Tree Activities

In contrasting weather members of Ferring Conservation Group have been busy carrying out activities associated with trees in the village. On a beautiful, bright and spring like January morning around 20 members congregated at the Group’s Community Orchard situated on the Glebelands recreation ground. The task was to dig compost around the base of the fruit trees to help promote healthy growth and then cover with wood chippings to assist with the conservation of moisture in the summer months and prevent weeds from growing. The compost and wood chippings were generously donated by Arun District Council. The Community Orchard was planted in February 2016 but it will be sometime before apples, pears and plums will be ready to pick and eat.

Later that day in Little Twitten recreation ground a native Field Maple, recently purchased by the Group, was planted by our Chairman, David Bettiss, in memory of Joyce Cooper, one of our founder members who sadly passed away in 2015.

On a very cold February morning a group of members met up at the Little Twitten recreation ground in the centre of Ferring for an “11 tree challenge” walk around the village led by committee member, Tricia Hall.

The group first saw good examples of the locally common Holm Oak, a fantastic Monterey Pine (probably the tallest tree in Ferring and visible from Highdown), Silver Birch and Beech. They also saw the newest tree locally, the native Field Maple as described above.

Our next stop was Ferring Grange, where they saw a fine mature example of a Sweet Chestnut, then a large Cedar in Glen Gardens, before going to the Village Green and identifying there – Horse Chestnut, English Oak, Common Lime and Ash. The final destination was the Glebelands Recreation Ground where a large Sycamore stood proud in the centre, and the walk ended at the Group’s Community Orchard, which had been planted with 19 assorted fruit trees in 2016 (including some Heritage Sussex apple varieties) and was looking in good condition after the previous weekend’s work party had been in action.

As they needed to thaw out, the members who had been on the walk then visited the nearby Ferring Country Centre cafe for a hot drink. The morning showed that the village is blessed with a good variety of significant trees, but some of these in private gardens have sadly been felled in recent years resulting in loss of habitat and a degradation of the street scene. The remaining important trees do need to be protected from unnecessary damage for the benefit of future generations, who can continue to enjoy them. Our woods and trees are also home to more wildlife than any other landscape. Hedgerows, copses, woods and parkland all have a unique character, biodiversity and ecosystem. Together they make up vital habitat links, connecting wildlife across the landscape and helping species to survive and thrive.

 

 

 

 

Formal Presentation of the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service

Ferring Conservation Group has been honoured with the Queen’s Award for Voluntary handoverService, the highest award a voluntary group can receive in the UK. On Tuesday, 11th October around 70 people gathered in St Andrew’s Church Centre, Ferring, for the formal presentation. This prestigious award marks the respect in which the Queen holds all those who give voluntary service to their community and is the MBE for voluntary groups. The Award was presented by the Lord p1160203-1Lieutenant of West Sussex, Mrs Susan Pyper. We were also joined by other local dignitaries, including Deputy Lord Lieutenant Rear Admiral John Lippiett, High Sheriff Mark Spofforth, Sir Peter Bottomley MP, as well as the Chairman of WSCC, and the Chairman and Chief Executive of Arun DC, plus other distinguished guests and group members.

p1160205Jane Hayman from the group commented that “this Award was a fitting accolade for all the hard work carried out by our members over many years”.

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

Arun DC proposal to close and demolish BOTH Ferring public toilets

Ferring Conservation Group in partnership with Ferring Parish Council and local District Councillors is fighting plans by Arun DC to close and demolish both of our village public toilets – at the Village Green and at the Rife near the Bluebird cafe.

At a well attended public meeting earlier this week, there was total opposition by local people to these ridiculous proposals, which would have serious public health consequences for both residents and our many visitors. We believe that the process to identify which toilets across Arun might be closed purely to save money is flawed and grossly unfair to the village of Ferring.

We hope that Coun Paul Dendle, who represented Arun DC at the meeting, took away the message from Ferring that we were very angry and would not accept our toilets being knocked down.

In order to re-inforce this message to Arun DC and to provide some form of consultation for local people which has been sadly lacking so far by Arun, Ferring Parish Council has devised a simple questionnaire to gauge local opinions and provide some evidence to Arun’s officers. If you’ve not already so, please complete one of these questionnaires and return it to the Parish Office by the end of Weds 31/8 – this is urgent. You can obtain a copy from the Parish Office, by requesting an electronic copy by e-mailing ferring-pc@btconnect.com, or via their website – www.arun.gov.uk/ferring

FCG Visit to the Steyning Downland Scheme

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On Tuesday, 9th August, on a beautiful sunny day, members met in the car park at Steyning Grammar School for a walk up onto the Downs above Steyning. Our guide was David Buckett,   an active volunteer for the Steyning Downland Scheme. The project manages 160 acres of woodland, wetland and, especially, species-rich chalk grassland in the South Downs National Park. It is part of the Wiston Estate and its aim is to conserve wildlife and engage local people, especially children, in their own natural environment.

We walked first to Court Mill which has a large millpond behind the house fed by a chalk stream,  and an old waterwheel to the right. Towards the end of its days, in 1927, it was a provender mill producing animal feeds. We walked up Nightingale Lane and examined a woodland pond which needs restoration work as it has a leaky bottom!

Climbing up onto the Downs we came across an east-facing bank of trees and shrubs which are being actively managed for the elusive Brown Hairstreak. The males of these butterflies fly high around a ‘master’ Ash tree awaiting the females. Afer mating the females descend to lay their eggs on small Blackthorn bushes and these are pruned in rotation to provide ideal laying conditions. We were extremely lucky to find a single female hidden amongst ash leaves, pointed out to us by other butterfly enthusiasts. Other butterflies observed along these warm banks were Gatekeeper, Meadow Brown, a single Wall and good numbers of Brimstone.

We walked along the edge of the old rifle range observing interesting Downland plants such as Eyebright and  Vervain and the grass-supressing Yellow Rattle. We came across 3  diminutive black  cows, Dexters, part of a small herd which  munch their way around the reserve and help  keep down the growth of saplings which would grow and revert to woodland if not kept in check. The short Downland turf with its many flower species is thus preserved.

Near the top of the hill we stopped for a picnic lunch and a chance to admire the beautiful view along the scarp slope of the Downs towards Ditchling Beacon. We entered woodland for the descent where we observed a fearful-looking mountain bike course and a dell where children come for bushcraft days, building shelters and cooking over open fires.

The Downland Scheme has a comprehensive programme of fun and informative events, runs bird and botanical surveys and carries out a wide variety of habitat management with its conservation volunteers. We had a fascinating day and we thank our guide, David Buckett, for making our walk so interesting.

 

Ferring village news

To keep members updated on important Ferring village matters, please see the below:

  1. Proposed closure of both Ferring public toilets – Arun DC are proposing to close both of our village public toilets to save money and provide better facilities elsewhere in the district (not much use if you need them urgently!). I have written to one of our District councillors, Roger Elkins, outlining our concerns, and he has replied to me as follows having spoken a the recent Environment Working Party meeting: “The proposals were not well received, and more consultation and detailed information was requested before any recommendation is made”. We hope that common sense prevails and our toilets are preserved.
  2. Sea Lane traffic issues – we are also concerned with speeding traffic and poor visbility for drivers emerging at junctions on to Sea Lane. Today, I met on site with our County Councillor, Peter Evans and a WSCC Highways officer, where we discussed the problems and potential solutions. It was agreed that immediately an extra sign warning of the concealed Sea Lane Gardens junction can be installed, and Coun Evans has agreed to request at the upcoming WSCC Highways Group that WSCC investigate various options (including our suggestions) to improve safety and reduce speeding. Further updates will hopefully follow.
  3. Goring Gap north – Persimmon Homes Ltd are working on a planning application for the Goring part of the northern gap. They submitted some preliminary documents to Worthing Borough Council, which you can see on the WBC web site, under reference  EIAOPINION/0002/16, relating to an estate of 475 houses.The documents said, explicitly, that the proposed development does not include the small part of the northern gap on the Ferring side of the border. Access would be from Goring Street, near Goring station, not from anywhere in Ferring. The estate would occupy the land between the stream and the railway, leaving the stretch between the stream and Littlehampton Road free for agriculture.

    The application was made to test whether Persimmon (or rather their agents) needed to submit to a full Environment Impact Assessment for the planning application that will follow. The documents discuss the environmental importance of the site, which – of course – they disparage. Worthing Borough Council said Persimmon certainly would need to submit a full Assessment.

    Ferring Conservation Group Committee will liaise with our friends in the Ilex Conservation Group, and others in Worthing,if a planning application comes forward to see how we can best help them mount a campaign against it.

David Bettiss – Chairman

Postcard photo competition

As was announced at the June members meeting, we are planning to produce a number of postcards of local views of Ferring with a view to selling them via local outlets and at meetings, events etc. to raise funds for the group.

We are inviting members to submit their own photos of suitable scenes which we might use for the cards. If you would like to submit a photo or photos for consideration, then please produce an enprint (we suggest a 6″ by 4″ print) and hand them in at one of our upcoming meetings. Alternatively, you can drop them off to one of our committee members addresses  – details are on the Group contacts page on this website. Please put your name, address and phone number on the back of each photo. The closing date for this is 28 October, after which the committee will consider the entries. There is no prize for this competition, but the winners will of course be credited on the cards, and the winners images will be seen around the village, and of course far and wide wherever the cards are sent!

Ferring Conservation Group Visits Ford Materials Recycling Facility (MRF)

MRF Ford1On Wednesday 25th May 13 members of Ferring Conservation Group visited Ford Materials Recycling Facility (MRF). After signing in we were shown to our seats in the Education Centre where we received an informative and interesting talk about what happens to all the recyclates we place in our household bins.

The MRF is operated by Viridor on behalf of West Sussex County Council and is one of the most technological advanced MRF’s in the country. This automated process sorts and separates all the mixed recyclates into individual bales of quality materials which can then be manufactured into new goods and products. Viridor Waste Management Company employs approximately 3,500 staff and has 326 facilities nationwide.MRF Ford2

Household recycling in West Sussex is delivered to Ford MRF via a network of transfer stations, where it is bulked up onto larger vehicles to reduce the need for more vehicles on the road. All waste received at the MRF is sorted and moved on and nothing goes to landfill.

We soon learned that the best way householders can help is to ensure that only the correct items are put in our recycling bins at home to allow the MRF to perform to its full potential. The wrong items can risk damaging the MRF and re-processors can only recycle materials that are clean, dry and loose.MRF Ford3

To view the MRF in action we donned hard hats, which included an integrated sound system that also served to protect our ears, and walked through to the viewing platform. Here we were shown exactly how the processes are carried out from start to finish.

Once back at the Education Centre we were then tested on how much we had learned. After thanking our tutor for her help in educating and guiding us through the processes we promised to, in future, pay great attention to what we place in our household recycle bins.

The Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service 2016

I am delighted to inform you that it has just been officially announced that Ferring Conservation Group has been honoured with the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service. This is fantastic news for the Group as it is the highest award a voluntary group such as ourselves can receive in the UK and it is the equivalent of an MBE.

I want to thank all of our members who have made this possible, and particularly those who have carried out the wide variety of voluntary tasks for which our Group is so well known, both within the village and further afield. I want to especially thank all of the Group’s committee members who have gone the extra mile to make the Group what is is today – without them, we would not have been successful in the award process.

We will receive the award from the Lord Lieutenant of West Sussex later in the summer, and this will include a certificate signed by Her Majesty The Queen. We also plan to have a small celebration at our next members meeting on Friday 24 June, starting at 7.30pm, which is at the St Andrews Church Centre on this occasion. Our guest speaker at that meeting will be Dr Dawn Scott from the University of Brighton, who is well known from her appearances on the BBC Springwatch programmes.

This really is a great day for Ferring Conservation Group, and I am very proud of what we have achieved.

David Bettiss

Chairman

Ferring Conservation Group

2/6/2016