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Monday 10 September 2018

MDT talk Wed 17 October "Orchids & other flora of MDT reserves"

Common Spotted-orchid, Dactylorhiza
Graeme Lyons, Sussex Wildlife Trust's ecologist, will be presenting the results of his survey of the flora of the MDT's South Downs nature reserves at 7pm on Wednesday 17 October in the Cobden Hall, Heyshott GU29 0DJ. 
His talk is open to all and there will be refreshments. The flora of the reserves, particularly Heyshott Escarpment, is very rich with over a dozen orchid species, and some considerable surprises are expected.
Ramsons Wild Garlic, Allium ursinum

Friday 7 September 2018

Work Party dates for season 2018-2019

The work parties are held on Wednesdays on Heyshott Down Escarpment.

The next season will start on 3rd October 2018 and continue to April 2019.

Quad bike and trailer with equipment will leave Upper Cranmore at 8.45 am. Finish time about 1.00 pm.

Requirement: Good working boots and stout gloves. Loppers, rakes and forks supplied.

There will be a fire site to burn up arisings.

Some people bring a packed lunch and tea/coffee in a flask. We normally have a break around midday.

Please be aware that the work site will have sloping ground.

If you would like to join a work party please phone or email John Murray at the contacts below for details on the location.

Note that there are occasions when work parties will be cancelled due to inclement weather so phone John prior to setting out if you have any doubts about this.

Telephone:   01730 812 325


Tuesday 22 May 2018

Heyshott's butterflies give a magnificent show

This is a report and photos by Neil Hulme posted on

"Fifteen intrepid explorers turned up for today's (20 May) BC Sussex 'Rare Species Landscape Walk', involving the ascent of Mount Heyshott (good views were had by all), a dip into Charlton Forest, and a circuit of the beautiful Graffham Down Trust reserves. We were out from 10.30 am until 4.30 pm and probably lost a few pounds, but the effort was well worthwhile. I know that others enjoyed it immensely, and for me this was the third in a sequence of truly memorable days out butterflying; already this is a May I'll cherish for a very long time. My thanks to all who attended, and to Will Langdon for keeping the tally (which once listed will go into our database), and for giving up his lunch break to help with the frenetic counting of Dukes! The highlights were undoubtedly 86 Duke of Burgundy and 19 Pearl-bordered Fritillary (we saw both species laying eggs). Other species included Dingy Skipper (very many), Grizzled Skipper (many), Orange-tip, Large White, Small White, Green-veined White, Brimstone, Speckled Wood, Small Heath, Red Admiral, Peacock, Comma, Green Hairstreak, Holly Blue, Brown Argus and Common Blue; a total of 18 species. The impressive flora included Fly Orchid (several dozen), White Helleborine (including a whopper) and a few Greater Butterfly Orchid. Will and I later returned to the slopes, to drink in the magic that Heyshott Escarpment provides at this time of year. Most of the Dukes had turned in for the night, but the Duchesses were now out in force. (Neil Hulme)"

Fly orchid

White helleborine

Tuesday 27 February 2018

Murray Downland Trust garden event on Saturday 12 May

All are invited to the Murray Downland Trust garden event on Saturday 12 May, 11 am to 3.30pm, in Philip Jackson's garden at Casters Brook, Mill Lane, Cocking, Midhurst GU29 0HJ.

There will be a sale of plants and an exhibit of MDT's work and Butterfly Conservation members will be able to answer your questions about our work at Heyshott escarpment.

There will be a demonstration of bee-keeping and a performance by the Midhurst Band, which was very popular last year.

World renowned sculptor Philip Jackson will conduct a tour of the sculptures in his garden and explain the process of their creation.

Refreshments, cake, produce stalls and a raffle will also be on offer.

Proceeds will go to the Murray Downland Trust to further the trust's conservation work.

Some photos from previous years events can be viewed here:

Thursday 22 February 2018

Work parties continue

Rain has disrupted some of our recent scheduled work parties on Wednesday mornings. Yesterday's work party was sunny and we had a full complement of volunteers working away on Heyshott escarpment clearing scrub and preparing the way for primulas and violets to burst through in the coming months. We are hopeful that the Pearl-bordered Fritillaries will appear again and share the Duke of Burgundy's success story. A buzzard soared over the hill and called while we worked.

Wednesday 10 January 2018

First work party of 2018

This morning I resumed work with the Murray Downland Trust at Heyshott escarpment. This was the first work party of the year after last week’s rain prevented the scheduled work party. The slope at the west side of the main hill has been cleared of scrub and looks good for the primulas and violets that we hope will attract the attention of the Duke of Burgundy and Pearl-bordered Fritillary. The weather was excellent but the wet leaves and grass proved a challenge for the fire meisters. Attendees were Butterfly Conservation members Paul, Garry and myself, new  volunteer Kay and MDT members John, Mike H, Greg, Andy and Alan. We welcome new volunteers -

the crew

Saturday 30 September 2017

Annual Talk 'Birds of the Heyshott Reserves' Wed 18 October

You are invited to the MDT annual talk in the Cobden Hall, Heyshott, West Sussex GU29 0DJ on Wednesday 18 October. Paul Stevens, well known naturalist from Arundel WWT, will be speaking on the 'Birds of the Heyshott Reserves', presenting the results of the breeding bird survey on Heyshott Scarp and Heyshott Down which he carried out this Spring. Drinks will be from 7pm with his talk beginning at 7.30pm.