Group Meeting – 30th October 2015

Around 60 members of Ferring Conservation Group were taken ‘Through the Seasons in a Sussex Woodland’ with a talk and beautifully illustrated slide show by Reg Lanaway. Reg spent his working life at Plumpton Agricultural College, and is still assisting there with environmental issues. The Plumpton estate includes ancient semi-natural woodlands, and it is in Brock’s Wood that Reg has spent much time indulging his love of natural history and especially that of birds. There Reg helped students of all levels to learn practical skills such as coppicing and hedge laying. Reg explained that periodic surveys are carried out by the College to benchmark the flora and fauna and the ancient woodland is actively managed to stimulate the regeneration of trees, plants and wildlife. For example, bluebells, primroses, sedges and marsh marigolds thrive in clearings where light can penetrate; and trees are regularly coppiced in order to generate new growth. Students are taught to lay ‘living’ hedges by slitting newly coppiced hazel stems. Birds are also keen to nest in coppiced areas and Reg showed us slides of robin, blue tit, song thrush and chiffchaff nests. The birdlife in the ancient woodland is constantly monitored. Nets are used to catch small samples of visiting birds, after which they are ringed for future identification. Amongst other birds regularly surveyed are the great spotted woodpecker, bullfinch, tree creeper, nuthatch, nightingale and jay. To conclude Reg showed us slides of the woodlands around Plumpton College throughout the four seasons.

After tea Tricia Hall opened her Nature Notes with news of large numbers of goldfinches moving west. A Short Eared Owl had also been seen on three consecutive mornings along the seafront, as well as at least 62 Little Egrets sitting in trees in the Kingston Gorse area and a Kingfisher near the road bridge at the top of the Rife.

Greg Plenty, a RHS and group member talked to us about ‘Gardening for Bees’. Greg said that although a recent scientific study by the RHS concluded that ‘native or near native’ garden plants saw the greatest abundance of pollinators there was conflicting advice where other studies recommended that a variety of plants from all over the world should be grown to create a garden with plants blooming from early May to late October.

Ed Miller followed with planning news that Beehive Cottage had finally been demolished and that Globe Estates (Southern) Ltd will probably appeal their refused planning application for a block of 10 apartments on the site. Peugeot have appealed the decision of Arun DC for the refusal of a storage/distribution facility on Hangleton Nursery land.