Author Archives: Tom Simon

A week in the trenches

This past week I have been working alongside Colin, the other Countryside Worker/tractor driver at Ashdown Forest, clearing Silver Birch regrowth by the side of New Road.

This is one occasion where the camera does lie because I seemed to have not taken a photo of the rainy and windy conditions we have been working in so it appears that we have only been working in idyllic sunshine.


When the idyllic sun was shining on one particular evening, the low light highlighted the zig-zag pattern of a WW1 practice trench. In that atmosphere and I suppose because a bit of the 100th anniversary coming up it felt quite evocative.

There are a number of WW1 and WW2 sites over the Forest and many different types of feature that has been left behind.  More information on features like this are can be found on our website.

Apart from admiring the archaeology, the week for the most part looked like this. TomGorse

Heather, with gorse, bracken and a tiny Stonechat in the middle on top. The reason why is in the background of the photo, to prevent the eventual domination of Silver Birch and maintain the biodiversity of the heathland habitat.

One bird we manage the habitat for has just returned and now Woodlark are displaying over the Forest.

Our work does mean that some areas get a bit muddy but this is not long lasting.

I even put up with muddy tea for a week!


This week we are clearing rhododendron, where we refer to as ‘the bottom of the airstrip’ or Black Bog and I saw another one of Ashdown’s specialist birds, a Crossbill, sit proudly on top of a Scot’s Pine tree but I wasn’t quick enough with the camera but there’s always tomorrow!

Tom Simon

Hello Blogland!

My name is Tom Simon and I am the new (well I’ve been here for about 2 months now) Countryside Worker for the Conservators fof Ashdown Forest.

To give a brief background of my journey to Ashdown, I have been pursuing a career in environmental conservation for a few years now. I left Plumpton College in 2008 with a foundation degree in Countryside Management and was then volunteering with the West Sussex County Council Low Weald Countryside Rangers and RSPB Pulborough Brook. My adventures have led me to volunteer and work respectively for the National Trust on the north Cornish coast and then the Farne Islands off the Northumberland Coast in 2009/2010.  I spent most of 2012 up in Aberdeenshire doing an internship based at RSPB Loch of Strathbeg and last summer working for Horsham District Council at Southwater Country Park! Phew!

I will try to describe my journey of discovery into Ashdown Forest as best I can and also give an idea of the work I undertake and hopefully some photos of what we are doing which aren’t all arty photography attempts.

That being said, here’s a Silver Birch from Chelwood Vachery that possibly looks like an animal you’d find on the Forest.

badger treeI will also try to describe some of the highlights of working on the Forest, such as the other day when I was waiting for one of our bonfires to burn down next to the entrance to Crest Farm and in the golden sunlight a male Hen Harrier flew over!

 I am very much looking forward to working at Ashdown Forest and now that’s the introductory blog out the way, I will attempt to keep these blog posts regular.