Group Meeting – 22nd February 2019

Andrew Cleave MBE is a Hampshire based natural historian with a lifelong passion for wildlife and has written over 20 books on natural history and co-authored many more. Andrew was given a warm welcome to Ferring Conservation Group’s February meeting and gave a fascinating, illustrated lecture entitled ‘Life between the Tides’ to this well attended event. Andrew explained how fortunate we are in Britain to have an opportunity to see and study many species of sea life exposed on our beaches at low tide. Andrew demonstrated how privileged we are to have access through rock pools and rocky shorelines to observe sea creatures and learn about their habitat and behaviour, illustrated with many superb photographs that he had taken over the years. A number of these photographs were used in the Collins Complete Guide to British Coastal Wildlife.

The rise and fall of the tide is due to lunar influences but not all seas are subject to these stimuli. Neither the Mediterranean nor Baltic seas are tidal so therefore they keep their secrets hidden, and it is only the intrepid diver or adventurous snorkeler that is privy to this captivating world.

The sea life found in rock pools at low tide must be tough and adaptable to the force of the waves and the changes in temperature as the water remaining in the pools will heat up at low tide. Seaweeds are a good example of this as these non-flowering plants glue themselves to rocks and can withstand the tidal forces. The Common Blenny is a small fish that is abundant in rocky coastal inshore waters around the UK (sometimes referred to as the Shanny), and being out of water is not a problem provided the environment is damp and moist. The Greenleaf worm, Sea Slugs and Periwinkles can all live out of water for a length of time and the round shell of the Flat Periwinkle enables these adaptable creatures to roll around in seawater and not get damaged. The many species of crab are always an interesting discovery as they are found in numerous shapes and sizes and can be easily found hiding under rocks and will scurry quickly away if disturbed. Interestingly creatures such as the Limpet have teeth that consist of the strongest biological material ever tested and they use these to cling on to a rock at low tide. Our glimpse into this captivating world is available to all those that are interested to take a look and marvel at what ‘Life between the Tides’ can reveal.

Tricia Hall presented her popular Nature Notes after the usual break for tea and advised the audience that Tawny Owls had been heard in several areas of the village and encouraged members to record any sightings of these birds on the RSPB website. Tricia reported that several signs of spring were evident with Celandines, Primroses, Snowdrops, Rosemary and White Heather covered in Honey Bees feeding on nectar had been spotted, as well as frog spawn in ponds and the lagoons near the Rife. Many birds had been heard singing in the area including Blackbirds, Song Thrushes, Dunnocks, Great Tits and Chaffinches as well as signs of birds starting to nest.

To conclude the meeting Ed Miller updated the Group regarding the latest planning news. Ed advised the audience that the recent planning application for two houses in the back garden of 21, Ocean Drive had been refused by Arun DC along with the proposed Bluebird Café expansion. The ninth apartment at Southpoint in South Ferring had been approved by the Planning Inspectorate after an Appeal by the developers.