Britain. The Chiltern gentian is confined to the area also many rare wild orchids and heliborines grow here. Wild plants attract rich wildlife of all kinds eg butterflies slow worms, squirrels, birds deer and now kites.

John showed us many interesting examples of fossils and also his lovely photographs on cards, of wildlife and scenes in the Chilterns. John was warmly thanked for his fascinating talk. We are sure now to have many interesting “Chiltern” things to look out for on 14th May our evening ramble.

Jill gave us the dates of coming events, particularly 19th July Village Day when members are invited to join the parade as V.W ‘s 60’s Hippies. Doreen is taking names on the reserve list for the visit to the Law Courts in Aylesbury. Jill thanked everyone who had contributed to our successful Afternoon Tea on 6th May. Please join us at our next meeting on 5th June. There will be a plant stall as well as our new handmade jewellery stall. On the weekend of 22nd June Barbara’s Exhibition of Art can be seen at Marlow Place, Station Rd. Marlow, everyone invited.