Thursday, 3 December 2015

Under Beacon, a reserve in transition

by Nick Sherwin.

The last area of woodland was cleared from the Under Beacon reserve in 2013 allowing the planned cattle grazing to be implemented across the reserve. But in early 2015 the plan was interrupted owing to the discovery of TB in cattle within Sussex leading to a lockdown. We were therefore unable to bring cattle into the reserve in the Spring.

When the trustees visited the site in June growth was accordingly higher than had been planned. The flora was however more varied as a result. Calcareous grassland indicators such as horseshoe vetch were interspersed with more typical woodland species such as white bryony, bittersweet and wood sage and indicators of ground disturbance, probably resulting from the woodland clearance itself, such as field forget-me-not and corn mint.

As the grazing regime becomes established the grassland species will become more dominant in accordance with the trust's objectives.

The following floral species were identified in the reserve:
Bird's-foot-trefoil
Bittersweet
Blackthorn
Cat's Ear
Common Nettle
Common Sorrel
Common Spotted-orchid
Common Toadflax
Common Valerian
Common Vetch
Corn Mint
Creeping Buttercup
Crosswort
Deadly Nightshade
Dewberry
Dwarf Gorse
Elder
Eyebright
Fairy Flax
Field Forget-me-not
Field Mouse-ear
Greater Knapweed
Hawthorn
Hedge Bedstraw
Hemp Agrimony
Hoary Ragwort
Horseshoe Vetch
Hound's-tongue
Lady's Bedstraw
Marsh Thistle
Meadow Buttercup
Ploughman's Spikenard
Ragwort
Raspberry
Red Clover
Ribwort Plantain
Rough Hawkbit
Silverweed
Smooth Tare
Spotted Medick
Stitchwort
Traveller's Joy
White Bryony
White Campion
White Clover
White Mullein
Wild Angelica
Wild Parsnip
Wood Sage


Wednesday, 2 December 2015

Winter work parties, December 2015

'Chalky' 25 November
The winter work parties began in October and are now a regular Wednesday morning feature again for volunteers at Heyshott escarpment. Scrub is being cleared along paths and in bowls so that cowslips, primroses and violets can spring up and provide an enticing place for Duke of Burgundy and Pearl-bordered Fritillary butterflies to lay their eggs next year.
the crew 25 November
Paul, Andy, Mike, Mike, Naomi with Colin behind the camera
work party 2nd December:
Nick raking
Firemeister Andy burning greenery
Paul working while Mike & John chat
Mike back at work