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.
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.
Members of Ferring Conservation Group have been busy recently with more practical work carried out in the village, as well as taking part in a local guided bird walk.
A group of volunteers descended on the Village Green, as part of their series of regular monthly work parties, to re-plant the existing herb bed near to the children’s’ playground. This was planted with a variety of herbs including Borage, Hyssop and Chives among others, which were specifically chosen as being beneficial to pollinators. Following this, the group moved on to the nearby Little Twitten recreation ground, where in agreement with Ferring Cricket Club and Arun District Council, they planted a number of mainly native trees including Silver Birch and Sweet Chestnut near to the path that leads through the park.
Two days later, a decent sized group of members met on the Goring Greensward for guided walk by local bird expert and member, Clive Hope around the Goring Gap. Although the sea and beach were strangely quiet for birds, it wasn’t long before up to four Wheatears were seen on or around fence posts surrounding part of the Gap itself, while four or five recently arrived Swallows were seen swooping low over the crops feeding on the insects there. It reminded us just how important the Gap is for all sorts of wildlife, and that any possible development of even part of it must be strongly resisted.
The walk continued into the woodland of The Plantation where a wide variety of woodland birds were seen and heard. These included Green and Great Spotted Woodpeckers, Song Thrush, Greenfinch, Chaffinch, Blackcap, Great Tit and Blue Tit among others.