Bluebell Walk this Saturday 13th April

We have arranged a short visit to Clapham Woods this coming Saturday 13th, which will be led by Graham Tuppen, to view the Bluebells there, as well as Wood Anemones (which are at their best now) and Primroses, plus any birds out and about. Meet at the car park at Clapham Church at 11am. It won’t be a long walk but can be a bit muddy in places, so please bear that in mind for footwear. Also due to limited space in the car park, please consider lift sharing if you can.

Sussex Underwater Presentation 22 March

Ferring Conservation Group were privileged to welcome Sussex Underwater (Eric Smith accompanied by his daughter Catrine Priestley) to their March meeting to enthral members with their enlightening presentation together with beautiful film footage of the results of the successful campaign to rejuvenate the local underwater kelp forest.

It was apparent right from the start what a special relationship Eric and Catrine have with the narration slipping seamlessly between them as they began to set out the chain of events that resulted in this remarkable success.

Eric’s story began in 1959 at just 11 years old, kitted out with just a diving mask and snorkel purchased for 10 shillings from Woolworths, Eric began free diving off the Sussex coastline. During his initial dives he was mesmerised by the abundance of marine life including European Sea Bass, Black Sea Bream, European Lobster and Common Cuttlefish. Sadly, by the end of the century 96% of the kelp had disappeared along with the marine life it supported.

The great storm of 1987 and intensive fishing using heavy trawl nets, which were dragged along the seabed in the area and destroyed the seabed habitats, were mostly to blame. Even before these events Eric was greatly troubled at what he saw – in his words ‘this garden of Eden’ gradually being destroyed, and had begun campaigning tirelessly highlighting the damage this was causing and was later joined by his daughter Catrine. Eric still feels emotional today when he looks back and remembers seeing the bottom of the sea devoid of life and the Sussex underwater kelp forest virtually wiped out.

It wasn’t until 2021 that a new bylaw – supported by none other than Sir David Attenborough – banned trawl fishing in more than 100 square miles of seabed off Sussex. Encouragingly this has resulted in a great improvement of a healthy kelp ecosystem, providing an ideal nursery for juvenile fish and rare sea bream breeding on the sea bed again. This local story is of great importance not only to the UK but internationally too.

A BBC One programme ‘Our Lives; Our Kelp Forest’, (narrated by Chris Packham and now available on BBC iPlayer) outlined this amazing journey – filmed over three years this shows incredible scenes of Eric diving with giant 40-pound stingrays as well as witnessing the return of the mussel beds and is definitely worth watching.

To conclude the meeting Ed Miller took to the floor to update members with planning news:

The Certificate of Lawful Entitlement along with a Premises Licence have both been refused by Worthing BC in regard of the land on the north side of Marine Drive, Goring-by-Sea. The planning application for 47 houses at Kingston Lane, East Preston has been approved by Arun DC and a new application has been submitted for a bungalow to be built in the back garden of an existing property in Sea Lane, Ferring.

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.

Worthing Buildings Lost and Saved

Ferring Conservation Group welcomed the Worthing Society to its November meeting, for a talk given by its Chairman, Sue Belton and Committee member David Clark. The Society much in common with our Conservation Group, is striving to preserve and conserve all that is best in our environment, and is a valuable member of the Protect our Gaps Alliance. It also reflects what we do in our History Group, in researching and presenting the town’s history but its main focus is on Worthing’s buildings – past, present and future – and the talk was entitled ‘Worthing’s Buildings, Lost and Saved.’

Sue said far too many historic buildings were demolished in the1960s and were replaced by extremely unattractive buildings and multi-storey car parks. This trend continued into the 1970s but was challenged by a redoubtable character, Mrs Pat Baring, who campaigned to save what was left, and founded the Worthing Civic Society in 1973. Among the fine buildings that were lost was the old Town Hall (built in 1836), the Theatre Royal in Ann Street (18th Century), Grafton House, the Esplanade Hotel (where Oscar Wilde wrote ‘The Importance of being Earnest’), and the 17th Century ‘Selden’s Cottage’ but the biggest planning disaster of all was the demolition of half the High Street leaving only two or three of the old town houses.

But although much had been lost a lot more had been saved.  There were 212 buildings on the Statutory List and another 750 on Worthing Council’s local list. The Worthing Society was involved in saving much of this built heritage, working closely with English Heritage and the Borough Council. Beach House was one of its successes, along with the Dome Cinema and Stanford Cottage (now a Pizza House), where Jane Austen had written the unfinished novel, ‘Sanditon’. Now the Society was much involved with preserving these and other historic buildings but was also regularly consulted by the Council on planning applications and its redevelopment schemes like Teville Gate and Montague Place.

The talk was followed by tea and hot mince pies, and the usual update on local wildlife and planning applications and appeals, including the dismissal of the appeal on Lansdowne Nursery, one of the cases which the Protect our Gaps Alliance had taken up and won.

FCG 2023 Charity Christmas Cards

Our 2023 charity Christmas cards are now on sale. The image on the card this year is an excellent and atmospheric photograph of a Winter Sunset on Ferring Beach, taken by Mary Coe. The cards come in a pack of 10, and once again cost £5 per pack, with all proceeds going direct to Chestnut Tree House Children’s Hospice.

They will be available at our next Group meeting at Ferring Village Hall on Friday 24/11, and then at the Village Christmas Fair also at the Village Hall on the afternoon of Saturday 2/12. In addition they’ll also be on sale at Pinkerton’s Newsagents in Ocean Parade.

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.

 

 

Butterfly Count at Cissbury Ring

On Tuesday 18th July members of Ferring Conservation Group, led by Clive Hope,Graham Tuppen and Jackie Hall, met at Cissbury Ring to take part in the Butterfly Conservation’s Big Butterfly Count.

Gatekeeper Butterfly

It was a lovely sunny day, with only a gentle breeze, so the conditions were favourable and in all 19 varieties of butterflies, 3 of moths, with numbers of some species well into the 20s. The Group saw Large, Small and Marbled White, Brimstone, Small Copper, Meadow Brown, Gatekeeper, Painted Lady, Red Admiral, Common and Chalkhill Blue, Brown Argus, Speckled Wood, Peacock, Small Tortoiseshell, Wall Brown, Dark Green Fritillary, and Small and Essex Skipper Butterflies, and 6-Spot Burnet, Silver Y and Common Crimson and Gold Moths.

The wildflowers were many and varied, and birds spotted included Goldfinches, a Kestrel, Red Kite and a young Redstart.

The Group also saw the New Forest ponies that grazing freely playing an important part in restoring the iconic features of the landscape. The ponies eat away at dead grass and overgrowing shrubs which help to make space for wild flowers and allows wildlife to bloom.

Everyone agreed that the event was a delightful 2 hours of gentle exercise in a lovely setting with great company.

(Photographs courtesy of Peter Dale)

 

Summer Social

We’re holding our annual Summer social on the evening of Saturday 19 August, and this year it will be at the St. Andrew’s Church Centre, starting at 6.30pm.

There will be a choice of hot buffet main meals, with salads and bread etc, then a choice of desserts and cream to follow, plus one free drink will be included. There will also be a series of fun quizzes with prizes to entertain you and a raffle, so should be an evening of good company and good food as usual.

Tickets are priced at £12.50 per person. These can be bought at our stall at the Ferring  Village Fair at Glebelands recreation ground next Saurday 8 July between 11am and 4pm, or at our next meeting at the Village Hall on Friday 28 July. Alternatively, you can ring David Bettiss on 07502 176374 or send a message via the Contact button on this website to arrange purchase outside the above two occasions. We would ask that you pay at the time as this year we won’t be able to save tickets to be paid “on the door” on the night.

Visit to Warnham Nature Reserve 25th May

In fond memory of their good friend and knowledgeable Committee member Tricia Hall, members of Ferring Conservation Group met up at Warnham Nature Reserve in Horsham. The Reserve was a special place for Tricia and her late husband Mike, and it was good to have their two daughters, Jackie and Amanda join the Group – it is planned to make this an annual event during the month of May.

Members headed towards the impressive Discovery Hub where Chairman David Bettiss spoke about Tricia’s outstanding contribution to the Group and how much members had learnt from her over the years. It was agreed by everyone that she is sorely missed and it will be a struggle to keep up her high standards.

Led by Clive Hope members entered the first hide to view the numerous bird feeders where a greedy male pheasant alongside a Stock Dove were foraging for loose seed on the ground, Great and Blue Tits, Greenfinches, and a Goldcrest were happily consuming seed from the feeders while Clive alerted the Group to the sound of a nearby Blackcap.

A pair of Great Crested Grebe with two young ‘grebelings’, a Greylag Goose, 4 Heron, a Moorhen, Coots, Mallards, Herring Gulls, a Lesser Black-backed Gull, and a pair of Common Terns were all spotted as the Group passed by the millpond.

In the Shelley Wildlife Garden and alongside the boardwalks the Cow Parsley was particularly evident together with Yellow Archangel, Red Campion, Ragged Robin, Greater and Lesser Stitchwort, Bugle and Meadow Cranes Bill. Also Marsh Marigolds, Germander Speedwell, Cuckoo Flower, Yellow Rattle, Hemlock Water Dropwort, Flag Iris and Ladies Bedstraw (these frothy, yellow flowers have sweet, honey-like scent and have many medicinal uses).

At a further hide the Group were greeted by the sight of Reed Warblers, Chiffchaffs, a Song Thrush, a pair of Blackbirds, a Wren, a Robin and a male and female Great Spotted Woodpecker were busy at the feeders together with a Marsh Tit, a Woodpigeon, a Magpie, a Crow and a few Starlings.

As the Group headed back they could hear a loud commotion coming from the direction of the millpond. As their curiosity got the better of them they headed towards it and were rewarded by the fascinating display from a group of Marsh Frogs noisily proclaiming their places in the millpond (to make this noise they inflate two vocal sacs making them look like they are blowing bubble-gum out of their ears).

Members took advantage of the Heron’s Rest Café to enjoy refreshments, and all agreed that Warnham Nature Reserve is indeed a special place and a fitting and peaceful environment in which to remember such a talented couple.