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.

Monday, 24 April 2017

Dukes Off To Strong Start

An afternoon visit (23 April) to Murray Downland Trust's fabulous Heyshott Escarpment reserve was conducted under almost complete cloud cover, with only a couple of five minute bursts of sunshine being just sufficient to encourage a couple of Duke of Burgundy to open their wings.

No other species of butterfly were seen, but I still managed to locate 18 Dukes at rest on low scrub, including two mating pairs. I suspect that they've been out for a while here, as St Mark's Fly was everywhere, and the emergence of this species is closely coordinated with the appearance of the first Dukes.

To find so many, so easily, does suggest that the Duke of Burgundy is going to have another good season.

Monday, 3 April 2017

Murray Downland Trust garden event on Saturday 13 May

All are invited to the Murray Downland Trust garden event on Saturday 13 May, 11 am to 3.30pm, in Philip Jackson's garden at Casters Brook, Mill Lane, Cocking, Midhurst GU29 0HJ.

Besides the sale of plants, demonstrations of bee-keeping and a performance by the Midhurst Band, world renowned sculptor Philip Jackson will be conducting two tours of sculptures in his garden. Refreshments, cake and produce stalls and a raffle will also be on offer.

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

Some photos from last year's event (halfway down among the insect pics):

Wednesday, 8 February 2017

Second work party of 2017

Today we had our second work party of the year. Many have been cancelled due to either ice or wet conditions making work too hazardous. It was good to get stuck in again on the east slope. A shrew popped out of the undergrowth. We gathered around to see it, but it had disappeared into a hole at the base of a tree trunk. It reappeared briefly to tell us what it thought of our gardening efforts. A small birds nest was also found on the ground.

Monday, 21 November 2016

The work continues

October 26th
The past month has gone well - we only lost one Wednesday - on November 9th the slopes were too slippery after the previous night's rain. So far this year we have concentrated on clearing vegetation to create suitable habitat for the primroses and cowslips to appear as food plants for the Duke of Burgundy next Spring.
  We have volunteers performing various functions: starting and tending the fire, tree cutting using chainsaws and handsaws, cutting tall plant growth using brush cutters, dragging cut wood to the fire, raking and carrying cut brush to the fire using forks. The use of brush cutters and chainsaws requires specialist courses, certification and personal protection equipment so we have a limited number of volunteers who can use these tools. Some more volunteers will attend training courses soon to increase our specialist work force.
October 26:

November 2:

a hame, part of a horse harness, turned up in the undergrowth

November 16:

Thursday, 20 October 2016

First work party of the winter season

Heyshott escarpment at its best
Yesterday 13 volunteers climbed Heyshott escarpment to begin the new season's weekly clearance programme. Last year we had an excellent showing of the butterfly that this work is designed to benefit - the Duke of Burgundy.
  We welcome newcomers to our weekly work parties which are mostly held on Wednesday mornings. More information can be found here:

Heyshott is one of the great success stories of butterfly conservation in the UK and further information about the Duke of Burgundy and all the Sussex butterflies will be found in the new Butterfly Conservation Atlas of Sussex butterflies which will be published in 2017:-

Andy K, John, Peter, Colin, Katrina, Nick, Mike H, Nigel, Garry
missing from photo: Mike E, Greg, Paul, Andy S 

Mike E inspects his brush cutter and Greg tends the fire
2 supervisors...
Paul, showing his raking skills