Over the past few years since its formation the Friends have assisted with the annual Man Orchid count in both good and foul weather! Last year we took on the challenge of the weekly Butterfly transects and we would like to continue to expand the role we play in providing and maintaining this historical data set.
With continued cuts to Natural England’s budget their capacity to continue with the detailed surveys of Orchid species that have taken place annually sine the mid-1970’s is under significant threat.
The routine monitoring of butterflies on the site is dependent upon regular weekly (weather permitting) visits of about 1 hour to walk a set route around the reserve.
It would be wonderful to update some of the quadrat survey work on flora undertaken in the past and for those with an interest in invertebrates the last major survey was in 1990 so feel free to get your “bug” books out and help see what has changed!
Please do get in touch with us if you would like to contribute to this and to find out more come and talk to us at the AGM on 16th January.
Please do join us at the A.G.M. being held at Barnack Village Hall on Monday 16th January. The “business” part of the meeting is always brief with the majority of the time spent on more interesting topics.
As well as an informative talk about another local reserve (Castor Hanglands) by Chris Gardiner there will be some historical photographs of the reserve, updates to the Orchid monitoring with the results of the 2016 surveys and information on the 2016 butterfly transects.
The provisional list of events for 2017 will be available for comment and it will be your opportunity to indicate what you would like to see organised during the year and find out more about the various aims of the group and how you can help. (More to follow on these in posts over the next few weeks)
Finally it will obviously provide you with the ideal opportunity to pay your 2017 membership subscription.
Please put this date in your diary and start the new year by looking forward to another year of visits and activities on the reserve.
At the recent steering group meeting our current Chair Alyson confirmed that she will not be seeking re-election this year. A very big thank you to Alyson for all she has done to get the “friends” up and running since its initial formation in January 2014.
As we complete our third year the steering group confirmed four primary aims for the “friends”.
1. To promote understanding of the significance of the “Hills and Holes” as a national nature reserve to the broad community of visitors.
2. To assist Natural England with the practical management of the reserve.
3. To assist with ongoing monitoring and surveys on the reserve to ascertain the status of the flora and fauna.
4. To raise funds for specific projects which will improve the reserve in line with Natural England’s management plan.
To achieve these aims as well as requiring a new Chair and Secretary it would be useful to identify members who are willing to contribute in any of the four areas.
We can only achieve these objectives by having an active steering group and participatory membership so please give some thought to how you can give something back for the enjoyment we all get from the reserve. Either come along to the AGM at Barnack Village Hall (more details to follow shortly) or contact us by e-mail ahead of the meeting. firstname.lastname@example.org
Many of you will have met Chris at either one of the organised events, at the Friends AGM, or just on the reserve during a visit or a hosted walk. Particularly perhaps on one of the many Glow Worm walks he has led over the many years he has been directly involved with Barnack Hills and Holes on behalf of Natural England/English Nature/……… the many other names the organisation has had in the 30 years Chris has worked for them. What has remained constant is Chris knowledge and willingness to share this with others and his tireless work at Barnack and Castor Hanglands NNR plus other local reserves that has left us with such a rich and diverse environment to enjoy today and for many more years to come.
It is therefore with much sadness to us, that Chris has finally decided to retire (We know many of you will have said a personal farewell to Chris) but we felt it appropriate to publicly wish him well for the future. A future we hope that will still involve regular sightings on the reserve.
All the best and thanks for helping us get established.
The Friends of Barnack Hills and Holes
PS Chris avoided any pictures and to take credit for his efforts so the image I think is one he would like to be remembered for his part in creating.
A dry but relatively chilly July evening saw 18 people on the reserve hunting through the long grass for signs of Glow worms. As the sun set Chris gave us an initial general introduction to the reserve and some flower spotting in the dusk along with the odd moth and caterpillar. Once the skies darkened and a description of the life cycle of the glow worm, explaining the fact that it is only the adult females who glow, we set off “eyes rooted to the ground” seeking that first sighting. Fortunately not too far along the path the first little green light was spotted and capably captured for us all to enjoy a close up view of this beetle. After releasing our first beetle further sightings on the circuitous route back to the car park secured a total of seven sightings (at least for the tail-end of the group) the majority of these of beetles staying well hidden in the depths of the grass out of the cool wind. A further three on the roadside verge on my way back to the village from the car park brought my own total to ten beetles on my first glow worm walk.
A very big thank you to Chris for yet again (I am not sure how many times he has led these walks?) providing an interesting talk and general information on all sorts of topics about the reserve.
Our next event is the annual Glow worm walk. Chris Gardiner of Natural England will be leading the annual Glow worm walk. Again we will meet up in the Main car park but obviously a late start 21:00 on Saturday 2nd July. This is planned to last between 11/2 and 2 hours and will be free to members and at a small charge of £2:00 for non-members. Please do let us know if you would like to attend to help with planning by e-mailing email@example.com. and if not already a member please consider joining (£5 per year – firstname.lastname@example.org) and enjoy free events throughout the year, learning more about this National Nature Reserve.
A very big thank you to all those who came along not just from the “Friends” but also other local wildlife and botany groups. Your help to make this task manageable was very much appreciated and as always Chris’s guidance and instructions kept us roughly on the right track!
The sixteen volunteers surveyed the four historic survey areas this year and yielded results as follows:
Plot A – compartment 2 – (adjacent to main car park – 9 (8)
Plot B – compartment 1- “centre” of reserve – 24 (42)
Plot C – compartment 1 – middle area – 94 (143)
Plot D – compartment 3 – adjacent to gate to village – 9 (35)
(figures in brackets last years totals)
With a total of 136 this is somewhat down on last years 228 and very much short of the numbers seen on the reserve in the mid 80’s. Encouragingly it is still above recent years very low figures and my impression at least was the “quality and size” of the spikes was impressive.
The survey was made even more worthwhile for me by the wealth of knowledge available from participants to identify other plants (thank you for your patience) and the first sighting this year of a Bee Orchid in all its glory.
Watch this space for details of the Glow Worm walk provisionally scheduled for Saturday 2nd July – 9pm. Spaces for this popular event are limited so booking via email@example.com is required.
The annual general survey of the site for Man Orchid’s has been scheduled for 10:00am on Saturday 4th June 2016. If you would like to assist with this survey (simply walking a direct line across the reserve and counting the Man Orchid flowering spikes you see) please do join us at 10:00am in the main car park of Wittering Road.
Click on image above to display
As the combined survey data above shows there appeared to be some recovery in Man Orchid numbers in 2015 so it will be interesting to see if 2016 continues to show this trend.
The Butterfly season has started honestly! A cold April has meant there have only been three or four days showing suitable temperatures and weather conditions to monitor the butterflies on the reserve. The three visits undertaken have yielded few butterflies but the brave over wintering Peacocks have appeared and Brimstones can be seen particularly along the wooded section of the public footpath on the south side of the reserve.
The annual monitoring follows a defined walk around the reserve. The route has remained the same for 35 years even if the density of shrubs, trees and grazing of the reserve have brought about significant changes. The results of the annual monitoring, with records going back to 1981, can be found on the UKBMS website
As the weather warms up and the flowers progress so will the butterflies. Visit the reserve to see what you can spot or keep track of sightings on this or the UKBMS websites. Please feel free to submit your sightings of butterflies or other fauna or flora via the SIGHTINGS page of this website.
The weather almost co-operated on the day and apart from a very heavy shower (with hail) at 14:00 the day was dry and we had at least some sunshine. It was good to meet so many people and welcome some new members to the “Friends” and thank you to the committee for turning out on the day to meet and talk to people about the reserve.
If you were unable to join us on the day the good news about the cold April is that there is probably at least another two or three weeks to visit the reserve and see the Pasque flowers (and cowslip) in there glory and hopefully track down a few Orchids that should be starting to appear.
The start of another flowering season (whilst a little slow) promises to offer another summer spectacular display on the reserve.