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MWHG Newsletter: 13th November 2023

Dear Volunteers and Supporters,

It's been an exciting couple of months for our Group. We will waste no time in announcing that MWHG was named the winner of the Green award at the BBC Radio Sussex and BBC Radio Surrey Make a Difference Awards, in September!

It was a particularly meaningful time for our charity to receive this special award, as a few weeks later we were due to assemble for our AGM to celebrate our 25th anniversary. This award really reflects the achievements of our steadfast volunteers and staff, who work every week, in all weathers, to protect our precious environment.

MWHG members and other winners from the ceremony, September 2023

Read on for more news and details of upcoming volunteering activities, in our November newsletter.


WWTN Update

New wooden West Wittering Tree Nursery sign
New Tree Nursery sign

Our young trees are doing well and will soon be moved to their forever homes. First and foremost, we will be filling in gaps in the hedge that surrounds our nursery. This will stop any deer from munching on our young trees, as well as providing us with an excellent source of seeds for the future.

With the help of seed-gathering volunteers, we have already started growing on alder, rowan, spindle, crab apple and oak seeds for the next season’s trees. Apart from the squirrels trying to take the acorns(!), the wet weather is keeping the seed compost nice and moist.

The Tree Council has a fantastic free to download Seed Gathering Season seed identification guide, a must-read for any budding seed collectors!

Our new Tree Nursery sign is in place, the site has been tidied and grass paths cut. However, we have left a few wild plants that are still in flower as the bees and insects take what they can before the cold weather sets in.

Heritage Updates

The restoration of Chalder Station is progressing. The work on restoring the platform will start in the Spring 2024. Other aspects relating to the station sign, fencing, re-instating a section of track and rebuilding the waiting room will require planning permission and this is being progressed with Chichester District Council.

The film to accompany the exhibition at The Novium will be made in the Spring and feature The Sesley Shantymen singing The Sidlesham Snail!

The website for the Sidlesham Land Settlement Association continues to attract attention - mostly recently from the USA when Roger Hart visited Batchmere House where he was born in 1940 when his father Andrew hart was one of the managers.

The map on the heritage page of this website is being updated to include more local history assets in the different parishes of the Manhood Peninsula.

Southern Water Funded Hedging Our Future Project

During the FLOW (Fixing and Linking Our Wetlands) Project (2015 – 2021), through carrying out hedge surveys, it was identified that there were potentially hundreds of kilometres of missing hedges on the Manhood Peninsula. Through the Hedging Our Future project we are trying to address this by planting as many trees in hedges that we can within the short window that we have with this grant.

In Sidlesham Parish, chosen as a pilot area for the project, 2 farmers want us to plant about 2.5 kilometres of hedges and it would be great to get this work done by the end of this winter. We have about 6,000 trees to use already and hope to get funding for more from the Tree Council.

Meanwhile we are also picking tree seeds, processing them, and potting them up to be the trees for next winter.

November is the month that we start planting these trees and we need lots of help to get them into the ground so that they start to grow in the spring. Planting trees is a very positive activity and with all the recent rain the ground should now be soft enough to get spades in the ground easily. No big holes need to be dug as the majority of trees will be bare rooted and we should have a mix of native species.

Please get involved with these tree planting sessions, even for an hour, everyone can help, be it handing out bamboo canes, putting on tree guards, or making a hole in the ground. It’s going to be muddy but very satisfying and fun and there will be plenty of home-made cake to keep you energised! Subscribe to our volunteer news and events emails to hear about upcoming planting sessions.

Rain, Resilience and Records

With unusually warm days encouraging further flutters of butterflies late into the year, September matching 2006's warmest temperate on record, and October bringing downpours, storms, and even tornadoes to the south coast, it's been a tricky time for both people and wildlife.

Water voles and other burrowing animals are particularly at risk from damaged habitats, exposure to predators and even drowning, during prolonged flooding events. To ensure that our local wetland habitats are resilient against flooding, our projects utilise the winter months to clear-out overgrown waterways, improve their drainage connections to the sea, and stabilise banks with planted vegetation. Please subscribe to our volunteering news if you'd like to receive invitations to these wetland conservation activities.

Despite the recent wild weather, our supporters sent in 54 wildlife records over the last two months, bringing the total records submitted for the Find Wildlife From Home Survey to 1204!

Survey Results for September and October 2023


8 bird species, including:

175 Starlings

7 Blackbirds

1 Blue Tit

1 Dunnock

1 Wren

9 butterfly and moth species, including:

1 Ruby Tiger moth larva

7 Holly Blue butterflies

8 Red Admiral butterflies

2 Humming-bird Hawk-moths

6 other species of insects, mammals and more, including:

3 7-spot ladybirds

3 Common Darters

2 Garden Spiders

2 Common Pipistrelle Bats

1 Hedgehog

Tell us about the wildlife you've seen in your garden, neighbourhood and surrounding local area and we will also submit your records to the National Biological Records Centre on your behalf.

To find out how to take part in our wildlife survey, click on the button below.

Wittering Area Community Conservation Project Update

We kicked off our busy habitat management season at the beginning of September and will continue with weekly volunteer sessions right through the autumn and winter. During September and October we carried out habitat management sessions at Triangle Pond and the Village Pond in Birdham, Cakeham Manor Estates wetlands site in West Wittering, Marine Drive triangle wildlife flowerbed and Rookwood Road bus stop area in West Wittering, Haydons Pond in Almodington, Holly House Pond in Earnley, at the primary school in Birdham, and held a session at the tree nursery in West Wittering.

We have achieved a huge amount, thanks to our wonderful local volunteers and enthusiastic corporate volunteer groups, despite unfortunately having to cancel a couple of sessions due to the extremely wet and stormy weather in October. We’re hoping for better weather in November and December as we have a lot planned! A little less rain would be nice.

L to R: Team members from: Carpenter Box, AbbVie, Nationwide Building Society

We have had corporate groups from Carpenter Box (financial planning accountants), AbbVie (pharmaceutical manufacturer) and the Nationwide Building Society join us for volunteer days, with more groups booked in too. The work on our sites has predominately focussed on cutting back and raking off soft vegetation to improve floral diversity, coppicing willow and removing bramble from pond edges to let in more light and maintain open water, creating ‘dead hedges’ with cut material, and clearing vegetation from paths and path edges to allow access. It is rewarding to find lots of bird nests from the breeding season, and signs of water voles and other wildlife using the sites.

Holly House Pond in Earnley is a new site for us where we are in the process of restoring an old, neglected pond. The pond appears on 1846 tithe maps, although you’d be forgiven for overlooking it in its current state! We spent a great day removing bramble, cutting back willow and other trees that were growing very densely and shading the pond, and creating a fantastic ‘dead hedge’ with the cut material. There is more work to be done so keep an eye out for forthcoming sessions there. We hope the site will become a significant flood reduction feature and wildlife hotspot.

It is also tree seed season, with many trees laden with berries, nuts and cones at this time of year. An unusually hot day in early October saw us gather volunteers at our tree nursery in West Wittering to process and plant up several different tree seed varieties including oak, hawthorn, blackthorn, guelder rose, rowan, and spindle. Next spring, we should start to see the first seeds germinating and green shoots emerging, and next year’s tree saplings starting life in our tree nursery. The tree nursery is currently packed with baby trees grown from seeds last year which will be planted out over the new few months.

Our engagement activities with local children are starting up again, with our Wildlife Warriors after-school running at Birdham Primary school this term – first session dissecting owl pellets! - several sessions with the Birdham & Witterings Scout group planned, and we’re even getting toddlers involved with growing trees, working with two nursery schools in East Wittering.

New volunteers are always needed so please get in touch if you think you can spare any time to help!

Next MWHG Newsletter: Monday 15th January 2024


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