March 2013


Work continues on the restoration of Holt Pond which is filling with water and nearly complete. The area will now be fenced off to create a wildlife zone where public access can be managed. The bare earth will be sown with wild flower seed harvested from Butser Hill during last Summer.

Pond weed will be brought across from the ‘concrete pond’ on the other side of the A3. This pond was restored some years ago and has large quantities of Water milfoil and Curled-leaved pondweed.

The Holt Pond has a good population of Palmate newts and these need aquatic plants on which to attach their eggs which are individually wrapped one per leaf.

 

 

The old rotten concrete slabs will be used to create a hibernaculum or reptile refuge. This will be built in a such a way that will allow the Grass snakes, Adders, Slow worms and Common lizards to hide away from the freezing Winter temperatures. And also being South facing they will be able to warm up quickly when the sun does shine. The blocks will be covered in soil and the grass kept short to aid this process.

Much of this work is carried out by the park’s volunteers who meet every Tuesday morning for practical work sessions across the site. More information can be obtained from the web-site at www,hants.gov.uk/qecp

 

Butser Hill is a part of the Country Park and is also the highest point on the South Downs at 270 metres. Regular visitors will have noticed the hang-gliders, paragliders and model gliders all of whom are attracted to the special weather conditions created along the scarp slope.

The Sky-Surfing club covers the first 2 of these activities and has just over 140 members. They have permission to fly from three locations on Butser  and share these with the Meon Valley Soaring Association, a similar sized club that flies model gliders.

Formed in 1974 the Sky-Surfing club is based at the Hampshire end of the South Downs and also has flying sites at Chalton, Harting, Whitewool and Mercury.

The club ensures that flying on the hill is tightly controlled with a code of conduct, insurance, and regular meetings with Park staff. Additionally, each year in June both clubs get together with the Park to run the Festival of Flight. This is an event that celebrates all forms of flying from kites to gliders.

New members who are looking to try this challenging and exciting activity are always welcome and can contact committee members at www.skysurfingclub.co.uk

 

The link below gives an idea of what to expect!

 

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=Iy1GaVEErk4

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For the last two weeks of the Spring term and most of the Summer term the Park is really busy with school visits. From an annual  total of just over 10,000 school children and students half receive some form of direct delivered activity. The Education Officer plans the programme, books in the schools and is helped by several Education Assistants and the Ranger team.

 This week the majority of students are studying for their GCSE Geography and are specifically looking to see how the Park manages its visitors and their impact on the site and its infrastructure. Project work will involve measuring erosion on Butser or counting cyclists in the QE Forest.

Two or three coaches arrive each day and the Park’s classroom, theatre and activity area are all used for teaching and refreshments.

For more information, or to book a school visit, the QECP web-site has good information including risk assessments and specimen lesson plans. Go to www.hants.gov.uk/qecp

Work is underway restoring the old Holt Pond. This has been is a sorry state for a number of years and funds have recently been secured to  do the job with a welcome donation from the Park’s own volunteer group.

The process has involved getting in a 9 tonne tracked digger to remove the accumulated sediment and rotting vegetation, being careful to leave this close by to help relocate some of the flora and fauna. At this time of year the pond was effectively asleep and the Palmate newts which are one of its key features had yet to return for breeding.

This was originally an old dew pond constructed with a thin layer of clay. The clay was concreted over at a later date and it was this that had broken up causing all the water to drain away. Some 20 tonnes of old concrete was removed and the profile of the pond restored.

Next we added a layer of soft sand, the liner, followed by a protective layer of geo-textile and finally another layer of top-soil. This sandwich of materials will ensure that the pond will hold water for another 40 years and also that the aquatic and marginal vegetation will quickly take hold.

Within a day of starting to add the water the first three newts had arrived. It will be some while before the water level is spot on, in the meantime the volunteers are working hard turning the environs in to a wildlife area starting with a hibernaculum (hibernation home for reptiles) made out of the old concrete.

The area will be fenced off as before and used for wildlife encounter sessions throughout the season.

The Park’s second annual BioBlitz event will take place on the 10th/11th August. This is a 24 hour nature hunt where we try to find as many different species as possible, with over 600 identified last year. It will be interesting to see how many  species will have moved back in to pond site by then.

For more information about this ad other related events see the Park’s web-site on www.hants.gov.uk/qecp

 

I am the story trail snail.

I am a family friendly trail with easy access in Hampshire’s Countryside sites and am around a mile long.

Queen Elizabeth Country Park has its own special story called ‘The Dragon of Butser Hill’ which you can follow along the way.

Story trails encourage children to explore, touch, smell, listen and enjoy the great outdoors!

 

At this time of year the Park’s rangers are coming to the end of the routine Winter work tasks such as fencing and scrub control. Additionally the bbq shelters and picnic tables need some tlc in preparation for the first bookings over the Easter holidays. All this activity produces large quantities of waste timber.

The majority of these furnishings are made of softwood that has been treated with preservative. After 20 or so years when the old fence posts are pulled out of the ground this chemical will still influence the way that they can be disposed of.

The Park’s biomass boiler can only burn clean timber and the firewood that we supply to local customers must also be un-treated. As a consequence some 60 cubic metres of waste timber each year has to be containerised and taken away for processing.

First the large pieces of metal, fencing wire, gate hinges and the like are removed, and then the wood is chipped. The chips can then be transported to the nearest power station and be burnt to produce electricity.

The only other option for this type of waste is to bury it as landfill. Either way there is a cost for disposal of about £10 per cubic metre.

The Park re-uses and re-cycles where it can and this includes metal, timber, light bulbs/flourescent tubes, batteries, paper and cardboard. And even the cafe food waste is composted.

If any one has an alternative use for this timber then please get in touch with your ideas. Unfortunately it cannot be burnt in open fires or domestic wood burners.

 

 

Visitors to the Park over the last two weekends will have noticed a small group of people involved in strange scenarios on the edge of the main car park. A first impression might have been that a major incident had taken place and the ambulance was on its way.

In fact a first aid course was being taught in the classroom and was using the forest for practical sessions. A company called Re+ction First Aid delivers training under the Rescue Emergency Care scheme (REC) which is designed specifically for outdoor  professionals and enthusiasts.

Designed for locations such as QECP where casualties may be waiting for the emergency services for extended periods, the courses were attended by members of Hampshire Search & Rescue and included mountain bike leaders and canoeing instructors.

The next available dates are on  the 4th/5th May and the 27th/28th July.

For more information and to book a place contact Steve on 07944 555587.

All the Park’s front of house staff including the rangers,  education officers and receptionists are first aid trained and the three 4WD vehicles all carry first aid kits. Over the course of a year, despite the total number of visitors exceeding 300,000, only about 30 entries are made in the first aid book.

 

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