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Platform provides
pondlifeology pupils’ perfect perch

by Rod Kebble

If you’d gone down to Pierrepont Farm on Tuesday, 6th January, you’d have been sure of a big surprise — for a team from Norfolk-based woodworkers, Flights of Fantasy, were building a pond-dipping platform across one corner of the pond in front of the dairy.

The platform was built out from the dairy end towards the south side of the pond, with men in waders working in the water.

This photo was taken at about 1045 on 6th January and shows the first sections being put into place, building out from the dairy end towards the south side of the pond.

Made possible by grants from the D’Oyly Carte Charitable Trust and The Cobb Charity — to whom we are extremely grateful — the construction of the platform will allow several pond-dippers at once to cast their nets without getting their feet wet and/or leaving their boots stuck in the mud at the pond’s edges.

After a couple of hours, the platform reached the further shore. In order not to puncture the self-sealing Bentomat geosynthetic clay lining of the pond, the six pairs of legs rest on pads designed to spread the load.

A couple of hours later and the platform has reached the other shore. In order not to puncture the self-sealing Bentomat geosynthetic clay lining of the pond, the six pairs of legs rest on pads designed to spread the load.

It is anticipated that the platform will get plenty of use by school groups (and others) visiting the farm in term time and from visitors to school holiday activity mornings, as well as on the farm’s 2015 open day on Sunday 7th June, which will take the form of a Festival of Farming, Food and Wildlife. Successful dippers to all such events will be able to examine their catches in the education room located in the nearby dairy building.

The next morning, there was a hard frost but the workmen had departed and there was no need for wading in these icy conditions. The pond was created in May 2011, shortly after the new dairy opened, and is fed by rainwater from the dairy's 2,500 square metre roof. The pond was deliberately left to stock itself, which it quickly did.

A photo taken the next morning, showing the presence of a hard frost. Fortunately, the workmen had departed and there was no need for wading in these icy conditions. The pond was created in May 2011, shortly after the new dairy opened, and is fed by rainwater from the dairy’s 2,500 square metre roof. The pond was deliberately left to stock itself, which it quickly did.



Two days later, the weather was positively balmy and the blue sky was reflected in the now undisturbed waters of the pond.

Two days after the installation of the platform, the weather had changed again and looked positively balmy. Pond-dippers may analyse their catch in the education room, located to the left of the dairy’s clock tower.

2014 Autumn/Winter bird survey

by Rod Kebble

The monitoring group conducted its eighth annual Autumn/Winter bird survey on 10th and 15th November.

The results of the survey by transect begin here and the updated species list is shown here.

Salient points to emerge from the survey are that there were more species observed than in the past two years but fewer numbers of the more common species — except woodpigeon and jackdaw. A woodcock was seen for only the second time on a scheduled survey (though others have been sighted in Tankersford Wood at other times), while collared dove and mandarin were seen for the first time during a winter survey.

The battle resumed on two fronts

by Brian Lavers

Arch and Tom share their rhododendron expertise with Marilyn.

Arch and Tom share their rhododendron expertise with Marilyn.

With the birds long past the point of wanting a little peace and quiet for their nesting and rearing, the volunteers have resumed work on the elimination of rhododendron ponticum from the woodland at Pierrepont and have taken up axe, hook and bow saw once more against the invasive pine, birch, etc. among the broadleaf plantations at Green Farm.

We are always looking, without very much success it has to be admitted, for younger volunteers at both properties but at Pierrepont this time we perhaps went too far the other way, being assisted by Tom (8) and Archie (7). At the end of our first session we all agreed that the work was perhaps a little harder than we remembered it from last time, but concluded that this was due to the fact that the rhododendron was just a bit tougher having put on another year’s growth, rather than the fact that we were just a little bit older! Tom and Archie however reckoned it was the best day they had had for a long time and were eager to give it another go.

A group of volunteers stand where the rhododendron once reigned supreme.

Tom, Jill, Ann and Martin stand where the rhodie once reigned supreme while Annie, just visible, attacks it from the other direction.

The going at Green Farm was notably tougher this time as we have moved to another broadleaf plantation which is infested with larger and therefore more robust pine and birch – but we make progress and by our efforts are letting the light in on oak saplings clearly struggling for want of it.

Ray, Jim and Margaret continue the good work in the Pierrepont woodland.

Ray, Jim and Margaret continue the good work in the Pierrepont woodland.

Fruitful forays for fungal foragers

by Rod Kebble

The Pierrepont monitoring group — in the form of leader, Bill Young, and his myrmidons Doreen Dye, Brian Senior and Brian Lavers — ventured into Tankersford Wood and along its edges in September and into Wey Wood and along Wey Top Path the following month, to see what 2014 had produced by way of fungi.

A mature Shaggy Parasol.

A mature Shaggy Parasol, as found in October in Wey Wood.

Bill’s report can be seen here. In summary, forty finds were successfully identified as belonging to 38 species (the duplicates were Hairy Curtain-Crust and Stinking Dapperling, which each appeared on the lists for both months). A further six finds are as yet unidentified and likely to remain so due to a lack of viable spores.

The monitoring group has recently completed its annual Autumn/Winter bird survey at Pierrepont and the results should appear here soon. The monitors will now go into hibernation until February. Sleep tight!

Common Funnel.

A Common Funnel, also found in Wey Wood in October.

All Breeds All Britain Calf Show
wraps up Pierrepont’s show season

by Rod Kebble

A colourful display of red, orange and green certificates and cream, pink, red, green and purple rosettes to take home.

A colourful display of awards to take home.

This year’s show season for Pierrepont Farm came to an end with the All Breeds All Britain Calf Show, held at the Three Counties Showground at Malvern on the weekend of October 18th and 19th.

Being a national, rather than a regional, show means the competition is that much stronger, so Pierrepont did well to win one first, one second and two fourth prizes, among others.

Zoë Clear with Discovery Bob's California.

Zoë Clear with Discovery Bob’s California.

Zoë Clear was helped in the showing of the calves by friends of the Clears, Hannah Garrett and Mathew Limond. Jenny Cooper, who has featured as a handler in our show reports over the past few years, has had other commitments in 2014.

The full Pierrepont Farm results are shown below (“Pierrepont” and “Discovery” prefixes both denote Pierrepont herds. Discovery Fantom’s Jenny and Discovery Miles’ Jellybean are owned by Zoë Clear under the name Stonebridge Jerseys):

Class Position Competitor
Junior Coloured Breeds Handler (20 competitors) 14th Hannah Garrett with Pierrepont DJ Ellie
Intermediate Coloured breeds Handler (18 competitors) 2nd Mathew Limond with Discovery Bob’s California
4th Zoë Clear with Pierrepont Miles’ Echo
Jersey calves born after 01/03/2014 (8 calves) 7th Pierrepont Irwin’s Danger Mouse
Born between 01/12/2013 & 28/02/2014 (8 calves) 5th Discovery Miles’ Jellybean
6th Pierrepont DJ Ellie
Born between 01/09/2013 & 30/11/2013 (8 calves)

6th Pierrepont August’s Carmen
Born between 01/05/2013 & 31/08/2013 (14 calves)

4th Pierrepont Miles’ Echo
Born between 01/01/2013 & 30/04/2013 (3 calves) 1st Discovery Bob’s California


Hannah Garrett with Pierrepont DJ Ellie.

Hannah Garrett with Pierrepont DJ Ellie. CORRECTION 29/12/2014: we are told that the handler is in fact Charlotte Limond. Apologies to Hannah and Charlotte.



Zoë Clear showing Discovery Miles' Jellybean.

Zoë Clear showing Discovery Miles’ Jellybean.



Zoë Clear with Discovery Miles' Jellybean and their award.

Zoë Clear with Discovery Miles’ Jellybean and their award.



Zoë Clear with Pierrepont Irwin's Danger Mouse.

Zoë Clear with Pierrepont Irwin’s Danger Mouse.