By Louise Barnetson
Our Wittering Area Community Conservation Project, funded by the Woodger Trust, has seen us continue our work throughout March at sites in Birdham, East Wittering, West Wittering and Earnley. Our wonderful volunteers have been busy sowing wildflower seeds, taking care of planted trees, improving our tree nursery in West Wittering, and putting up more bird and bat boxes.
We've also been running our popular 'Wildlife Warriors' after-school club at West Wittering Primary School this term and will be returning there after the Easter break to run the programme with another group of young children.
Our group of Wildlife Warriors from Key Stage 1 dissected owl pellets to find out what owls eat, went on a bug hunt at the nearby churchyard and discovered lots of minibeasts, did some pond-dipping to find out what lives in ponds, and also made mini bug hotels, bird-feeders, and wildflower seed balls to take home to improve the wildlife habitat in their own gardens.
At our Wildlife Warriors club we hope to educate and inspire young children about wildlife through fun, hands-on, activities where they can get a little bit messy and muddy!
We'll soon be revealing details of a fun family activity day in Birdham with lots of nature-themed activities for children - watch this space!
We've been working on improving floral diversity at sites in West Wittering and Earnley, digging out invasive plants and sowing native wildflower seeds. Improving the diversity of native plants on a site increases its wildlife potential and makes it more likely to attract a wide variety of different invertebrate species. Many invertebrates are dependent on specific native plants and so by improving the diversity of plants you in turn improve the diversity of wildlife. Different plants flower at different times of year, therefore a wider variety of plants provides pollen and nectar for a longer period, supporting our important pollinators.
Above: Volunteers working hard at Haydons Pond in Almodington, Earnley Parish.
We've also improved our Tree Nursery in West Wittering with a new polytunnel and bedded in some young trees which will be planted out next Autumn/Winter. The new polytunnel will be used to bring on native trees that have been grown from locally-sourced tree seed, such as oak, blackthorn, and hawthorn.
At public recreation sites at Downview in East Wittering and Birdham we've been taking care of our planted trees, replacing canes and tree guards where required, removing litter from around the trees, and also putting up bat and bird boxes in mature trees to improve the wildlife potential of the sites.
Through our tree nursery and tree planting activities we aim to increase the number of trees across the Peninsula, particularly native species which support the greatest variety of wildlife. Trees support wildlife, but they also provide important ecosystem services such as reducing flooding and soil erosion, combatting climate change, providing wind breaks and shade, and purifying the air we breathe.
Above: Just some the native trees we have planted on Birdham recreation ground.
We've got lots more activities lined up for April. Please sign up to our Volunteer news emails to find out more.