knepp 2005 baseline survey
Preface 

Using grazing animals as a management tool is widespread across the UK, but allowing a mixture of large herbivores to roam freely with minimal intervention and outside the constraints of livestock production systems in order to replicate a more natural, pre-industrial, ecosystem is not as commonplace.  The Knepp Castle Estate project provides the opportunity to study and evaluate habitat and biodiversity changes that may result in one area of southern England when a more natural grazing regime is implemented.

Such changes cannot be assessed if there is no knowledge of the area of habitat types at the outset of a project and if there is similarly no knowledge of its flora and fauna.  This report presents a baseline study of the ecology of Knepp Castle and is as comprehensive as the available resources would permit.

 

Abbreviated Baseline Ecological Report   (including Introduction, the Habitat and vascular plant surveys and Discussion)
3.0 . Survey Reports from the Baseline Survey
 3.2.  Lichen Survey
 3.3.  Vegetation Survey of the River Adur Floodplain
 3.4.  Fixed-point photography
 3.5.  Wetland Mollusca
 3.6.  Odonata survey
 3.7.  Lepidoptera – Moth Survey
 3.8.  Lepidoptera – Butterflies Survey
 3.9.  Wetland Coleoptera
 3.10. Ant Survey
 3.11. Pitfall Trap Invertebrates Survey Work
 3.12. Amphibian & Reptile Survey
 3.13. Breeding bird survey
 3.14. Barn Owls
 3.15. Bats Survey

 3.16. Water vole survey 

 3.17. Water shrew survey

 3.18. Dormouse survey
 3.19. Other Small Mammal Survey
  Annual biodiversity reports and Monitoring updates
Update 2007
Knepp Castle Estate Baseline Ecological Survey

 

Knepp Castle Estate 

Baseline Ecological Survey

by 

Theresa E. Greenaway

   Click Here for abbreviated download 305 KB   

Record Centre Survey Unit,

Sussex Biodiversity Record Centre,

 Woods Mill, Henfield,

   West Sussex RH14 0UE  

For English Nature Research Reports

(Abbreviated)

For the full Natural England base line survey click on this link:-

http://www.english-nature.org.uk/pubs/publication/PDF/693.pdf.

 

 

 

the full report can be ordered from Natural England 

Report number 693

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Barn Owls & Herons

Barn Owls survey

Barn owls are on RSPB’s Amber List of Conservation Concern. Dr Barrie Watson (President of SOS) monitors the barn owls on the Knepp Castle Estate annually, and holds an English Nature licence permitting him to count and ring chicks.   He has kindly agreed to make available the results for 2005, but has requested that the precise locations should be kept Confidential. 

(click here for 2005 survey work - 69 KB)

 

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Breeding bird survey  

Breeding bird survey

 

A survey of the breeding bird communities present within two areas of the Knepp Castle Estate was carried out in spring 2005.  The purpose of this survey was to provide a baseline against which changes in populations and distribution can be measured following the conversion of the estate from intensive arable to a near-natural grazing system. Paul James was commissioned to carry out a survey of breeding birds along transects in these areas.

 

(Click Here for the 2005 Bird survey - 405 KB)

 

marsh tit

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Wetland Coleoptera and Pitfall Trap Invertebrates Survey Work  

Wetland Coleoptera and Pitfall Trap Invertebrates Survey Work

 

A wetland beetle survey was required to contribute to the baseline data required by the River Restoration Centre and the Environment Agency prior to river restoration work to be carried out on the River Adur corridor as it crosses the Knepp Estate. Peter Hodge was commissioned to carry out a wetland beetle survey. 

(click Here for wetland coleoptera 2005 survey - 324 KB)

Professor Paul Buckland has an ongoing research interest in the Knepp grazing project and agreed to contribute to the invertebrate survey effort by setting up pitfall traps. His interest is primarily in the coleopteran fauna. 

 

(click here for the 2005 Pitfall trap invertebrates survey - 538 KB)

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Ant Survey  

Ant Survey

 

The Survey Unit was contacted in June 2005 by Alex Kent, who had recently completed an MSc including a dissertation territory size of wood ants.  He expressed an interest in voluntary work, specifically involving ant survey, which was a good opportunity to obtain a further contribution to the Knepp baseline inventory. 

 

 

 

(Click Here for the 2005 Ant survey -678 KB)

 

 

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Knepp Bats

Knepp Bats

Summary of Survey (Size: 236KB.pdf)

  • The confirmation of 8 species of bats on the Estate was encouraging, given the fragmented nature of the woodlands. Good connectivity provided by the hedgerows does provide flightlines for commuting bats. The adult female bats recorded had all either given birth in 2005 or in previous years. This could indicate the presence of nursery roosts on the Estate, either in woodlands or buildings, depending on species.  The presence of female Bechstein’s bats was of particular interest, as this is one of the rarest bats in the UK.   
  • Five of the seven buildings surveyed did not show any signs of bat activity. A (DEFRA) Department For Environment Food and Rural Affairs license in respect of bats will not be required for refurbishment works to these buildings.
  • Two of the buildings showed evidence of bat use. MATCHES & SWALLOWS.
  • A (DEFRA) Department For Environment Food and Rural Affairs license in respect of bats will be required for refurbishment works to SWALLOWS, but as the bat use of MATCHES appears to be low level and not active for several years, a license will not be required, provided access for Natterer’s Myotis nattereri, bats is maintained should these bats decide to return.

 

 

hollow trees - good habitat for bats

Click Here to go to the base line survey report done by Daniel Whitby  - 669 KB

Click Here for report on seven barns in the park that are due to have restoration  work carried out in the next few years  - PDF 236 KB

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Small Mammal Survey  
Small Mammal Survey  

Voles, Shrews and Mice As part of the ongoing work of Fran Southgate (Sussex Otters and Rivers Partnership Officer) and Yohanna Regis (Student, Brighton University), it was considered that watercourses in the vicinity of Kneppmill Pond, the River Adur and Lancing Brook should be surveyed for water vole Arvicola terrestris. As well as providing a valuable contribution to the Knepp Estate baseline inventory, this research will contribute information to the restoration of the River Adur project. Also preliminary information on small mammals (voles, shrews and mice) was sort.

  Vole survey    Shrews survey

The dormouse is a nocturnal, arboreal rodent whose distribution has declined significantly over the past century and they are now considered a flagship species for nature conservation. This species is fully protected under Schedule 5 of the Wildlife & Countryside Act 1981. One previous record of dormice exists for the Knepp Estate from the late 1980s, hence two surveys using special dormice nest tubes and searching for opened hazel nuts were initiated late in their activity season in 2005 to seek to establish whether they were still present. Rich Howorth (West Weald Landscape Project) carried out this preliminary dormouse survey.

  Dormouse survey   other small mammal survey

dormice nest tube

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Lepidoptera – Butterflies Survey  
Lepidoptera – Butterflies Survey

Butterflies are popular and easily identifiable insects, with a history of casual recording effort on the Knepp Estate by Butterfly Conservation (BC) Sussex Branch lepidopterists (David Buckingham in particular) since 1995 at least.  Twenty-six butterfly species have been previously recorded on the site according to the BC.  Rich Howorth (West Weald Landscape Project) carried out this butterfly survey.

 

 

 

 

(click here for the 2005 butterfly survey - 820 KB)

common blue butterfly on fleabane

 

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Lepidoptera – Moth Survey  
Lepidoptera – Moth Survey

The purpose of the survey was to gather baseline information on moth populations in these areas in order to monitor effects of current and future management.  Dr Tim Freed was commissioned to carry out a moth survey.

 

 

(click here for the 2005 Moth survey - 638 KB)

 

white plume moth

 

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Lichen Survey  
Lichen Survey

Knepp Castle Estate has never been surveyed extensively for lichens, although Francis Rose recorded 21 species between 1967-1969, including the Nationally Scarce Gyalecta flowtowii and Anaptychia ciliaris ciliaris (Vulnerable, declining).  Sussex Lichen Group agreed to carry out a one-day lichen survey on the Estate.  Clearly one day is not nearly enough time to cover the entire Estate, and so it was decided to focus effort on parkland trees in the original deer park area, Brickyard Wood and Spring Wood.

 

 

(click here for the 2005 Lichen survey - 81 KB)

 

 

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Odonata survey  
Odonata survey

The purpose of this survey was to provide a baseline against which changes in populations and distribution can be measured following the restoration of the floodplain to a more natural state. Paul James was commissioned to carry out an Odonata survey along the River Adur corridor within the Knepp Castle Estate.

A total of 14 species was recorded during the survey (Table 6.1.a). Two of these, hairy dragonfly and ruddy darter, are listed in the Sussex Rare Species Inventory.

 

 

 

(click here for the 2005 Odonata survey - 980 KB)

 

demoiselle agrion or beautiful demoiselle

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Amphibian & Reptile Survey  
Amphibian & Reptile Survey

Amphibian David Buckingham carried out an extensive survey of the condition of the ponds on the Estate in 1992 (Buckingham, 1992), recording details of all amphibians.  It was decided to repeat this as part of the baseline survey.  Ponds are an important component of habitat diversity and have high biodiversity potential. As well as other amphibians, the great crested newt Triturus cristatus was recorded by Buckingham, and one of the reasons for assessing the condition of the ponds was to identify those that might currently support this species, protected under Schedule 5 of the Wildlife & Countryside Act 1981.

Reptile Slow worm Anguis fragilis, common lizard Lacerta vivipara, grass snake Natrix natrix and adder Vipera berus have all been recorded from Knepp Castle Estate (Greenway, 2005).  These are all protected under Schedule 9 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981. A case could be made for a complete reptile survey. As funds were limited, it was felt that the presumption should be made that these reptiles would be present at varying numbers across the Estate and their habitat needs, although not a prime objective of this stage of the project, could be taken into consideration in any future development.  However, Charlie Burrell offered to record all those reptiles found underneath corrugate iron roof sections already in place.

 

 

(click here for the 2005 Amphibian & Reptile survey 97 KB)

grass snake

marsh frog

slow worm

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Wetland Mollusca  
Wetland Mollusca

A wetland mollusc survey was required to contribute to the baseline data required by the River Restoration Centre and the Environment Agency prior to river restoration work to be carried out on the River Adur corridor. Dr Martin Willing was commissioned to carry out a survey of aquatic and wetland Mollusca in the river and on the floodplain and banks of the River Adur.

A total of 23 aquatic and 7 terrestrial species were recorded. See below for further details.

 

(click here for the 2005 Mollusca survey - 324 KB)

 

 

ramshorn snail

 

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Vegetation Survey of the River Adur Floodplain  
Vegetation Survey of the River Adur Floodplain

A vegetation survey of the River Adur floodplain as it crosses the Estate was carried out by Rich Howorth (West Weald Landcape Project) in August 2005.  

This survey was specifically carried out in order to contribute to the baseline data required by the River Restoration Centre and the Environment Agency prior to river restoration work to be carried out on the heavily modified River Adur corridor.  

It was also considered important to obtain information on the vegetation composition of the floodplain grassland of the River Adur as part of the extensive baseline studies of the Knepp Estate.

 

(click here for the 2005 Vegetation survey - 288 KB)

 

greater reedmace

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Fixed-point photography  
Fixed-point photography

In order to monitor the anticipated vegetation changes following the institution of an extensive semi-naturalistic grazing regime on the core part of the Estate, fixed-point photography was selected as one of the methods used.  

This technique is widely used in site monitoring studies of ecological change over time, and is capable of detecting such changes in a qualitative, highly visual manner.  Fixed-point photographs provide a quick and theoretically repeatable means of monitoring vegetation over time.  Aerial photographs taken in 2001 and supplied by WSCC were available, but without ground-truthing and interpretation at the time they were taken are of limited use.  

It was also considered that the aerials were not at a sufficiently high resolution to allow fine detail of scrub to be correctly interpreted.  Rich Howorth (West Weald Landscape Project) carried out the fixed-photography for this baseline study, and the photographs are available on request from the Record Centre Survey Unit.

(click here for the 2005 Photography survey - 95 KB)

 

 

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