Saturday, February 23, 2013

Telscombe Tye Dewpond and Cross Dyke

This morning the scanning of the Telscombe flock was due to take place on the Tye but no doubt put off by the cold and threat of snow it didn't happen, so having walked down to Gorham way, I ended up taking a walk back up the Tye to the dewpond.

Telscombe Tye dewpond - February water levels
No sign of any newts or frogspawn yet.  The water level in the pond is high - not surprising after all the rain and it's looking pretty clear around the edge, where you can see the pond weed that grew last year about a metre in.

Telscombe Tye - cross dyke
I also walked down the Cross Dyke at the edge of the bridleway.  It's pretty overgrown, has a reservoir built over it at the top end, an access track across it into a neighbouring field and what looks like concrete and brickwork.  Possibly something to do with the war or it may just have been dumped.

Telscombe Tye - overgrown cross dyke
In one or two places, although overgrown with windblown hawthorn and elder, the sunken ditch is more clearly defined.  On the bend of Bridleway 8 it flattens out and is covered with bramble, nettles and weeds.  It could be a lovely area if it was cleared and restored to it's original.

At the moment

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Malling Down - February Task

Three new faces for today's task.  Still working on the same area as the previous task but this time all the large ash trees have been cut down, so there's a lot of wood left for us to burn and still a few patches of scrub to clear.

Very mild compared to the last few days and another day of sunshine for Malling Down.  Steve, the Wildlife Trust's ranger for this reserve, was there to oversee our risk assessment talk from Peter and to hand out SWT beanie hats.  Just what I needed, having left mine at home today!

Some of the group set about creating two rather large log piles with all the logs from the felled ash trees and some of us set about clearing the final patch of bramble and scrub further up the slope.

We didn't quite manage to finish it all off, so there's a patch of bramble and hawthorn and a solitary ash sapling left for the next task when we'll probably move the fire site to the other side, so we don't have quite so far to drag the piles of scrub we left cut but didn't have time to burn.

You can see the other areas we've cleared in previous years - the steep sided gully and the quarry which are already starting to grass over.  It shows what a difference grazing makes to keeping the scrub down.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Pulborough wildfowl in February

Greeted with birdsong in the car park as the warmer weather and longer days start to herald territory and mating displays.

I finally managed to see Wally, the resident water rail who has been outside the Visitor Centre for a while now, although I've missed him on my last few visits.

Partially flooded over at Pulborough today, so plenty of wildfowl around - wigeon (of course), teal, elegant pintail and plenty of shoveler and shelduck.

Three tufted duck out in the deeper water and after much hunting along distant shores - ten ruff finally spotted.

Saw my favourite snipe from Winpenny hide - close to the hide but still hard to them out, although grass and lumps of mud made it easy to think there were more.   The sun was in the wrong direction to pick out the gadwall who had been spotted out on the South Brooks.

No sign of any of the resident raptors - the barn owl was still roosting and the peregrine didn't put in an appearance today.  Although a buzzard did pass over the South Brooks towards the end of the afternoon.

Saturday, February 09, 2013

Telscombe Tye Mega Scrub Bash

The fantastic volunteers from the South Downs, Sussex Wildlife Trust and our own Friends of the Tye turned up in force on a cold and overcast Saturday to help clear scrub on the part of the Tye known as the e-Piece.  Much used by dog walkers and riders but not as frequently accessed as the main Tye.

Telscombe Tye - just getting started
The area is gradually becoming scrubbed over, restricting access for walkers and riders and covering up areas of chalk grassland.  We've been fighting a losing battle - trying to clear areas of scrub, which a few months later have become overgrown again.
Telscombe Tye - the area to be cleared
While it's hard work clearing it with just a few people at a time - having over 20 people turn up to help, meant we could tackle a much larger area in one hit and start to make a real difference.  

Taking a break
With enough transport on site, not only did we get tea and coffee delivered but we took our lunch break in Telscombe Village Club with a very welcome bowl of soup and a cup of tea.  Well, it was the least we could do for the willing band of helpers.

Telscombe Tye - almost finished
Jan Knowlson, our local South Downs ranger was also there to help out with a brush cutter and more importantly treatment for the stumps.

Telscombe Tye - all done, burned and painted
By the end of the day we'd cleared and burned a large area of hawthorn, blackthorn.  Surprisingly there was still grass under much of the scrub, so hopefully it won't take long to come back, especially if we get the grazing in place later this year.

Additional photos of the day are on Flickr

Saturday, February 02, 2013

February traditions and nature notes

Frosty Footpath - winter snow
Frosty Footpath - winter snow
Did you know: February means cleansing or purification and is appropriate to this time of year.  Along with January, it was added to the calendar to make up the 12 months of the year we have now

Nature: Snowdrops are traditionally thought to appear after Candlemass on the 2nd.

Look out for: frogspawn appearing this month - specially in more southern parts of the country.

Traditions: Candlemass marks the mid-point of Winter and is named after candles being blessed for use during the rest of the year.

Weather folklore - if it's fine and frosty at the end of January and beginning of February there is more wintry weather ahead.

12th - Shrove Tuesday the last day before Lent a time of fasting and contemplation. Traditionally when pancakes are eaten.

14th - St Valentine's Day - when birds (of the feathered variety) choose their mates.  Although the robins in my garden seemed to have done that back in January.

There's a tradition that says if a woman sees a robin flying overhead she will marry a sailor, a sparrow - poor man and be very happy, goldfinch a rich person.
(Photo credit: blmiers2)

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