After my initial post on Sunday, I’ve had several people ask me where the survey took place. This has inspired me to write a 2 part series giving readers some in-depth background information on Bedelands and the Burgess Hill Green Circle Network (BHGCN). I feel that as I became involved with Bedelands before the BHGCN, it’s only natural that the first part be dedicated to this relatively small yet surprisingly diverse reserve; abundant in many species of plants, invertebrates, reptiles, amphibians, mammals and birds.
The reserve is situated on the northern edge of Burgess Hill and is accessible through the nearby town football club, which for those of you lucky enough to have your own car has a small but free carpark. Please keep in mind though as it is so small, it might be difficult to find space on days when the club is in use. As for those of you who, like me have to rely on public transport, the reserve is about a ten minute walk from the Wivelsfield train station; simply make a left turn upon exiting the station and follow the road signs on Leylands Rd and along Maple Drive. The Sussex Bus company also run two services; the 40 & 40X which stop by Janes Lane; from which you just need to navigate the roundabout and head along Leylands Rd and follow the aforementioned road signs.
Bedelands is the largest green site in Burgess hill covering an area of 33 hectares, with a variety of habitats including; ancient woodlands, ponds of various depths and sizes including a dipping pond and 7 meadows; many of which are positively teaming with wildflowers. Over the last few years Dominic Moore, in conjunction with the Mid Sussex District Council, has worked hard to restore these meadows to increase the abundance and diversity of wildflowers that grow there. His work has certainly made a difference! The first time I visited Bedelands I, along with my parents and older sister who accompanied me, were simply in awe of the quality of these meadows which, as we ventured further into the reserve became more and more impressive. The sheer diversity of the flowers and their different colours was astounding! From the bright yellows of the Buttercups (Ranunculus acris), Yellow Rattle (Rhinanthus minor) & Bird’s-Foot-Trefoil (Lotus corniculatus), whites of the Ox Eye Daises (Leucanthemum vulgare) to the purple hues of the Red Clover (Trifolium pratense) & the Common Spotted Orchids (Dactylorhiza fuchsii )– of which I have never seen so many in one place! (take look at the photos below) It was a truly magical experience… until the heavens opened; such is the infamous British summer.
It is to no surprise of mine then, that this has not gone unnoticed, as both the Millennium Seedbank and the High Weald Landscape Trust harvest seed from these meadows to help populate other areas throughout the UK. Aside from the riot of colour, there are other signs that these meadows are in healthy condition; the sheer number of grasshoppers present is such that is not unlike a mini plague when walking through the grass as they all hop on mass to avoid your footfalls, the many different species of bees to the many other invertebrate species to be found there.
One of which was an exciting first for me, as we stumbled across a British Glow Worm larvae (Lampyris noctiluca) scuttling across one of the foot paths.
Dominic hasn’t stopped at just the meadows either, he and a team of volunteers have been working hard to remove a lot of the holly which has taken over the undergrowth in the woodlands. This has opened up the forest floor allowing more light to reach the ground and as a consequence of such the area has seen a significant increase in the population of bluebells and other spring plants. I’ve been shown some pretty impressive photos of this year’s bluebells and I must admit I felt I had missed out as they looked spectacular which has made me vow to myself to be sure to catch them next spring for sure! This work is at the time of this writing still ongoing and this coming autumn Dominic and his team of volunteers plan on removing the holly in other areas on the reserve. Removing the holly also presented him with the opportunity to enrich the woodland with more hazel saplings to support the reserve’s population of endangered Hazel Dormice (Muscardinus avellanarius).
Throughout the year, Dominic holds events aimed at local children’s groups and the general public such as pond dipping and bug hunts enabling people to get up close and hands on with the local plants and wildlife. For more information, or if you would like to become a volunteer, just head over to the “contact us” section of the BHGCN website.
I’ve truly enjoyed my visits thus far to Bedelands, and as yet I know I have barely even scratched the surface of what there is to see and do there .To say that I’m looking forward to my future adventures and exploration there would be an understatement. As usual I hope you enjoy the photos below, and feel free to comment.