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September saw an encouraging turnout for the annual scrub bash at Woolmer Forest and Friends Day. As part of ARC’s 25 year celebrations, for the first time, ARC Friends joined forces with South Downs National Park volunteers, ARC volunteers, staff, family and personal friends, everyone keen to help the habitat of southern England’s only native natterjack colony.

Up until 2008 our target area had consisted mostly of pine trees. Then, cleared by Defence Estates, the area began to slowly recover. By 2011 heathers started to regrow and we set ourselves the task of removing small birch. There was plenty of it to tackle this year with bow saws and loppers and the c.60 strong work party got stuck right in! We cut and dragged and burned scrub until lunchtime when, because of very dry conditions, we decided to stack instead of burn. The rest of the material was burned on site in early November.



It proved to be a good event for all ages with plenty of time to relax in the garden of Sheridan’s Cottage, chat over lunch and find interesting species to examine: Jonty Denton caught some water beetles including the spangled water beetle Graphoderus zonatus; Carrie Glanville found a specimen of strawberry spider Araneus alsine; and some of us, of course, uncovered the occasional natterjack toad!

John Buckley
Amphibian Conservation Officer (part-time)