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Ranger Notes: Chinthurst Hill

Posted: Thursday 22nd October 2015 by Nature Notes

Ranger Notes: Chinthurst Hill© Amy Lewis

During early autumn the rain has been pretty relentless and has really tested our access and drainage works on various paths on site.

 Our regular Tuesday and Sunday volunteers have made light work of transforming rutted inclines into smooth, pushchair friendly paths and returning the steps to their original shape!

The wet weather has also brought the mushrooms out in profusion. The well-known fly agaric is found beneath birch; a tree with which the fungus has a symbiotic relationship wherein the tree provides sugar and the fungus reciprocates with water and minerals. On the grassland the impressive parasol mushroom (above) can be found, sometimes up to 30cm in diameter. West Weald Fungus Group surveyed the reserve at time of going to press and we eagerly await their results. Their key observation was “too much bracken”.

Equipped with the new plastic houses, we have had an easier time moving the pigs around site. It is a fine balancing act to ensure the bracken is sufficiently disturbed by their rooting, but without the hillside being cleared to the point of being vulnerable to erosion.

The intention is to use the pigs around the tower for a short spell before letting them loose on a larger compartment near the mansion house. The recent botanical survey indicated the amount of bracken and bramble has reduced and species such as bird’s foot, broom and gorse are returning to the wooded slopes.

The pigs will have their usual Christmas holiday off site, with the hope of them being used to breed. Last year’s suitor died before fulfilling his purpose, so the hunt is on for suitably tall boar!

Leo Jennings

Ranger, South Team

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