We have 3 events happening in March as follows:
1. Monthly Community Project morning – Thursday 7 March at 10am. Meet at Community Orchard at Glebelands Recreation Ground to carry out some litter picking, small amount of cutting back bramble and grass cutting/ weeding around fruit trees. If you have them, please bring gloves, plus any combination of small loppers, shears and fork/ trowel
2. Annual Rife Clean – Sunday 10 March at 11am. Meet at Bluebird Cafe car park next to toilets. Equipment is provided, but it is likely to be muddy underfoot, so suggest wellies are worn. This will end at road bridge into Ferring Country Centre, where the equipment will be collected.
3. Guided Nature Walk up the Rife – Weds 20 March at 10am. Again meet at Bluebird Cafe car park for a walk led by our local expert Clive Hope to hopefully see some Spring bird arrivals, seasonal wildflower plants and early tree blossom. If people wish, we can take a break for coffee at the Country Centre cafe, and then return to the coast at leisure.
As always, all these events depend on decent weather, so if it is in doubt on the day, please check this website for any updates
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.
The February Community Project morning will be be held on Thursday 1 February, and this will cover some more work on the Village Green. If you can help out just for an hour, please meet near the public toilets there at 10am, and if you have them, please bring any combination of a trowel, secateurs and a lopper.
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 fould 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.
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.
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.
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
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.
Please note that our four clean up dates for this year (2023) have been arranged, and details are available in the Beach Clean Dates section of this website. These will now be held on Sundays, and not Saturdays as previously. The first one will be the Rife clean up on Sunday 26 March at 11am.
*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.
Warren Pond in the southern part of Ferring is a better place for birds thanks to Ferring Parish Council and the Conservation Group. The pond, near the junction of Florida Road and The Warren, is owned by the Council and is managed in partnership with the Group as a nature reserve, being one of the last remaining wild places in the village which makes it so valuable for wildlife.
The Council has funded a variety of bird nestboxes, and four of these have been installed by Conservation Group members at various locations around the pond. Two were the hardwearing woodcrete designs for tits (these are resistant to woodpeckers and squirrels), and the others were of timber construction being open fronted and more suitable for robins or wrens. One other series of 3 joined nestboxes for sparrows who like to nest in proximity to others of the same species has also been installed in another location in the village near to the Rife.
David Bettiss, Chairman of the Group, who installed the boxes at the pond together with committee members Graham Tuppen and Tricia Hall said “These boxes funded by the Parish Council are a really useful addition to the wildlife habitats of the village and we hope they’ll be used on a regular basis by some of our birds. Certainly the boxes we’ve already put up around the village in various places are used every year and this can be seen when we check and clean them in the Winter. We’re very grateful to the Council for this initiative.”
He continued, “As our wildlife across the country is coming under increasing pressure due to loss of habitat, boxes like these are really helpful to assist our birds to breed successfully. We timed this installation to coincide with National Nestbox week in February, and we’d encourage as many of our local residents as possible to put up one box or more in their gardens. Please do it as soon as possible though as birds will already be prospecting for suitable sites. A site on a tree trunk, facing north or east away from prevailing winds and hot sun and about 2-3m high is ideal. Then you’ll have done your bit for our local birds as well.”