June 2012


Male Stag Beetle

Male Stag Beetle

At this time of year there is the chance to see Stag Beetles during their short but passionate adult lives. Having spent 3 or more years developing deep in a rotten log, or just as likely at QECP living in the areas of play bark across the site, the adults emerge and are active after dark attracted to lampposts and other night lights.

They are slow clumsy creatures and can often be found the next day stuck in guttering or drains. The Park has both the Stag and Lesser Stag Beetles. The latter is more common, smaller and the males lack the impressive antler like jaws. Both species are just as likely to be seen in urban areas and domestic gardens if sufficient undisturbed rotting timber is present.

 The People’s Trust For Endangered Species runs the Great Stag Hunt, an annual survey where individuals can log in their finds. More information at www.ptes.org/

Male Stag Beetle

Male Stag Beetle

For videos showing more of these fascinating creatures go to the BBC Nature site at www.bbc.co.uk/nature/life/stag_beetle

The QE BioBlitz will be taking place from 4pm on the 11th August until 4pm on the 12th. For 24 hours Park staff, species specialists and volunteers will be trying to find as many different species as possible. This will include nighttime surveys of moths, bats and whatever else comes out after dark!   

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The shearing team

The shearing team

The Park’s 250 Beulah ewes have just been shorn. This annual event takes place each June and was a little delayed this year due to the wet weather. A fleece must be dry if it is shear and store well.

The ewes are owned by the Country Park but managed under a 5 year Farm Business Tenancy by local farmers Shon and Simon Sprackling. They run Rother Valley Organics, a Rogate based business which provides on-line sales of fresh, free range organic meat. More information about the on-line shop can be found at www.rothervalleyorganics.com

 

 

Bill Hedges is the shepherd responsible for the management of the flock and carries out the shearing of the Park’s sheep as well as working as a contractor to shear 40,000 others each year. A good shearer can finish 300 sheep a day and so our 250 ewes do not take too long to process. At 50 pence per kilo the income from the wool barely covers the cost of the labour.

Bill Hedges

Bill Hedges

The wool os sold directly to the British Wool Marketing Board which coordinates the sale from most of the producers in this country.

The lambs do not have enough wool to be worth shearing. They are growing well and the best ones will be ready for market in a couple of months time.

The Park’s sheep are used to keep the National Nature Reserve in favourable condition by grazing the right areas at the appropriate time. The sheep are joined by a herd of 30-40 cattle in the late Summer/Autumn.

For more information about wool production or farming in general go to the UK Agriculture site at www.ukagriculture.com

Nathan Hedges

Nathan Hedges

Simply Red

Simply Red

From Friday the 22nd June through to Sunday the 5th August two exhibitions will be running at the same time in the visitor centre.

The first is put on by the Portsmouth and District Branch of the Embroiderers’ Guild which is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year.To mark this occasion they are staging an exhibition of members work entitled ‘Simply Red’. The pieces display a range of techniques including hand and machine embroidery, gold work, applique and beadwork. For more information about the group their web-site can be found at  http://branches.embroiderersguild.com/branchdetails.php?id=HAMP25

 

The second exhibition which evokes the ‘Spirit of the Olympics’ has been put together by a group of seven Hampshire based artists called

Interwoven

Interwoven

Interwoven. The diverse artwork on display ranges from Elizabethan inspired yarn to ‘bomb work’, covering a multitude of disciplines including felting, knitting and glass making. 

The two exhibitions can be found in the visitor centre cafe and theatre, and additionally there are pieces located in key places both in and out of the buildings designed to both surprise and inspire our visitors.

Many of the works of art are for sale with a range of prices to suit all budgets.

All the forthcoming exhibitions are detailed in the Park Pages and can be found on the Park’s web-site at www.hants.gov.uk/qecp  

 

Textile cycle

Textile cycle

Bee Orchid

Bee Orchid

The recent weather may not been the best for our visitors, but it has certainly been a good growing year for the plant species around the site. Both sides of the Country Park have a wealth of wild flowers to see, whether on the Butser Hill National Nature Reserve or in the Queen Elizabeth Forest.  

This time of year is flowering time for the many different types of Orchid that can be found at QECP. These are fascinating plants with some unusual characteristics;

Up to 10% of all plants which produce seed are Orchids, over 20,000 species.

The name Orchid comes from the Greek for ‘testicle’ due to the unusual shape of the plant’s root.

An Orchid can produce millions of seeds at a time. The reason that they are not more common is down to the fact that in order to germinate and complete their life cycle Orchids must enter in to a symbiotic relationship with a particular type of  fungi at just the right time. 

Common Spotted Orchid

Common Spotted Orchid

Vanilla, so essential for cooking and perfume around the world comes from the seed pods of an Orchid.   

There are regular walks during the season which are designed to bring people closer to the plants and wildlife at QECP. For more details see the Park Pages at www.hants.gov.uk/qecp  

Butterfly Orchid (image by J.Orchid)

Butterfly Orchid (image by J.Vardon)

  

Common Twayblade

White Helleborine

June 17, 2012

Buriton Chalk Pits Local Nature Reserve

Posted by qecp under Buriton, Queen Elizabeth Country Park
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The Leydene team

The Leydene team

The development of this Local Nature Reserve was continued recently with the installation of new steps in the middle of the site. Two years ago the abuse by motorcyclists was such that much of the area was a no go area and any furnishings were soon damaged.

Although the site still suffers from abuse this is now much more limited  and can be quickly dealt with by the site ranger Abi Peett. As well as two new waymarked trails there are now animal sculptures, interpretation panels and regular events.

The Buriton Chalk Pits are managed in a Heritage Lottery funded partnership involving the Country Park, the East Hants District Council and Buriton Parish. All the sites events and activities are covered on the Parish’s Community web-site at  www.buriton.info/parish_council

Local company Leydene Fencing Ltd carried out the work putting in 16 steps which will improve access to the main quarry. For more information about their work go to www.leydenefencing.com

This Friday night the local bat group will be conducting a survey of the site to see what bats are present.

June 14, 2012

Dragonflies in the Park Centre Pond

Posted by qecp under Queen Elizabeth Country Park, Wildlife
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Hawker Dragonfly emerging

Hawker Dragonfly emerging

In the few warm sunny gaps between the rain showers the Park’s damselfly and dragonfly species have been appearing from the depths of the pond. The nymphs may have spent several years under the surface and need to time their emergence carefully. 

Although the adult life is short it is dramatic as dragonflies are some of the fastest insects in the world. The larger Southern Hawkers and Emperors found in the Park will reach 30mph on the wing. They are predatory catching other flying insects such as mosquitos, and very territorial.

 5 sunny minutes spent on the bridge will reveal the constant battle between the males, and the different species, going on around the pond. 

 

In total the pond has 12 different species of dragonfly and damselfly. The former can be easily distinguished by the fact that they are larger and hold their wings away from and perpendicular to the body, whilst the latter and hold their wings together and above the torso.

Hawker emerging

Hawker emerging

Students from Liverpool University have been studying the pond’s population of the Azure Damselfly. A number of papers have been produced which study their DNA and fecundity, the most recent in 2011.

More information is avaliable on the Institute of Integrative Biology’s web-site at www.liv.ac.uk/integrative-biology    

There will be a chance to see pond life in all its forms at the Bio-Blitz event which takes place from 4pm on the 11th, through to 4pm on the 12th August.

More details on the Park Pages at www.hants.gov.uk/qecp

June 12, 2012

South Downs Marathon, Relay Marathon and Fun Run

Posted by qecp under Queen Elizabeth Country Park, Running
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The race start

The race start

On Saturday the 9th June over 1100 people took part in the South Downs Marathon. Now in its 7th year the SDM is considered to be one of the UK’s leading running events. It is organised by 2:09 Events and runs from Slindon College along the rights of way network to the Country Park.

In addition 174 people took part in Marathon Relay and 385 joined in the much shorter Family Fun Run.

The first man home on the Marathon was Paul Jegou who completed the 26 miles in 3:02:51 and the first woman was Naomi Tier in 3:11:16

...and finish

…and finish

2:09 Events is a company that provides event management and training camps for runners of all abilities. For full race  information go to their web-site at www.209events.com

There are more running and cycling events taking place throughout the Summer at QECP. More details on the web-site at www.hants.gov.uk/qecp

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