The dry Spring with warm sunny days and cold nights is very reminiscent
Then like now, the grass gets knocked
back every night by frosts but there is
still plenty out there at the moment for all
of the animals as they come out of winter.
At least this year we anticipated the
drought and kept the level of the lake high
in preparation for this summer’s events.
Visits & wildlife tours - on 6th
March Bill Gander visited again with his
Healthy Walkers and our season of tours
kicked off with a Shipley Forest School day,
Belfast Uni and Plaistow & Kirdford
Our next day for the general public
will be on 17th June –
do please register with Sandra@knepp.co.uk
if you would like a tractor tour
around the project.
Rare wildlife – as we have all become more aware of our
wildlife, so we have started recording rare
sightings, and we hope that local readers
will let us have any unusual sightings too.
In early Feb, Daniel who works on our
farm, spotted a Pallas’s warbler at
Brookhouse whilst out looking for a covey of
10 English partridges spotted at the end of
the shooting season.
A black redstart was spotted at Pound
Farm on 18th March by Paul & Gil Martin,
and we are keeping our fingers crossed that
the lapwings displaying around the place
will once again rear some fledglings. We
know that one nest has already 4 eggs.
Hedge survey – a massive survey of many of the estate’s
hedges has been completed by Andy Challis
and a team of volunteers as part of the
Sussex Hedgerow Inventory Project for Sussex
Biodiversity Record Centre.
This provides a record and
illustrates the diversity of the 80 or so
miles of hedges over the estate and can be
found on the attached link HEDGES.
The volunteers are coming for a
picnic & a tour of the estate on 3rd May
to hear the nightingales.
River project & Bay Bridge – we wait
with great anticipation for the next phase
of the river restoration project to start.
Our hopes for new meanders all the
way to the A24 were thwarted when modelling
revealed that it would cause a slight risk
of additional flooding to Tenchford Bridge,
so instead the riverbanks will be re-shaped
and the floodplain naturalised by closing
ditches so that they retain floodwater.
Meanwhile Bay Bridge is to be re-modelled
to make life easier for migratory fish to
pass up the river.
John Whiting’s Ouse and Adur
River’s Trust is leading the project.
Carriage Drive - on 11th March Joanne Hartland arranged for a
dozen magnificent carriages to meet at Knepp
and travel around the parish.
A truly magnificent spectacle that
will hopefully become an annual fixture.
Cattle - Calving started early in the park due to an early
maturing bull calf last year covering 10
Just as well as poor Draco never did
his stuff so most of the cows remained
Calving is now fully underway in the
other two herds also.
Meanwhile Pat & Craig have been building new improved cattle handling
facilities at Pound and Brookhouse Farm
following a visit from Temple Grandin –
legendary designer of cattle handling
systems in America.
We hope that the new systems will
allow the safe and humane treatment of the
Gathering the cattle will be done by
Charlie, Mark & Ned on the estate’s
beautiful new Camargue ponies, bought
especially for this purpose and trained all
winter by Mark Bateman.
Deer, pigs & ponies – the deer
stalking season is finally drawing to a
close with Adrian and his team successfully
culling the required number of animals to
keep the herd sizes stable.
Meanwhile the pigs have been breeding
away merrily with 16 piglets at the last
count from our six fertile sows covered by
the boar that we hired in November.
We are hoping the offspring will be
fat enough for slaughter by the time the
ground softens this autumn.
And the Exmoor ponies continue to
flourish in the southern block, with no
plans at the moment to breed from them.
History and archaeology - Richard
Symonds of Horsham’s archaeological
society has been uncovering some fascinating
history of the estate – see the link to a
history of the river Adur.
His group are linking with the
Shipley History Group for a historical tour
of Knepp on 12th June
starting at the Knepp ruin, passing through
a ridge & furrow field system, onto
Floodgates Farm, up to the old windmill site
near the dam, past the ice house to the Nash
Open Garden - Simon Hillery & Helen Butler have set
themselves a target of June 17th
to get the Knepp gardens fit for opening to
the public for the first time since the
family has restored them.
We very much hope that 17th
June will be a celebration of the family’s
vision and Simon and Helen’s hard work.
Meanwhile Simon is running his second
London marathon on 22nd April
raising money for the Snowdon Award Scheme
for people with physical or sensory
Property repairs – David Francis ticks
off yet another barn restored on Knepp with
Sherwood hovel, a redundant cattle yard on
Swallows lane, hidden for the past decade by
a tarpaulin duly repaired to withstand the
next 100 years.
Meanwhile Andy, Brian & Ben have started to refurbish Swallows
Cottage which has been in a tenancy since
is a challenge to try to get these old
cottages up to sensible insulation standards
and deliver the mod cons required for
The Jubilee – on June 5th, Knepp will host
Shipley Parish’s Jubilee event.
The festivities will start at 4pm
with a raft race on the lake, followed by an
evening of old fashioned fun for
parishioners and their families. See
the link to the flyer. If you would like
to join the organising committee please
Ragwort - We will be taking Shipley Parish Council for a
tour on 19th July,
principally to consider the dreaded ragwort
and how we are dealing with it this year
after it was so dominant in 2011.
We have taken a risk assessment
approach to the plant to help others
understand that we take the issue seriously.
This includes looking for traces of
liver damage in any cull animals or fallen
As well as our usual employment of extra labour to pull ragwort in
sensitive areas, we have purchased a new
bigger cut & collect machine and a big
tractor to pull it…so with all this
preparation and extra investment we can be
sure that the plant won’t grow in 2012!
HLS scheme – Jim
Seymour, our project officer with Natural
England has asked us to publish our scheme
requirements on our website – so it can
now be found on this
This is the 10-year Environmental
Stewardship scheme that replaced our
Countryside Stewardship Scheme and now
underpins the re-wilding project.
Apple pruning – the Shipley apple group met on one of the few
really wet days this Spring to prune some of
the fruit trees in the orchards, and again a
few days later to plant more trees in the
community orchard in the village.
Brands Hatch – On 1st April several of the Knepp
workforce went for a day out at Brands Hatch
courtesy of neighbour Jonathan Palmer.
We had a lovely day watching the
touring car championships, which included a
spectacular 8 car pile-up near our stand!
you would like to read the Annual Newsletter
on the Wildland please click on the
following link for 2011