Background information series part 2:

The Burgess Hill Green Circle Network:

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Key: 1) Bedelands LNR 2) Nightingale Lane Meadows 3) Hammonds Ridge Meadows 4) Henry Burt Wood 5) Malthouse Lane Meadows 6) Pookebourne Stream & Balancing Pond 7) Rugby Club 8) Grassmere Meadow 9) Pangden Lane Meadows 10) Fairfield Recreation Ground 11) Sussex Way 21) Batchelors Farm 22) West Park Nature Reserve 25) Railway Fields 42) Roman Meadow. Map courtesy of FoBHGCN.

The Burgess Hill Green Circle Network, (BHGCN) is an ongoing project within and around Burgess Hill, with the aim of linking green sites together in such a way to be beneficial for both people, and wildlife. The sites are owned either by the Burgess Hill Town Council, or the Mid Sussex District Council, and are linked by a series of foot paths, cycle paths and bridleways. These links have enabled people to travel from one site to the next, without having to use a car or having to navigate the ever increasingly  busy traffic on the roads. They also act as wildlife corridors giving animals and even plants, a safer way of moving or colonising between the sites.

Currently the circle is still partially complete as half of the route is still in the planning stages, with the aim of completion in the next year or so. Hopes are to possibly expand the network even further in the future.

The sites cover a great range of habitats, from meadows, ancient woodland, parks and even ponds, and are managed completely by local volunteers under the Friends of Burgess Hill Green Circle Network registered charity. This hard-working community of volunteers’ love for nature and wildlife has fuelled some pretty impressive projects over the years, with the focus on improving the ecological value and aesthetics of their local neighbourhood.  These projects range from building lengths of dry wall for lizards and invertebrates, to creating 5 new ponds. These ponds were designed and created with such care and dedication that after just 4 years they have matured into such a good quality habitat that Natural England has been relocating reptiles and newts, including Great Crested Newts into the area from nearby development sites.

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Grass Vetchling (Lathyrus nissolia).

This community doesn’t just stop at management either; they also continue to monitor the sites and their increasing success with wildlife surveys throughout the year. Every event they do is open to anyone who is interested in getting stuck in, from all backgrounds and ages. They are consistently engaging other members of the public with nature, with many open air events including; guided walks and talks, and an annual children’s bug safari which has proven to be very popular! The safari entails children and their parents exploring one of the wildflower meadows with a sweep net, and an I.D. sheet to identify the more common mini-beasts they may encounter.

 

 

It’s clear from just walking around these sites that the hard work of the volunteers is most

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A Marbled White (Melanagia galathea) butterfly feeding on a thistle.

definitely paying off, as they are just teeming with wildlife; such as Marble white (Melanargia galathea) and Essex Skipper (Thymelicus lineola) butterflies, as well as many birds, reptiles, amphibians and mammals. And let’s not forget the myriad of wildflowers to be found; some of the more unusual or perhaps more overlooked species include the intense, yet tiny magenta-flowered Grass Vetchling (Lathyrus nissolia), the mauve-flowered Smooth Tare (Vicia tetrasperma) or the bright yellow-flowered Greater Birds-Foot-Trefoil (Lotus uliginosus).

One of the most interesting finds I’ve had whilst exploring the BHGCN was when I came across a Violet Ground Beetle (Carabus violaceus); this not so little beetle almost looks like some sort of jewel, with it’s iridescent blue and purple colouring contrasting vividly against its matt black carapace. It also proved to be quite speedy so taking a decent photograph proved tricky.

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A newly emerged Essex Skipper (Thymelicus lineola) with part of its chrysalis still attached to it’s left eye.

I’ve thoroughly enjoyed being a part of this community over the past few weeks, getting involved with things such as the reptile surveys, and I’m very much looking forward to getting involved lots more soon! If you too, would like to get involved just head over to the BHGCN’s contact page.

As always, feel free to comment and enjoy the photos below:

Acknowledgements:

I would like to thank Josh Styles for identifying the more unusual plant species for me. Josh is an extremely talented, up-and-coming botanist with a true passion for his subject; if you ever need a plant identified, then he’s your guy! Feel free to send him a tweet of any plants you come across here.

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