(above) Car engine parts were dumped here when travellers left.
(left) The green and yellow in the stream is an inflatable turtle. Not the right place for inflatables.
These fencing clips and panels below left by contractors could trip up dog-walkers and there are also hose pipes and fence bases hidden in the long grass.
Plans are to start building houses at the northern end of the site away from the stream. However, at present there are two more bridges over the stream on the masterplan. Bridges shade the stream preventing greenery growing, reducing its value to wildlife for food and protection from predators. The large area of concrete is an open invitation to graffiti artists, who have already 'decorated' the Woodside Link Bridge, making it look like an inner-city underpass. The process of building a bridge leads to pollution and more littering as well as the inevitable loss of more mature trees. Ironically, down in Luton the plans for a new football stadium include de-culverting the River Lea, which currently runs underground through Luton, to create an attractive feature at the front of the development. And now they want to put more concrete over Houghton Brook, which is not absolutely necessary. With a little thought and realisation of the environmental implications, it is possible to avoid both planned bridges.
From this side of the brook it looks fairly clean at present and it is lovely to see the sun shining on the water again as it has been so full of weed all last summer one wouldn't know there was any water in it. Groundwork, based in Luton, organises litter clearances in the River Lea so hopefully they may organise one for Houghton Brook.
On 31st January the Blue Moon shone down on the still unfinished recreation spaces, reflected in the flooded chalk meadow. The footpaths are still uneven, rutted tracks deep enough to turn an ankle, roughly cut through bramble and thicket with stems sticking up to trip you up. They are supposed to be smooth mown paths between longer meadow grasses to encourage butterflies and insects. No effort has been made to remove the roots or stems so in a month these will start springing up again all over, obscuring the uneven ground underneath. With the failed wildflower seeding, the vandalised hedges, the unsafe footpaths, the promise of the proposed landscaping is not being fulfilled.
I wonder what birds spring will bring to the depleted hedgerows and scrub to sing and breed this year? Will the willow warblers return? I am hopeful that a stand of young self-seeded willows will be left intact as that's where I filmed the whitethroat singing last year, however, I have a feeling that's where a bridge is destined to stand. I have missed the golden and little ringed plovers and only heard redwings and fieldfares as there are few trees left for them to feed on. However, I have seen a heron, three egrets, and red kites overhead.
This fox has found a safe haven for now in the last remaining patch of scrubby hawthorn bushes and brambles.