February 2011


Common Frog

Common Frog

In the last week the first Frogs have appeared from their hibernation to meet and spawn in the Park Centre’s pond. Many will have spent the winter under the water in the mud at the bottom of the pond, covered in a layer of  protective slime. When they first emerge they are very soft with a rounder shape and a darker colour than normal. The images are of one such frog which was collecting its strength before joining the mass spawning.

Common Frog

Common Frog

Their favourite location is in the small overflow section of the pond where the water is shallow and full of weed. The temperature here is slightly higher and this is the attraction. Unfortunately this area is prone to drying out in the summer and as a consequence the spawn will be relocated in to the main pond as soon as the activity dies down, but before the tadpoles hatch out.

Frogs and spawn

Frogs and spawn

The  first Toads have just started to arrive but not yet to spawn. They tend to congregate in different areas, preferring the deeper water.

Frog spawn

Frog spawn

Club members cutting back scrub on the slopes of Butser Hill

Club members cutting back scrub on the slopes of Butser Hill

Two flying clubs operate on the slopes of Butser Hill. The Sky Surfers, made up of  hang gliders and paragliders and the Meon Valley Soaring Association who fly model gliders. Between them they represent some 400 members and operate over many other sites along the South Downs.

The clubs run several competitions throughout the season, and take part in the annual Festival of Flight in June, which is a showcase for their activities. 

Every winter club members gather on a Sunday to help tackling the scrub on the Hill. This is a perennial task, carried out by tractor and flail, by brushcutter, and on the steeper slopes, by hand. On this occasion the slope was on the southern side of the Hill, an area where the club members operate.

Club members break for lunch in front of a pile of cut Hawthorn

Club members break for lunch in front of a pile of cut Hawthorn

 A variety of tools were brought in on the day, including  loppers, bow saws and slashers. All were used to good effect and by the end of the day a huge pile of Hawthorn had been cut.

New members are always welcome. For more information please see the QECP web-site.

Graham Long and Kevin Milner

Graham Long and Kevin Milner

Two local Hampshire photographers are currently holding an exhibition in the main Park Centre. They specialize in natural history and country pursuits.

Graham is well-known for his work on orchids and red deer, whilst Kevin concentrates on rural pastimes. Both used to work for the Hampshire Countryside Service before setting out on their own.

The exhibition runs until Sunday the 27th March.

Highbury College students

Highbury College students

Each year Buriton Parish organises a banquet for its parishoners. Two themes are constant for this event. Firstly, a historical time period, this year Elizabethan. And secondly, the food, specifically the meat, is sourced from within the Parish. So beef, pork and lamb from local farms were on the menu, together with venison from QECP, where the forest lies within the Parish boundary.

Deer control in the Park, and the surrounding Forestry Commission woodlands, is carried out by the FC Wildlife Rangers, one of whom is based at the Park. Nationally deer numbers are increasing,  with Roe, Fallow, Muntjac and even Sika found locally. To maintain a healthy population, and to control their impact on farmers crops and woodland ground flora, limited numbers are culled and made available through game dealers, and the Park’s shop.

15 kilos of haunch and 5 kilos of heart and kidney were required by the catering students at Highbury College who designed the menu, cooked the food and waited on the tables for 140 people. Fantastic food, cooked ‘Elizabethan style’, in a historic setting with costumes to match.

Buriton Banquet organisers

Buriton Banquet organisers

The Park and Buriton Parish are involved in many initiatives. See earlier blogs for information about the Buriton Chalk Pits LNR Project.

Buriton Great Hall

Buriton Great Hall

The Secretary of State for Defra, Caroline Spellman, announced in parliament on the 17th February the end of the Consultation on the future management of the Public Forest Estate in England, the removal of all forestry clauses in the Public Bodies Bill, and the intention to set up an independent panel to advise on the future direction of forestry and woodland policy in England.

A full statement is available on http://ww2/2011/02/17/futureforestry/.

All planned stakeholder and public information sessions have been cancelled.

New steps on the permissive woodland trail

New steps on the permissive woodland trail

As part of a Heritage Lottery Fund project, with Buriton Parish, East Hants District Council and the Country Park as partners,  this 30 acre old quarry and Local Nature Reserve has become the center of attention. The aim being to enhance its conservation status whilst at the same time to improve the use that local people make of the site. Situated right next to the village of Buriton, on the edge of Queen Elizabeth Country Park, it is little used for a variety of reasons.

The Hangers Way passes through the site and recent work has included resurfacing, and improving its drainadge. In addition two new permissive paths have been created to improve access in to the old quarry.

Revettments along the quarry path

Revettments along the quarry path

Local contractors Leydene Fencing have carried out the bulk of the work with the Country Park’s rangers opening up the vegetation along all the other trails. Regular patrols are continuing to keep the area litter free and to inform the cyclists and motorbike riders of the changes.

New surfacing

New surfacing

Once all the basic work on the trails, the dangerous trees and the site abuse has been dealt with some interpretation and art installations will be introduced which will help bring this area to life for local users. There will be a launch event in Buriton on Saturday the 7th May to update all interested parties. More details to follow.

Mystery shapes on the forest floor

Mystery shapes on the forest floor

Strange decorated holes have been found,  deliberately cut in to the forest floor.  Who did these and why? At present we have no idea. Ideas include ancient rituals, pet burials, GCSE Art projects or a simple hoax. If you know or can help with a suggestion please get in touch.

  

The main hole is about 1 metre long and is lined with sticks and filled with moss.

On a serious note this area of the forest was recently designated as a Scheduled Ancient Monument, with Bronze Age, Roman and Saxon remains, and it is illegal to disturb the surface in any way that may cause damage. The features highlighted in these images will be removed in two weeks time and in the meantime we hope to make contact with their creator.

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