In his “Vision of Britain” Daniel Defoe reported that the passage of a single timber tree from Sussex to the port of Chatham could take years, “for if once the rains come in, it stirs no more that year, and sometimes a whole summer is not dry enough to make the roads passable”. What was true of Sussex roads in the early eighteenth century is true of our woodland “rides” today. The spring was so wet, and the mud so persistent, that the wood we coppiced in February has been impossible to extract. So we are pleased to say that we have taken advantage of a welcome drier spell to do some ride maintenance. Sixty tons of locally-sourced chalk rubble were trucked in today and levelled off with a digger. We’ve also resurfaced a small section of the public footpath by the stream at Woodbine Cottage. Chalk is a local material and contains none of the potential for contaminants that can be found in some other forms surfacing. We are keen to understand how it behaves in this environment. Weather permitting (fingers crossed) we should be able to get a vehicle into our February coppices and start extracting the cut wood early next week.
A huge thankyou to Juliet Merrifield and Laurie Jackson and all at HKD Transition for organising the Bioblitz last Sunday. It was a tremendous success and greatly enjoyed by adults and children alike. Participants found quite a few species new to us, particularly the enigmatic sounding Ghost Moth, and the Essex Skipper butterfly which had not been identified here since 1999. It was a highlight to have a seven year old patiently explain how to identify one. It was a great opportunity to meet experts and share in the fascinating knowledge they have of our wildlife, so much of which is rarely seen, such as bats, moths, fish and other aquatic organisms and all the fantastic creatures that live in the meadow, wood and stream. Well done all!
See photos on the HKD Diary here
The Hassocks, Hurst, Ditchling and Keymer Transition group (HKD Transition) is holding a Bioblitz in Butchers Wood, Lag Wood, Pheasant Field and Parklands Copse on Saturday afternoon and Sunday morning – 16th and 17th July. Its aim is to record as many species as possible in these unique local habitats. It is a great opportunity to meet local naturalists and discover the amazing variety of life on our doorstep. The event is free but you will need to book in advance via HKD Transition. Email email@example.com see details of the programme at www.hkdtransition.org.uk
Well it’s working. A disappointed Roe Deer inspects deer fence.
Roe Deer in our coppice coupe 6th June
Newly coppiced trees are very vulnerable to browsing by deer which can seriously damage or even kill trees in the early stages of regrowth. The trees we coppiced in spring are no exception. Local Roe Deer have become an increasing presence on our trail cameras (see picture) and have already caused noticeable damage to new shoots growing from our regenerating Ash, Willow and Hornbeam stools.
Placing a deer fence around the coppice “coupe” is therefore an important means to ensure the survival of these trees. To that end we will be erecting a temporary deer fence this week, weather permitting. New coppices typically remain vulnerable for two to three years and we will remove the fence as soon as we are satisfied that the threat is past. As we wrote in February (see below) coppicing is the best way to rejuvenate a woodland like Lag Wood. It brings light and warmth, it restores habitats and brings new life to old woodlands. We hope you will understand that this is a necessary part of what we are doing.
Most people understand the reasons for conserving woodlands, but the reasons for conserving grasslands are not so well known. Many people who visit Pheasant Field see a scrubby, neglected-looking old meadow and wonder why we would want to spend so much time and effort on its conservation. To try and answer that question we have produced this short downloadable illustrated guide aimed giving local people an understanding of why Pheasant Field is a unique local wildlife asset and why all of us should find it in our interests to conserve it. Please click this link to download A Guide to Pheasant Field
If you have any thoughts or comments you are very welcome to talk to us or please leave a comment on this site.
Well it looks like Spring even if it does not feel like it. The wood is looking very beautiful with bluebelles, wood anemones, violets and cuckoo flowers all in bloom. And the willows are still blooming too. But it is still very muddy so please wear your wellies if you decide to come. We would be very grateful if people could avoid the temptation to create new paths in the wood. You might be stepping all over these.