The Rampions have started to appear in the chalk pit. They are very distinctive dark blue shaggy flowers which grow exclusively on the chalk grassland of the South Downs. They are also known as the Pride of Sussex because they are the Sussex County flower. The flower heads look like a single flower but if you get up close you can see that they are actually lots of smaller flower heads clustered together. Sorry about the rather blurred photo but you get the idea!
On 17 July we saw our first clouded yellow butterfly in the wildflower meadow. We didn’t manage to get a photo, but here is what they look like in case you see some more.
And finally – a big thank you to the 6 hardy souls who braved the sun at last Sunday’s task day. Despite the heat we managed to clear several very overgrown paths near our Friends of Lancing Ring seat. They are all useable again.
Have you seen the pale pinky spikes emerging in MacIntyres Field? These are broomrape flowers starting to appear. They look a little orchid like but are actually a species of parasitic plants which require the roots of a host plant for nourishment. Broomrapes have no chlorophyll and, therefore, no leaves or green pigmentation. Fortunately they are not a threat to their host plant.
The early purple Orchids have started to appear in the woods, having survived the upheaval of the ash tree felling. What a pleasant surprise to see them.
Cowslips are starting to appear and spread in Macintyres Field, despite the cold temperatures over the last month or so.
Butterfly Surveys The Sussex branch of Butterfly Conservation have started their weekly surveys on the Reserve. These are called transects and they will be recording sightings until the autumn. We will keep you posted about anything interesting reported by them. Several red admirals and speckled wood butterflies were spotted in today’s warmer weather this afternoon. You can find out more about Sussex Butterfly Conservation at their website https://www.sussex-butterflies.org.uk/index.php
The Countryside Code This has recently been revamped; there are a couple of leaflets explaining how to behave in the countryside, including at Lancing Ring Nature Reserve. Click here to see the two leaflets, or here to go to the Government website for further details (both links will open in a new tab in your browser).
Please see below a poster from the Council with the latest information about the ash dieback work. The tree planting has started.
Task Days on again
We are hoping to restart our task mornings from April. If all proceeds as planned we will be able to work in small, socially distanced groups of 6 under the revised lockdown rules. We meet on the 3rd Sunday of the month at 10 am in the Mill Road car park. In the spring and summer our work generally involves keeping paths open and clear, litter picking and clearing any scrub and grass that may be crowding more fragile plant species. We usually work for about 2 hours, but you can choose to help for a shorter time.
The next date will be 18th April.
Since the FOLR were formed in 1989, the Council has always mown the grass throughout the Reserve in the winter. This keeps grass short, reduces some of the competition for wildflowers and helps to keep encroaching scrub under control. This year the mowing has been severely reduced and large areas have not had their annual cut. We need to make it clear that the FOLR were not consulted about this and it was not done with our agreement. We have contacted the Council to express our concerns about this change.
On the Reserve there are some welcome early signs of spring:
Council Statement on Ash Dieback on Lancing Ring:
Ash Dieback at Lancing Ring
Ash Dieback disease (Hymenosyphus fraxinea) has affected the Ash trees in the woodland and some felling for the safety of the public had to be undertaken in January 2021.
The disease has been slowly killing Ash trees across Europe and the United Kingdom and results in crown dieback which eventually renders the tree unsafe.
It can be expected that further felling will need to be carried out in future years.
New young trees including Oak, Beech, Hornbeam and Field Maple have been planted to replace lost trees and ensure the woodland is conserved for the future.
Many of you will have seen that the felling of the ash trees affected by dieback has now taken place. Sadly large areas have had to be cleared and the Clump in particular looks very different now. It has been brutal, but necessary. There will be a programme of replanting this year and we hope that the Covid crisis may allow community involvement in this in the future. We will let you know here as and when there is any news.
Although it all looks devastating at the moment, we have been advised by various experts that opening up the canopy and allowing more light in will actually be beneficial to some wildlife and flowers. It may attract some interesting bird visitors, for instance and we will be interested to see what flowers emerge from the woodland floor. If you have any interesting sightings, don’t forget to let us know by clicking ‘Contact Us’ here.
The task days remain cancelled until the current restrictions are lifted and allow group activities again. We will keep information updated here and on our Facebook page.
The paths on the Reserve have suffered badly from the very wet weather and the increased footfall during the lockdown; there has been a lot of slithering and sliding around. Unfortunately there is little that can be done about this, but we have asked the Council whether any chippings from the ash felling could be used to relieve pressure on the worst affected paths. We haven’t had a reply from them yet, though, so please take care.
contractors have been busy felling ash trees affected by ash die back, which unfortunately is most of the ash on the clump,some have been saved by cutting back the affected crown, but most have been felled. It looks devastating at the moment,but it will all be cleared away, various types of new trees planted and hopefully will regenerate back to its former glory.
In this extraordinary year many people have taken refuge in nature like never before. We’d like to know how your visits to the reserve for walking with your dogs, alone or with friends and family (Social distancing of course) have helped you. Post your thoughts here or on our Social Media Facebook group