2024 Clean Up dates

The four Clean Up dates for 2024 have been arranged and details are included on the Beach Clean Dates section of this website. This year, there will be the Rife Clean in March, 2 Beach Cleans in May and September, and for the first time a Village Centre Clean in July.

 

More good work at Warren Pond

Following on from our Community project morning at Warren Pond in November, on a frosty and cold January morning we carried out some more useful practical improvements there to benefit the habitat.

Firstly a Hibernaculum was constructed on the north side of the pond near to the fence line of Florida Road. This is basically an underground chamber that amphibians and reptiles can use throughout the winter to protect themselves from the cold, so this could benefit frogs, toads, newts and lizards. The chamber was dug to a depth of around 50cm, and then filled with some hardcore, then old tree branches and logs, and covered over with an amount of soil which had been dug out to create the chamber. The final result looked like a raised mound, and access by the wildlife can be gained in the gaps left betwen the logs and also some pieces of guttering which will act as walkways.

During the digging, we found an amazing total of SEVEN Stag Beetles, all of which were alive, and one large grub or larvae. All of them were carefully returned to their underground habitat for another day.

Nearby to the Hibernaculum we also started constructing a “dead hedge” – this is an upright structure consisting of woody garden cuttings contained within vertical wooden stakes, so it forms a perpetual hedge. This can be added to over time as it slowly rots down and will provide a great habitat for small birds such as Robins, Wrens and Dunnocks, as well as many small mammals again.

More sensitive work to improve the habitat is planned in partnership with the Parish Council in the months to come, and thank you to the good people who helped out on the day.

Warren Pond update

We held a very well attended Community Project morning at the pond at the start of November, and carried out a good amount of bramble and vegetation clearance on The Warren side of the pond. Thank you to all those who helped out and we managed to fill up the skip as usual.

To follow on from that the Parish Council (who of course own the pond) arranged for a tree surgeon recently to carry out the heavier and more involved tree, bramble and vegetation clearance work, especially on the Florida Road side and also more on the west bank. Below are a “before” and a couple of “after” pictures so you can see the progress that has been made, and it has really opened up the views of the pond and the wildlife that visits, including the foxes.

The water levels are very high which meant that the tree surgeon (who has done an excellent job) couldn’t access all the weeping willow and brambles, some of which was under the water surface, even though he did some of the work from his canoe. He intends returning to complete the work in the Spring when hopefully the water will have dropped, and the whole pond project is in fact an ongoing one to be continued over a number of years. We hope to construct a Hibernaculum soon there to benefit reptiles and amphibians, including the resident Great Crested Newts, as well as carrying out some small scale tree planting plus wild flowers on the banks and margins. We are also reinstating some birds nest boxes.

The main principle though is to maintain the pond and its surrounds as a wildlife sanctuary. As I’ve said many times this is one of the very few truly wild places in the village and desperately needs to be preserved as such for the benefit of the varied wildlife that call it home or frequent it.

Presentation on Ferring’s WWII defences including the Pill Box

Some pictures of the recent excellent presentation by committee member Pete Coe on Ferring’s WWII defences, and particularly the Pill Box on Patterson’s Walk. This included an update on its current joint restoration project with Ferring History Group, which is progressing well.

For information, Pete has also written a book on the subject which should be published before Christmas with all proceeds going to the restoration fund. Watch out for more details of the exact publication date and how to obtain a copy.

Work parties from September

In order to assist members with planning ahead and hopefully to come along to some of our monthly work parties, we have returned to the previous system of holding them on the same day each month.

From September, they will normally be held on the first Thursday of the month at 10am (and most of them only last for around an hour or so). The first one therefore will be on 7 Sept, meeting at the Community Orchard on Glebelands Recreation ground off Rife Way, and the task here will be to rake off the grass and vegetation around the fruit trees which should have been cut by Arun DC. If any of the apples there are ripe, some of these can be picked as well as a reward for turning up. If you’re able to help for an hour, it would be good to see you and please bring a grass rake or similar if you have one, and wear suitable clothing/ footwear for the job in hand.

As always with any of our outside events, if there is any doubt about the weather conditions on the day, please check our website

Looking ahead, the work parties will move around the various locations across the village that we look after, and the exact location and task will be publicised in advance each month. We’re also looking at individual members possibly take a particular interest in one of our locations and developing a simple plan of what needs doing and when, but more of that to follow later. We’re also grateful to new committee member Pete Coe who is coordinating the work parties alongside me.

David Bettiss – Chairman

Ferring History Group and Ferring Conservation Group – (A Joint Project to clear and make safe the Pill Box on Patterson’s Walk)

As one of the few remaining Pill Box beach defences along the West Sussex coastline, this strategic structure was erected by the Royal Engineers in 1941 as part of the beach defences known as the coastal crust. Ferring lies in the middle of the West Sussex section of the German invasion plans, code named Operation Sea Lion.

It was felt by both Groups that it would be worthwhile to dry out and make the Pill Box safe inside as it would be of interest to residents and to local school children, especially year six pupils as WW2 is taught as part of the National Curriculum.

The steel entrance door had to be opened and a new lock fitted before the nine inches of water that covered the floor could be removed. As the water could not be pumped out it was tested to ascertain its source and it proved that this was rain water, and had not been flooded by seawater during high tides.

With guidance from Ferring Conservation Group committee member Pete Coe, himself a former officer of the Royal Engineers, a line of volunteers each with a bucket met on Patterson’s Walk on the morning of Friday 28th July. Under Pete Coe’s direction a human chain was formed between the Pill Box along the beach towards the sea and the muddy water was removed and bucketful after bucketful was passed along the line and dispersed along the beach.  Grateful thanks go to West Worthing MP Sir Peter Bottomley and Arun district councillors Mark Turner and Lesley-Anne Lloyd together with the many other volunteers, including one of the youngest members of Ferring Conservation Group, 11 year old Eoin Kearns, whose strength and enthusiasm matched that of any of the adults present.

Once the roof had been properly sealed the next stage of the project was to open up the bricked-up embrasures where the guns were mounted and install either vandal-proof glass or Perspex. This will enable visitors to appreciate the view the soldiers had from inside the Pill Box.

As well as leading the practical work Pete Coe will continue with further research with assistance from Martin Mace the author of Frontline Sussex: Defence Lines of West Sussex 1939-1945 who was also one of the volunteers helping with the practical work on the 28th July.

 

 

Dates for your Diary

*Update as of Mon 14 Nov – due to the poor weather forecast for this Weds of rain and strong winds, and the exposed location of the walk on the Downs, we have postponed this walk. We hope to re-schedule it soon*

Birdwatching visit to the Burgh, near Burpham village on Weds 16 November, and will be led by our local expert, Clive Hope. This area is very good for seeing raptors and game birds hopefully, with the chance of seeing a Short Eared Owl. Lifts can possibly be arranged (please make contact via the contact button on the website if required), and the meeting point will be at 1.30pm at the triangle just north of the village, where there is some parking. Binoculars would be very useful. It is expected that the visit will last 2 hours or so, but as always is weather dependent.

September Beach Clean 2022

On the last beach clean of the year a beautiful sunny morning greeted thirty members of Ferring Conservation Group when they met up near the beach huts. As in previous years, the results of this particular beach clean were sent to the Marine Conservation Society (MCS), where thousands of people across the UK take part in the nationwide Great British Beach Clean. This data is used to trace litter back to its source and enables the MCS to campaign for change.

Although the area of beach from the start of Patterson’s Walk at Marine Drive and up to and including the Bluebird Café was cleaned as usual, the MCS survey just concentrates on a 100m stretch of beach, where every single piece of litter found is collected and recorded and this data is then uploaded to the MCS website.

After an introduction and safety talk from Jenny Grixti (who has organised the beach cleans for many years) the Group was issued with hi-vis jackets, sacks and litter pickers and despite a busy summer it was a pleasant surprise to find that the overall amount of litter found was a good deal less than in previous years. Also on a positive note there was little evidence of fisherman’s nets or angler’s tackle but sadly one syringe (without a needle) was found. A pair swimming trunks, goggles, one shoe, one sock, one cap and a couple of cigarette filters were collected. Unfortunately the amount of un-bagged dog poo had definitely increased. Interestingly a member picked up a crisp packet from behind the beach huts and was surprised to find a live toad inside, it was presumably using the material to retain moisture and find protection from the sun.

Jane Hayman from the Group commented that ‘ beach cleans not only bring people face-to-face with the reality of plastic pollution it is also a good way to attract attention and people will often stop to find out what is happening. It is also satisfying to receive thanks from beach users for the good work we are doing’.

Jenny Grixti would be keen to enrol two helpers to initially assist in the running of the beach cleans during 2023 with a view to taking over the role for the 2024 season and onwards. There are three beach cleans a year that take place on Saturdays (May, July and September) plus one on the banks of the Rife, usually in March.  If you are interested in this important work please drop Jenny an email on: jenny.grixti@outlook.com

 

 

Butterfly Count on Highdown Hill – 25th July

Ferring Conservation Group regularly takes part in the annual nationwide Butterfly Conservation’s ‘Big Butterfly Count’, and 2022 was no exception. This important survey is aimed at helping conservationists establish the health of our environment by counting the amount and type of butterflies (and some day-flying moths) sighted throughout the UK.

Unfortunately the balmy, sunny day that encourages butterflies to take to the wing was not to be. Instead a dull and windy day greeted an enthusiastic group as they met in the carpark at Highdown Hill, although consequently their expectations were limited. As the group, led by Graham Tuppen ably assisted by Clive Hall and Peter and Ruth Dale, proceeded to the top of the hill following a path that was edged with large hawthorn and elder bushes, they were rewarded with the sight of a few Meadow Browns and Gatekeepers. It was reassuring to note a healthy Ash tree standing proud in the vicinity and as the group ventured further along the brow of the hill some Common Blues were seen plus a solitary Painted Lady and a Small Skipper. Heading eastwards a beautiful Silver-washed fritillary was spied by Clive Hall which rested just long enough for the rest of the party to also be enthralled by its beauty and was definitely a highlight of the morning.

Other welcome sightings were many wildflowers including a Round-headed Rampion, as well as Knapweed, Red Bartsia, Yellow Rattle, Agrimony (this plant is also known as ‘Church Steeple’ because of the shape of its spikes – all aerial parts of Agrimony emit sweet scent when they are crushed and due to the pleasant, apricot-like smell of the flowers it is often used for the preparation of potpourris). Along with Wild Carrot and Parsnip, the frothy yellow flowers of Ladies Bedstraw were evident and on a warm day these flowers fill the air with a sweet, honey-like scent.

As a firm reminder that many species of wildlife also share the wonderful habitat that the Southdown National Park provides, Swifts and a lone Skylark flew high above Highdown Hill while the familiar drilling sound of a Woodpecker could be distinctly heard. Heading through a partially wooded area on the lower slopes, a charm of striking Goldfinches flashed past (a ‘charm’ is the collective name for this particular bird). The climax to this interesting day came when Graham Tuppen observed, what he first thought was a small bird, but was in fact a Hummingbird Hawk Moth hovering around a Buddleia bush near to Highdown Tea Rooms (this day-flying moth has a wingspan of about two inches and uses its long proboscis to feed on the

nectar of tube-shaped flowers and is named for its similarity to Hummingbirds). This was a first sighting in the wild for Graham and he was suitably impressed.

To celebrate this unexpectedly successful morning several members of the Group partook in refreshments at the popular Tea Rooms before heading home to submit their sightings into the Butterfly Conservation’s national database.