The Rife in Ferring

Please note that the Rife has burst its bank along the east bank and is impassable at one point.

It is now passable, but paths on both banks are still very muddy and slippery (22/2/2020)

February/ March walks and visits

Tuesday 25 February 10am – guided visit to Warnham Nature Reserve (just off A24 at Horsham). Excellent place to view birds at close quarters from the various hides. This is a “get yourselves there” visit but lifts can be arranged. Small admission fee of £2 and light refreshments are available there.

Thursday 12 March 10am  – guided birdwatching visit to Pagham Harbour (North Wall) with Clive Hope. One of the best sites locally for wading birds and others. Park on Church Lane (far end) nr Pagham village on east side of the harbour. Another “get yourselves there” visit but again lifts can be arranged. You can stay for lunch in café at Pagham if you wish.

Plus, don’t forget Rife Clean on Sat 21 March 11am

Bird News January 2020

January sightings are recorded on the nature notes page. A highlight just before Christmas were 6 Brent Geese on Goring Gap.There have been poor numbers of birds this winter with fewer waders.  The weather has been mild but terribly wet which has not encouraged bird watching but the general concensus is that there have not been so many birds on the Sussex coast this winter.

The ‘Good Gym’ give FCG a Helping Hand

In addition to the scheduled September working party, members of Ferring Conservation Group were joined by a group of 15 enthusiastic members from ‘The Good Gym’. This Group of volunteers from the Worthing area like to keep fit by running together to help older people with one-off tasks; to visit isolated older people and also to help with community projects. From the South Downs to the sea they run with the intention of helping those most in need.

The task in hand was to improve the growth of wild flowers for next year after the recent grass cutting on the stretch of verge along Sea Lane in Ferring. This band of happy workers came suitably equipped with rakes as they had arranged for a car to deliver the equipment to the site ready for them to utilise in removing the grass cuttings.

Ferring Conservation Group would like to take this opportunity to thank the Good Gym for their valuable contribution in making this laborious task much easier to complete and also much more fun with such cheerful company.

They are always looking for new runners to join them and further information can be found at:

Persimmon wants to build on the Northern Gap and we want to stop them

We heard on 30 September that leaflets were being delivered to a few roads in Ferring announcing that Persimmon Homes, the developers, are preparing a planning application for an estate of 465 houses on the farmland west of Goring Street, north of the railway between the railway and the Rife. This is right on the border with Ferring, but all within Worthing Borough Council’s boundaries. There was a tear-off slip on the leaflet for recipients to write their comments and post them off. The leaflet advertised a ‘consultation event’ in Worthing  on 7 October.

Many of our members, and members of Goring & Ilex Conservation Group and Goring Residents Association went along and had their say. Many others have sent their objections by e mail to  And on 8 October 50 of us met at Goring Station for a group photograph to illustrate the story for the Worthing Herald. is ver

It is important that we in Ferring, as well as our friends in Goring continue to show our strong objection to this proposal. It is not yet a planning application. The development would be contrary to Worthing’s Draft Local Plan and it seems very unlikely that the Council would approve such an application when it is made.  But after such a refusal Persimmon could always appeal and we cannot be sure what a Planning Inspector might allow.

It would be good to see such an outcry against this proposal that Persimmon decide to drop it.

You can see the details of the scheme on

Wasp Spider

This magnificent Wasp Spider was discovered near the Rife during the ‘Big Butterfly Count’ on 1st August. The photograph shows the female in her orb web which has a decoration called a stabilimentum which may attract insect prey.

Please see ‘Nature Notes’ to find out more about this fascinating spider.

‘Big Butterfly Count’ 1st August 2019

Meeting in the Bluebird Café car park at the southern end of the Rife, 11 enthusiastic  members of Ferring Conservation Group split themselves into two groups and set off along the west bank to endeavour to count as many butterflies and moths as they could find. Tricia Hall gave out lists for members to cross off together with sheets of photographs to help with identification. The two Groups were hoping to see the sun come out to warm the air as this encourages butterflies to immerge from their resting places.

Jointly the two groups found nine different species with a total of 54 individuals in the south lagoon and 43 in the north lagoon. There were 58 Gatekeepers, over half the total found. There were only 3 Common Blues but this included a fresh female. Only one Red Admiral was seen and no Peacocks or Small Tortoiseshells. A limited number of Large and Small Whites and Speckled Wood butterflies were counted and the commonest day-flying moth was a Shaded Broad-Bar.

The results of all the butterflies and moths found have been added to the Butterfly Conservation ‘Big Butterfly Count’ survey. This nationwide survey is helping to assess the health of our environment as butterflies react very quickly to change which makes them excellent biodiversity indicators.  It was launched in 2010 and has rapidly become the world’s largest survey of butterflies with over 100,000 people taking part in 2018.

Tricia commented that “more species may have been seen if the sun had come out”, as the lagoons are a mass of flowers at present, possibly benefitting from recent rain which should have provided ideal conditions. The only dragonflies seen were the reddish Common Darter, a bright blue Emperor male and an extremely tatty old female Emperor with terribly torn wings.

The highlight for one group was an uncommon Wasp Spider in a damp area of the north lagoon found by Graham Tuppen, one of the Group’s ultra-alert participants. This introduced species has a bright yellow and black abdomen to mimic wasps and thus avoid predators.




Summer Village Fair 2019

On a sunny, but breezy day, the village of Ferring held their 2019 Summer Village Fair where this popular annual event provided a vibrant and friendly environment for villagers to come together and remind themselves of the many groups and organisations represented that the village has to offer.

Ferring Conservation Group were fortunate enough to have their stall in the marquee which provided welcome shelter from the wind and prevented the stallholders having to chase any display items across the village green. With an excellent number of visitors to their stall, 20 new members were signed up with many people looking forward to attending the Group’s monthly meetings and joining the Group’s walks and visits.

A Boat Trip to see the Rampion Wind Farm

On a stormy looking morning a group of us made our way to Brighton Marina hoping that weather conditions would allow the planned boat trip to the Rampion Wind Farm to take place. Fortunately the wind remained low, with only a small sea swell, and the skipper welcomed us on-board Defiance.

It took about an hour to steam to the site and the skipper cruised slowly through the farm allowing us close views of the turbines and offshore substation. He then hove-to and spoke about construction, commissioning and maintenance of the farm and answered our questions. We were all very impressed with his knowledge, including details of the actions taken by the constructors to protect fauna and flora, such as suspending piling operation during the breeding season of Black Bream. Although we experienced only a small sea swell, while we were hove-to the boat started to roll rather wildly and the skipper had to reposition it, much to our relief. We also had tea and biscuits, which was very welcome, although challenging!

The Rampion project has 116 wind turbines, with the closest about 13km from the shore. Each turbine tower is 80m high with total height to blade tip of 140m. Cables from each turbine are gathered at an offshore substation, requiring 144km of buried cable in total, before coming ashore to the east of Worthing at Brooklands Pleasure Park. Cables run North across the South Downs about 28km to Bolney Wood, where a new substation connects the project to the National Grid. Cables were laid in ducts and buried throughout the route.

Construction of the project started in 2015 with completion in 2018. The installation now provides sufficient electricity for 347,000 homes and is operational for about 30% of the year. The overall operation of the turbines and offshore substation is entirely automatic, including turbine direction and feathering of the turbine blades to achieve maximum power output. Nonetheless, maintenance crews visit the site every day from their operations base in Shoreham.

As we returned to shore, the rain that had threatened all morning finally started to fall, but we enjoyed views of the Brighton seafront buildings, including the burnt out Western Pier and the new i360 tower. We all thought it had been a very enjoyable trip made particularly memorable by the skipper Paul.

by Michael Brown