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A walk in the woods

August 23, 2009 education No Comments

Parklands SchoolBy Parklands Primary School

Children from Parklands Primary School visited the Copse several times during the Summer Term 2009. Year 1 and 2 took photos and wrote what they thought of the place:

If you would like to arrange a school visit please contact us.

Brandy Hole Copse launches new Tree Trail

Tom Broughton

The trees of Brandy Hole Copse, Chichester’s only local nature reserve, are the focus of a newly created trail around the copse. Friends of Brandy Hole Copse (FBHC) have designed a leaflet, freely available to download from the website, Brandy Hole Copse Tree Trail, to highlight 12 species of the many and varied trees that exist on this popular nature reserve.

Studying Tree Trail

Lauren Lelliot (7), Jenny Broughton (10) and Clare Fraser (11) studying leaflet on the Tree Trail.

Trail designer and FBHC volunteer, Judi Darley, said: “We have chosen 12 trees in the copse to highlight their natural features and mythical stories.”

For example, did you know: “Folklore tells of the importance of beech trees in helping to grant wishes. A wish made with a twig of beech was pushed into the earth under the tree. From there it was collected by the Wishing Fairies and carried deep into the under-wood for the Fairy Queen’s consideration.”

Volunteer website manager and leaflet editor, Tom Broughton, said: “The leaflet includes a map of where to find the trees. Each tree in the trail has a tree-shaped badge on it. If you know where the trees are, then you can easily walk around them in 20 minutes, but they are not all obvious! However, a more relaxed stroll around the 15 acre copse would allow you to enjoy the many other points of interest in the copse, including three ponds, pre-Roman dyke and World War 2 defences. This is an ideal activity for children over the summer holidays.”

The colourful and informative leaflet gives details of how to get to the copse, including bus stops and proximity to the Centurion Way cycle path. Brandy Hole Copse is only 1¼ miles from Chichester Cross.

Clare Fraser said of the Tree Trail “It was real cool, cos you got to learn a lot and it was really fun”.

To launch the leaflet a Family Event was held in the copse as part of the Festivities on Sunday 6th July. All participants received sweets sponsored by Waitrose.

Also, a free raffle was held with prizes sponsored by Hidden Nature. The lucky winners of a nest box were Mr and Mrs Lee of Emsworth and the winners of a tree ID guide were Mr and Mrs Farmer of Milton, Portsmouth.

Cubs Go Orienteering

The 12th Chichester Cub Scouts tried out some orienteering with a difference in Brandy Hole Copse on 24th June.

Twelve beautifully painted boards of creatures that live in the Copse were placed throughout the Copse. The Cubs then had to find all 12 boards using a map of the Copse as fast as they could.

It was an energetic evening with the Cubs running flat out round and round the Copse for more than an hour trying to find all the boards. They said they had a great time!

The painted boards were of the following creatures: Roe deer, Tawny Owl, Fox, Squirrel, Green Woodpecker, Bat, Bank Vole, Woodmouse, Speckled Wood Butterfly, Elephant Hawk Moth, Stag Beetle, Centipede.

12th Chichester Cub Scouts

St. Pauls Ladies Visit the Copse

July 11, 2007 Friends No Comments

St Paul's Ladies Visit the CopseGood weather greeted the St Pauls’ Ladies Group evening walk around the Copse on Wednesday 11th July. The group were met by members of the committee for the Friends of Brandy Hole Copse to hear about why the Copse is important for nature conservation and a popular natural area to explore.

The group heard about the Friends’ day to day concerns with managing the Copse and in particular the threat to this beautiful natural area from housing development proposals. They heard how the plans for one of the two major schemes identified by the District Council included the Copse and the two fields adjacent to it. The Friends are keen to raise awareness of the value of the two fields to the wellbeing of the Copse both for nature and for the enjoyment of people.

Judi Darley, one of the Committee members said, “It was a lovely evening and a good opportunity to meet with the St Pauls Ladies. Some of whom were able to share memories of how they have enjoyed the Copse for years, and for a lot longer than the Friends of Brandy Hole Copse (which, used to be called the Conservation Group) have been looking after it!”.

Rain doesn’t deter pond dippers

May 30, 2007 education, Friends No Comments

Nearly 50 people braved the pouring rain and chill of this May half term to spend a morning pond dipping in Willow and Cops ponds in Brandy Hole Copse. Lots of pond creatures were spotted including plenty of the popular newts and tadpoles. Keen eyes also spotted baby newts looking like a mini cross between a tadpole and fish.

Less common creatures were also seen, including ferocious-looking dragonfly larva and also two Water Scorpions with their long straight tails that we learnt were actually breathing tubes. The number and variety of creatures indicated that the ponds continue to be ecologically healthy.

Led by Judi Darley and Graham Ault from the Friends of Brandy Hole Copse committee, the event was considered a great success and gave the opportunity to use pond dipping equipment purchased with grant funding from the Woodland Trust.

Judi said “We wondered if anyone would turn up in the wet and chilly weather and we were pleased and surprised to see so many people brave the weather to come along and have a great time”.

The next event will be a moth and bat walk in August.

From the chairman

October 2, 2006 2006 Autumn No Comments

I am writing these thoughts as the summer is coming to a close and autumn is slowly emerging. It has been such a hot summer, although August was less so, but the impact of the heat and lack of rainfall in June and July are very obvious all around us and no less so in the Copse. I suppose this is a mini-vision of what the future may well hold for us, and shows us some of the many challenges for a small group like ours, not to mention the world! I gather from the experts that nineteen of the twenty hottest summers have occurred since 1980!

The obvious signs of the summer heat in the Copse are the water levels in the ponds, which reflect the ground water levels in the area. Brandy Hole Pond has been as low as I have seen it and bordering on dry. Even the rainfall in August has made little or no impact on it. I hope when you read this, things will have improved, but such low water levels have many impacts on the environmental balance in and around the ponds. Willow pond seems to have survived surprisingly well, although the levels are very low. Cops pond has all but disappeared. It may be some time before we know the impact of all this on the nature reserve.

A hot summer has certainly brought us some happy events this year. For the fourth year in a row there have been sightings of White Admiral butterflies in the Copse, especially around Willow and Cops Ponds. The difference this year is that the butterflies were much easier to find and they stayed around for several weeks. I saw two of them regularly in that area on a daily basis and I think there is a good chance they may have bred in the area, possibly for the first time. It was also a good summer for other butterflies, including the beautiful Silver-Washed Fritillaries, and we had good sightings of Purple Hairstreak, a very elusive butterfly. It was also a good year for Commas, Painted Ladies and many of the regular inhabitants.

Another high point was the discovery and positive identification of Common Spotted Orchids in the triangular field south of the woodland area. I managed to see these a few days before the whole field was cut, which was fortunate timing. These types of discoveries are helpful to us all in establishing the importance of the Nature Reserve and promoting our ambition to expand it by acquisition of the triangular field. I hope Members of the Group will report all interesting sightings of any sort to any committee member so these can be recorded.

We have had some great successes this year in raising awareness of the Copse in the local community and developing our educational role. The great morning’s pond dipping back in April was a huge success and it was a delight to see so many smiling young faces totally absorbed in whatever was lurking in the mud. It was also great to be able to survey our pond life at the same time and know that we have a very healthy population of frogs, toads, newts and other creatures in what are, after all, man-made ponds.

Many of you will be aware of our activities this year as part of the Chichester Festivities in July. The talk on the Wednesday evening was a great success and we were delighted to welcome some 50 visitor, many of whom were not familiar with the Copse. Similar numbers came to the guided walks on the Saturday when we had wonderful weather and lots of good natural history sightings. My thanks to Mike Perry of the Chichester Natural History Society for his personal contribution to these events. I am sure we will do something similar next year.

The same thanks apply to the Bat Walk we held in August, when a surprising number of people turned up with torches to be not only educated but thoroughly entertained by Peter Etheridge. Again the weather was good and we saw or heard plenty of bats. It was particularly pleasing to see so many children present.

The Committee has been considering the best way to spend the money that was donated at the end of last year in response to our leaflet campaign. You may have seen the new pond-dipping platform on Cops Pond which is one such development. We have also purchased more educational equipment including a microscope. We plan to buy some hard-wearing, bird-friendly ‘woodcrete’ nesting boxes to put up in time for next spring. These are quite expensive but more resistant to attack from larger birds, squirrels and humans.

Unfortunately, another down side of the hot summer was the increase in vandalism and inappropriate behaviour in the Copse. We had the usual cycling problems, although these have not been too bad based on my own experience. Of more concern was a spate of vandalism at the Brandy Hole Pond and in the Lane. The pond-dipping platform was ripped out (again) and the leaflet box removed, broken and thrown into the pond. I know there were several other incidents in the Lane, including fires and criminal damage.

In the Copse itself the weather has resulted in some overnight camping, drinking groups and the lighting of fires. I personally confronted one group of youngsters who had lit a fire and had no idea of the potential fire risk they were creating at a time of such dry conditions. I persuaded them to put the fire out, which they did. I returned later to find that it had been relit.

I have spoken to the District Council about the ever increasing fire risk and incidences of fires being lit, and they have helpfully consulted with the Police and the Fire and Rescue Service. Our response to fires in the Copse should now be to call 999. We will continue to work with the Police and the District Council to try to address these concerns, and I suspect we will have to increase the notices in the Copse to tell people what is and is not appropriate behaviour in a nature reserve.

I don’t want to finish on a negative note. There are so many good things about the Copse as a nature reserve and the value it has for our local community that we must continue to work to keep it safe and to educate everyone on its significance to Chichester. Your hard-working Committee will carry on with that work as well as continuing to maintain the reserve on a regular basis. Your support in that work is so important, and so I will close by hoping that you will all renew your membership (please use the standing order form as it is easier for all of us) and continue to enjoy Chichester City’s only designated nature reserve.

Graham Ault,

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