December 2011


VW Transporter

VW Transporter

The final Park vehicle had just been delivered to site with its new logo and wildlife image. This brings to an end a process which has taken a whole year and has involved replacing one of our 3 old vehicles with a new Ford Ranger, and the other two with used vehicles to cut our transport costs. See earlier blogs about the two Ford Rangers.
These have been made available following the restructuring of the Rights of Way teams. One Ford Ranger, an ’09 plate, came from the Parish Paths Project and the one pictured above, an ’08 VW Transporter,  came from the ROW Central team. Steve Peach is one of the park’s ranger team and is responsible for this vehicle.
The VW Transporter is based on the Volkswagen Group’s T platform now in its 5th generation after 60 years of worldwide sales. It has a 2.5 litre front mounted diesel engine with 4WD and a large carrying capacity.
09 Ford Ranger

09 Ford Ranger

The ranger team looks after 2,000 acres of Hampshire’s countryside and these vehicles, along with a tractor and ride on mower are extremely busy around the year. Due to the size of the site simply travelling to the end of the Forest Drive, and then to the top of Butser Hill will involve a journey of 10 miles. The duty ranger will need to undertake this trip at least three times daily to unlock gates, clean and check the visitor facilities and empty the pay and display machines.
The idea behind the wildlife logos was to make our vehicles a little more visitor friendly and to help our regulars tell them apart. The VW features a Common lizard which along with the Adder and Slow worm are found in good numbers across the Park.
11 Ford Ranger

11 Ford Ranger

On Sunday the 25th December the Park will be open, however the centre, shop and cafe will remain closed. The main toilets will be open between 9.00am and 3.00pm and an emergency contact number for the day’s duty ranger will be posted on the main entrance doors.

On Monday the 26th December the Park and all its main facilities will be open from 10.00am (9.00am for the cafe) through to 4.30pm.

On Tuesday the 27th December the Park will be open, along with the cafe and main toilets from 9.00am through to 4.30pm. The main centre and shop will remain closed.

From Wednesday the 28th through to Friday the 30th December the cafe, office and main toilets will be open from 9.00am to 4.30pm. The main centre and shop will remain closed.

The standard pay and display charges will apply throughout this holiday period at £1 for an hour and £2 for the day.

Happy Christmas.

 

The north slope of Butser

The north slope of Butser

 
High up on the north slope of Butser Hill a small team of contractors is working hard cutting back bramble, gorse and ash saplings. They are at about 800 feet which at this time of year can be a challenge. In this first image their location is given away by a thin wisp of smoke from the fire used to burn the arisings.
 
The work site

The work site

 
The second image shows this years cutting in the foreground, and last years behind. The idea being to reduce the overall level of scrub in specific areas of the hill, whilst retaining the balance between this valuable habitat and the downland sward. This is slow expensive work and as a consequence the hand team will work only on those slopes where the  tractor mounted machinery cannot gain access.
 Butser Hill is a part of the QE Country Park but is also a National Nature Reserve and as such we are signed up to a 10 year HLS management agreement with Natural England and DEFRA. This will ensure that the important balance between conservation and recreation is maintained. 
 
Using a brush cutter

Using a brush cutter

 
The work is made easier with brush cutters and chain saws which will take the vegetation right down to ground level. The ever-present rabbit population together with the Park’s livestock will keep on top of the re-growth and hopefully avoid the need for the team to have to return. Butser Hill is an organic site and as a consequence pesticides cannot be used to control vegetation or to treat the cut stumps.
 

The team at work

The team at work

 
The work is being carried out by a Chichester based company called Natural Land Management Ltd. More information at www.naturallandmanagement.com
 
Santas

Santas

 
On Sunday the 4th December 259 Santas took part in the annual Rowans Hospice Stroll. As part of this fund-raising event the participants made a donation, put on a Santa suit or reindeer antlers, before walking 2.5 miles through the forest.
At the end of the walk hot drinks and mince pies were waiting in the Park’s cafe.
 
Small Santas

Small Santas

 
The Rowans is dedicated to providing hospice care for local people and needs to raise £4 million each year to cover its activities. More information at www.rowans.hospice.co.uk
 
Santas helper

Santas helper

 
For something completely different, on the 21st December the Rowans is involved in another event, this time a Punk Style Christmas Party on South Parade Pier in Southsea.  For those old enough to remember, the UK Subs and the Lurkers will be among the bands playing. More information at www.punkbythesea.co.uk  
 
Trail builders

Trail builders

 
The group who have been working on the QECP mountain bike trails for 6 months now were back again last weekend enjoying the sunny unseasonal weather. They come in monthly to maintain and develop the Park’s two 3 mile trails and are doing a great job.  As well as work on the trails they also help with events, fundraising and anything connected with cycling.
If anyone is interested in joining this informal group, and they are not a club, then there is a Yahoo site and monthly work weekends.
More information on qecptrailbuilding@yahoo.co.uk      
 
Trees for sale

Trees for sale

 
  Christmas tree sales are now underway with three species available.
The traditional Norway Spruce, native to Europe and  first introduced to this country in the 16th century, with its classic shape and unique smell. This tree best suits the outdoors or cooler areas of the home. The least needle fast of the three and with prickly needles, care should be taken with the decorations.
 
The Nordman Fir, was introduced from Turkey in the mid 19th century and is the number one tree in the UK as far as sales are concerned. Soft to the touch and with excellent needle retention this tree will cope with almost any location.
 
The Lodgepole Pine, was introduced from America in the 1850s and takes its name from the Native American Indians who used its trunk as the centre pole for their tepees. With very upright branches, often covered in cones, this tree has the best needle retention and a strong pine smell. 
 
Saturday morning sales

Saturday morning sales

 
  Tree sales at the Park will continue as long as stocks remain and will start to reduce after next weekend.
Tree care is simple.
Keep it outside in water until it is required for decoration.
Cut 1 inch (2.5cm) from the bottom of the trunk, and shake off any loose needles, before you bring inside.
Stand in water and place in the coolest part of the room possible.
 
After Christmas a pen will be constructed in the main car park so that the trees can all be recycled.

 

 
 
 
Caroline Gillett

Caroline Gillett

 
Here is a selection of forest views from up and coming photographer Caroline Gillett. Now that the cold weather has arrived, and there was a frost on Thursday night/Friday morning, the leaves are all starting to come down.
 
 
Caroline Gillett

Caroline Gillett

 
 
Caroline Gillett

Caroline Gillett

 
Caroline Gillett

Caroline Gillett

 
The Park is always interested in hearing from artists of all types and holds exhibitions every 6 weeks in the visitor centre. For more information see the current Park Pages, our events guide and newsletter, which is available on the web-site home page.