We will be joining Garry the ranger with a group of volunteers to help clear scrub from Cardboard Hill in preparation for the area to be grazed by sheep for a few weeks.
Over recent years this once prime wild life site has become overgrown with scrub and course grasses so that it has have lost many of its species of insects and downland flowers.
Sheep grazing for short periods in autumn or winter should improve this steep south facing chalk grass land.
Meet at the corner of Heath Hill Avenue and Norwich Drive at 10am or see us on Cardboard Hill. On the arial picture Cardboard Hill is below the BBC Mast marked Bevendean.
Undaunted ( well, a bit daunted ) by the rain on our Easter Sunday workday four of us arrived to cut back the hawthorns suckers and seedlings which regrow in the chalk grassland every year. Unfortunately the sheep which graze the area in the winter don’t eat them so it’s up to us to stop the whole area eventually becoming scrub and losing the butterflies which flourish in the open short grassland vegetation conditions. When we arrived the task seemed never ending but we did manage to clear quite a big area of the bristly regrowth which gave us a sense of satisfaction. There is still rather a lot which needs to be done though. We were all very wet by the end of the morning but Brig ( aka the easter bunny ) rewarded us with an easter egg each. It was heartening to see the first signs of plants of the parasitic annual yellow rattle in the short grass and to look forward to it’s yellow flowers later in the season. These plants are good indicators of species rich grasslands.
We had a lovely morning on 16th March in the sunshine on our sunday workday scraping up sheep poo to keep the nutrient levels low for the chalk grassland flowers. Over the last month there have been 150 sheep grazing the slopes and they have done a great job of eating the grass and nibbling around the ant hills. The area called Hogtrough is looking very good because of all their grass eating. The ant hills often have creeping thyme growing on them so when they are in flower later in the year they look like purple cushions and bees like the thyme flowers. On our workday we saw several small tortoiseshell and peacock butterflies and also found some tiny orange and black beetles under the sheep poo which we think are the dung beetle Aphodius fimetarius. Skylarks were singing, there were tiny early violets just showing in the grass and it was great to be out there. At the end of the morning we had a good collection of bags of sheep poo to take down the hill to the Bevendean Community Garden because they want to increase the nutrient levels in the garden for their vegetable growing.
This years AGM will be held in the Church Hal,l Norwich Drive at 7.30 pm Tuesday 25th Feb. Everyone welcome to attend.