August 2012


Clearing scrub prior to fencing

Clearing scrub prior to fencing

This week contractors have been working on the very top of Butser Hill clearing back scrub, removing old fencing and replacing it with new.

The weather on the Hill is not kind to timber or wire fencing and if we can get 20 years of life from a fenceline then that is good. Treated softwood posts are used along with livestock netting and two strands of barbed wire. This combination will keep in the Parks livestock in the right place.

Currently there are 200 ewes each with an average of 1.5 lambs as well as 65 beef cattle. Being able to graze certain areas at key times is important to the maintenance of the National Nature Reserve which is made up of about 15 fenced compartments. 

 

Removing old fencing

Removing old fencing

The Park Rangers replace a target of 1KM of fencing each and every year to keep the fencing in good condition. Contractors are used to help with the workload and in this case a local company called Leydene fencing Ltd is being used.

An 80 hp tractor with post thumper is essential to get the new posts in to the hard chalk, and a small caterpillar unit is useful for pulling out the old wire.

For more information about Leydene fencing go to their web-site on www.leydenefencing.com

Club vehicle

Club vehicle

This weekend the Park had a visit from the Four Wheel Drive Club whose members were taking part in some green laning along the local rights of way network. There followed an evening bbq and social event with many members camping overnight on site.

The club was formed relatively recently and is based in the South East. Regular events are staged both home and abroad throughout the year from simple laning days for the inexperienced to ‘pay and play’ for the adventurous. Social evenings and bbqs are always part of the programme.

With such large powerful vehicles safety is always top priority and the club follows the GLASS code of conduct when on rights of way and has its own environmental policy posted on their web-site. Owning a 4WD is not essential to membership.

Club members at the Coneyacres bbq site

Club members at the Coneyacres bbq site

For more information go to http://www.fourwheeldriveclub.com

For details about GLASS, which is the National User Group for those who enjoy using the Country’s network of ancient unsurfaced public roads and vehicular rights of way, look on their web-site at www.glass-uk.com

Tree walk

Tree walk

Last weekend for the very first time the Park put on a BioBlitz event. The idea being to find all possible species living in our 2,000 acres over a 24 hour period.

 

With the help of over 40 expert helpers and a data recording team from Hampshire County Council’s Biodiversity Information Centre (HBIC) by the end of the event 787 records had been made covering 475 different species. By 4pm on the Sunday there were still many records still to be logged so this total should get even higher.

 

 

 The event began at 4pm on the Saturday with a tree id walk, followed by a bird walk, moth trapping overnight and then a dawn walk at 4.30am on the Sunday. Things got busier the next day with the arrival of many species experts and various family friendly activities.   

HBIC data recording

HBIC data recording

The aim of a BioBlitz is to raise awareness of biodiversity in general and also to identify key habitats and species which will need special management in the future.

For more information about HBIC which is tasked with bringing together information about all Hampshire’s wildlife and to collate, manage and disseminate this data go to www.hants.gov.uk/biodiversity/hbic

There are more wildlife talks and walks taking place at QECP in the near future. On the 25th August there will be a guided walk in QE Forest, and on the 30th September a spider walk in the nearby Buriton Chalk Pits. Pre-booking required for both walks.

For the full events programme go to www.hants.gov.uk/qecp

 

 

 

 

Bird ringing

Bird ringing

 

Visitor centre

Visitor centre

Beccy and Pete

Beccy and Pete

This week a lost racing pigeon put in an appearance at the Park. This is a fairly regular occurrence and where pigeons are found they can usually be reunited with their owners pretty quickly.

All racing pigeons carry a hard plastic ring on their leg which helps with this process. The first few letters indicate the issuing organisation, the next two numbers the year of birth, and the remaining letters and numbers identify the registered owner.  If there is a second ring then this is used for racing purposes only.

Additionally the bird will often have an ink stamp on the inside of the main wing feathers which will carry the owners details.

Only once the bird has been caught can the contact be made.

The ring details can be looked up on a central web-site www.homingpigeons.co.uk where a phone number will lead to an approved carrier who will return the bird to its home loft free of charge. 

Lost or injured birds can be dehydrated and hungry. A couple of spoonfuls of Gatorade or similar sports drink will help in a cup of water, and any type of grain is good for food.

Photography workshop

Photography workshop

The latest in a wide range of activities being arranged as part of the Buriton Chalk Pits project was a free photography course held on Saturday 11th August.

A dozen participants learnt some new camera techniques and gained confidence with their equipment.

The course offered the opportunity to focus on the natural history and industrial heritage of the Chalk Pits site.

The event was run in conjunction with the special Chalk Pits photography categories in this months Buriton Village Show.

 

Photography workshop

Photography workshop

For more information about this site which is adjacent to the QECP and run as a partnership project involving the parish of Buriton, East Hants District Council and the Park.

Abi Peet is the ranger in charge of the site. She is based at QECP and can be contacted on 02392 595040.

The next event will be a spider walk to be held on Sunday the 30th September at 10.00am. Pre-booking required from the Park visitor centre.

For more information about Buriton see their community web-site on www.buriton.info/buriton_chalk_pits

 

Classroom session

Classroom session

Many  individuals and businesses use the Park’s facilities for training purposes. Typically the classroom or theatre to top and tail a day spent out on site.

Last week three rangers from Portsmouth were being trained to drive a 4WD vehicle, and this week another group was taking a 1st Aid certificate.

The 1st Aid course was run under the Rescue Emergency Care scheme (REC) which is designed specifically for outdoor professionals and enthusiasts who participate in activities in out-of-the-way places.

The possibility that the emergency services may not be able to reach a casualty for extended periods of time is a key concern and the more people who are properly trained the better.

For further information about the 1st Aid and to book a course contact Steve on 07944 555587.

For information about driver training call Andy on 02380 571804.

For details on this and other activities taking place at the Park go to the web-site at www.hants.gov.uk/qecp

The Park's sheep

The Park’s sheep

The Park’s 200 plus ewes and their lambs have now  been moved on to the A3/lower slopes of Butser Hill. The lambs are growing well and the biggest and best will soon be heading for market.

 

Since the Dog Control Orders were introduced on Butser in April the livestock have had a trouble-free time with no incidents of sheep worrying. 

Additionally the rangers have reported a significant rise in the amount of bagged dog waste deposited in the ‘dual use bins’ located in the top Butser car park. A big well done to all our dog walkers.

 

Please report any incidents to the Park centre on 02392 595040.

 

Rother Valley cattle

Rother Valley cattle

The first cattle have arrived in Rake field to the north of the hill. We now have 51 six  month old animals on their first trip away from home. Another 30 larger thirty month old beef cattle will be arriving soon to graze the northern slopes of the hill at Ramsdean Down.

At the end of the Summer holidays they will be moved up on to the Butser Hill Top field.

The cattle are here to graze down all the long coarse grass that has been doing so well in the wet Summer. This if left will quickly dominate the more sensitive downland plants. And at the end of the grazing season a tractor will be used to top some of these areas to complete this process.

 

The cattle all belong to Rother Valley Organics, a local farming company who have the farm business tenancy on Butser and this includes looking after the Park’s sheep.

Additionally RVO have their own butchery producing organic meat for sale on-line, at farmers markets and in-season from the Park’s shop. For more information go to their web-site www.rothervalleyorganics.com