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Summer on Norbury

Posted: Thursday 16th July 2015 by Nature Notes

It is early July with record breaking temperatures – and it feels like it!

Everywhere is so dry and the vegetation seems to have almost stopped growing in places.

As I write this, grass is being cut for hay on the top fields of Norbury, but, because the weather has been so hot and with so little rain, the yield is low – less bales than hoped for, which many other farmers will also be finding. Otherwise, so far, good weather for haymaking.

On the chalk grassland areas of Norbury the wildflowers are beginning to come through beautifully. Orchid species are doing well – good numbers of Common Spotted and lots of Pyramidal, amidst the variety of colours of other species such as Bird’s-foot Trefoil, Selfheal, St John’s-wort, Rock-rose, Common Vetch and Hedge and Lady’s Bedstraw, to name but a few. Look out as well for the Bee Orchid – we do have just a few on Norbury.

Amongst these chalk grassland areas you may have noticed some of the scrubby plants, mainly very young (less than 2ft tall) birch, ash, hazel, Turkey oak, buckthorn, and dogwood and bramble looking very ill, and indeed dying. Panic not – this is on purpose! These areas are SSSI (Site of Special Scientific Interest) grassland and must be managed as such. Throughout the area there should be no more than 5% scrub and if we don’t manage these species they will just take over the important grassland. The cattle do a fairly good job when grazing, but to keep on top of the scrub we sometimes have to help with a little chemical, applied by hand with a weed wiper.

It’s been a good year for Brimstone butterfly, and now is the time for clouds of Marbled White and for numerous Meadow Brown and Ringlet. A less well known species, the Small Skipper, has also been recorded in good numbers in recent weeks. So far this year, 19 different species have been recorded on the transect route.

Our summer tasks are well under way, with almost every bridleway and foot path trimmed as necessary. Note – before you think we’ve missed your favourite path we only really do the official Public Rights Of Way paths, not all the many ‘desire’ paths that some people may use. 

With the help of our SWT volunteers, we’ve put in the new notice boards (from Norbury Park Wood Products of course) at the three car parks and the Sawmill picnic site. Work in progress though! The new information panels are on their way shortly so these will soon be replacing, not before time, the old ones. Watch that space!

In May we had a group of corporate volunteers from Mondi, in Addlestone come out for a challenge day. It was an excellent and fun day in which during the morning they constructed (most of) the chestnut rail fencing now in at the bottom of Keepers Grasses and then in the afternoon they had a guided walk round part of the Park.

Norbury Park Sawmill Open Day is the 6th of September this year (4 months later than in previous years). Always an enjoyable and interesting day!

Norbury Park is a working landscape, with farms and a commercial sawmill (Norbury Park Wood Products). The park lies within the Surrey Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and consists of 520 hectares (1,300 acres). It is situated west of the River Mole and the A24 between Westhumble and the borders of Fetcham and Great Bookham.

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Andrea Neal
Ranger, East Team


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