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MWHG Newsletter: 10th July 2023

Dear Volunteers and Supporters,

Our second edition of the re-launched, group-wide Newsletter is a packed one! Including five heritage and wildlife focused project updates, plus a super-successful month for our wildlife survey, this newsletter starts with a fantastic announcement from the MWHG team.

Also in this edition are details of this month's upcoming historical display in Selsey and a heritage trail walk taking place in August.


Finalists in the Radio Sussex Make a Difference Awards

MWHG are proud to announce that our charity has been selected as a finalist in the Green Award category of the 2023 BBC Radio Sussex and BBC Radio Surrey Make a Difference Awards.

For 12 years now, these awards have been thanking people and groups who make life better for others in their communities. The Green Award celebrates individuals and organisations who support nature and help to make their local area more environmentally friendly.

A big 'thank you!' goes out to everyone who nominated our Group. Your nominations support and highlight the vital conservation work that our dedicated volunteers and team members carry out on a weekly basis.

There are three other finalists in the Green Award category, with the winner announcements and award ceremonies due to take place across England in September 2023. Until then, you can join in the conversation and follow the latest news on the awards on social media using the hashtag #BBCMakeADifference.

Wittering Area Community Conservation Project Update

“I love the community spirit. I love learning from the professionals to develop my own skills and knowledge. I love how everyone is like-minded and I always feel so proud, accomplished and satisfied after sessions.”

- Comment from one of our volunteers, from our volunteer survey.

We have continued to hold weekly sessions with volunteers at wildlife sites across the parishes of West Wittering, East Wittering, Bracklesham, Earnley, West Itchenor and Birdham, through the Spring and into the Summer. Whereas our Autumn/Winter sessions focus on habitat management, our Spring/Summer activities focus mostly on surveying and public engagement. Luckily, we’ve been blessed with some very warm and dry days to carry out these sessions.

With our brilliant volunteers we carried out floral surveys at various sites, recording all the plant species we could identify and uploading the data to iRecord. During these sessions we also keep a keen eye out for any wildlife, including nesting birds. One interesting site, that we had not previously surveyed, was St. James Churchyard in Birdham where we found a huge variety of plant life and a healthy population of Slow Worms.

We have held our very popular moth trapping and ID sessions in the private gardens of some wonderfully helpful local volunteers. These generous individuals allow us to set up the moth trap overnight in their gardens and then descend upon them with our volunteers the following morning to see what we have found. We are lucky to have such brilliant volunteers to help with this. We are always endlessly amazed at the incredible variety of moths … some are easier to identify than others and we are sometimes left with a few baffling specimens at the end of the session! Again, all the data gets uploaded to iRecord.

Planting baby trees at the West Wittering Tree Nursery

We have also been out looking for bats using bat detectors at some sites in the evenings. Whilst it is difficult to definitively identify specific bat species by sound alone, it is good to know that they are using the sites and a very pleasant way to spend an evening as the sun goes down. We’ve also continued to support the West Wittering Tree Nursery, bedding in hundreds of baby trees grown from seed – mostly processed and planted by children we worked with last autumn.

Our engagement activities with children continued. In May we delivered 3 separate sessions with the Beavers, Cubs and Scouts of 1st Birdham & Witterings Scout Group. With the Beavers and Cubs, we visited Triangle Pond in Birdham to carry out pond-dipping, bug hunting, looking for animal homes, and wildflowers. We enlisted the Scouts to help remove plastic trees guards from an established hedge on Birdham recreation ground and they learnt about the importance of hedgerows.

We also ran another 4 sessions of our after-school 'Wildlife Warriors Club' at West Wittering Primary School, looking at owl pellets, bug-hunting, pond-dipping, making wildflower bombs and bird feeders.

We have been involved in two public events, one at the Birdham Craft Fayre in April 2023 where we had a display advertising our work, and a family wildlife engagement day at St James Church on the 27th May. This day was a huge success with over 150 people attending, lots of children’s activities set up and plenty for people to take away. The family engagement day was only possible with an amazing amount of support from volunteers and the people at St. James church. We hope to repeat this event next year.

Volunteers taking a well earned break from surveying at St. James Churchyard

Selsey Photo Archive Project

These are some of the latest developments:

  • You will soon be able search the photos on the Selsey Photo Archive website by decade as most of the photos have now been placed within one

  • New categories of photos have been added to the site, including ‘Bowls’ and ‘Boxing’. Photos are continually being uploaded so do keep visiting or follow the Selsey Photo Archive Facebook page for updates

  • Volunteers continue to scan and catalogue new collections, donated or loaned to the project. Recent ones have included photos of the Selsey Pageant [1965] and the development of the East Beach Pond area in 1972

  • We are preparing a project to gather memories of life in Selsey by interviewing older residents. We intend to pilot this during the summer/autumn

We have a very committed and conscientious group of volunteers working on the project but could always use more help. There are various opportunities on offer, including the following:

  • Researching and cataloguing photos

  • Researching and writing articles about individual photos, or collections of photos, to add to the website – every picture has a story behind it

  • Website work: uploading new photos, adding additional information etc. [Knowledge of WordPress would be helpful but training is available]

  • Photography

  • Helping prepare displays or giving talks

If you like to get involved, we’d love to hear from you.

Photo Display 20th - 23rd July

Finally, I’d like to invite everyone to our latest display. It charts the development of the East Beach Pond area in Selsey, using photos from the archive. It’s kindly being hosted by Mulberry Marine Experiences in their centre in the parade of shops at East Beach, near the pond.

The opening times are as follows:

Thursday 20th & Friday 21st July - 10am to 4pm

Saturday 22nd July - 11am to 5pm

Sunday 23rd July - 10am to 3pm

One of the Selsey Photo Archive team will be there from 11am to12.30pm each day to answer questions.

The Pollinator Highway Project

This year we have allowed 3 verges in Selsey to remain uncut. This was helped by West Sussex adopting a policy of ‘No Mow May’ so that all the verges were given a chance to grow. However in June those verges which were not in the project were cut and only our 3 were left to grow on and set seed.

The new site, in West Street was seeded in the spring and has produced a lovely show of flowers.

The site in Sunnymead drive has produced fewer flowers this year but lots of flowering grasses. The edges of the site have been mown by the project volunteers to allow access to the fences and to prevent overgrowth onto the footpath.

In the Autumn the sites will be mown and the grass raked and removed as last year.

"The Hottest June on Record"

Small Tortoiseshell butterfly
Small Tortoiseshell by Felicity McStea, June 2023

Last month was officially named by the Met Office as the hottest June ever recorded in the UK. You will likely have seen many reports on the recent impact of the weather, including unprecedented levels of fish deaths in rivers. Prolonged and unusual high temperatures bring challenges for both people and nature. MWHG continues to combat and monitor the effects of accelerated climate change on the Peninsula, and surveying is a key part of this work.

I'm extremely pleased to say that we received 114 wildlife records since our last update in May, bringing us to a grand total of 969 records! 55 of these submissions included insects, so thank you to those who responded to our particular request for insect sightings to celebrate National Insect Week. I'm confident that we will reach our current target of 1000 records in no time, so do keep telling us about the wildlife you've seen in your garden, neighbourhood and surrounding local area.

As always, the records we receive are submitted to the National Biological Records Centre on your behalf, to ensure this important data can be shared with other organisations.

Survey Results for May and June 2023

Red Admiral butterfly
Red Admiral by Phillip Absolon, June 2023

8 butterfly species, including:

17 Red Admirals

13 Holly Blues

4 Small Tortoiseshells

2 Speckled Woods

1 Meadow Brown

Juvenile Robin by David Wyatt, June 2023

15 bird species, including:

54 House Sparrows

8 Robins

4 Goldfinches

2 Great Tits

2 Buzzards

41 moths, bees & more! Including:

3 Light Brown Apple Moths

2 Heart and Dart Moths

3 Dark Arches Moths

3 Common Carder Bees

1 Honey Bee

3 Ladybird species

14 Wildflower species

Coming soon on July 28th is World Nature Conservation Day. This day is an opportunity to bring focus to the ever important need to care for our environment. You can help nature by recording the wildlife you spot in your garden or local community. To take part in our wildlife survey, click on the button below.

Selsey Tree Nursery

By Joe Savill | Selsey Tree Nursery

The development of the nursery is progressing well.

We now have two beds prepared and full of young trees, of various native species. Many of which have been donated by local residents. And, fortunately, the majority of the seeds that we collected last autumn have germinated and are being looked after at the ‘Hidden Garden’ in Selsey, prior to moving them to the nursery this autumn.

Much of the nursery site has been covered with weed suppressant to make it easier to prepare new beds as we need them. We also now have a shelter, with built in work surfaces, and a tool store at the site. The main tasks during the summer will be watering and weeding.

I would like to thank the Selsey Nursery team for all their hard work, support and enthusiasm.

We are always looking for more volunteers as the work will grow as the site develops. So, do get in touch if you’re interested in getting involved in this exciting project.

Walk the Selsey Tramway Event

By Bill Martin | Selsey Tramway Project

Board No. 10 at Ferry Station

The heritage trail, launched in 2022, commemorates the Selsey tramway - a railway which ran between Chichester and Selsey from 1897 until 1935. Walkers can use our mobile-friendly interactive map to follow the trail. Along the route are orange way markers (see example below) attached to WSCC footpath posts and information boards located at the sites of the 11 original stations.

The next phase of the project is the restoration of Chalder Station where the platform and base of the waiting room are clearly evident.

Walk the Selsey Tramway on Saturday 26th August

A year on from the 125th anniversary walk of the Tramway route, this year's walk will take place on Saturday 26th August.

Starting at East Beach car park in Selsey, at 10.30am, a group of walkers will be guided through the sites of 8 of the 11 stations, finishing the activity at The Anchor Inn in Sidlesham.

If you would like to join the walk, please click the following text to email the organizer, Bill Martin.


Next MWHG Newsletter: Monday 11th September 2023


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