Updated: Nov 28, 2022
Summer's definitely over and Autumn in here, although it has still remained quite warm during the day. The changing of the seasons means we're back to our practical habitat management activities across the Manhood Peninsula, looking after sites to ensure they remain, or become, good homes for wildlife. In September we worked with our lovely local volunteers - and a corporate group - at sites in West Wittering and Birdham, and in the first week of October we were in Earnley.
We were in West Wittering at the end of September at a site owned by the Cakeham Manor Estate, on the road to the beach opposite the church and primary school. This site was transformed as part of the FLOW project and we were very happy to be back there after a two-year absence. There was a lot of work to be done to open up the site again, remove overgrown vegetation and ensure that sunlight can reach the stream supporting the abundance of wildflowers that flourish on the banks and form the basis of a healthy food chain. This site is home to Water Shrews, Water Voles, and breeding wildfowl amongst other wildlife.
Before (left) and after (below) photos of the Cakeham Manor site.
Fortunately, as well as a healthy number of local volunteers we also had an energetic corporate group from WSP (https://www.wsp.com/) to join us for a corporate volunteering day. The WSP team really got stuck in and made amazing progress, soon revealing the banks of the stream, clearing the brambles, and allowing the young trees some space to thrive. Boosted by Jane's amazing range of cakes at tea-break and lunchtime, the WSP crew made an incredible difference to this site and could go home knowing they have made a difference for wildlife. Thank you WSP and to all the other volunteers who joined us on the day!
The amazing WSP team on their corporate volunteering day.
The WSP team working alongside our local volunteers.
As part of our work in partnership with West Wittering Parish Council, the bus stop area in Rookwood Road had been left to 'grow wild' over the summer. This was the first year the strimmers were put aside and the grasses and wildflowers were allowed to grow, for the benefit of pollinating insects and other wildlife that might benefit from a more relaxed approach. Although no wildflowers were planted or sown here, a surprising variety popped up by themselves. In September it was time to cut it all down and rake it off, and we were grateful for our volunteers who turned out to help with this. We also cut back an invasive non-native tree to allow more light into the area and give native flora a chance to flourish. We spotted a number of bees and butterflies making the most of the remaining wildflowers so we left them plenty of flowers, and had some lovely conversations with waiting bus passengers who were very curious about what we were up to!
Holly Blue butterfly (above) and Speckled Wood butterfly (below) spotted using the newly 'wilded' area at the Bus Stop area in West Wittering.
In Birdham we tackled the beautiful Village Pond, cutting back the vegetation from the front edge and adjacent channel, and removing some willow to allow light in and keep the water open. A great turnout of enthusiastic volunteers made light work of this. This pond site is one of three linked sites in Birdham that were improved as part of the FLOW project. There are LOTS of Water Vole signs in evidence here - latrines (poo piles!), burrows, runs, feeding signs - which is great news for this endangered species. The volunteers rightly felt very proud about looking after this important local site for these vulnerable animals.
Team of volunteers at the Birdham Village Pond.
Water Vole latrine site on top of a concrete pipe at the Birdham Village Pond. Can you spot the poop?!
The first week of October took us to the very beautiful hidden treasure of Haydon's Pond in Almodington, Earnley, another FLOW site that we continue to manage. This two-part pond comprises a section running alongside the road surrounded by willow, and a circular area dominated by mature oaks. One of these oak trees supports a colony of the rare jet-black ant and the even rarer giant oak aphid. This area is also home to Water Voles, wildfowl, buzzards, herons, roe deer, and variety of other mammals and bird species. A super team of volunteers trimmed the roadside vegetation and hedgerow, whilst another team tackled the willow on the other side, coppicing it to allow more light into the pond.
Why not come and join us next time? No experience necessary. Fresh air, exercise, cake and company guaranteed! See our What's On page to find out where we'll be next time!