Neil Hulme

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David M
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Re: Neil Hulme

Postby David M » Fri Feb 02, 2018 6:50 am

Neil Hulme wrote:Brighton Conservation Volunteers

The Brighton Conservation Volunteers visited our reserves again on Tuesday 30 January and set to work with their trademark enthusiasm and efficiency. A large area below the Rowland Wood dam was cleared of its dense Bracken blanket and wood left lying around after earlier visits with my chainsaw, leaving it looking in perfect condition for Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary.

Meanwhile, I continued clearing scrub from around the Park Corner Heath shed, where traces of heather can still be found. I remember the days when SPBF used to fly behind the shed, and they will do again. Thanks to the industrious 17 who did, and have previously done, so much to help the cause.


I love that reference to SPBFs flying once again in the Park Corner area. I look forward to the month of May when the action will get underway. You and your team are doing a great job, Neil, and deserve to see great results.

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Neil Hulme
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Re: Neil Hulme

Postby Neil Hulme » Fri Feb 02, 2018 10:16 am

Thanks, David. Everything that could possibly be done has now been done, so the wait begins.
BWs, Neil

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Neil Hulme
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Re: Neil Hulme

Postby Neil Hulme » Fri Feb 02, 2018 10:22 am

Coppicing At Clapham Again

Many thanks to SDNPA Rangers Bekah and Chloe, local volunteers Barry, Robin, Derek, Tony and Alan, and Nigel and Paul of BC Sussex, for another productive day (1 February) coppicing Hazel at Church Copse, Clapham. The second coppice coupe of the winter is producing excellent habitat for the Pearl-bordered Fritillary and other wildlife, and a large quantity of material for hedge-laying within the national park.

FFTF Church Copse (2) 2.2.18.jpg
FFTF Church Copse (1) 2.2.18.jpg

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Neil Hulme
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Re: Neil Hulme

Postby Neil Hulme » Sat Feb 03, 2018 5:15 pm

Obituary: Major Reginald Allan Chenevix Trench 1.9.20 – 25.1.18

Although greatly saddened by the news that Major Reg Trench passed away peacefully on 25 January, this is surpassed by the gratitude and honour I feel at having known him for many years. Reg was, quite simply, a remarkable man.

Despite reaching the age of 97, Reg never seemed to grow old, at least not while out watching his beloved butterflies. Even after deciding that he should no longer attend our guided walks, for fear of slowing the party down (although he could still hop over stiles and gates as he approached 90), we spent plenty more happy days together watching some of his favourite species, including Duke of Burgundy, Pearl-bordered Fritillary and Purple Emperor. While pursuing these he became as enthusiastic and animated as an excited schoolboy.

In recent years, despite occasional periods of poorer health, he was back out on the Downs whenever possible, sometimes disobeying orders and heading off on long route marches. I’ll never forget the afternoon spent watching Adonis Blues on the steep slopes of Steyning Rifle Range; as he called my name I turned to see Reg, immaculately dressed as always, in the valley below; “what have you got up there?” He was beside me in a shot, over rabbit holes and through thick scrub, but this would have been no problem for a man who led his platoon of Royal Engineers across Sword Beach on D-Day in 1944.

Reg’s joie de vivre was infectious and he lived his life the way life should be led. I’ve lost count of the times I’ve told people that “I want to be like Reg when I reach his age”. He will always be an inspiration to me, as I’m certain he will be to a great many others.

Reg was a member of Butterfly Conservation Sussex Branch from the start and he kindly gave me his early issues, dating back to February 1984. From his hand-written notes it is clear that he enjoyed watching the Duke of Burgundy at Kithurst Hill, near his Amberley home, for at least 35 years; he was delighted when the species reappeared there in 1994, after a period of absence. I would receive a ‘phone call in the spring of most years; “how is the Duke of Burgundy Fritillary doing?”, but our chats would always last much longer than a discussion of this species alone.

I would like to extend my deepest sympathies, and those of all at Butterfly Conservation, to his wife, Sophie, who accompanied him on many butterfly outings, his children, Ivo, Angus, Kate and Jessica, and to all of his extended family.

The funeral will take place at St Michael’s, Amberley, at midday on Thursday 8 February. Donations will be made to Butterfly Conservation. Enquiries: H D Tribe, Storrington 01903 742585

Watching Purple Emperor with Reg and Sophie in 2009.jpg
Reg and Sophie on a 2009 outing to see Purple Emperor

My father (centre) with Reg and Sophie watching PBF in 2013.jpg
My father (centre) with Reg and Sophie watching Pearl-bordered Fritillary in 2013

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Jack Harrison
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Re: Neil Hulme

Postby Jack Harrison » Sat Feb 03, 2018 6:41 pm

I notice that one of the photos shows the clearing In Clapham to be quite close to the edge of wood with arable land just beyond.
Presumably PBF habitat doesn’t need to be deep in woodland?

Jack

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David M
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Re: Neil Hulme

Postby David M » Tue Feb 06, 2018 12:07 pm

Thanks for sharing that, Neil. Sounds like the Major was a fine and upstanding individual and sadly there aren't many left now from that special generation that were adults prior to the outbreak of WWII. It was great to see he was still active in the field butterfly-watching even into his nineties, though given his wartime exploits, that's hardly surprising!

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Neil Hulme
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Re: Neil Hulme

Postby Neil Hulme » Tue Feb 06, 2018 7:03 pm

Hi Jack. PBF will happily use woodland edge habitat, as long as it comprises those essential ingredients of bare ground, wood/leaf/bracken litter and violets. Perhaps unsurprising, given that it's an open habitat species in some parts of the country.

Thanks, David. Yes, they don't make them like Reg anymore. He'll be sorely missed, but I'll think of him every time I see a Duke of Burgundy on his favourite site.

BWs, Neil

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Neil Hulme
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Re: Neil Hulme

Postby Neil Hulme » Tue Feb 06, 2018 7:08 pm

Tidying Up For Pearls

Many thanks to the small but very hardy group of South Downs Volunteer Rangers, led by SDNPA Ranger Bekah, and BC stalwart Paul Day, for their work clearing brash from recently created open spaces in Charlton Forest on Sunday (4 February). I suspect that this area will become a very comfortable home for the Pearl-bordered Fritillary in the not-too-distant future. Clearing the lying wood and large flints will help pave the way for future maintenance of the wide rides, huge scallops and box-junctions created as part of the Fritillaries for the Future project.

FFTF Charlton Forest work party (1) 6.2.18.JPG
FFTF Charlton Forest work party (2) 6.2.18.JPG

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Neil Hulme
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Re: Neil Hulme

Postby Neil Hulme » Thu Feb 08, 2018 5:15 pm

Steyning Downland Scheme

On Tuesday (6 February) I spent the day felling trees with volunteers from the Steyning Downland Scheme (SDS) http://steyningdownland.org/ and South Downs National Park Authority (SDNPA) rangers. By doing so, we cleared the vista from the Victorian Viewpoint and removed the shade from an important chalk grassland bank, creating excellent habitat for downland butterflies.

Our companions throughout the day were 16 Dexter cows, which have been munching away on all three areas (Rifle Range, Combe and Pepperscombe Bank) of SDS for some years now. The herd has gradually increased in size and is now a grazing force to be reckoned with. Although it's taken a few years for them to recondition such a large area of overgrown and reclaimed chalk grassland, they have now clearly reached the long awaited tipping point; all of a sudden things are looking very good, with anthills visible everywhere. SDNPA has also called in Flailbot to clear large areas of scrub on Pepperscombe Bank.

Congratulations to SDS and SDNPA for such sterling work. I suspect that ten years of hard graft is about to start paying major dividends. Images by Pete Varkala.

SDS2.jpg
SDS3.jpg
SDS1.jpg
SDS4.jpg

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David M
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Re: Neil Hulme

Postby David M » Fri Feb 09, 2018 12:25 pm

Your penultimate image briefly evoked memories of a safari park, Neil. :)

I presume that breed of cattle is at the more placid end of the behaviour spectrum?

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Goldie M
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Re: Neil Hulme

Postby Goldie M » Fri Feb 09, 2018 1:55 pm

You've certainly been busy Neil this Winter, wish we could get out more but the weather here has been awful,( plus the limbs aren't what they used to be :D ) hope all your time and efforts pay off. Goldie :D

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Neil Hulme
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Re: Neil Hulme

Postby Neil Hulme » Wed Feb 21, 2018 2:21 pm

Hi David. We're hoping to attract some dangerous animals - Duke of Burgundy. The Dexter cattle would best be described as 'charismatic and feisty', but being so small they pose no real threat. There have been a few complaints from dog walkers, but if you don't keep your animal on a lead as requested ... :roll:

Thanks, Goldie. I've always found that butterflies are most appreciative of these efforts; give them what they want and they'll usually respond. :D

BWs, Neil

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Neil Hulme
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Re: Neil Hulme

Postby Neil Hulme » Wed Feb 21, 2018 2:25 pm

Kithurst (a.k.a.) Springhead Hill

Yesterday (20 February) I joined Simon Mockford of the South Downs National Park Authority (SDNPA), to perform the last habitat works of the winter at Kithurst Hill. We cut regrowth in the large scallop created by felling some tall roadside trees in February 2016, and further enlarged last winter. We then reduced the size of some scrub blocks in the meadow, leaving sufficient perches for Duke of Burgundy males to launch their attacks from. Between us (SDNPA, West Sussex County Council and BC), I think we've now squeezed just about every square metre possible out of this flagship site.

BC Springhead Hill (1) 20.2.18.jpg
BC Springhead Hill (2) 20.2.18.jpg
BC Springhead Hill (3) 20.2.18.jpg

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Neil Hulme
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Re: Neil Hulme

Postby Neil Hulme » Wed Feb 21, 2018 3:57 pm

Fritillaries For The Future – Project Update: Restructuring Rewell Wood

The Norfolk Estate at Arundel has long been an enthusiastic supporter of wildlife conservation, doing great things for butterflies, moths, farmland birds and raptors. Unsurprisingly, this support has extended to the co-ordination and execution of a huge amount of work to assist the Fritillaries for the Future project, and granting permission for others to do the same.

The winter of 17/18 has seen more such work performed than ever before, with co-ordinated efforts by the estate, commercial contractor, South Downs National Park Authority (and Volunteer Ranger Service), two groups from Plumpton College, Kenny the resident woodsman, and Butterfly Conservation. Everyone’s efforts are greatly appreciated, as is the wider support for the project by the Heritage Lottery Fund, Ernest Kleinwort Charitable Trust and individual donors.

Examples

FFTF Rewell Wood 16.2.18 (1).jpg
This image shows a section of the key west-east ride at the southern end of the wood, where scallops cut by volunteers have provided a vital refuge for the Pearl-bordered Fritillary during a period in which the total population has been relatively low. This part of the ride has been a shady ‘pinch-point’ for many years, but two rows of tall Beech have been removed from its southern margin, and a wide strip of semi-mature Sweet Chestnut has been coppiced along its northern edge. Small blocks of this coppice will in future be managed on a rotational basis by volunteers.

FFTF Rewell Wood 16.2.18 (2).jpg
This image shows the resident woodsman, Kenny, at work, harvesting Sweet Chestnut at the western end of the west-east ride, beyond the point where volunteers have worked to date. Again, this will produce additional habitat that can be rotationally managed by volunteers in the future. The same ride is being widened at its eastern end by Plumpton College. A year from now a 1km stretch will be in excellent condition for the Pearl-bordered Fritillary.

FFTF Rewell Wood 16.2.18 (3).jpg
The third image shows a newly cut commercial coppice coupe. In recent times the brash and a substantial quantity of wood have been left on the ground following a commercial harvest. Despite this being ‘windrowed’ (stacked in lines), the procedure inevitably reduces the extent and quality of fritillary breeding habitat. This year the brash has been cleared and stacked along the adjacent ride-side, where it will be chipped and extracted for biomass. It is hoped that this process will prove to be economically viable; if so, I suspect that future coppice coupes will yield significantly higher numbers of butterflies.

FFTF Rewell Wood 16.2.18 (4).jpg
The fourth image shows the same Sweet Chestnut coupe and brash pile from another angle (to right of frame). To the left is the lower part of a very large area which has been open for many years. This is shortly to be replanted with a conifer crop, which will itself provide good Pearl-bordered Fritillary breeding habitat for a few years. The posts which can be seen in the distance mark out ‘no replant’ zones, so as to leave a system of rides and glades once the crop has started to mature.

FFTF Rewell mulch job 3.1.17 (3).jpg
During my last visit I returned to the large area (1.25ha) which was cleared of birch and scrub last winter, jointly funded by the South Downs National Park Authority and BC Sussex Branch. This is developing nicely and a corridor connecting the clearing to the main west-east ride is currently being widened during felling courses run by Plumpton College.

With all this work going on I’m confident that Pearl-bordered Fritillary numbers will fully recover by 2019, to match and hopefully exceed historic levels.


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