Category Archives: Nature Notes

Winter News

Winter on the Reserve.

Strangely enough, winter is quite a busy time on the Reserve, as it gives us a good opportunity to get some of the maintenance work done before the birds start nesting and the flowers start appearing.  The Council managed to get most of the mowing done before the weather got really bad and there are just a couple of areas to finish mowing before spring gets underway.  At the January task day the FOLR managed to reinstate most of the view from their seat just to the north of the Clump.  This was despite a sudden change in weather at the time to a light scattering of snow.  We hope that people using the seat now will have a better view across to Cissbury.

 

At the moment most of the paths are extremely muddy after all the rain and the Council have recently delivered some bark chippings which will be spread on the muddiest paths by the car park in Mill Road.

 

At today’s task day we managed to thin out some of the hawthorn that has been growing taller by the path just to the south of the Clump.  This is a good, sheltered butterfly spot, but the hawthorns have started blocking out the sun and the light, which is not so good for the butterflies and the area needs opening up a bit again.  We have used the trimmings to put a sort of fence round the main orchid bed in the woods.  We are always grateful to people who come along to help and would like to say a big thank you to the Worthing Conservation Volunteers for their help today.  We welcome any members who would like to come and get their hands dirty and have been very encouraged to have a couple of new helpers at recent task days.  Thank you for all you do.  It can be very rewarding seeing the change that the work makes to an area.

 

Orchids

There are the first signs of the orchid leaves appearing in the woods.  At this stage they are very vulnerable to being trodden down.  We have put a “dead hedge” around the main orchid area.  Please do not step over it and walk on the site as you will damage the orchids.  Please also do not let children play in that area or pick the flowers when they start to appear.  Thank you for your help.  We hope to see a lovely display of early purple orchids in a couple of months time.

Adrienne Stephenson

Broomrape – the fascinating parasite

These lovely photos were taken by Adrienne on MacIntyres Field . They show Common Broomrape (Orobanche minor) Its a parasitic plant which means it takes it nutrients from another host by means of a fungal appendage. Broomrape host  plant are members of the pea family.

Further information about this plant species


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Spring is in the air

Sweet Violets

Sweet Violets

Adrienne spotted these as she took advantage of a respite from the rain.

Woods springing to life

Wood Anemones

Wood Anemones

Mark captured these Wood Anemones in the  clump area on Sunday during the task day, it’s great to see these becoming established

April Sightings

We want to hear from you..
Tell us what you have seen around the reserve this month.

Butterflies, Birds, Bees and anything else that catches your eye.
It’s all about your experience of this area of natural beauty.

If you enjoy it share it with others..

Butterfly bonanza

Small Tortoiseshell, Peacock and Comma seen in today’s warm sunshine on the hillside. There seemed to be a Peacock around every corner and Comma’s were almost as frequent. The two Small Tortoishell’s I saw were in among the nettle beds near the cemetary.

In addition I rather liked these white form of sweet violets

The Blackthorn flower is only just beginning to open

Task Day

In glorious late winter sunshine the Friends task day team got to work trimming back brambles and tree branches. ImageImageImage

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It was good to see the drifts of Sweet Violets beginning to flower

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A sure sign of spring approaching.

Winter maintenance

The working year begins in earnest on the reserve, as seen from the picture some Sycamore wood is thinned to give our new Beech trees more light to thrive

Making room for new growth

The Long(er) Walk Home

Please find attached a small article I’ve written following my walk home this morning from the task day, I decided to take a longer route home of about 2.5 miles as opposed to the half mile if I’d gone straight home and thought I’d write a short article on the walk back after reading your appeal for content for the website..

All the best

Mark

Sussex Woodsman
www.sussexwoodsman.co.uk

The Long(er) Walk Home

There I am with the volunteers from the FOLR clearing the Dogwood, Elder & vicious Bramble from some of the paths by the cemetery at Lancing Ring, but where am I, well I’m the one in the bushes with my saw clearing the larger pieces of timber to open the path right out, behind me I can hear a hedge cutter doing it’s all important and never ending work, clearing the smaller pieces of undergrowth, alongside us, more volunteers are clearing away the  cuttings and disposing of the mess we have made, the paths now look many times better than they did ninety minutes ago.

All the time we are working, we are being watched and kept in check, not by the human eye, but the beady eye of an ever inquisitive Magpie, looking, watching, to see if an opportunity arises that it can take advantage of, Mr Magpie is not alone though, through the undergrowth I can hear  a  Robin and surely if I look carefully I will see him, but it’s not to be.

Chairman Henry declares the work done and thanks everybody for turning up and helping, the old adage really is true “many hands make light work”, it’s at this point that the main group and I part ways for the day with a cheery wave,  I decide that rather than walk the half mile back to home, I’ll take the scenic route home instead, after all, the sun is shining and it’s a glorious day, more Spring like than Autumnal.

Heading down towards the playground, I turn right instead of left and soon find myself on top of the South Downs, looking south the English Channel is just visible through a light haze of mist, almost like a shimmering blue/grey veil that has been thrown across the coast line and a stunning sight in it’s own right, as I walk along the path at the bottom of Steepdown hill, I’m met with a crescendo of birdsong, as the Skylarks rise from the winter barley and  scatter in front of me, singing for all their might, alerting their neighbours to my unwanted presence.

In the bushes to my left a rustle and slight movement as a female Blackbird betrays her position with her characteristic deep “tut tut tut” sound and below, in amongst the bramble & briar further movement as a Rabbit runs for cover, in front of me two Red Admiral butterflies flitter and flutter around, looking around me at the ground cover, I can see amongst other things Mallows, Bristly Oxtongue, Burdock, Speedwells, Cornflowers & Mulleins  growing and the Poppies in the field reminding me of the sacrifices made by generations of families from this very area, then out of the corner of my eye, on the skyline a dark shape, at first I think im seeing things, then no, it is, a Roe Deer, I cant think who is more surprised, it or me?, we look at each other for a few fleeting seconds before it disappears over the hill top and is gone.

Heading down the hill now towards Dankton lane, the woods on the Mountain to the west are resplendent  in  their Autumn  colours,  a  mix  of  Golds,  Reds  &  Browns,  as  I  head  down,  im accompanied by the Jackdaws & Rooks “cawing” in defiance of me being on “their” hillside, to my right I see Cissbury Ring emerging from the mist  & fog, only adding to the mysticism of it’s presence in the landscape.

Cissbury through the mist

I’m now accompanied by Stone Chats and Great Tits, the path acting almost as if it’s   a barrier between the two species, the Stone Chats to my right on the fence line and the Great Tits flitting around in the Spindle, Dogwood  and Blackthorn hedge to my left, never appearing to enter the opposing territory.

As I walk ever closer to home, Im met by the warm sunshine on my face as I turn the corner and head south, there are Sloes on the trees, the remnants of the Damsons cling precariously to their stalks,  ready to fall in the slightest of breezes and to my amazement, ripe blackberries still on the bush, my fascination with the flora is broken with a sudden screech from directly overhead, as I look up, I’m rewarded with the magnificent sight of a lone Buzzard trying to catch a thermal off of the fields.

Approaching home now and the hedgerows are alive with Chaffinch‘s, Great Tits and my friend the Robin, out in the turnip field a couple of male Pheasants are running rings around each other, while the female looks on with ‘a familiar’ disdain at their antics, they soon melt into the landscape and are gone from view, but their calls reverberate down the field towards me, betraying the fact that they are still there and im now more or less home.

All of this, because I went to a Task Day at Lancing Ring with the FOLR.

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The Longer Walk Home

Hotter than July !

It was a hot one for sure this Sunday when the mist cleared. The heat brought out the Marbled White butterflies. Not that i saw a lot in my short visit, maybe ten or so. One Small Tortoiseshell, about a dozen  Meadow Brown and a few Small Skippers  skipped about.