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MWHG Newsletter: 8th May 2023

Dear Volunteers and Supporters,

Welcome to the first edition of our renewed Group-wide newsletter, where we will be providing short updates from our projects and surveys, highlighting upcoming events and sharing stories from our Peninsula. A new edition of this newsletter will be released every other month.

Look out for details of two family-friendly events we will be hosting this May, below!


Introducing the ‘Hedging our Future’ Project

By Jane Reeve | Hedging our Future Project

During March the MWHG found out that their application to the Southern Water Biodiversity Fund to support a hedging project had been successful and in April the ‘Hedging Our Future’ project was launched. This aims to gap fill some of the hedges identified during the Fixing and Linking Our Wetlands (FLOW) project as well as plant much needed hedges across the area. One of the aims will be to utilize the local trees grown in the two tree nurseries set up by MWHG on the peninsula, one in Selsey, and one in West Wittering, to maximize their chances of survival.

Hedges are a vital habitat for many species, allowing them safe passage across the area, and playing an important role in soil conservation and water quality protection. We hope to offer plenty of opportunities for people to come out and get involved in tree planting across the area and also look at other ways of improving the hedges that we have with interplanting new species and hedge laying. We will need help with growing the next generation of trees to then be planted out as wildlife corridors to criss-cross the area and to connect up the protected areas of Chichester Harbour, Pagham Harbour and Medmerry.

Tree planting is best done in the winter months when they are dormant and the ground is at its wettest so we will put a plan together and advertise it in the autumn. Get your spades ready!

Wittering Area Community Conservation Project Update

"I like the important conservation work that MWHG undertakes, especially planting trees and restoring valuable habitats on beautiful sites across the peninsula. I also enjoy the company of lovely, like-minded volunteers who also care greatly about the environment and who have a wealth of knowledge and experience that I can learn from."

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

We have carried out weekly habitat management sessions at wildlife sites with volunteers, across the parishes of West Wittering, East Wittering, Bracklesham, Earnley, West Itchenor and Birdham. Many of the sites were part of the FLOW project and we continue to look after them, cutting back willow to allow more light on the ponds, bramble bashing, removing invasive plants, looking after planted trees and planting more trees, trimming hedgerows, sowing wildflower seeds, managing ditches, and installing bird and bat boxes. Huge thanks to all the volunteers who have come out to join us!

Marine Drive flower bed

We also work to improve biodiversity in West Wittering, alongside the Parish Council. At the beginning of the year, we tidied up our pollinator-friendly flower bed in Marine Drive ready for the new Spring season and in March we created new wildflower areas on Rookwood Road with a corporate volunteer group from Wiley. Other groups that have joined us have included RSPB, Environment Agency, WSP, and Radiometer. If your workplace is interested in providing volunteer days for staff, then do get in touch!

We have been busy looking after trees we planted in 2022 at parish council-owned sites in Birdham, East Wittering and West Wittering. Volunteers have helped us to check the health of the trees and replanted where necessary – many suffered from last year’s drought unfortunately – as well as removing and replacing tree guards and canes where required and picking litter from around the trees. We hope that the cooler, wetter, Spring this year will help these baby trees to thrive in 2023. We also continue to support the West Wittering Tree Nursery and have lots of bay trees sprouting in pots grown from locally sourced seed and processed and potted up by local children.

As we moved into Spring, we move away from habitat management and into surveying season where we will carry out floral surveys, wildlife surveys, put out camera traps, moth trapping, and we hope to run some bat surveying sessions too. Keep an eye out for our emails if you’d like to join us!

Another important aspect to our work is engagement activities with children with the aim of fostering a greater interest in wildlife and the natural world. In the first few months of 2023 we have delivered:

- 4 separate sessions with the Beavers, Cubs and Scouts of 1st Birdham & Witterings Scout Group (photo above), and the Brownies of 1st East Wittering Girl Guide Group

- 4 after-school 'Wildlife Warriors Club' sessions at Birdham Primary School

- 4 after-school 'Wildlife Warriors Club' sessions at West Wittering Primary School

- A whole day at Birdham Primary School for the Big Garden Birdwatch, making bird feeders with every child in the school

Looking ahead we will have more sessions planned with the uniform groups and another round of 'Wildlife Warriors Club' at West Wittering Primary School.

Family Wildlife Engagement Day


Saturday 27th May, Birdham

We also have an exciting family event coming up on Saturday 27th May at St James Churchyard, Birdham, 10am-1pm.

Do come along and join us with your children or grandchildren for some fun wildlife-themed activities!

Tree Nursery Update and Event

West Wittering Tree Nursery Site

Time flies and we now have creche facilities in the form of a polytunnel. This means that any baby tree seedlings that have been nurtured at home can now be sprouted in the tunnel.

Jane Reeve, Community Conservation Officer, has started many tree seeds off. The successes were oak, hawthorn and blackthorn. The non-germinators were crab apple, field maple and spindle. Altogether, she has germinated approximately 150 tree seeds, which is a fantastic effort!

There are tree seedlings in the raised beds from last year, which means we have both one and two year old trees.

Seedling Planting Event | Friday 12th May at 10.00am

On Friday 12th May, we are looking for baby tree enthusiasts to help plant Jane’s seedlings into the empty raised beds. Just bring along a trowel and some gloves (if you don’t have these, don’t worry - we have spares!). Bring the kids too! Refreshments will be provided.

There is limited parking on site at the allotment:

West Wittering Tree Nursery


Ellanore Lane

PO20 8AN

After refreshments, you can join us at a few sites nearby (village green, bus stop area, snow hill) where we will be carrying out a floral survey.

Water Vole Biodiversity Action Plan 2021-2030

At the end of March 2023, we successfully delivered an updated Water Vole Biodiversity Action Plan for the Manhood Peninsula that covered the period from 2023 – 2030, building on the previous one for 2010 – 2020. This work was funded by Portsmouth Water’s Biodiversity Fund in September 2021 and was supported by a steering group made up of habitat and species specialists from the area.

This document includes an appendix that covers water vole habitat and creation as a practical document. We also created some fact sheets that can be given out to landowners, land managers and the wider community.

The project involved collating up to date information on water vole distribution from as many different sources as possible and included the Sussex Biodiversity Records Centre, Hampshire Biodiversity Information Centre, The Mammal Society, People’s Trust for Endangered Species, Arun and Rother Rivers Trust, Chichester District Council, South Downs National Park, RSPB, and the Mid Arun Valley Environmental Survey. This data has then been turned into an accessible map and so it can be seen where water voles are and the key corridors they need for their movement into the wider area.

During this project we carried out three water vole training events with presentations and practical sessions at Fishbourne Meadows, Bersted Brooks and RSPB Medmerry and these were all well attended.

This document has been sent out to landowners, local authorities, the south of Chichester Farm Cluster Group, partnership organisations, water companies, parish councils, planning authorities etc and had a press release event at Birdham pond at the end of March.

Find Wildlife From Home Survey Results

Our year-round wildlife survey has received 90 records so far in 2023. This takes our survey's grand total to 855 records! Please help us get to 1000 records before the end of this year by telling us about the wildlife you've seen in your garden, neighbourhood and surrounding local area.

Why count the wildlife we see? Keeping track of the locations and numbers of wildlife, for both common and rare species, allows us to monitor the impact of human activity, developments and climate change on our environment. All 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 January, February, March and April 2023

Male Orange-tip butterfly

5 butterfly & moth species

4 Peacock butterflies

1 Orange-tip butterfly

1 Light Brown Apple moth

2 Common brimstone butterflies

1 Humming-bird Hawk-moth

European Robin

7 bird species, including:

33 Blackbirds

4 Blue Tits

3 Dunnocks

13 Robins

2 Wrens

Buff-tailed bumblebee (David Wyatt 2020)

3 bee & fly species

1 Red-tailed bumblebee

3 Dark-edged Bee-flies

2 Buff-tailed bumblebees

Did you know it's National Insect Week from the 19th to 25th June? We'd love to hear about any insects, such as beetles, bees, butterflies, moths and more, that you spot in your garden or local area over the next couple of months. You can also send us your wildlife photos, just follow the link below.


Next MWHG Newsletter: Monday 10th July 2023


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