Ferring Village Trees in Winter

We have also planned a further walk around the central part of the village to look at identifying winter trees. This will be on Tuesday, 4th December meeting at 10am on the Village Green. The Walk is for everyone but may specially appeal to people who don’t want to walk far and not on muddy, slippery ground. The Walk is less than a mile, all on firm, level ground and will go through Little Twitten to look at the new trees, down Sea Lane passing the Ilex trees, along Beehive Lane and through Little Paddocks and back up Ferringham Lane, finishing for coffee at Kingsleys.

As always, any late changes due to bad weather will be posted on this site.

Visit to Pagham Harbour – 20th November

We’ve organised a birdwatching visit and walk at Pagham Harbour, which will be led by one of our local birdwatching experts, Clive Hope. This will take place on Tuesday 20 November, meeting at 10am at the end of Church Lane at Pagham Village on the east side of the harbour (where we have met in the past).

There will be a 2 hour walk along the North Wall and we should be seeing a good selection of wading birds and other winter migrants. At the end, we can stop for refreshments at a local cafe where there are toilet facilities. This is a “get yourself there” visit, and we encourage lift sharing if possible. If you need a lift or more details of how to get there, please contact David Bettiss on 246304 or d.bettiss@btinternet.com

Any late changes to this visit such as for bad weather will be posted on this website.

 

 

Goring Gap Bird Walk – 28th October 2018

On a cold and breezy October Sunday morning, a healthy turn out of Ferring Conservation Group members met at the sea end of Sea Lane, Ferring for a guided birdwatching walk around Goring Gap with new member and local bird expert, David Campbell.

The morning started with a scan of the beach at a number of vantage points on the Greensward, and a good variety of sea and wading birds were seen and identified. There were Oystercatcher, Dunlin, Sanderling, Ringed Plover, Grey Plover, Little Egret and even a number of Knot all on the beach. Off shore, Brent Geese, Cormorant and Wigeon were seen either flying past or on the sea, and flocks of Goldfinches and Starlings were flying inland probably from the Continent, as well as some Siskin and Linnet.

The group then sought sanctuary from the breeze for a while amongst the trees of the Plantation, and a number of woodland birds were either seen or heard there – Robin, Chaffinch and a very obliging Stock Dove, amongst others.

For the final part of the walk, the group moved back out into the open farmland of the Gap, which is such an important roost for many birds, especially at high tides. A number of gulls were seen, including the impressively large Great Black Backed Gull, and at least one Mediterranean Gull, as well as some Skylarks.

However, the highlight of the morning was right at the very end, when in the distance and at some height, our guide spotted, managed to identify and even photographed a rare Hen Harrier bird of prey roughly above the point where we had started the walk. We then watched it fly northwest across Ferring before disappearing out of sight towards the Rife. This was an unusual sighting for our area and capped off an enjoyable morning, which wouldn’t have been possible without the skill and knowledge of David Campbell. The Group is extremely grateful to him.

Autumn Fruits Walk at Highdown Hill on 15th October

Taking advantage of a glorious sunny and warm afternoon 18 members of Ferring Conservation Group met at Highdown Hill car park. With Tricia Hall as their knowledgeable guide they were led along the upper path and asked to consider the different ways in which seeds disperse throughout the countryside. Tricia explained the various ways that trees and plants attempt to distribute their seeds to maximise their chances of survival. Noting the kaleidoscope of colours, red, russet and yellow as the leaves of Ash, Sycamore, and Holm Oak were changing colour.

As the Group progressed along their route they spotted the long, silky hairs which form the grey tufted balls that are known as Old Man’s Beard that are so conspicuous in hedgerows in autumn. These silky hairs assist in seed dispersal and interestingly the French name for this plant is ‘herbe aux gueux’ – the beggar’s herb. Beggars were said to use its acrid sap to irritate the skin to give it a sore and ulcerated look in order to induce sympathy and encourage a donation from passers-by.

Among the hedgerows the vivid pink fruits of the Spindle, the blue-black fruit of the Sloes and the red Rosehips could all be seen to add to the colourful autumn display. A nearby Robin was in good voice as the Group came across several Red Admiral butterflies resting on a bush enjoying the heat from the sun. Bracket fungus could be seen attached to the trunk of a large Holm Oak tree and Tricia explained that autumn is the time when the fruit of this important group of living organisms releases thousands of billions of microscopic spores into the air to distribute and reproduce. As two Buzzards were spotted circling high above, Magpies and Woodpigeon were seen on the ground foraging for food. The small green catkins of a Hazel tree made an interesting contrast as well as the black clusters of Privet fruit.

Jane Hayman from the Group said ‘we were fortunate indeed to have such a glorious sunny day for our walk and thanks to Tricia we came away with more knowledge of how to identify trees and plants and an understanding of the ways in which they reproduce themselves’.

 

FCG Beach Clean September 2018

Around 30 members of Ferring Conservation Group met by the beach huts to take part in the last beach clean of 2018. Jenny Gritxi, the event organiser, gathered the Group together and explained that the results would count towards, and be submitted to, the Marine Conservation Society’s annual nationwide beach clean. After the necessary health and safety talk hi-vis jackets, black bags and litter pickers were distributed and Jenny directed the helpers to spread out between the stretch of beach between the Bluebird Café and Sea Lane.

Nine year old Lewis Yates was participating as part of his work towards a Blue Peter Badge in Conservation to add to his collection in other categories.

Although few large items of rubbish were found there was still much evidence of small plastic items, many of which were tucked under foliage, pebbles and rocks. The plastic bag charge seems to have had a significant impact from the evidence of this beach clean. Better wet wipe labelling and an awareness of ‘single use’ plastic items will hopefully improve the situation also going forward.

Jenny remarked that a small toy elephant she had found by the shore was similar to others from a consignment of soft toys that were lost at sea when four shipping containers went overboard in rough seas in 2004.

FCG Visit to the Black Rocks at West Kingston

On 13th August, a sunny but windy evening, around 30 members of Ferring Conservation Group met at the Bluebird Café car park for an early evening walk to the Black Rocks at West Kingston. These rocks lay several hundred metres out from the beach and consist of lumps of conglomerate and are only exposed at an exceptionally low tide. They appear black because they are covered by Serrated Wrack (a dark brown seaweed).

Tricia Hall, the Group’s guide for the evening, made stops along the way to search for as many sea creatures and seaweeds as possible to cross off the list she had provided. Around the Rife outfall area and with the help of two eagle-eyed and very keen children, Tricia soon found some Common Limpets, an Edible Periwinkle, Common Mussels and Dog Whelks. As the Group moved to the middle shore, examples of Sea Lettuce, Gutweed, Spiral Wrack and Cladophora were found along with Irish Moss (sometimes referred to as Carragheen). Many of the three groups of seaweed, green, brown and red are edible and have been eaten in Asian countries for centuries. Seaweed is also used in cosmetics, paint, fertiliser, adhesives, dyes and explosives.

As the Group navigated their way over slippery rocks and pebbles and arrived at the Black Rocks Tricia carefully lifted a small rock from a rock pool, and to the delight of the children found a Broad-Clawed Porcelain Crab, a Squat Lobster and an Orange Jelly Sea Squirt. Graham Tuppen, another keen member of the Group found a delicate Dahlia Anemone, a Beadlet Anemone and Star Ascidian, a jelly-like mass of various colours with tiny star shapes spread over the surface of a small rock.

As the sun went down the Group slowly made their way back to Ferring noting evidence of Sand Mason Worms, Spirobis and Keel Worms in the sand and a Sea Squirt that had washed up on the beach. As around ninety per cent of the list had been ticked off members of the Group thanked Tricia and felt that the walk had been an interesting and enjoyable evening.

FCG’s Butterfly Count and Work Party Report

Anybody driving or walking in Sea Lane, Ferring on the last day of July might have wondered why about 20 people were armed with rakes and working hard on the grass verge at the sea end of the road. Well – these were volunteers from Ferring Conservation Group on one of their monthly work parties around the village.

The task this day was to rake up the cut grass and vegetation after the WSCC grass cutters had been there the previous week and had cut down the Summer’s growth in the lower section of the road. The Group in conjunction with Ferring Parish Council are developing this area as a wildflower refuge, and to assist in the process, the cuttings need to be removed to allow the wildflowers to drop seed and hopefully germinate in the next year. If this work isn’t carried out, the seeds can suffocate under a mat of rotting vegetation, which has occurred in previous years, and has led to a reduction in the number and variety of wildflowers including the attractive Salsify.

The proof of the pudding will be next Spring when we hope there will be an improved display in the raked area, and the efforts of our volunteers will have been worth it. We will have to do it all again next year though!

On the following day, a similar sized group of members met on the Ferring Rife to carry out a survey of butterflies around the lagoon area on the west side of the river as part of the national Big Butterfly Count. Although this hot Summer hasn’t been ideal for much of our wildlife, it does seem that butterflies have generally had a good time. The result of our count was a total of 69 butterflies (with 10 different species) in the South Lagoon, and 79 (again with 10 different species) in the North Lagoon.

There were good numbers of the Common Blue, Gatekeeper and Small White, as well as 3 Painted Ladies, and even a rather tatty Silver-Washed Fritillary, which isn’t a common sight away from woodlands. Sadly, there were no Small Tortoiseshells seen, where in the past the Rife area has been a noted stronghold for them. The results were duly forwarded on to the Butterfly Conservation organisation who collate the count nationally.

FCG Bluebell Walk 22nd May

Members of Ferring Conservation Group met in French Lane, Patching, to look for Bluebells and other wildlife on the beautiful Angmering Park Estate in the heart of the South Downs National Park. Led by Tricia Hall, the Group’s wildlife expert, we headed off across a public footpath in the direction of the woods. As our walk was later in the year than usual we were not expecting to see vast carpets of Bluebells but were delighted to find small shady areas where they still stood proud. As we stopped to admire a large Horse Chestnut in bloom Tricia pointed out the pinnate leaves of a young Ash Tree and we also noticed Hazel and Sweet Chestnut trees and several white butterflies. Our walk was made even more enjoyable by a background chorus of bird song which we could identify as Blackbirds, Robins, Chaffinches and Chiffchaffs.

As we headed towards Long Furlong, Red Campion, related to Sea Campion, made an attractive covering along the edge of the footpaths. Woodland Sedge, Ferns, Yellow Archangel nettles and the delicate white flowers of the Sanicle (a member of the carrot family) were also evident. Two Goldilocks Buttercups were found along with White Dead Nettles and the Oxide Daisies were almost in bloom. We were pleased to see Swallows, Skylarks, two Blackcaps, a Green Woodpecker, several Kestrels and also a Buzzard testing the thermals, this time undisturbed by Crows.

Walking alongside a field of Oilseed Rape a Red Kite could be seen high above us and as we took in the view, a glimpse of the sea could be seen in the distance. The pretty, delicate, white flowers of the Hawthorn were at their best; this deciduous tree is native in the UK and made an attractive contrast against the vivid blue sky. Near a patch of the delicate white flowers and fern-like foliage of Cow Parsley we were pleased to see a Holly Blue butterfly and further along the path a Speckled Wood butterfly.

Approaching the end of the path we were brought back to reality as we once again heard the traffic from the main road through Long Furlong, but we were grateful for the opportunity to remind ourselves how fortunate we are to have such glorious countryside on our doorstep.

FCG Beach Clean

Clear skies and warm sunshine greeted over forty members of Ferring Conservation Group when they met at Ferring Beach for the second beach clean of the year. Once kitted out with hi-vis jackets, black sacks and litter pickers the group was addressed by Thomas Kearns, at nine years old one of the youngest members of the Group. As this was Thomas’ first beach clean he asked members if they would be willing to fill in questionnaires at the end of the session as he wanted to conduct his own small survey to better understand the degree of the problem we face in tackling litter on the beach.

As the members worked across the beach from the Bluebird Café to Sea Lane, including Patterson’s Walk and the area around the beach huts, they were thanked for their efforts by some of the beach users.

The conclusion was that generally the amount of litter collected was less than in previous years but revealed that single-use plastic is still a big problem. After studying the survey questionnaires Thomas said ‘I was surprised at the variety of items found and I will make sure that when my friends visit the beach they take their litter home with them’. The common cause of seabird deaths is marine plastic and leatherback turtles have been found in UK waters with throats tangled with plastic bags that they mistook for jellyfish.

 Unfortunately discarded bagged dog faeces were still evident and people seem not to appreciate that this is still regarded in law as litter. In April this year the Government introduced Fixed Penalty Notices for all forms of littering in the UK.