Stuck in the mud
You may have noticed our shepherd’s hut which we managed to tow all the way from Kettering on Friday. Unfortunately we only got it a few yards onto our track before it would go no further. We’ll have to wait until the mud dries out a bit before we move it to a less obtrusive location. We’ve chopped back some of the brambles to avoid blocking the footpath.
We were unable to put sheep on the meadow last September. We had gates made to allow access into the wood through the temporary electric fence, but these arrived too late for the sheep. So we’ll be trying it again this September, hopefully with more luck!
Many people have asked about the sculpture of otters on the fallen oak branch by the stream. It is called “The Raft” and is by our friend Piers Mason. See http://piersmason.co/gallery.html .
Restoring the meadow for wildflowers remains our priority and to help us cut back the grass we are hoping to put sheep on the main part of the meadow for several weeks in late September and October. We will be installing a temporary electric fence between the meadow and Lag Wood, with gates to allow access to the wood. All dogs will need to be kept on leads while sheep are in the meadow. There will be warning signs to remind dog-owners when sheep are present.
The sheep need to get to the stream to drink and we’ll be cutting back some of the thistles and brambles to improve access for them. We also need to cut back thistles and brambles in other parts of the meadow. This is a tricky subject as these are a huge food source for birds, butterflies and many other invertebrates. So we intend to manage them in rotation to ensure these habitats are preserved but not allowed to dominate the meadow. This will mean removing some parts of the blackthorn thickets and many of the saplings that have started to grow in the meadow itself.
A very big thank you to the many people who gave their names as volunteers at the HAA AGM. We will be in contact when we have finalised our plans regarding sheep and fencing, we may well need your help.
In case any of you were alarmed to hear the unusual sound of a chainsaw in Lag Wood on Wednesday, we called in Laurence from South Downs Tree Surgery to tackle a couple of urgent safety issues. We’d been advised that a huge Ash branch in the North East corner of the wood, which had partially snapped & fallen, was being supported by two small trees, which would not withstand its’ two ton weight much longer. Laurence also cleared two much smaller willow trees, which had fallen across the main path, in preparation for the Downlands Dash Fun Run tomorrow.
If you’d like to help us this weekend, please get in touch by replying below. It’s 80% done but it’s very important that we try & rake the rest of the cut grass up as soon as possible, before it composts or new grass grows through it, to reduce the fertility of the meadow & encourage wild flowers.
A big ‘thank you’ to Giles & family, Ken, & Margaret for helping last weekend.
A huge thanks to all the volunteers at the weekend. You made a real difference to helping us restore The Pheasant Field to the flower meadow that it should be. We’ll be back raking at the weekend. If you would like to come and help us please reply in the comments box below.
And a massive thank you also goes to our fantastic team of scythers who came from all over the country to work in the meadow. It was a sight that has not been seen in rural Sussex perhaps for many decades. Watching them work and listening to them talk about scything has been an extraordinary experience for us.
It was a massive job, even for seven scythers but around three quarters of the meadow was cut. They’ll be back in September for a second round. Our team was Beth, Gemma, Phil, Chris, Petra, Iain and Andrew. All these friendly, enthusiastic and dedicated people are keen to promote scything, if you want to learn more they can be contacted via Beth Tilston at www.learnscything.com . And see also www.scytheassociation.org .
Pheasant field adjacent to Lag Wood – We plan to cut our meadow using a team of scythers this weekend (18th-19th May), weather permitting!. This may seem an unusual time of year to do this but the advice has been to keep the grass down as soon as possible and rake up all the cuttings. The purpose is to help restore the meadow as a habitat for wild flowers.
If you would like to help us with raking up and disposing of the cut grass please reply to this and we’ll e-mail you with details of what to do.
We ask members of the public to keep to the public footpaths across the meadow and keep dogs on leads when scything is in progress.
The scything team will be camping in the meadow with one or more vehicles and several tents so please don’t be alarmed, we’re not being invaded.
We’ve been on a concerted fact finding mission since November. We have met many very dedicated and knowledgeable people from The Sussex Wildlife trust, The South Downs National Park, the Ouse and Adur Rivers Trust, and an ecologist from West Sussex County Council. We’ll be meeting the Woodland Trust soon. Our thanks to the HAA for putting us in touch with people who can help us preserve the rich and diverse life of both the wood and meadow.
The advice so far is that the meadow should be our first priority. It needs mowing soon in order to restore its wildflowers and preserve the butterfly habitats on its margins. Meadows are rare these days. 26 species of butterflies have been reported in the Pheasant Field over the years, that is roughly half the butterfly species in the UK. We are likely to mow it in April and again later in the year. We are looking for people interested in the job.
We are looking to find what other species we have. We are starting a dormouse survey in April. This is more scientific than it sounds, dormice are an important indicator of the linkages between habitats in the area. We will be following this up with surveys of bats, invertebrates, mosses and other wildlife.
We have permission from the Sussex Biodiversity Record Centre for copies of the report we commissioned on Lag Wood and Pheasant Field to be made available to local residents. Sussex Wildlife Trust would appreciate a small donation.
Local people are important to us. We hope to involve some local people in some of our surveys and we’ve given our permission for Lag Wood to be used as part of the Downlands Dash fun run on the 22nd of June starting at Downlands School. And it has been a pleasure meeting the HAA, local dog walkers and some of our fascinating neighbours.
Rubbish has been a small but persistent problem in the south west corner. We’re going to restore the fence on the cinder path where it has collapsed and leave access to Lag Wood from Pheasant Field.
We’re very interested in meeting people who have knowledge of the history of Lag Wood or memories they would like to share.
Hopefully we’ll be updating this Website more regularly in the future.
To contact us please rely to this post.