Enjoy the lakes in winter – safely
During the holiday season many of us will be out and about enjoying nature, especially around the Hamptons' scenic lakes.
But while relaxing, it pays to be alert to the hidden dangers of the winter wonderland – snow, ice and freezing water can be a deadly combination.
Every year people drown as a result of accidentally falling into open water, or falling through ice.
Snow can obscure the edges of lakes, so always take care not to get too close, and never venture out on to frozen lakes.
However tempting they look, there is no way to tell if the ice will hold your weight.
An analysis of 20 recent frozen water deaths found that in more than half of them, the victim was attempting to rescue another person or a dog.
If you see a person or animal fall through ice, don't rush out on to the ice to help, instead follow the advice given by the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA), see below.
Dogs are usually better than us at saving themselves – in the frozen water fatalities involving a dog rescue, typically the dog managed to scramble to safety, while its would-be rescuer did not.
You can avoid such a situation in the first place by keeping your dog on a lead near frozen lakes. And never throw sticks or balls on to the ice for your dog to retrieve.
Water can be a magnet for children at any time of year; make sure yours are aware of the dangers, and know what to do in an emergency.
If you see someone fall through ice, RoSPA advises:
- Call the emergency services
- Tell the person to stay still to save energy
- Lie down on the bank, or have someone hold you securely, and reach out to the casualty using a pole, branch or rope If you can't find anything to reach out with, throw them out something that floats
- Keep them talking until help arrives
There are throw lines attached to the red notice boards at the entrance to most lake areas in the Hamptons.
More information on keeping safe in the Hamptons can be found on the Hampton Outdoors page.
Des Res for Hamptons' wildlife
The Hamptons gained a subterranean housing estate, three new hotels and a bunch of batty new arrivals in June. But no-one’s complaining, because the new ‘dwellings’ are all tailor-made habitats to swell the Hamptons’ population of animal residents.
O&H Hampton’s project team has spent two days constructing a state-of-the-art badger sett, complete with sleeping and breeding chambers and connecting tunnels.
The deluxe new sett is part of a mitigation project to prevent disruption to wildlife as a result of the construction, later this year, of the service road for the new development.
“Our ecological survey of the site found a badger sett and the assumption is that there are badgers there,” says O&H Hampton general manager Roger Tallowin. “So we are creating them a new sett close to the existing one, and the hope is they will move in.”
The sett is sited and designed to recreate all the features of one the badgers would have dug for themselves.
It follows Natural England guidelines and, according to the experts, it is likely that an artificial sett that is well constructed and in a suitable location will be adopted by the badgers.
Homes for voles and newts
Crown Lakes Country Park has acquired three new ‘reptile hotels’ – ponds specially constructed to provide a new and improved breeding area for aquatic wildlife, and in particular water voles and great crested newts presently living in a ditch in the area affected by road construction.
Dense woodland has been removed in the country park to provide an environment more to their liking, and pathways created to encourage them to migrate to the specially created habitat.
Any voles or newts that have not moved by the time construction begins will be trapped and transported to their new homes to prevent them coming to harm.
Both water voles and crested newts are species under threat. Water voles were once common in Britain and inspired the character of ‘Ratty’ in Kenneth Grahame’s 1908 classic The Wind in the Willows. Since then the vole’s numbers have plummeted, and it is the UK’s fastest declining mammal.
Great crested newt numbers have also declined, owing to loss of habitat, and both voles and newts are now heavily protected by law. The good news is that Hampton Nature Reserve has increased the local population of great crested newts from 24,000 to 34,000 over the last 10 years, a 40% increase. It is now Europe’s largest colony.
And, proving that artificially habitats really do appeal to wildlife, bats have taken up residence in Crown Park’s bat cave. The Hamptons now boasts at least seven species of bat, including Bartastelle and Noctule.
Wild facts about the Hamptons
- At least half the land in the Hamptons – more than 1000 acres - is green space.
- More than 120,000 trees have been planted as part of the Hamptons’ development.
- Hamptons’ parkland, lakes and woodland provide a habitat for a huge range of wildlife including at least 27 butterfly species, 198 species of dragonfly and 120 species of water beetle.
- Rare butterflies such as the Black Hairstreak, Grizzled and Dingy Skippers can be found here.
- We have a high diversity of breeding birds including Marsh Harriers, Barn Owls, Grasshopper Warblers, Skylarks, Little Ringed Plovers, Ringed Plovers, Cettis Warbler Lapwings and Kingfishers.
- There are even signs of otters returning to the 7.5 km of Stanground Lode corridor.