South Downs National Park Volunteers


IMG_8820 SDNC Volunteers Pheasant Field

A huge thank-you to Phillippa Morrison-Price (right) and her band of South Downs National Park volunteers for braving the heat of the meadow to attack creeping thistle on Thursday. You’ve really made a difference. @Ranger_sdnpa

We’ve also been cutting out a very large amount of hogweed from the meadow this week. Hogweed has had a very good year this year, possibly due to the wet spring. While it is not as poisonous as its giant cousin, hogweed can still cause quite serious skin problems if handled without gloves. We advise members of the public not to touch it.

Bioblitz – The Final Tally

P1040377 asf cc

The HKD Bioblitz at Pheasant Field was a great way of involving people and introducing children to wildlife and conservation. And great fun for the nearly 70 people who attended. The final product of a bioblitz can sound a bit dull by comparison. It is a simple list of species found in a particular place and time. But it is a very valuable resource for wildlife recorders, ecologists and for anyone involved in conservation. Lists like these help us to understand what we are trying to conserve, enable us to track changes and tell us whether what we are doing is making a difference. The list from the HKD bioblitz in Pheasant Field was sent to us this week and can be downloaded here: HKD bioblitz 2016

By any standards it is a good outcome. Its two hundred species includes many that we have not identified before including birds such as Yellowhammer, not recorded here since 1992, as well as Red-Legged Partridge, Linnet and Dunnock, all new to us. We knew that there would be a good tally of moths after we sat for a while at the moth trap as Laurie and Jake assessed them, heroically at nearly midnight, enduring a cloud of flying ants. Finding thirty-two species of moth in a single evening is an excellent result and reminds us all that so much of the life of Pheasant Field is unseen. Some have never been recorded here before such as the Swallow-Tail and the enigmatic sounding Ghost Moth.

Other species formerly unrecorded here include grasses such as Velvet Bent and insects such as the Great Green Bush Cricket. But most importantly for us, we have formal identification of bats. All bats are protected, but some of them, like the Noctule, are woodland-roosting species whose habitat we would like to understand more about so that we can better preserve it.

Good too to record the presence of invertebrates and especially fish (see photo) in the Lag Stream, this is an excellent sign for the health of the stream and very encouraging. All in all an inspiring effort from all involved.



Ride Resurfacing


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

BioBlitz 16th-17th July


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 see details of the programme at