On a warm, sunny evening Sarah Ward, Sussex Wildlife Trust’s (SWT) Living Seas Officer, opened the Group’s July meeting with an informative and interesting, illustrated talk on Living Seas along the Sussex Coast. This happened to coincide with National Marine Week (spanning 15 days to allow for the variation of tide times) the Nationwide Wildlife Trust’s celebration of all things marine, which aims to promote the engagement of people across the UK with the world of maritime and helps in the understanding of the science behind this important work.
Sarah took members on a whistle-stop tour of the many different environmental features along the Sussex coast and sea. Starting with the Seven Sisters chalk cliffs of East Sussex, which shape the coastline and undersea environment, Sarah explained the importance of the vegetation on the shingle which also supports many animals. Globally it is only the UK, Japan and parts of Australasia that have vegetated shingle beaches that sustain this important habitat.
Marine Protected Areas are another initiative that restrict environmentally-damaging activities in the sea and it is hoped that eventually these areas will form a chain of protected habitats and wildlife. Sarah is a keen diver and highlighted the principle diving sites that provide the very best opportunities for data gathering, including Selsey in West Sussex.
The successful Sussex Kelp Restoration Project has greatly improved the kelp beds since the Sussex Nearshore Trawling Byelaw (March 2021) was introduced. Supported by Sir David Attenborough, this project was a collaboration of national and local organisations including SWT, Blue Marine Foundation, Big Wave Productions, Sussex IFCA, Adur and Worthing Council, University of Brighton and UCL.
Opening the second half of the meeting Graham Tuppen delivered the ever popular Nature Notes session with a beautiful photograph of one of the wildflower beds in the Little Twitten recreation ground. Although pretty blue cornflowers and delicate pink cosmos dominated the bed it was doing an excellent job of attracting bees. On a walk through Ilex Way Graham had spotted a blackbird on a nest in the trunk of a tree presumably incubating her 2nd or 3rd clutch of eggs. A black Flatworm with a gold stripe was spotted in Graham’s garden and David Bettiss reported having seen a mature Stag Beetle resting on his driveway. A pretty Comma butterfly was photographed relaxing in a member’s garden and a small Tortoiseshell butterfly was sighted by the banks of the Rife.
Ed Miller took to the floor at the end of the meeting to deliver an update regarding local planning news. He advised members that the planning application for a large modern design house in Grange Park had, at least for the time being, been withdrawn. Decisions on the appeals for the housing estates proposed for Roundstone Farm and Rustington Golf Course were still to be concluded and the hearing at the High Court regarding the Persimmon Homes estate on the Chatsmore Farm land had taken place and a decision was imminent. An inappropriate 20 metre high mobile phone mast, initially proposed for Greystoke Road, will hopefully be sited somewhere less conspicuous.