The summer is coming and National Picnic Week aims to encourage people to spend some quality time with friends or family and go outdoors for a picnic.

Picnicking is one of the UK’s most enjoyable summer traditions, and is a great way of taking advantage of open spaces in your local area over the warmer months of the year.  It’s proven that getting some fresh air and sunlight is good for you, and enjoying some healthy home cooked food is the perfect way to relax without breaking the budget.

Visit National Picnic Week’s website at http://www.nationalpicnicweek.co.uk/  where there will be opportunities to enter competitions, win prizes and look up some recipes for your picnic food.

You can also visit our own website at  https://www.hants.gov.uk/thingstodo/countryside to see where you can go locally to you.

On Yateley Common

Cricketers Green would be a lovely place to picnic

 

Or try the Gravel Pit

The Thames Basin Heath website: https://www.tbhpartnership.org.uk/sites/ is also a good place to look for inspiration as they have information on green spaces in the area to help you enjoy the great outdoors.

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I parked my car quite easily on the roadside down Dilly Lane in Hartley Wintney just past Damson Drive.

You have to walk into the housing estate on easy to see pathways and through a little copse of trees to arrive at the entrance of the Queen Elizabeth II Fields. https://www.tbhpartnership.org.uk/sites/queen-elizabeth-ii-fields/

It was a pleasant evening and quite a few people were out walking this well signposted route.

It is a circular walk so start at the bottom working your way up to the top of the field for nice views of the church and surrounding countryside.

There are several places to sit including a curved stone seat commemorating the opening of the fields for the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee in 2012.

If you wish to add to your walk why not cross over Dilly Lane to the copse marked with a footpath sign.  

There are wooded paths and pretty spring flowers to see.

 

 

 

 

 

 

To book visit: https://www.hants.gov.uk/shop/home.php?cat=356

On the 27th and 28th of May the North sites team ‘Bioblitzed’ Broxhead Common with partners involved in the Heathlands Reunited project. Over a 100 members of the public booked onto walks provided by rangers and experts with aim to see and record as much wildlife as possible. Amphibian and Reptile Conservation provided the reptile walks as well as having reptiles and amphibians on display so attendees could meet some of the most secretive heathland animals. Deadwater Valley Trust were present providing fun activities for the children as well as a face painter which many of the children (and some of the staff) visited for heathland themed face painting. HCC Countryside service provided walks on Nightjars and Bees, Ants and Wasps as well as providing information regarding volunteering and promoting pollinators at our stand. Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust was also on hand to help with moth ID, volunteer Arthur gave a talk on heathland butterflies and Bruce the ecologist conducted a plant survey. With this activity ongoing staff and volunteers squeezed in some time for beetles, bugs and spider surveys and even though the weather was cool and overcast at times a grand total of 273 species was recorded. Thanks to the Heathlands Reunited team from the South Downs National Park who led in the organization of the day.

For more information about Broxhead Common LNR visit: https://www.hants.gov.uk/thingstodo/countryside/finder/broxheadcommon

For more info on Heathlands Reunited go to:                                    https://www.southdowns.gov.uk/care-for/heathland/heathlands-reunited/

 

 

Dragonflies are fantastic creatures and well worth searching for.  There are about 30 species of Anisoptera or Dragonflies found in Great Britain and Ireland.

A True Dragonfly has a large robust body, and their hind wings are usually shorter and broader than the forewings.  They have very large eyes which usually touch at the top of the head.

The British Dragonfly Society are holding an awareness week (9 days actually) from the 13 July – 22 July 2019.  You can get full information about events and things that you can do on their website:  https://british-dragonflies.org.uk/event/dragonfly-week-2019

You can start by looking in your local area to see if you can find Dragonflies for yourself,  below are some places they may live to help you with your search:-

Bogs – Acidic wet peat land

Canals – Minimal flow waterways originally created for boat traffic – Basingstoke Canal for example https://www.hants.gov.uk/thingstodo/countryparks/basingstokecanal

Ditches – drainage channels and culverts

Small Streams and/or marshy areas fed by a spring or groundwater

Lakes/Ponds – standing body of waters – Wyndhams Pond, Stroud and the Gravel Pit for example.  Some ponds across the Common are ephemeral which means they dry out in the summer and these places are very good to see dragonflies.

Visit our website at:  https://www.hants.gov.uk/thingstodo/countryside for information of places to explore dragonflies in Hampshire.

 

 

 

 

At the start of May the Countryside Service held an event in Winchester to celebrate and thank our volunteers  from across the county for all their hard work and dedication to help conserve Hampshire’s Countryside. The reception was attended by some of the 1,000 volunteers who support the County Council’s Countryside Service and Sir Harold Hillier Gardens.

The evening which took place in the Great Hall in Winchester was attended by volunteers from all different areas of the county and was a chance for each team to find out about other sites and conservation works taking place across Hampshire.  The evening consisted of a talk by guest speaker, Andrew Cleave MBE, along with drinks and canapes, which were followed by an award ceremony in which volunteers were given recognition for individual and group achievements.

In 2017/18, over 900 volunteers put in over 225,000 hours of work for the Countryside Service and Sir Harold Hillier Gardens.

10 volunteers from the North Sites Conservation Volunteer team attended the celebration, and we were very honoured to be able to show special recognition for years of service to 3 of our volunteers, along with a group award for the Yateley Society Conservation Volunteers.

Award for Years of Service:

Two of the volunteers receiving recognition for years of service are volunteers who have been helping to manage Herbert Plantation in Burghclere for well over 30 years.  Herbert plantation is a mixed woodland of oak, birch, alder and pine. It provides a public amenity for nature conservation, quiet recreation and education, and has been looked after by Neill Bruce along with support from Simon Melville who manages nearby Newtown Common.  Neill and Simon have been involved with the management of Herbert Plantation since its early days as a council site and we were so pleased that their efforts could be celebrated.

The third volunteer to be awarded for years of service was Mike Mann who has been leading the Yateley Society Volunteers Conservation work party for over 15 years, Mike has worked closely with the Rangers to run monthly sessions on Yateley Common and Castle Bottom, providing refreshments, support and advice to volunteers.

Volunteer Group Award:

The Yateley Society were also recognised for the years it has been supporting local conservation.  The conservation group working party linked to the society meets for 3 hours at 10.00am on the last Sunday of every month, and helps the Yateley Common Rangers with a wide variety of jobs that are required to maintain the rare lowland heath that makes up the common.  This award was collected by Mary and Tony Hocking on behalf of the Yateley Society. Mary and Tony have both been volunteering with the group for many years and have both amassed many hundreds of hours of volunteer time each.

It was wonderful to be able to give special thanks to these volunteers, but our thanks go out to all those who give up their time to help the Rangers, with conservation works.

In addition to the vital support given by our practical conservation volunteers, a growing number of volunteers have been helping us with a whole range of other works including surveys, pony lookering, events and education, litter picking and patrolling and admin support.  If you think you can help and are interested in joining our volunteer team please contact us on northern.sites@hants.gov.uk or on 01252 870425 to find out more.

For more information about volunteering in Hampshire visit: http://www.hants.gov.uk/volunteering

The Association for Butterflies is a non-profit organisation dedicated to the welfare of butterflies through conservation, research, education, and support to professional butterfly farmers.

The Association are trying to raise public awareness about the benefits and necessity of butterfly conservation and have declared the first Saturday of June as Butterfly Education and Awareness Day (BEAD). They hope that creating an international day to celebrate butterflies will promote the importance and joy of butterfly gardening and habitat creation/restoration into local communities.

Visit their website at https://afbeducation.org/butterfly-conservation/butterfly-education-and-awareness-day to see how you can help.

In the meantime why not start with your garden, butterflies are brilliant pollinators and putting in plants such as buddleia and lavendar will attract them in.  You could then venture further afield and visit one of the many parks, commons and heathlands in our area to see how many different varieties you can find.

Go to our website at https://www.hants.gov.uk/thingstodo/countryside/finder to find places local to you.