FRIENDS OF ASHDOWN FOREST EVENTS
PLEASE NOTE ALL FRIENDS EVENTS PLANNED FOR THIS SPRING HAVE BEEN POSTPONED OR CANCELLED DUE TO THE CORONAVIRUS OUTBREAK. Please keep a look out for further news in the coming weeks.
The Spring edition of the Ashdown Forest News has been cancelled but we will be back in the early autumn.
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The Society of the Friends of Ashdown Forest have now registered. We are inviting our supporters to support the Friends by shopping at AmazonSmile.
NEWS FROM THE FOREST
Work over the winter was made more difficult by the unprecedented rainfall, making ground conditions treacherous and restricting where we could work with heavy machinery. Luckily, before Coronavirus brought everything to a standstill we were able to complete one of the main tasks of the winter: ensuring that fencing around the South Chase was intact and putting up temporary fencing on other areas of the Forest. Exmoor ponies are now out at Broadstone and livestock on the South Chase.
More recently, conservation work on the Forest has had to take a back seat as Covid-19 has forced staff to work from home. The Rangers are continuing to maintain a minimal service, but a big worry is the fire risk. This time of year is traditionally our worst for unplanned fires and it has been very dry in recent weeks.
On a more positive note, the wildlife of the Forest will no doubt be enjoying the reduced public pressure caused by the lockdown. Ground nesting birds in particular will benefit from fewer dog walkers and the vegetation - coming into a sunny spring after a winter of abundant rainfall - should thrive. I would hope to see bumper numbers of orchids as spring progresses.
April Birdlife on the West Chase, Ashdown Forest during the COVID-19 Lockdown 2020
The weather early this April has been ideal for migration, with warm weather and southerly winds from the Continent. By the beginning of April two warblers from the Mediterranean, Chiffchaffs and Blackcaps, had already arrived in good numbers. These were followed on 5th April by a flood of Willow Warblers and small numbers of Tree Pipits, both from sub-Saharan tropical Africa, and who have now staked out their breeding territories on the West Chase. One day later, on 6th April, the first male Cuckoo was calling from woodland edge and several brightly coloured Redstarts, also from sub-Saharan tropical Africa, had taken their territories in Scots Pines on the heath
While a large number of other summer visitors (birds not people this Spring!) are yet to arrive, it is encouraging to know that the resident birds of the Chase have survived the winter and have been making their appearances on the gorse and heather, in the pines and on the Forest floor. Of note have been:- Red Kite, Common Buzzard, Kestrel, Sparrowhawk, Dartford Warbler, Woodlark, Common Crossbill, Stock Dove, Lesser Redpoll, Linnet, Yellowhammer, Stonechat and Woodcock. We are so lucky at this time if we live near the Forest and can take our daily exercise here!
Since 11 April some further migrant birds have arrived on the West Chase from Africa :- a small flock of House Martins interrupted their journey to stop off to hawk insects around a large pond; a party of three Wheatears, paused for a day on their journey north to forage on a large area of bare ground; and an advance guard of 3-4 Whitethroats have taken up territories on gorse and birch scrub. Keep a look-out around Bunker Hill when you walk for any birds stopping off or flying over. I am sure there will be more there than you think, especially early mornings!