News 2022

Key:
GA George Agnew; DAC Des Astley-Cooper; AG Allan Gould; CH Christopher Hawkins; KM Karen Murdoch; AW Adrian White

 

RET : JANUARY 2022

RET Trustee Meeting

Present: GA, AG, CH, KM, AW

RET : JANUARY 2022

RET Accounts for Charity Commission

Click here for the link

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ENVIRONMENT : MARCH 2022
Arable Plant Survey, Rougham Estate 2019-2021

 

Rougham Estate Trust’s arable flora sampling survey on Rougham Estate 2019-2021 has revealed where rare arable flora is holding on in today’s modern farming regime.  Over 150 wild plants are characteristic of the arable environment and together make up the most threatened group of flora in Britain, unable to compete with crops, herbicides and fertiliser.  Over 100 annual arable plant species were recorded on Rougham Estate in field corner and field margin refuges, providing reservoirs for buried, dormant seeds that can thrive again if and when conditions are favourable.

 

Eight of the 100+ species recorded are classified as Red Data Book Vulnerable (VU), Near Threatened (NT) or Nationally Scarce and were found in very small numbers including Stinking Chamomile, Dwarf Spurge and Sharp-leaved Fluellen.  A few historically recorded species such as Corn Mint, Prickly Poppy and Corn Spurrey were ‘missing’.

 

Rougham Estate is keen to look at management options such as cultivated margins and wild bird cover, under yet to be announced agri-environment schemes that will encourage rare and declining arable flora to thrive.  In the meantime, records of rare and declining arable flora seen by walkers on the public and permissive footpaths would be welcomed – they can be sent to Suffolk Biological Information Service https://www.suffolkbis.org.uk/groups/about or uploaded using an excellent iRecord mobile app. 

IMAGE: Once so frequent, the Common Poppy is now a rare sight in a commercially managed crop but holds on in scruffy field corners and field margins with other declining arable flora in spring sown crops such as sugar beet on Rougham Estate where they provide seeds for declining farmland birds.


© Juliet Hawkins, Conservation adviser

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ENVIRONMENT : MARCH 2022
Butterfly observations on Rougham Estate 2019-2021

 

No formal butterfly surveys took place 2019-2021 but casual observations made during other wildlife survey work indicated all but the most elusive treetop butterfly species previously recorded in the 2018 survey were observed on the estate.  A total of 26 butterfly species were recorded by two Butterfly Conservation volunteers carrying out transect surveys in woodland to the south of Rougham Estate in 2018.  This total of 26 represents 75+% of Suffolk’s 34 butterfly species that have regularly occurred in Suffolk during the last five years ie 2013-2017.

 

It was good to see the conservation priority species, Silver-washed Fritillary again in Mellfield Wood but, importantly, a new record for it on the edge of Chevins Wood along with six other butterfly species in one site, all jostling for best nectaring position on bramble and thistles and nearby pollen and nectar mix. This area produces an excellent sequence of nectar for butterflies and many other invertebrates with its habitat mosaic of trees and shrubs in the woods and hedges; perennial flowering plants in woodland; flowery grass margins along woodland edge on the west; hedgerow edges next to track and footpath; and pollen and nectar mix (pictured top left).

Another conservation priority species, the Small Heath (pictured bottom left) was observed in several locations on Rougham Estate in June 2021.  Whilst not considered at risk of extinction, it is close enough that the butterfly is considered Near Threatened nationally.  Between 1976-2014 the Small Heath’s national abundance declined by -54% but between 2005-2015 it rallied and increased by 18%.  It is described as a declining resident in Suffolk, especially away from the Brecks and the Sandlings and has decreased from a peak of records in 122 tetrads in 2015 to 104 tetrads by 2016 and its population is referred to as weak and vulnerable, and as such requires continued monitoring (White Admiral, vol 69, Suffolk Naturalists Society, Summer 2017 p.15).

Now that Covid restrictions have been lifted, we are hoping that volunteer surveyors will be out and about again.  Rougham Estate Trust is especially keen to receive records from public and permissive footpath users of the following species:

  • The White Letter Hairstreak depends specifically on their host Elm trees

  • The continued presence of Silver-Washed Fritillaries and White Admiral butterflies in Mellfield Woods and Chevins Wood

The simplest way of recording is to download the iRecord Butterfly App onto your mobile phone and simply submit casual records as you see them.  There are also really good identification tips on the App that help particularly with the butterflies that can easily be confused with other species – the skippers, the browns and the whites.

IMAGE: © Juliet Hawkins, Conservation adviser

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ENVIRONMENT : MARCH 2022
Dragonfly Survey on Rougham Estate 2021

 

Dragonflies were recorded as part of Rougham Estate’s ongoing Pond Survey of its 37 ancient and very well-connected woodland, grass and arable edge ponds.  18 Dragonfly species have been recorded in total on the various ponds since 2003 and one pond has had all 18 species recorded there!  The best ponds are the open, sunny, well vegetated ponds, while the shadier, darker ponds that support few species will be part of an ongoing pond restoration programme to improve them for dragonflies and other aquatic invertebrates such as mayflies, water stick-insects, water beetles and water bugs.

 

Dragonflies and damselflies are good indicators of pond health as most like to breed in open, sunny ponds with clean, unpolluted water, varied underwater profiles and plenty of aquatic and emergent plant diversity.  Adults also need good, invertebrate-rich terrestrial habitat such as hedges or sheltered green lanes nearby where they can hunt for small insects.

 

There are several ponds where you can see dragonflies and damselflies immediately adjacent to public or permissive footpaths.  Rougham Estate Trust is committed to implementing pond management recommendations that enhance the historic, wildlife and landscape value of its ponds.  Work, which can look a little brutal initially, is ongoing to restore shaded ponds, full of organic matter, and within a year or two dragonflies and other wildlife will quickly colonise.

IMAGE: © Juliet Hawkins, Conservation adviser

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ENVIRONMENT : MARCH 2022
Pond survey on Rougham Estate 2021

 

Rougham Estate’s 37 ancient and very well-connected woodland, grass and arable edge ponds have been regularly surveyed since 2003 to prioritise those for restoration and to guide ongoing conservation management.  The 2021 survey demonstrated that the open, sunny and well-vegetated ponds have a very satisfactory combined total of 49+ species of aquatic and emergent native plants. Two ponds contain Endangered Tassel Stonewort Tolypella intricata – found in two of only nine ponds Suffolk.  Sampling aquatic invertebrates at the best ponds produced a good total list that included 32 species of water beetle, of which eight are Nationally Notable species and eight are Locally Important.  Several ponds support priority Great Crested Newts, despite this being a relatively low pond density area with large areas of lighter soils. 

 

Historically, most of the Estate ponds would have been accessed by livestock or regularly managed to ensure they stayed sunny and predominantly open.  The survey demonstrates that the grassland ponds where livestock have access are generally in good condition and support some very rare plant species and a good range of invertebrates.  Elsewhere, shaded ponds, full of leaf litter were identified for restoration and in 2021 several ponds were cleaned out, but some will always be difficult to keep open so will remain as hidden historic features in the Rougham ‘pondscape’.

 

Several ponds can be seen from public and permissive footpaths on Rougham Estate.  Some will be rotationally restored or managed as part of Rougham Estate Trust’s ongoing programme to implement management recommendations that protect and enhance the historic, wildlife and landscape value of its ponds.

IMAGE: One of 37 ponds surveyed on Rougham Estate – this restored arable field edge pond is the best on the estate for dragonflies and also supports Great Crested Newts and several Red Data Book water beetles. © Juliet Hawkins, Conservation adviser

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ENVIRONMENT : MARCH 2022
Bryophyte Survey on Rougham Estate 2019

 

Mosses and liverworts are bryophytes and they reflect habitat diversity at a big and micro-scale and the presence of rarities can reflect the health of the environment locally too. Volunteer Bryophyte County Recorder Richard Fisk carried out a bryophyte survey over targeted areas of Rougham Estate in 2019.  Of Suffolk’s total of 319 mosses (288 since 1980), 101 species ie 26% of Suffolk’s species were found in this survey of Rougham Estate habitats.  And of Suffolk’s total 79 liverworts (63 since 1980), 10 species ie 13% were recorded in this survey.  Several rare and unusual species were recorded and a few of the common species were missing.

 

Many bryophytes grow on soil or on the persistent remains of their own growth, as well as on living or decomposing material of other plants. Some grow on bare rock surfaces, and several are aquatic. Most bryophyte species inhabit damp or humid places but some mosses can grow in areas with little water because they can dry out without dying and then rehydrate when it rains.  Mosses are a habitat for wildlife in their own right for other plants, insects, frogs and fungi. Some insect larvae only feed on moss. Other insects hunt among moss for prey and, in turn, are eaten by bats and birds. Liverworts can be leafy and look similar to mosses, or can have a flattened, pancake-like appearance. 

 

The UK’s bryophytes are of global significance, but they are threatened by human activities.  Rougham Estate Trust is keen to incorporate management recommendations to improve their status at Rougham in various habitats: wood pasture with veteran trees, woodland, scrub, hedges, field margins, arable and ponds.  These recommendations include leaving leaning trees and veteran trees where they are safe, leaving more dead wood lying on the ground, encouraging scruffy areas with bare, rabbit-scuffed ground and waterlogged areas.

Rougham Estate Trust is very grateful to Richard Fiske for giving his time to do this survey. 

IMAGE: A sporophyte of Orthotrichum stramineum with calyptra.  This species, growing on ash, is increasing with reduced air pollution but is still uncommon in Suffolk. 

Photo: Des_Callaghan, CC BY-SA 4.0  https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0, via

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ENVIRONMENT : MARCH 2022
Woodland Fungi Survey on Rougham Estate 2020-2021

 

Over 117 species of woodland fungi have been recorded in Rougham Estate Trust woodland by volunteer surveyor Juliet Hawkins in a few autumn surveys in 2020 and 2021 – this is a fraction of the species that were present.   Whilst most of the species are widespread, some are rarely reported and others are genuinely rare.  The accumulated list reflects the range of tree species in the Rougham Estate woods and some deadwood habitats. 

 

There are several places where you can see fungi growing adjacent to public or permissive footpaths in woodland and grassland.  To minimise issues over-picking and picking of rare fungi, dangers of poisoning and conflicts with insects, Rougham Estate Trust discourages picking except for study and encourages walkers to photograph beautiful specimens and leave them for the enjoyment of others.

 

Rougham Estate Trust is committed to implementing woodland management recommendations that enhance deadwood habitat, retain veteran and non-commercial trees, and maximise the tree diversity so important for fungi.

IMAGE: 117 species of mycorrhizal and saprobic fungi was recorded in a few autumn forays by one volunteer mycologist in 2020 and 2021.  
© Juliet Hawkins, Conservation adviser

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ENVIRONMENT : MARCH 2022
Moth Survey on Rougham Estate 2021

 

The Suffolk Moth Group volunteers undertook two survey events during 2021 on the Rougham Estate – a September moth trapping survey and an October leaf mining survey.  They recorded 116 species in total – and are returning earlier in the year in 2022 to increase the list.  Several rare species were recorded, with two new records for West Suffolk, and the good counts of leaf mining species of moth were a reflection on the diversity of trees and shrubs. 

 

There are several places where you can see fungi growing adjacent to public or permissive footpaths in woodland and grassland.  To minimise issues over-picking and picking of rare fungi, dangers of poisoning and conflicts with insects, Rougham Estate Trust discourages picking except for study and encourages walkers to photograph beautiful specimens and leave them for the enjoyment of others.

 

Rougham Estate Trust is committed to implementing recommendations that will benefit moths in woodland and other habitat management, most of which are similar to those that benefit butterflies, other insects and birds.  The moth surveys will flag up priority species for conservation and help guide policy.

 

Rougham Estate Trust is very grateful to Suffolk Moth Group volunteers who give their time to this project.  They will return on Friday 20th May, 2022, national ‘Moth Night’, to run traps again.  Further details of this and so much more on Suffolk moth identification on Suffolk Moth Group’s excellent website in due course https://suffolkmoths.co.uk/ 

IMAGE:

Top: Suffolk Moth Group volunteers checking moths at one of several light traps in Mellfield Wood - © Juliet Hawkins. 

 

Middle: Centre-barred sallow which feeds on Ash - © Neil Sherman.

 

Bottom: Mines made in blackthorn by the micro-moth Lyonetia prunifoliella.  This moth has recently re-colonized the UK after an absence of over 100 years – and this was the first breeding record for West Suffolk - © Neil Sherman. 

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RET : MAY 2022
Trustees' Rougham Estate tour


Rougham Estate trustees spent a useful day exploring the Rougham Estate, guided by estate manager Simon Eddell and wildlife advisor Juliet Hawkins. It was agreed by all concerned that the day was a success and should be repeated annually, visiting different areas on the Estate each time.

Trustees (see bottom image) were shown how pond life is returning to a pond restored by Rougham Estate Farms some years ago.

IMAGE:

Top: @ Karen Murdoch

Bottom: @ George Agnew