A year in the life of a Reserve – Dec 2017

Hello everyone! Here we are at the end of an interesting year that saw our little reserve have quite the facelift. Benches added, trees cleared, an explosion of artwork and areas designated for monitoring programmes to name but a few of the developments at Quarry Wood in 2017.  By way of a change, and to give you Dear Reader a rest from my constant rambling, here is a QW ‘calendar’ with some of the highlights from the past twelve months captured in Lorna’s photographs.

January 2017

The very first day of the year found Team QW setting up a number of monitoring programmes on the Reserve. A rain gauge was set up and the pond measured. Those trees affected by the dreaded Ash Die-back were identified and any showing signs of fighting the disease were tagged.

February 2017

A mild winter encouraged the amphibian population to do their bit for the future of their species. The joy of seeing this clump of frog spawn in our pond was destined to be short-lived as the water receded rapidly in the dry conditions. No tadpoles were seen this year, but we have seen frogs since.

March 2017

The coming of the Bluebells is something everyone looks forward to, especially when the clear majority of them are the sweet-scented, nodding Bells of our native Hyacinthoides non-scripta. We came across the first Bluebell of 2017 in our little reserve on 21st March.

April 2017

Our newly-opened QW upper tier is perfect for bird watching. All it needed was somewhere for eager birders to plant themselves. The felling of a chestnut pressing against the road bridge provided the timber for a couple of rough and ready benches. Later, we put a couple in the Viking Camp too!

May 2017

The third of our moth events in QW was attended by twenty-four determined moth spotters braving clouds of mini-biters in the May sunshine. The twenty or so different moth species were found sharing the trap with around fifty Cockchafers, the aptly-named May Bug, which the children got to handle with glee!

June 2017

During this year we had an Alpha and Omega moment. The bench erected in the Festival of 2002, the official opening of the Reserve, collapsed into a pile of rotting wood. It was replaced with an artistic creation of sweeping curves and haughty uprights, a worthy successor.

July 2017

The beginning of QW’s association with the British Dragonfly Society and our contribution to Dragonfly Week and the Big Butterfly Count. A small group of naturalists set off from our vanishing pond for a trudge across the Marshes in search of Dragons, Damsels, Butterflies and anything else of interest.

August 2017

The year the trees dropped their branches! Fortunately, not all the trees or all the branches. We lost a favourite Willow and some large boughs from two lovely old Oaks. Team QW had a busy time clearing paths but, to our delight, the spaces created are ideal for spotting butterflies and bats!

 September 2017

The Arty Farties’ 100th event, and they wanted it in Quarry Wood! A chance to show off our little reserve and the work of a group of keen conservationists. Woodland arts, crafts, Forest School projects, Mr Toad’s caravan, hidden trails, music and laughter, all overseen by a giant spider!

October 2017

Our second moth event of the year, hoping to spot some migrant species. Only seven species but all new to our list. This brought the total number over three years to ninety-three. When everyone had gone, this beautiful Merveille du Jour crawled out of the leaves to greet Team QW; another one for the records!

November 2017

Scarlet Elf Caps, Jelly Ear and Candlesnuff Fungus appeared in waves throughout this year in Quarry Wood. Old favourites like Sulphur Tufts, False Deathcaps and Amethyst Deceivers made a brief appearance in late Summer and, thanks to mild weather, a striking Fly Agaric appeared in November.

December 2017

The True Christmas
by Henry Vaughan (1678)

SO, stick up ivy and the bays,
And then restore the heathen ways.
Green will remind you of the spring,
Though this great day denies the thing;
And mortifies the earth, and all
But your wild revels, and loose hall.

Happy Christmas one and all! 

 Paul Johnson


Crowhurst Nature Reserve, known locally as Quarry Wood, is on Sandrock Hill, about halfway up on the left as you go out of the village. It is jointly managed by the Crowhurst Society and Powdermill Trust for Nature Conservation. Paul Johnson is the Warden, and all work on maintenance is done by a team of volunteers. If you would like to support the Reserve, you could become a Friend of Quarry Wood for £10 a year, which would help to meet the cost of insurance. Contact: pgcrow@yahoo.com


Image credits: original Quarry Wood photography by Lorna Neville