On the 15th August at 10:30 meet at the top of the East Hill Lift and join us for a walk on the East Hill. We will be in the company of various experts from within the ranks of the Friends who will be exploring both the history and the natural history of this scenic area. Charge: £2, free to Friends of HCPNR For more information contact: Jill Howell on 01424 815256 or Jan on 01424 715556
A lucky few of us met Julie at the Milking Parlour on a gloriously hot, sunny Saturday morning to hear about the behind-the-scenes work that goes into running this enormous nature reserve with only a handful of staff. We began with a quick talk by Julie in which she ran us through the long list of daily and weekly tasks which must be carried out before even thinking of the many additional seasonal and ad-hoc jobs to be done. Emptying bins, checking animals, inspecting fences, cutting verges, opening the Visitor Centre, etc., etc. inevitably lead to clearing up after fly tipping, dealing with graffiti, helping rough-sleepers, and replacing damaged signage. All the unglamorous work of which most of us remain completely unaware!
Julie also explained the ownership of the Country Park and the way the various agencies work together - Council Officers, Rangers, Natural England, TCV, Groundworks, Sussex Wildlife Trust, Conservation Volunteers, VC volunteers, etc.. It is a real eye-opener to realise just how many people are involved in the life of the nature reserve, and what a job it is to co-ordinate it all and ensure its smooth running. Much of the money to run the County Park comes from Natural England via Higher Level Stewardship and without that the operation would have to be very drastically reduced.
After this thorough grounding in the administration of the Country Park we all piled into Julie’s Land Rover to see the theory in action in Ecclesbourne Glen. Here we were able to walk some of the paths currently closed by last year's landslip and to see the excellent work the conservation volunteers have been doing to clear paths and re-instate steps and boardwalks. The result will be the re-opening of many of the paths within Ecclesbourne Glen, and, most important, the option to follow a circular route around the Glen for the first time in a long while.
Enormous thanks to Julie for what was a fascinating morning. We had the opportunity not only to hear so much about the running of the Country Park, but also to ask as many questions as we wished and to see work in progress on the ground. If Julie finds time to offer the same event next year I would thoroughly recommend to anyone with an interest in the Country Park that they come along…
Today the BBC are due to film the heavy horses that are working on the Fire Hills - so presumably this item will be on the local TV news today and/or tomorrow.
They are beautiful animals - gentle giants!
For this week only, 29th June to 3rd July, heavy working horses will be working in Warren Glen. They will be pulling a heavy roller to bash and bruise areas of bracken in the Glen. Enlisting the help of working horses to pull heavy rollers to bash and bruise the bracken is an effective, traditional and low impact method of reducing the vigour and growth of bracken in hard to reach areas and avoids the use of chemicals. Frankie Woodgate and her forestry horses, 13 year old ‘Yser’ and 9 year old ‘Tobias’ will be on site at Warren Glen from the 29 June for around 5 days. They spend most of the year extracting timber from woods around Sussex and Kent but spend the summer rolling bracken. Everyone is welcome to come along and see the horses at work in this unique natural environment.
Further to our post below, we have now discovered that, incredible though it may seem, Hastings Borough Council are not allowing public comments on this application. After all we have been through it seems that attitudes still have not changed within the planning department. In the circumstances we would urge Friends to write directly to their councillors.
Sadly we must draw Friends’ attention to yet another planning application relating to Rocklands Caravan Park, this one concerning an unauthorised storage building erected at Rocklands some years ago. Please do add your comments on the planning website as public engagement in this serious issue is important for the future of the Country Park:
At the foot of the east wall of the Visitor Centre there is a patch of exposed earth pocked with small holes that are the entrances to the nests of Mining Bees. Three species of Mining Bee have been identified there; Clarke's Mining Bee (Andrena clarkella), the Buffish Mining Bee (Andrena nigroaenea) both on the ground and a Tawny Mining Bee (Andrena fulva) visiting the adjacent ivy. Each species of Mining Bee has an associated cleptoparasitic Nomad Bee. The predominant species of Mining Bee at the visitor centre is Andrena nigroaenea, and its cleptoparasite is Gooden's Nomad Bee (Nomada goodeniana). Gooden's Nomad Bee is a medium sized almost hairless bee with yellow bands and spots that looks like a wasp. Females enter the open cell of the host bee and insert their eggs into the wall of the cell. The first instar larva kills the egg or young larva of the host bee using a pair of sickle-shaped jaws. It then eats the host bee's provisions.
This fully booked event was again led by popular local naturalist and photographer, Crystal Ray. The morning began with an indoor session at the Milking Parlour Field Centre before we all ventured out into the rather windy and inclement conditions to see what wildlife and plants of interest we could find to try out our new-found skills on.
Some time was spent attempting to focus closely on a lone Scorpion Fly and most participants successfully photographed a very obliging Speckled Wood butterfly. Our walk took us as far as the dripping well, looking rather eerie and gloomy in the cloudy conditions, where comparisons were made between flash and non-flash photography.
All in all this proved an extremely enjoyable and informative event and I’m sure we shall be welcoming Crystal back again next year.
There are still a few places left for next Saturdays Photography Talk/Walk with local Naturalist Crystal Ray. Booking is essential for this event. Please see our Events page for more details or phone Jan 01424 715556
On Saturday, 22 of us braved the cold wind, the rain, then more even colder wind to go on a wonderful walk in the Country Park with the amazing Ben Fairlight Edwards. Ben's knowledge is incredible and we all learnt so much about the healing properties of plants that we walk past all the time. We were even treated to Bramble tip tea - standing in the rain in the Quarry! Very many thanks to Ben for such a brilliant walk!