September Evening Bat Walk and Beach Clean

In the latest of their busy schedule of activities, Ferring Conservation Group recently organised a well attended evening Bat Walk around the village, which was hosted by Laurie Jackson from the Sussex Bat Group.

Before heading out on the walk, Laurie entertained members with a highly informative talk about bats, highlighting the fact that West Sussex is one of the best counties in the country for them, with virtually all the native bats using our area. She answered a wide variety of questions from those present, but the most popular part of her talk was her demonstration of 2 bats from the Sussex Bat Hospital in Hurstpierpoint. These were a Common Pipistrelle (our smallest UK bat alongside the Soprano Pipistrelle – weighing between 4 and 8g) and also a Serotine (one of our largest bats weighing between 25 and 30g). It was great to have such a rare close up view of these tiny creatures.serotine-6Serotine Bat (Photo by Laurie Jackson)

The group the headed out to the Ferring Rife at sunset and armed with bat detectors to help with tracking, we were able to detect a number of Common Pipistrelles probably feeding near the water, and then at least one Soprano Pipistrelle was seen nearby. The walk continued back into the village via the St Andrew’s Churchyard, Little Twitten recreation ground and finishing in the Ilex Avenue. A small number of bats were detected by some members, but generally bat numbers do seem to be down this year, suggesting that they are under threat for various reasons, including habitat loss. We had hoped to see or detect a Daubenton’s bat over the Rife, as this is a species that trawls prey from the water with comparatively large hairy feet, but sadly none were heard during our visit.daubentons-bat-2Daubenton’s Bat (Photo by Laurie Jackson)

On the following morning, over 30 members and visitors met up on Ferring Beach for their final Beach Clean of the year. This one was part of the national Big Beachwatch Weekend in conjunction with the Marine Conservation Society, where a proportion of the rubbish collected is itemised and fed back to the Society to give a national picture of the problem of marine litter.

The members were resplendent in their new Ferring Conservation Group branded high vis vests, which together with some additional beach cleaning equipment, was purchased by the Group after a successful application to the West Sussex County Council Community Initiative Fund. The vests were supplied by local Rustington and Littlehampton company, Ricara.p1000658

It was very gratifying to see a good number of youngsters taking part in what would have been their first ever beach clean, and showing that they and their parents do care about our local environment.

FCG Summer Bug Hunt 2016

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On a beautiful bright summer morning 10 keen eyed children accompanied by 20  enthusiastic adults met at the Bluebird Café car park and headed north along the west bank of the River Rife in search of as many insect species that we could find. Armed with bug nets, bug pots and magnifying glasses we soon spotted a honeybee collecting pollen from a flower with its pollen sacs very full. Then a silver white moth flew past, this moth is seen flying predominantly in the daytime. Unfortunately some of the lagoons beside the River Rife had dried up but two had a little water in them and we soon found a frog hopper, whirligig beetle, and water boatman. Growing around the lagoons were common centaury, watermint, tufted vetch and fleabane wild flowers and we could hear whitethroats chirping in the nearby bushes. We were soon distracted by the distinctive sound of grasshoppers and very soon managed to capture one to take a closer look. Many ladybirds were present too and it was interesting to observe the variation of colours and shapes on their wings. Although the numbers of dragonflies have diminished this year we were fortunate enough to spot several in the lagoon area.1-P1150715

Tricia Hall our Group’s wildlife expert, kindly invited us back to her garden for the children to take part in some pond dipping. Among others a flat worm, pond skaters, mayflower larvae, and a great water boatman were found. The younger members of the group were also delighted to find some tadpoles in one of the ponds. Tricia had placed a moth trap in her garden overnight and the children were thrilled to see a brimstone and burnished brass moth and other colourful examples. After some very welcome refreshment the bug hunters thanked Tricia for her time and hospitality and headed for home.6-P1150725