Sheep Tuesday

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A big Lag Wood thank you to Tom Parry, grazing manager at the Sussex Wildlife Trust and proud owner of a flock of very distinctive Jacob Sheep. Fifty-five of them will be on part of Pheasant Field from Tuesday (10th of December) for about two weeks. A sturdy electric fence was installed yesterday by volunteers from the South Downs National Park and a big thank you to them as well, especially as they took the time to do some bramble and blackthorn management for us. Well done everyone.

PLEASE NOTE: we will be asking all dog walkers to keep all dogs on leads while sheep are in the meadow. No exceptions please.  The meadow is Pheasant Field between Butcher’s Wood and Lag Wood. The public footpaths crossing the site are unaffected. We will be erecting some temporary signs to warn people.

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Lead Ranger Phillippa Morrison-Price with South Downs National Park volunteers. Tom Parry is far left in the beanie hat.

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SDNP volunteers clearing bramble by the track.

 

Hut Gone!

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After 6 years looking very at home in the meadow, our wonderful shepherd’s hut has moved. It has now taken up residence in the garden of Woodbine Cottage where we hope it will have a long and happy life. Many thanks to Cliff and Jake for helping us move it.

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The Blackthorn Crew

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Anyone who volunteers their Saturday for cutting back blackthorn deserves a round of applause. Blackthorn’s dense dark thickets and inch long razor-sharp thorns are enough to test the most dedicated conservationist. Even more so when the whole idea is to let it grow back again.

But there is a point to all this effort. Blackthorn is highly invasive in open, sunny meadows like Pheasant field and would soon drive out the grassland if we did not keep it in check. But it is also excellent habitat, especially for small mammals and nesting birds. Just as importantly, young blackthorn regrowth is a breeding habitat for Brown Hairstreak butterflies. We rarely see these butterflies but we know they are here because we find their eggs on blackthorn shoots in winter. Our five-year rotating plan for cutting blackthorn ensures that there is always some young regrowth to allow Brown Hairstreaks to breed. This session of cutting was the fifth year of its operation. So it’s back to the start next autumn!

We could not do this without volunteers and it’s a huge thank you from us to everyone who came on Saturday including SDNP lead ranger Phillippa Morrison-Price who makes these wonderful things happen. Phillippa can be found on Twitter at @Ranger_sdnpa

Debris Dams

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Thank you to HKD Transition for restoring the debris dams in Lag Wood – and creating a few more! Debris dams are made from fallen small trees and branches and sometimes any other natural materials that come to hand. They are simple to make and are held in position by a few stakes in the stream bed. They are designed to slow down the flow of water in the upper part of river catchments to prevent sudden flooding downstream at times of very heavy rainfall. For most of the year they let water flow freely.

Debris dams can have many ecological benefits, they increase the variety of aquatic and semi-aquatic habitats and can improve biodiversity as a result. They have very few adverse impacts because they mimic what happens naturally in woodland streams. We now have six of them in the wood; three in the stream bed and three along several of our old drainage ditches.

For more on HKD Transition please see https://www.hkdtransition.org.uk/

South Downs Volunteers

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A great big thank you to SNDP lead ranger Phillippa Morrison-Price and her trusty team of volunteers who spent the day cutting back bramble on the meadow margins. It was a pleasure working with you in the meadow and really good to see you all. You can follow Phillippa on Twitter at @Ranger_sdnpa

The Woodpile and the Stile

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The giant woodpile is now a lot smaller, thankfully. We have scythed the brambles and thistles from the surrounding area as part of our plan to return most of this area to grassland. Unfortunately the contractor came into contact with the stile near the stream and was forced to dismantle it. We’ve contacted the Monday Group who will install a new one in a few weeks time when the rest of the wood piles have been removed. Meanwhile, we have a temporary gate where the stile used to be.

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