Wildlife and Habitats

B is for Brambles – Like it or Not!

February 18th, 2021 by Nikki
European blackberry (Rubus fruticosus) flowers close-up.
Flowering European blackberry (Rubus fruticosus) © Robert Vidéki, Doronicum Kft., Bugwood.org

Oh! Am I reminding you, my volunteer buddies, about the beast from when time began?

Like it or not, the bramble has been one of the biggest challenges on our sites. You have to have a check list in your head before approaching this unruly plant:

  • Gloves that can withstand being shredded…tick
  • Shears sharper than a guillotine…tick
  • A range of expletives at the ready…tick
  • Tea and cake within grabbing distance…tick
  • Other volunteers to mop your furrowed brow…double tick
Brambles encroaching on a house and jasmine plant © Alex Ainge, 2021

Sadly, we are losing the ability to celebrate what this plant has to offer. After all, who doesn’t love a blackberry pie made from the freshly picked fruits? The negative folklore has not helped the bramble. In medieval times, people planted brambles on graves to stop the dead from coming out and prevent the devil from getting in!

So aside from its dark past, we must marvel at what the bramble contributes to planet earth. Robins, Wrens, Thrushes, Blackbirds, Warblers and Finches will nest in bramble and small mammals, like the Hedgehog and Dormouse, use it for protection from predators. Moths, such as Buff Arches, Peach Blossom and Fox moths, lay their eggs on bramble as it is their larval foodplant. Brambles also provide an important source of nectar for Brimstone and Speckled Wood butterflies and fruits for Song Thrushes and Yellowhammers.

Speckled wood (Pararge aegeria) butterfly © Nicola Timney, 2018

We must remember that brambles have been here for a very long time, even as long as 8000 years ago, when bramble seeds were found in the stomach of a Neolithic man in Essex.

So I salute you, dear volunteer, for all the shearing, lopping and tugging of this amazing plant and I hope some of you will join me as we tackle the next bramble maze at our Tree Nursery at West Wittering allotments. I will bring LOTS of tea and cake…I promise!!!!!

Read Alex’s previous A-Z post, here.

Post by Alex Ainge

A is for Ash

February 2nd, 2021 by Nikki

Welcome volunteers, to my A-Z of you and all the wildlife that you have helped and are passionate about. 

The Manhood Wildlife and Heritage Group (MWHG) have volunteers that have worked with us for over 10 years and volunteers that want to get started but have been stalled by Covid. I didn’t want to mention THAT word, but I have. I won’t do it again! There are other reasons that you and I got involved in volunteering. I only wish, for sanity sake, that we could be beavering away on a wet, windy, muddy day to forget our present plight!

So, back to A. Before I write about the Ash tree, one of our first volunteering groups was, in fact, the ASHE group. Each letter stands for a local parish or hamlet of the Manhood Peninsula (Almodington, Sidlesham, Highleigh, Earnley). The group was formed just over 12 years ago after Sarah Hughes, Chichester District Council‘s Wildlife Officer, gave a talk at the Sidlesham church hall in order to generate interest and drum up volunteers.

In the earlier years, work concentrated on restoring rural ponds, mainly Morgan’s, Bushell’s, and Haydon’s pond in Almodington and Florence pond in Church Farm road, Sidlesham. The group did some valuable pond surveys, water vole surveys (as part of the Water Vole Project) and moth surveys (during the summer months). Bat surveys were also undertaken in the early years with a few very late evenings, as bats didn’t oblige the volunteers with an appearance until after dusk!  

Although a small group, at first, the ASHE group definitely set the scene for more work to follow. I have been lucky enough to meet and work with this group and the bigger group that followed with our next project (the FLOW Project). What a lovely bunch of people and what hard workers! Some of them happy to wade about in the odd pond or two (and in fact, parted from their welly boots in the pond silt on many an occasion!). 

Ash tree during winter, in Sidlesham

Ash tree in Sidlesham, by Alex Ainge

My picture of the Ash tree is very apt as it was taken in Sidlesham a couple of weeks’ ago. What a majestic beauty with it’s black sticky buds reaching for the sun. Such a shame to think that so many of these beauties have succumbed to Ash dieback. Ash dieback is a chronic fungal infection that is affecting the ash population across Europe and the UK. The pathogen – Hymenoscyphus fraxineus  – attacks the internal water transport systems of trees. An infected tree is noticeable for its loss of leaves, wilting, lesions in the bark and stems of trees, and discolouration of the bark. However, a recent study by scientists have shown that some Ash trees have developed resistance to the disease. There is hope for this wonderful tree, after all.  


Read Alex’s previous A-Z post, here.


Post by Alex Ainge


Ash and Acorns

January 28th, 2021 by Nikki

Well, we (the volunteers) can’t do much at the moment in terms of physical work. Instead, I wanted to keep in touch with a bit of information and what we could be looking to grow in our nursery, for the West Wittering Tree Nursery Project. We can become learned volunteers, if nothing else!

I don’t know about you, but one of my favourite trees is the Ash tree (Fraxinus excelsior or Venus of the Woods). It belongs to the same family as the olive and lilac and, in fact, produces an oil that is chemically similar to olive oil.

Common Ash Tree, European Ash Tree, Fraxinus excelsior
European Ash tree, Fraxinus excelsior (Zelimir Borzan, University of Zagreb, Bugwood.org)

The wood is used by humans to make furniture, tennis rackets, snooker cues and even the frame of the British motor – the Morgan. But, to wildlife, this tree is manna from heaven! The plants that grow beneath the ash tree attract the brown fritillary butterfly; dormice love the ash’s understorey; caterpillars of the coronet moth munch on the leaves; bullfinches eat the seeds and woodpeckers, owls, redstarts and nuthatches nest in the Ash tree.

Of course, many of you will have heard of the Ash dieback disease. This is a fungus that came over from Asia. However, there is hope that some trees are developing resistance to the disease and Ash could recover in 50 years’ time.

If you want to grow one, it takes 30 years to produce flowers and lives up to 250 years. A minor problem! Just collect the seeds or “wings” from the tree when they have turned brown. The seeds will need stratifying. What’s this? I hear you say.

Well folks, here’s the real deal on creating a tree nursery. You see, a lot of seeds have a natural defence mechanism built in to ensure they do not grow in the winter months when the seedlings could be killed off by the cold. In fact, they won’t germinate until they have gone through a winter of cold weather. But many seeds only germinate when fresh. So, in many cases, we need to break that seed dormancy period and the main way is stratification.

But don’t be put off! I will cover this in another article, under “S” probably!

I hope this information has tickled the grey cells and that you’ll join me next week when I talk about acorns. Don’t worry, it is one of the few seeds that doesn’t need a wake up call!


Post by Alex Ainge

October’s Results: Find Wildlife From Home Survey

November 6th, 2020 by Nikki

This survey began at the start of the lockdown in March, to give our active and dedicated volunteers a way to continue supporting their local wildlife, and to encourage people to take a closer look at nature near to home. Since March, we have had fantastic sightings and photos sent in to us, and this October our followers still found the time to survey their gardens and search for wildlife, while out and about. During the second lockdown, this November, we hope you will consider using some of your time outside to record, and share with us, the wildlife you see.

Here’s what you spotted, during October:



No. Seen 

Blackbird, Turdus merula 


Box-tree moth, Cydalima perspectalis 


Brown-tail moth, Euproctis chrysorrhoea 


Buzzard, Buteo buteo 


Comma butterfly, Polygonia c-album 


Common Darter dragonfly, Sympetrum striolatum 


Cranefly, Tipula paludosa 


Dunnock, Prunella modularis 


Goldfinch, Carduelis carduelis 


Grass Carp, Ctenopharyngodon idella 


Hedgehog, Erinaceus europaeus 


Hover-fly, Myathropa florea 


Kestrel, Falco tinnunculus 


Red Admiral butterfly, Vanessa atalanta 


Robin, Erithacus rubecula 


Rusty-dot Pearl, Udea ferrugalis 


Wood Pigeon, Columba palumbus 


Check out the photos we received:

Keep sending in your submissions, and if you haven’t taken part already, please share your sightings with us – every record received helps us build a more accurate picture of the Manhood Peninsula*.

How can I get involved with this survey?

Sending us a record of your wildlife sightings is simple, just make a note of the date and location of the sighting, and use these notes to fill out our ‘Enter a Quick Wildlife Record’ form. You can also submit a photo through this form.

Enter a Quick Wildlife Record

Alternatively, you can upload multiple records at the same time, by filling in one of our recording sheets and submitting this through our ‘Upload Multiple Wildlife Records’ form.

Upload Multiple Wildlife Records
Wildlife Recording Sheet View Printable PDF
Wildlife Recording Sheet Download Fillable Form

*This survey is specifically receiving submissions of wildlife sightings seen on the Manhood Peninsula, below Chichester, which includes: Apuldram, Donnington, Earnley, East Wittering, Bracklesham, Hunston, North Mundham, Selsey, Sidlesham, West Wittering, South Mundham, plus West Itchenor and Birdham.

Fact or Fiction? Test your Bat Knowledge

October 12th, 2020 by Nikki

The UK is home to 18 different species of bats, with their silhouettes against the dusk sky a recognisable sight to us all, yet there are many negative connotations attached to these familiar creatures – so, how much do we really know about bats?

As a protected species, under the Wildlife and Countryside Act of 1981, and the Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations (2017), it is more important than ever that we understand more about bats and recognise their importance, to ensure they are protected in the long-term.

In light of the negative press surrounding bats this year, ecologists from Ecology by Design have created the quiz below, to spread awareness of bats, share interesting facts about them, and de-bunk the misleading myths. Take the quiz to test your bat knowledge, and let us know your score!


Post by Nicola Timney and Ecology by Design

September’s Results: Find Wildlife From Home Survey

October 5th, 2020 by Nikki

September’s revival of warm sunny weather gave our supporters lots of good surveying opportunities, resulting in our Find Wildlife From Home survey surpassing 300 wildlife record submissions! 

We hope to make the most of future warm days to come by surveying for as long as possible, and look forward to continuing more dusk bat surveys while the weather is still bat-friendly! Subscribe as a volunteer to hear about these events, first.

Read September’s survey results, below: 



No. Seen 

Box-tree MothCydalima perspectalis 


Bronze furrow beeHalictus confusus 


Brown-tail Tussock Moth CaterpillarEuproctis chrysorrhoea 


Caddisfly, Genus: Limnephilus 


Collared DoveStreptopelia decaocto 


Common FrogRana temporaria 


DunnockPrunella modularis 


Fox, Vulpes vulpes 


Giant Willow AphidTuberolachnus salignus 


Girdled SnailHygromia cinctella 


Goldfinch, Carduelis carduelis 


Hedgehog, Erinaceus europaeus 


House SparrowPasser domesticus 


Hummingbird hawk-mothMacroglossum stellatarum 


Large White Butterfly, Pieris brassicae 


Meadow BrownManiola jurtina 


Peacock ButterflyAglais io 


Red Admiral Butterfly, Vanessa atalanta 


Robin, Erithacus rubecula 


Small Tortoiseshell ButterflyAglais urticae 


Small White Butterfly, Pieris rapae 


Thick-legged Hoverfly, Syritta pipiens 


Wood Pigeon, Columba palumbus 


Check out the photos we received: 



Keep sending in your submissions, and if you haven’t taken part already, please share your sightings with us – every record received helps us build a more accurate picture of the Manhood Peninsula*.

How can I get involved with this survey?

Sending us a record of your wildlife sightings is simple, just make a note of the date and location of the sighting, and use these notes to fill out our ‘Enter a Quick Wildlife Record’ form. You can also submit a photo through this form.

Enter a Quick Wildlife Record

Alternatively, you can upload multiple records at the same time, by filling in one of our recording sheets and submitting this through our ‘Upload Multiple Wildlife Records’ form.

Upload Multiple Wildlife Records
Wildlife Recording Sheet View Printable PDF
Wildlife Recording Sheet Download Fillable Form

*This survey is specifically receiving submissions of wildlife sightings seen on the Manhood Peninsula, below Chichester, which includes: Apuldram, Donnington, Earnley, East Wittering, Bracklesham, Hunston, North Mundham, Selsey, Sidlesham, West Wittering, South Mundham, plus West Itchenor and Birdham.

Rewilding at Knepp Estate: Our Walking Safari Experience

September 19th, 2020 by Nikki

This September, we took the opportunity to thank our volunteers and staff for their hard work and dedication, with a long-awaited trip to see the fantastic rewilding project at Knepp Estate, south of Horsham. The estate was originally used for intensive farming, until 2001 when the owners took the bold decision to end farming, reintroduce grazing animals, and allow the land to return to a natural state. The resulting transformation has been a huge success, so it was exciting to be able to go on their walking safari, and also take a look at where an infamous native species will be reintroduced, later this year.

Volunteers © 2020 Nicola Timney

Our members were split into small groups and allocated a knowledgeable and enthusiastic guide, to tour different areas of the site. A buzzard circled above, as the guides detailed which large, yet elusive, herbivores could be seen on the walk. Longhorn Cattle, Exmoor Ponies and Red Deer were present, plus Tamworth Pigs and Fallow Deer, which our groups were lucky enough to see, had all been introduced as a key part of the rewilding process. Without their grazing, a closed canopy forest would overtake the estate, yet it is the mixture of tall woodland and low-lying scrubland at Knepp which make it so biodiverse.

White Stork nest © 2020 Nicola Timney

On route to the first stop, a large white stork nest was seen high in the tree tops. Our guide explained that two young storks had built the nest within a week – an incredible achievement due its size! While the pair did not successfully breed, it was a good sign that the area is continuing to attract these birds. Knepp is part of the White Stork Project, and currently house a small colony of 20 rescue storks, which can no longer fly due to previous injuries. The hope is that other storks spot the small group and choose to breed with them and stay locally, which will improve the genetic diversity of the colony and help secure the future of the species.

A young Oak tree growing out the top of the scrub © 2020 Nicola Timney

The next area of scrubland shown, was a fantastic example of rapid rewilding. Within 15 years, seeds from the surrounding hedgerows had been trapped by the hooves of cattle, and deposited in droppings, which then spread and germinated across the farmland. The vegetation had grown into large domed shapes, which proved to be a popular and safe nesting place for linnets, whitethroats, and many other birds.

A tree was often spotted growing out of the top of these vegetation ‘domes’, with oak being the most commonly found tree at Knepp. Forgotten acorns, which had been buried with surrounding greenery, were later protected from being eaten by deer, as the growing brambles create a defensive ‘skirt’ around the saplings. Some may find them unsightly, but we love how these un-kempt shrubs support biodiversity!

Speckled Wood butterfly © 2020 Nicola Timney

The staff at Knepp Estate shared their experience of the benefits of minimal land management. In particular, they found that by not trimming back hedges, new growth would continue to appear. This is especially important for the declining brown hairstreak butterfly, which lays its eggs on the new shoots of blackthorn hedgerows. Unlike traditional conservation methods, which can need a lot of human involvement, this simple method of leaving hedges untrimmed where possible, is an easy and cheap management strategy to try at home and in public spaces.

A notable feature of the land was the uneven ground, where the Tamworth pigs had been rooting. The unearthing of seeds, which then germinate in the disrupted ground, had enabled wildflowers to grow all over the estate. These buds and small leaves seem to be a favoured food source for Turtle doves in the area. Nationally, Turtle doves are expected to become extinct within a few years, so the staff hope to tag the doves and track their movements and feeds, to prove that reintroducing pigs to other areas in the UK could help the species.

Lightning-Struck tree © 2020 Nicola Timney

The main lesson learned on the trip, was to remember to always be untidy where possible! This beautiful lightning-struck tree would usually have been cleared, but keeping the tree and its debris has provided a fantastic habitat for insects. Try leaving out dead wood in your garden to naturally biodegrade overtime, or pile the wood into a bug hotel, to support insect popualtions. Our gardens make up more land than all the nature reserves in the UK put together, so you can make a real difference just by leaving areas of your garden less manicured.

Near the end of the safari tour, our members were shown an area with ditches and rivers, which will soon become home to European beavers, relocated from a reintroduction programme in Scotland. The beavers are expected to make use of the abundant young willow growing near Knepp’s watercourses, which in turn will allow light-loving and oxygenating plants to thrive in the water. In fact, the beavers will be managing the land much like our volunteers do for our Fixing and Linking Our Wetlands Project. We can’t wait to return next year and see how the landscape has changed!

Volunteers © 2020 Nicola Timney

Our team send a big thank you to Knepp Estate for a wonderful tour and an interesting insight into different land management strategies. The site is 3,500 acres, so there is lots more to see on our next trip, and we highly recommend that you visit!

Learn more about Knepp Estate on their website: www.knepp.co.uk/home

Post by Nicola Timney

August’s Results: Find Wildlife From Home Survey

September 2nd, 2020 by Nikki

While August was not a predictable month for the weather, our volunteers were reliable in recording and submitting their wildlife sightings. In the fifth month of our survey, a total of 69 records were submitted!

We now have volunteers regularly contributing their wildlife sightings, seen at FLOW project improved wetland sites – it’s great to see the results of your landscaping work supporting a wide range of species. Well done to all who braved the wild weather to carry out their surveys, last month!

If you are interested in wildlife recording, our FLOW project team are currently looking for volunteers to independently survey the following sites:

~ Rymans House pond in Apuldram
~ Easton Lane at the Sidlesham/ Earnley parish border
~ The relic canal in NorthMundham

Contact us at flow@mwhg.org.uk to learn more about independent surveying.

Read August’s survey results, below: 





Blackbird, Turdus merula 

Blue tit, Cyanistes caeruleus 

Buff-tailed Bumblebee, Bombus terrestris 


Collared Dove, Streptopelia decaocto 

Common blue butterfly, Polyommatus icarus 

Common carder bee, Bombus pascuorum 

Common soldier beetle, Rhagonycha fulva 

Dunnock, Prunella modularis 

Gatekeeper, Pyronia tithonus 

Goldfinch, Carduelis carduelis 


Grass moth, Chrysoteuchia culmella 

Great spotted woodpecker, Dendrocopos major 

Green Shieldbug nymph, Palomena prasina 

Holly Blue, Celastrina argiolus 

House Sparrow, Passer domesticus 

Hoverfly, (Syrphida family) 


Ladybird, (Coccinellidae family) 


Large White butterfly, Pieris brassicae 


Linnet, Carduelis cannabina 

Long-bodied Hoverfly, Sphaerophoria scripta 

Magpie moth, Abraxas grossulariata 

Meadow Brown, Maniola jurtina 

Mint moth, Pyrausta aurata 

Mining bee, (Andrenidae family) 

Nursery web spider, Pisaura mirabilis 

Peacock butterfly, Aglais io 

Red Admiral, Vanessa atalanta 

Robin, Erithacus rubecula 

Silver Y moth, Autographa gamma 

Small White, Pieris rapae 

Speckled wood butterfly, Pararge aegeria 

Tapered Drone fly, Eristalis pertinax 

Wood pigeon, Columba palumbus 

7-spot Ladybird, Coccinella septempunctata 

Check out the photos we received: 


Keep sending in your submissions, and if you haven’t taken part already, please share your sightings with us – every record received helps us build a more accurate picture of the Manhood Peninsula*.

How can I get involved with this survey?

Sending us a record of your wildlife sightings is simple, just make a note of the date and location of the sighting, and use these notes to fill out our ‘Enter a Quick Wildlife Record’ form. You can also submit a photo through this form.

Enter a Quick Wildlife Record

Alternatively, you can upload multiple records at the same time, by filling in one of our recording sheets and submitting this through our ‘Upload Multiple Wildlife Records’ form.

Upload Multiple Wildlife Records
Wildlife Recording Sheet View Printable PDF
Wildlife Recording Sheet Download Fillable Form

*This survey is specifically receiving submissions of wildlife sightings seen on the Manhood Peninsula, below Chichester, which includes: Apuldram, Donnington, Earnley, East Wittering, Bracklesham, Hunston, North Mundham, Selsey, Sidlesham, West Wittering, South Mundham, plus West Itchenor and Birdham.

July’s Results: Find Wildlife From Home Survey

August 4th, 2020 by Nikki

In the fourth month of our Find Wildlife From Home Survey, we surpassed 200 submissions! Some of these sightings were recorded at FLOW project improved wetland sites, by volunteers working independently. Thank you to those who have already signed up to return to surveying wildlife for the FLOW project, your time and efforts are really appreciated! Contact us at flow@mwhg.org.uk to learn more about independent surveying.

Read July’s survey results, below: 





Blue-tailed Damselfly (Ischnura elegans) 


Brown-lipped Snail (Cepaea nemoralis) 


Blackbird (Turdus merula) 


Blackcap (Sylvia atricapilla) 


Blue-tailed Damselfly (Ischnura elegans) 


Blue Tit (Cyanistes caeruleus) 


Buff tailed bee (Bombus terrestris) 


Buzzard (Buteo buteo) 


Collared Dove (Streptopelia decaocto) 


Comma Butterfly (Polygonia c-album) 


Common Carder Bee (Bombus pascuorum) 


Common Whitethroat (Sylvia communis) 


Dunnock (Prunella modularis) 


Elephant hawk-moth (Deilephila elpenor) 


Fox (Vulpes vulpes) 


Gatekeeper (Pyronia tithonus) 


Goldfinch (Carduelis carduelis) 


German Wasp (Vespula germanica) 


House Martin (Delichon urbicum) 


House Sparrow (Passer domesticus) 


Hoverfly (Various) (Syrphidae family) 


Ichneumonidae Wasp (Pimpla rufipes) 


Large White butterfly (Pieris brassicae) 


Meadow Brown butterfly (Maniola jurtina) 


Mining bee (Andrena species) 


Patchwork leaf-cutter bee (Megachile centuncularis) 


Red Admiral butterfly (Vanessa atalanta) 


Red slug (Arion rufus) 


Robber fly (Dioctria baumhaueri) 


Robin (Erithacus rubecula) 


Wood Mouse (Apodemus sylvaticus) 


Wood Pigeon (Columba palumbus) 


Wren (Troglodytes troglodytes) 


Six-Spot Burnet moth (Zygaena filipendulae) 


Skipper butterfly (Hesperiidae family) 


Small White Butterfly (Pieris rapae) 


Speckled Wood butterfly (Pararge aegeria) 


Yellowhammer (Emberiza citrinella) 


7-Spot Ladybird (Coccinella septempunctata) 


These wonderful photos were also submitted, during July:



Keep sending in your submissions, and if you haven’t taken part already, please share your sightings with us – every record received helps us build a more accurate picture of the Manhood Peninsula*.

How can I get involved with this survey?

Sending us a record of your wildlife sightings is simple, just make a note of the date and location of the sighting, and use these notes to fill out our ‘Enter a Quick Wildlife Record’ form. You can also submit a photo through this form.

Enter a Quick Wildlife Record

Alternatively, you can upload multiple records at the same time, by filling in one of our recording sheets and submitting this through our ‘Upload Multiple Wildlife Records’ form.

Upload Multiple Wildlife Records
Wildlife Recording Sheet View Printable PDF
Wildlife Recording Sheet Download Fillable Form

*This survey is specifically receiving submissions of wildlife sightings seen on the Manhood Peninsula, below Chichester, which includes: Apuldram, Donnington, Earnley, East Wittering, Bracklesham, Hunston, North Mundham, Selsey, Sidlesham, West Wittering, South Mundham, plus West Itchenor and Birdham.

June’s Results: Find Wildlife From Home Survey

July 1st, 2020 by Nikki

We are now into our third month of our Find Wildlife From Home Survey, and the submissions keep coming in! June brought even more hot weather to the peninsula, allowing our followers to record sightings both at home and further afield.

Read June’s submissions, below:

Species  Individuals 
Angle shades (Phlogophora meticulosa)  1 
Blackbird (Turdus merula)  6 
Black garden ant (Lasius niger)  20 
Blue-tailed Damselfly (Ischnura elegans)  1 
Buff-tailed Bumblebee (Bombus terrestris)  5 
Crane fly (Tipula oleracea)  2 
Dunnock (Prunella modularis)  3 
Fox (Vulpes vulpes)  4 
Goldfinch (Carduelis carduelis)  15 
Hawthorn Shieldbug (Acanthosoma haemorrhoidale)  1 
Hedgehog (Erinaceus europaeus)  5 
Holly Blue (Celastrina argiolus)  3 
House Sparrow (Passer domesticus)  6 
Hoverfly (Diplazon laetatorius)  1 
Hoverfly (Myathropa florea)  1 
Hoverfly (Syrphus ribesii)  2 
Hoverfly (Volucella zonaria)  1 
Kestrel (Falco tinnunculus)  1 
Magpie (Pica pica)  1 
Mason wasp (Ancistrocerus gazella)  1 
Migrant Hoverfly (Eupeodes corollae)  1 
Mirid Bug (Deraeocoris flavilinea)  1 
Red Admiral butterfly (Vanessa atalanta)  1 
Robin (Erithacus rubecula) 1 
Semaphore fly (Poecilobothrus nobilitatus)  1 
Speckled wood butterfly (Pararge aegeria)  3 
Starling (Sturnus vulgaris) 1 
Thick-legged flower beetle (Oedemera nobilis)  1 
Vine weevil (Otiorhynchus sulcatus)  1 
Wood mouse (Apodemus sylvaticus)  2 
Wood Pigeon (Columba palumbus)  5 

 Take a look at the fantastic photos submitted in June:

Keep sending in your submissions, and if you haven’t taken part already, please share your sightings with us – every record received helps us build a more accurate picture of the Manhood Peninsula*.

How can I get involved with this survey?

Sending us a record of your wildlife sightings is simple, just make a note of the date and location of the sighting, and use these notes to fill out our ‘Enter a Quick Wildlife Record’ form. You can also submit a photo through this form.

Enter a Quick Wildlife Record

Alternatively, you can upload multiple records at the same time, by filling in one of our recording sheets and submitting this through our ‘Upload Multiple Wildlife Records’ form.

Upload Multiple Wildlife Records
Wildlife Recording Sheet View Printable PDF
Wildlife Recording Sheet Download Fillable Form

*This survey is specifically receiving submissions of wildlife sightings seen on the Manhood Peninsula, below Chichester, which includes: Apuldram, Donnington, Earnley, East Wittering, Bracklesham, Hunston, North Mundham, Selsey, Sidlesham, West Wittering, South Mundham, plus West Itchenor and Birdham.

May’s Results: Find Wildlife From Home Survey

June 1st, 2020 by Nikki

Our followers have been busy recording for the second month of our Find Wildlife From Home Survey, and we have now surpassed 100 submissions in total! Volunteers have also been borrowing the live-moth trap from FLOW project leader, Jane, to do moth counting from home alone, whilst others are helping to create GIS maps of data from our ditch surveys – thank you for helping us to collate and collect data on the Manhood Peninsula, during the lockdown period.

With a record breaking warm transition into Summer, it has been interesting to see which species you spotted during May. Here are the results of last month’s submissions:



Bat (Other) 


Bee-fly (Bombylius major) 


Blackbird (Turdus merula) 


Buff Ermine moth (Spilosoma luteum) 


Buff-tailed bumblebee (Bombus terrestris) 


Common carder bee (Bombus pascuorum) 


Dunnock (Prunella modularis) 


False Widow Spider (Steatoda grossa/ nobilis) 


Field Cuckoo Bee (Bombus campestris) 


Field Digger Wasp (Mellinus arvensis) 


Flesh fly (Sarcophaga genus) 


Goldfinch (Carduelis carduelis) 


Great Tit (Parus major) 


Greenfinch (Carduelis chloris) 


Green-vein White (Pieris napi) 


Hawthorn Shieldbug (Acanthosoma haemorrhoidale) 


Hedgehog (Erinaceinae) 


Holly Blue Butterfly (Celastrina argiolus) 


Honey bee (Apis mellifera) 


House Sparrow (Passer domesticus) 


Hoverfly (Parhelophilus genus) 


Hoverfly (Other) 


Jumping Spider (Pseudeuophrys lanigera) 


Juniper Sheildbug (Cyphostethus tristriatus) 


Large Red Damselfly (Pyrrhosoma nymphula) 


Magpie (Pica pica) 


Marmalade Hoverfly (Episyrphus balteatus) 


Mint moth (Pyrausta aurata) 


Orange Tip Butterfly (Anthocharis cardamines) 


Peacock Butterfly (Aglais io) 


Red Admiral Butterfly (Vanessa atalanta) 


Robin (Erithacus rubecula) 


Rose Aphid Greenfly (Macrosiphum rosae) 

Est. 100 

Small White butterfly (Pieris rapae) 


Speckled Wood (Pararge aegeria) 


Starling (Sturnus vulgaris) 


Wood mouse (Apodemus sylvaticus) 


Wood Pigeon (Columba palumbus) 


Wren (Troglodytes troglodytes) 


Yellow-legged Mining bee (Andrena flavipes) 


7-Spot Ladybird (Coccinella septempunctata) 


10-Spot Ladybird (Adalia decempunctata) 


These superb photos were also sent in throughout May:

Keep sending in your submissions, and if you haven’t taken part already, please share your sightings with us – every record received helps us build a more accurate picture of the Manhood Peninsula*.

How can I get involved with this survey?

Sending us a record of your wildlife sightings is simple, just make a note of the date and location of the sighting, and use these notes to fill out our ‘Enter a Quick Wildlife Record’ form. You can also submit a photo through this form.

Enter a Quick Wildlife Record

Alternatively, you can upload multiple records at the same time, by filling in one of our recording sheets and submitting this through our ‘Upload Multiple Wildlife Records’ form.

Upload Multiple Wildlife Records
Wildlife Recording Sheet View Printable PDF
Wildlife Recording Sheet Download Fillable Form

*This survey is specifically receiving submissions of wildlife sightings seen on the Manhood Peninsula, below Chichester, which includes: Apuldram, Donnington, Earnley, East Wittering, Bracklesham, Hunston, North Mundham, Selsey, Sidlesham, West Wittering, South Mundham, plus West Itchenor and Birdham.

April’s Results: Find Wildlife From Home Survey

May 1st, 2020 by Nikki

Spring is an excellent time to spot wildlife, as many species who hide away over winter will be emerging to reproduce. You have probably seen birds gathering nest material, perhaps found insect eggs on leaves while gardening, or have even heard male frogs croaking at night – all are positive signs of an active ecosystem.

The FLOW team would usually be going out with volunteers to record as much of this activity as possible, but instead are recording alone at home and on site. Due to social distancing measures, we called upon our followers to send us wildlife recordings, in place of attending our regular recording events – and they were quick to respond!

Here are the records we received, throughout April:



Brown-tail moth caterpillars 

Est. 500 

Buff-tailed Bumblebee 


Centipede (Necrophloeophagus longicornis) 


Great tit 

Green-veined white butterfly  

Ground beetle (Poecilus variety) 

Honey bee 


Hoverfly (Syrphus ribesii) 

Hoverfly (Other) 

Mining Bee (Yellow-legged) 

Mining Bee (Other) 

Rove beetle (Sepedophilus marshami) 

Small White butterfly 

Tree Slug  

2-spot ladybird 

We also recieved these fantastic photos:


Keep sending in your submissions, and if you haven’t taken part already, please share your sightings with us – every record received helps us build a more accurate picture of the Manhood Peninsula*.

How can I get involved with this survey?

Sending us a record of your wildlife sightings is simple, just make a note of the date and location of the sighting, and use these notes to fill out our ‘Enter a Quick Wildlife Record’ form. You can also submit a photo through this form. 

Enter a Quick Wildlife Record

Alternatively, you can upload multiple records at the same time, by filling in one of our recording sheets and submitting this through our ‘Upload Multiple Wildlife Records’ form.

Upload Multiple Wildlife Records
Wildlife Recording Sheet View Printable PDF
Wildlife Recording Sheet Download Fillable Form

*This survey is specifically receiving submissions of wildlife sightings seen on the Manhood Peninsula, below Chichester, which includes: Apuldram, Donnington, Earnley, East Wittering, Bracklesham, Hunston, North Mundham, Selsey, Sidlesham, West Wittering, South Mundham, plus West Itchenor and Birdham.

New Birding Blog: Wildlife with Hugh

November 20th, 2019 by Nikki
Eileen Savill Award 2019: [Back row, L to R] Ben (volunteer for Brent Lodge), Hugh (overall winner and volunteer for RSPB), [front row] [left] Joe Savill (Chairman of MWHG), [centre] Luke (from the Academy Selsey), [right] Chris Drake (FLOW Project Field Officer), [remaining four, left to right] Tiffany, Katie, Millie and Maddie (group from the Academy Selsey)
© Nicola Timney November 2018

Previously commended by the Manhood Wildlife and Heritage Group for his dedication to conserving and championing wildlife, 2018 Eileen Savill Award for Young People winner, Hugh Baggaley, is now utilizing his experience of volunteering with the RSPB at Pagham Harbour, to lead his own guided birding walks across West Sussex and Hampshire. So far, Hugh has taken small groups to a number of bird hotspots, including Chichester harbour, Medmerry and the Farlington marshes.

To compliment these walks, Hugh has now launched the website ‘Wildlife with Hugh’, to document the excursions and share his personal passion for the many different bird species found in the South of the UK. His weekly blogs describe individual bird encounters, with anecdotes and facts to interest both bird novices and keen birders, alike. Also featured on the website, are updates about bird surveys which Hugh carries out for local governing bodies and national conservation charities, plus visitors to the blog are able to book a place on upcoming guided walks.

Check out Hugh’s website, below:



This Friday November 22nd, the Manhood Wildlife and Heritage Group will be presenting its 2019 Eileen Savill Award winners with prizes, for their contributions to protecting and promoting the environment. The Group will look forward to seeing how the winners progress with their environmentally focussed projects, in the future. 

Post by Nicola Timney

Buckthorn for Brimstones: Get Involved with Transition Chichester’s Project

November 13th, 2019 by Nikki

Read about Mary Iden’s project and how you can help the brimstone butterfly.

Earlier this year, I organised a project ‘Transition Chichester Buckthorn for Brimstones’, which aimed to encourage people to plant one or more alder buckthorns in their gardens, allotments, farms etc. Alder buckthorn and common buckthorn are the only food plants for brimstone butterfly caterpillars, alder buckthorn being possibly better suited to the soils round Chichester. More than 300 bushes were planted in the area as a result………but there will always be room for more!

If you are interested in planting one or more alder buckthorns during this planting season, please email me (Mary Iden) at tcbuckthornforbrimstones@gmail.com as soon as possible, telling me how many you would like (so I know roughly how many to order), and giving me your postcode (so I can plot all the plantings on a Google map). Once the order has arrived from the nursery, I will let you know. You can then collect the bare-rooted bush(es) from my front garden in central Chichester – bring a plastic bag to put them in – and push the payment of £1.50 per bush through my front door.

Please see the information sheet, below, about buckthorn and brimstones, for advice on how to care for them.

Transition Chichester Buckthorn for Brimstones Project Information Sheet


Selsey Great British Beach Clean Results 2019

November 6th, 2019 by Nikki

Volunteers and local litter prevention campaigners gathered in Selsey for the Marine Conservation Society’s (MCS) Great British Beach Clean weekend, on September 21st. The annual litter picking event allows organisations to collect large amounts of data, on a national scale, about the types of waste and pollution affecting our beaches. Sarah Hughes, Chichester District Council’s (CDC) Community Wildlife Officer, organised the clean and survey at East Beach, under the CDC and Southern Water ‘Selsey Bathing Water Enhancement Project’, with the Manhood Wildlife and Heritage Group (MWHG) attending to help run the event.  

Volunteers preparing to start the beach clean © Nicola Timney 2019

The day of the litter pick was due to be sunny and warm, however organisers were met with very intense onshore winds and a rolling sea, preventing the Mulberry Divers from completing their underwater litter pick. Instead, the divers joined MWHG volunteers and the CDC community wardens to initiate arriving volunteers and to prevent the Against Litter tent from blowing away! Despite the conditions, 48 undeterred volunteers turned up to take part and, once split into teams, they set off to clean and survey the beach. Upon returning, the volunteers were given a free BBQ as a thank you for their hard work, generously cooked by the Selsey & District Lions with produce from local butchers, Ian Francis and Sons.

Selsey & District Lions Club serving the BBQ © Nicola Timney 2019

While the beach clean was underway, volunteers and the passing public were able to visit mobile exhibitions on display, from Southern Water and the West Sussex County Council’s (WSCC) Waste Prevention Team. The exhibitions showcased different ways to recycle and keep bathing waters clean, and beach goers were given free eco-friendly products, including bamboo toothbrushes, plus waste-saving food recipes, to take home. A special sculpture, created from old household materials by WSCC’s Waste Prevention Team member Adam Swain, was also on show. The longevity of this piece serves as a reminder for the lasting effects of short-term use plastic, particularly on wildlife. Sparky the cormorant has a beak made from the end of a hoover and wings crafted from the casings of unwanted remote controls. See if you can spot the other electrical items used to build Sparky’s body. 

Sparky the cormorant by Adam Swain © Nicola Timney 2019

Once the beach clean was finished, the volunteers returned with 31kg of rubbish, totalling over 700 pieces of litter. The haul came to slightly less than the 32kg of rubbish collected the previous year, which had consisted of over 900 individual pieces. Volunteers who are familiar with the beach noted that the shingle seemed in better condition than it was during the 2018 East beach clean and that most litter was distributed further away from the beach front, where the footfall is higher and food is consumed more often. Common items found included 92 pieces of food and drink packaging, 99 bits of polystyrene, 56 pieces of fishing equipment, and 14 bags of dog faeces. See the full results compared with last year’s survey, below.

Click on the charts to see the information in full screen mode.

2018 Results

2019 Results

Common Litter Items Found



Cigarette stubs



Plastic pieces <2.5cm



Plastic pieces >2.5cm <50cm



Fishing paraphernalia pieces



Plastic and metal caps/ lids



Plastic rope pieces



Plastic and foil food wrappers



Plastic cutlery/ straws



Bagged dog faeces



Metal scraps, barbed wire and mesh pieces




The MWHG are very thankful to those who came out to take part in the survey and support the running of the event – your efforts make a big impact on the health of this local beach! As you can see from the results, keeping beaches and water clear of pollutants and waste is an ongoing process, so please join us again next year for the Great British Beach Clean and see the links below for tips on how to keep your local beach clear of litter.


Marine Conservation Society: www.mcsuk.org/how-you-can-help/

2 Minute Beach Clean: www.beachclean.net/why

Against Litter Campaign: www.chichester.gov.uk/againstlitter

Post by Nicola Timney

The Re-introduction of White-tailed Eagles

July 2nd, 2019 by Nikki
White-tailed Eagle


This article was featured in our 2019 Spring Summer Newsletter – read the full newsletter here.

The Roy Dennis Wildlife Foundation and Forestry England have recently been granted a licence by Natural England to re-introduce white-tailed eagles Haliaeetus albicilla to the Isle of Wight. The five-year programme will begin with the release 6-8 juvenile birds this summer. It is hoped to establish a small base population in the Solent area from Poole to Pagham, with birds eventually spreading out along the South Coast. Studies in the Nederland’s have shown that the species are content to nest in populated areas.

White-tailed eagle prey on fish and water birds but will also scavenge readily. Most of the water birds taken by eagles are thought to be injured or sick, with carrion making up around 30% of their diet during the winter months. Fish form an important part of the birds’ diet during the spring and summer, when we can expect to see them fishing for abundant species like grey mullet Mugil cephalus, found within the shallow waters of our estuaries and harbours.

Disturbance caused by the eagles to wading birds is understood to be similar to that of peregrine falcons Falco peregrinus. Prey species quickly become accustomed to their presence, if they are not so already – breeding colonies of gulls and terns are very adept at mobbing and driving off the eagles.

As well as the conservation benefits, it has been shown that in areas where white-tailed eagles have been re-introduced previously, they have generated significant benefits for the local economy. The Isle of Mull for example, receives up to £5 million per year through eagle related tourism.

I will be looking out excitedly for these birds later in the year. With their impressive 2 m – 2.4 m wingspan supporting a 3.5 kg – 7.4 kg bird, they will be certain to turn a few heads!




Post by Nick Gray

Volunteer ‘thank you’ Bioblitz day at Binsted Woods

May 24th, 2019 by Nikki
Ancient Woodland Walk © Emily Sabin

On Wednesday 15th May, the FLOW team took 17 volunteers to Binsted Woods near Arundel for a Bioblitz wildlife recording day. We dedicated the day to our volunteers to say thank you for all the time, commitment and hard physical work that they have given the FLOW project over the recent winter season. We were spoilt with beautiful weather and the opportunity to see a variety of wildlife. Some volunteers brought delicious homemade treats, including scones, cream and jam!

Volunteers © Emily Sabin

Our aim for the day was for the volunteers to have fun and enjoy spending time together identifying a variety of flora and fauna. Binsted Woods is cared for by MAVES (Mid Arun Valley Environmental Survey), a community-based charity set up by Binsted’s farmers and residents in 2015 to conserve the local countryside. MAVES carries out regular flora and fauna surveys, including the dormouse, which we were all very keen to see. Our Bioblitz was guided by Ian Powell, MAVES’ principal licensed surveyor, who was joined by Paul Stevens, Reserve Manager at Arundel Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust, and Sarah Hughes, Wildlife Officer for Chichester District Council.

View where A27 bypass would go © Emily Sabin

Binsted Woods is a 250 acre broad-leaved ancient woodland with a high species diversity, adjoining to ancient hedgerows which serve as wildlife corridors around the neighbouring wildflower meadows and arable land. The woodland is intersected by footpaths, enabling anyone to experience the richness of biodiversity. Bluebell walks are an unforgettable experience here, and you might catch a glimpse of roe deer dashing across the fields. If you visit at dusk you can spot an owl silently soaring above its hunting ground. The woods are also home to 14 bat species, 93 bird species (including 20 Red-List species), and an increasing number of badgers, brown hares, foxes and hedgehogs. The wildflower meadows boast a multitude of insects and come alive with the sound of that glorious summer buzz.

Ancient woodland and dormouse habitat © Emily Sabin

Our Bioblitz day started with a mid-morning walk through the ancient woodland, stopping to check a few dormice boxes and finding most were empty, except for a nest of sleeping blue-tit chicks, and a busy tree bumblebee nest with a small cloud of males attempting to attract the queen bee by dancing around the nest hole. We also recorded a variety of plants, including: early purple orchid; wood anemones; primrose; bluebells; butcher’s broom (an ancient woodland indicator species); ferns; mosses, and lichen.

Dormouse © Emily Sabin

In the afternoon we took a different route through the woodland to an area called Paine’s Wood where MAVES has erected lots of dormice boxes. Our licensed dormice handlers checked each box carefully, and – after several were found empty or had other residents – we finally had the magical moment of seeing a dormouse, which was a first time for many of us. The dormice were delicately handled to be examined and sexed.

Dormouse © Emily Sabin

Dormice are delightful and fascinating small rodents and sadly they are threatened with extinction. Their decline reflects the significant loss of ancient woodland habitat and the removal of ancient hedgerow corridors over the last hundred years which are essential for their survival. Paine’s Wood is part of the National Dormice Monitoring Programme (NDMP) and is an excellent habitat for dormice. Fluctuating but good numbers of dormice have been recorded consistently here for 15 years which is an encouraging sign of continued and future presence of local dormice.

Yellow Archangel © Emily Sabin

MAVES continues to gather biodiversity records in Binsted Woods to fully understand this historic environment. Their policy allows data to be shared appropriately to interested people including farmers, landowners and local authorities. Currently, Binsted is threatened by a major road bypass plan which would dissect Binsted village and cut off the ancient woodland from vital wildlife corridors, including the ancient hedgerows and other nearby woodland. Given the prolific biodiversity records gathered here, amidst a backdrop of globally declining biodiversity, it should be impossible to deliver a major road here within the current legislative framework.

Orchid © Emily Sabin

Overall our Bioblitz day was a huge success! We all learnt so much about the local area and the wildlife. Our volunteers had a fantastic day and thoroughly enjoyed the experience of identifying species (and learning lots of new ones) in a beautiful, thriving ancient woodland. A huge thank you to everyone who came along, and to FLOW’s Christopher Drake who organised the event.

For more information visit: www.aruncountryside.org

Post by Emily Sabin

MWHG’s Response to Chichester District Council’s Local Development Plan

February 21st, 2019 by Nikki

The importance of ‘Wildlife Corridors’ cannot be over emphasised.

For the last four years the Manhood Wildlife and Heritage Group has been working via the Heritage Lottery Fund funded FLOW (Fixing and Linking our Wetlands) Project, to improve green connectivity between the three internationally important wildlife sites on and around the Peninsula: South Downs National Park, Chichester Harbour and Pagham Harbour. This enables creatures to move safely between them. Hedgerows, ditches and watercourses form these valuable links. Birds, bats, small mammals, insects and other invertebrates can travel and forage for food along them.

It is so important that this connectivity should continue beyond this relatively small area to provide passages and food for migrant species and opportunities for wildlife to reach new populations and thereby strengthen their gene pool which can become diluted and weakened in isolated populations, which may ultimately die out.

Our lovely coastal region is heavily developed and the pressure for new housing is enormous. It is vital that despite this, these green corridors should be created and remain sacrosanct.

It is most likely difficult for many people to realise the importance of this to their own health and wellbeing. However the relationship between all of nature, from the smallest seed to the tallest tree, from the tiniest mite to the largest animal, is a complex but inexorable web of survival, of which humans are at the top. The more diverse the network the stronger it is. It affects the air we breathe, the food we eat and the way we feel. For every species that becomes extinct or eradicated from a region, a small link in this invisible web is broken. In the last 25 years our insect population has declined by up to 75%; since the end of the last war Britain has lost 97% of its wild flowers and 300,000km of hedgerows; we are losing our pollinators, like bumblebees (three species gone, 10 severely threatened). Since 1970 the WWF reports the global vertebrate population has declined by 60%. The web of life is being weakened.

So we therefore strongly request that Chichester District Council should ensure these green links exist between the coastal plain and the South Downs and that they are protected from encroaching development, thereby helping to maintain the biodiversity of this special area.

In our view, the wildlife corridors that have been planned, using the best evidence and research available, form an essential way of protecting species in a rapidly changing environment, and are the minimum requirement. I would suggest that there are also significant reasons for recognising and protecting a network of wildlife corridors within the Manhood Peninsula, which link to the major corridors, so that any development, however small, does not impact negatively on biodiversity.

Post by Gina Scott and MWHG

Health Risk Notice: Brown-tail Moth Prevalence

June 28th, 2018 by Nikki

Brown-tail tussock moth (Euproctis chrysorrhoea)

Brown-tail tussock moth (Euproctis chrysorrhoea)

Be aware that caterpillars of the Brown-tail moth are active in the area. These caterpillars may pose a risk to human health.


The caterpillars are dark brown in colour with a white stripe down both sides of the body. They have two raised orange/red tufts to the rear of their body and are covered in hairs. In July the adult female moth, which is white with a brown hairy abdomen, lays her eggs and protects them with hairs combed from her abdomen. In the spring these visible web-like tents can be seen on the host plants. The caterpillars feed on a wide range of plants which include Bramble, Dog rose and Blackthorn.

Brown-tail tussock moth caterpillars (Euproctis chrysorrhoea)

Brown-tail tussock moth caterpillars


The caterpillars are considered a risk to human health when the hairs, which are spiked and barbed, are shed and come into contact with exposed parts of the body. This may result in an irritating rash or if the hairs are inhaled can cause respiratory problems. Anyone suffering an allergic reaction as a result of coming into contact with these caterpillars should seek medical advice.


For advice on the control of the caterpillars and nests contact your local Environmental Health Officer.

Post by Dave Haldane

Blitzed! Over 100 Species Recorded at Manor Green Park

June 22nd, 2018 by Nikki

Last Wednesday MWHG staff and volunteers gathered at Manor Green Park, adjacent to the Selsey Centre, to discover and record the wildlife on this popular community site. A grand total of 109 species were recorded! A lot of work went in beforehand to plan the species recording, including setting moth traps in local gardens and positioning reptile tins and live mammal traps. Despite it being a weekday, we hoped that there would be interest from the public and visiting volunteers to come along a see what was happening, and we set up information displays outside the centre and a discovery trail around the site. A key draw for the day was the involvement of the Sussex Biological Records Centre (SBRC), who sent a representative down to help train volunteers and visitors on iRecord. Using iRecord is an important way to submit your records to a central database where they can be verified by experts. It’s a great way to track changes species distribution, record rarities and ensure that there is a bank of biological information available for sites to highlight their value.

RSPB volunteers browse the displays about MWHG’s work on the peninsula. ©R. O’Dowd

The day dawned still and sunny, perfect for species monitoring, and we kicked off the event by checking the moth traps with the help of RSPB Warden and moth expert Ivan Lang. In total, 22 moth species were recorded. Shortly afterwards, we had an influx of RSPB volunteers who took time out of their Wednesday work party to attend the event, and most of this group walked around the site with MWHG Field Office Chris Drake to check the reptile tins. Although only 1 reptile species was recorded- the slow worm- there were a good number of individuals found under the tins. Shortly after Chris checked the reptile tins, FLOW Project Manager Jane Reeve walked around the site with a small group to check to Longworth mammals traps, and those with her were lucky enough to see a wood mouse and short tailed field vole. Back at the centre, several of the RSPB volunteers also attended iRecord training and thanks are also due to RSPB warden Barry O’Dowd for bringing them along.

Jane releases a short tailed field vole from a Longworth trap. ©R. O’Dowd

FLOW Leader Jane identifies a short tailed field vole ©N.Timney

Lois from SBRC trains RSPB staff and volunteers on how to use iRecord. ©R.O’Dowd

As the day started to heat up, it was time to head into the patches of meadow and scour the hedgerows for invertebrates and we were lucky to have the expertise and enthusiasm of entomologist Dr Alison Barker. Thanks to Alison’s efforts, with help from Sarah Hughes, Chris Drake and Felicity McStea, 8 butterfly species were recorded, 9 species of hymenoptera (bees) and a further 13 species of invertebrate, including various true-bugs, crustaceans, molluscs, orthopterans (crickets and grasshoppers), a beetle and a dragonfly. The invertebrate highlight was an Essex Skipper (Butterfly) which has no previous Selsey record! In the meadows, Felicity and Sarah in particular, did a brilliant job in identifying 74 species of plant.

Small Magpie Moth from a live trap ©N.Timney

Although the midweek footfall was quiet in the park, we met some very enthusiastic locals and several parents stopped to take part in activities with their children, including barn owl pellet dissecting. Towards the end of the day, the adjacent nursery brought over three groups of children to look at the moths collected in our live traps. Overall it was a successful bioblitz, blessed by beautiful weather, during which we collected many valuable records to highlight the wildlife using the site, much of which is often hidden, but is all around us! Many thanks to MWHG staff and volunteers for all their efforts on the day.

We’ll be holding mini bioblitzes on 2nd and 3rd of July at two sites in Sidlesham and would welcome your help and enthusiasm. It’s a great opportunity to help us discover and appreciate our local wildlife and also brush up on your ID skills. If you’d like more information on joining either of these events please contact FLOW Project Leader Jane for more information at jane@jssj.co.uk.

Post by Rebecca O’Dowd

A Team Effort to Tidy East Beach

May 16th, 2018 by Nikki

Wednesday 9th May was a stunning blue day at Selsey and perfect weather for a joint beach clean between the Manhood Wildlife and Heritage Group (MWHG) and Nature’s Way foods. The MWHG are based in Selsey and have an active volunteer group based at East Beach Pond. The MWHG were approached by Nature’s Way to see if we could team up their staff with our volunteers to do a litter pick at East Beach. The timing of the clean was important, because it was just after the busy bank holiday weekend, when there may have been more rubbish left than usual, and also before the main tourist season, by which time it would be good to have the beach and its surroundings looking tip top. The clean also coincides with Chichester District Council’s (CDC) recently launched ‘Against Litter’ campaign, and CDC kindly lent us some litter-picking kits, including litter pickers, hoops and bags.


MWHG volunteers and Nature’s Way staff busy clearing litter below the seawall. ©Nicola Timney


On the afternoon of the clean, 15 people turned up to help, including staff from Nature’s Way and staff and volunteers from the MWHG. The staff from Nature’s Way certainly seemed to appreciate the chance to get out of the office on such a glorious afternoon, with the added bonus of giving back something to the local community. It was also great to have the support of some of the regular volunteers from the MWHG East Beach group. After ensuring everyone was briefed on safety and supplied with the right kit, volunteers were allocated different areas to work on and set off in pairs. The focus for the clean was approximately the 200m of beach in front of and either side of the East Beach car park and the surroundings of the car park itself, including the greens. Overall it was good to see that there was not a huge amount of litter left on the beach or the greens, the worst area was below the seawall on the landward side, where litter is dropped from above and collects from the wind. Most of the litter found was waste plastic, including food wrappers, bottle and bottle caps. After a good two hours of work, 8 bags of litter had been collected and were left by the bins for CDC to take away.


The team. Hopefully we’ll join forces again soon to tackle more litter! ©Nicola Timney


Over refreshments of juice, biscuits and strawberries, the team could feel well pleased that they had a made a difference and there was even talk of making a joint litter pick between Nature’s Way and MWHG a regular thing! Many thanks to all the volunteers and staff who turned up, and in particular thanks to Hannah Lambourne from Nature’s Way, for helping to organise the clean and providing the refreshments. Thanks also to Community Wildlife Officer, Sarah Hughes, for helping to arrange the litter picking kits from CDC.


Post by Rebecca

Volunteers take on the Coir Roll Challenge!

March 16th, 2018 by Nikki

Last weekend a team of dedicated volunteers, with FLOW Project Leader Jane at the helm, took on the challenge of distributing 40 coir rolls to 8 sites across the Manhood Peninsula. They were ably assisted by Campbell Thorp, who drove the rolls around in his pick-up truck, and all went home happy in the knowledge of a task well done…and lots of loose coir fibres in their ears, mouths and clothing! A huge thanks is extended to all the volunteers that helped shift these rolls about, and a special thanks to Campbell Thorp for his work with his pick-up and trailer. The use of coir rolls is an important part of the habitat creation and improvement work that MWHG do, and we asked Jane to tell us more about the rolls and how they work.

In a nutshell, what is a coir roll?

A coir roll is a long sausage shaped bundle made of coconut fibres, which are bound together with bio-degradable cord. It’s an environmentally sound use of coconut fibres which are otherwise a waste product of coconut production. The coir rolls in this case have been delivered to us dry and they have 18-20 holes cut into them where plug plants can be placed. The benefit of dry coir rolls is that they are only 20-30 kg to heft about, compared to the 80 – 100 kg when wet. It also means that we can populate them up with the plants of our choosing as they are not pre-planted, so we can introduce very specific species relevant to the local area.

Volunteers lift the coir rolls into position. The Wad, West Wittering ©Jane Reeve

Purple areas of loose coir where it can be removed and plug plants put in. Hale Farm, West Wittering ©Jane Reeve

These coir rolls will be staked into place and then planted up with a range of riparian species to improve biodiversity and to stabilise the ditch banks. Once staked, the coir rolls absorb water and are a great medium for the plants to grow in. The plants soon put on growth and create large roots that go through the coir and into the banks of the ponds, ditches or banks where they have been placed. They do not need any topping up and will thrive, as demonstrated in the photos of Birdham Pond below. They then just require light cutting back once a year like any other vegetation. The coir will eventually disappear completely leaving the plants growing in the underlying soil.

Pre-planted coir rolls being installed at Kingfisher pond in Birdham. ©Jane Reeve

 Kingfisher pond 4 months on with the vegetation growth. ©Jane Reeve

After coir rolls are installed, the growth in one year can be incredible.

Why is the use of coir rolls important to MWHG’s work?

By helping to stabilise ditch and stream banks and introducing more plant biodiversity into the wetlands, we are trying to create better water vole habitat. Water Voles are England’s fastest declining mammal, so this work with help ensure that that they continue to have a stronghold on the Manhood Peninsula.

How do you decide where to put the coir rolls?

We target wetland sites that have very little floristic diversity, and which have been heavily shaded and under managed over a long period in the past. We have worked on these sites over the last couple of years removing willow and bramble that didn’t allow light to hit the water, opening them up and digging them out. The final stage is introducing native wetland species with the help of coir rolls that we can plant with plugs. This year, we have decided to target Hilton Business Park pond, the Cakeham Manor wetland area, Hale Farm, Regency house and Sparrow cottage – all sites we have worked on and prepared this winter. We may dig out these sites further, so will ensure that the coir rolls are not damaged.

The weather is a challenge this time of year, why put them out now?

We install the coir rolls this time of year because the vegetation/tree cutting season has finished with the start of the bird breeding season and it is also the beginning of the growing season. Small plug plants put into the rolls have a whole growing season ahead and can quickly green-up what had previously been a dark and bare site. The rolls have all gone onto site now and we will spend the next couple of weeks installing them. This Friday we will start work on Hilton Business Park – staking the rolls into place and planting them with a range of plug plant species.

Hale Farm, West Wittering © Jane Reeve

Malthouse Cottages, West Wittering ©Jane Reeve

After installation, the coir rolls green-up quickly, adding an early flush of life to bare winter wetlands and helping to stabilise the banks.

Is that it, or will you be installing more rolls in the future?

I will probably try and get more of these rolls next year so that we can do this all again on the new sites we will be working on. This work is so satisfying because we can see the results quickly and it makes a big difference to the quality and diversity of our local wetlands. We are always looking for new volunteers to come and help us, so if this blog has inspired you, why not get in touch and find out how you can get involved. There is no requirement for a regular commitment, and coming along for a taster session is great way to meet the volunteers and see if it is something you might enjoy.

Please contact Rebecca on hello@mwhg.org.uk for more information about volunteering with MWHG, or ring Jane on 07743824049 if you wish to join a work event. Details of our upcoming tasks can be found on our website calendar.

The coir roll champions! There’s nothing quite like a cup of tea after a good day’s work. Southend Farm, Donnington © Jane Reeve

Post by Rebecca

Have Your Say: New Activities for Dog Walkers Outside Protected Chichester Harbour

March 3rd, 2018 by Nikki

Chichester Harbour is a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and is in part protected for the wading birds, present over the winter months. Chichester District Council is looking to provide activities for dogs on alternative routes outside of the harbour, between Southbourne and Chichester, to minimize external affects on these birds.

Please take the short survey on the Chichester District Website and share your ideas for activities you would like to see!




Freshwater Habitats Trust: Frog Spawn Survey 2018

March 3rd, 2018 by Nikki

Take part in this year’s Freshwater Habitats Trust’s (FHT) Frog Spawn survey. This annual survey collects data on the numbers of breeding frogs and toads in your garden or local park, pond. This important data is distributed across the UK to government bodies and non-profit organisations, to be considered during planning and guide conservation efforts.

Download the FHT’s recording form, which includes identification examples, to help you track your sightings of spawn, tadpoles and adult frogs or toads.

Freshwater Habitats Trust Spawn Survey 2018 Form View PDF

Enter your results on the Freshwater Habitats Trust website and follow #SpawnSurvey on social media for updates.






Update on East Beach Pond

October 2nd, 2015 by Dave Haldane

The volunteers of the East Beach Pond Group were awarded a gold in the conservation category of the South and South East in Bloom 2015. The small group of volunteers who meet here three times a month, and devote a further day to Selsey Common, were over the moon with this recognition of their achievement. This ecologically important site has been regularly maintained by volunteers for almost a decade. The judges scored the site 174 points out of 200 and we are already planning next years work schedule so as to maintain this high standard.

Illustrated talk – Adventures of the Outdoor World

February 12th, 2014 by Tom
Michael Blencowe is giving an illustrated talk in Selsey shortly:
Thursday, 27th February, 7.30pm
St Peter’s Church Hall, St Peter’s Crescent, Selsey
Subject: Adventures of the Outdoor World
Those who attended the Butterfly course he took on our behalf last Spring will know what an excellent speaker he is and may welcome the chance to hear him on a different subject; those who missed the course may be pleased of another opportunity to hear such an excellent speaker.  Michael was actually elected as “speaker of the year” in his home town of Lewes when he lived there and is an untiring worker and enthusiast for wildlife in general and butterflies in particular.
Admission is £1.50, there will be refreshments and a raffle and all profits will go to Sussex Wildlife Trust.  All are welcome and are guaranteed a good evening!

Hedgerow Update January 2014

January 28th, 2014 by Felicity McStea
MPFm 16.01.14 Hazel Catkins - © FM - Comp
Hazel Catkins – ©2014 Felicity McStea

Our mid January maintenance working party was greeted by the sight of this young hedgerow’s first hazel catkins (Corylus avellana) waving in the breeze. Volunteers dodged a couple of heavy showers to do a morning’s tidying and transplant suckers of blackthorn (Prunus spinosa) to fill some of the gaps where hedging plants had failed, as  reported previously.

A Robin (Erithacus rubecula) was our constant companion, foraging in the ground that we had disturbed.  Sightings also included two Pied Wagtail (Motacilla alba); Magpie (Pica pica); Great Spotted Woodpecker (Dendrocopos major) and a Sparrowhawk (Accipiter nisus) flying low over the field’s winter mustard crop.  We heard Song Thrush (Turdus philomelos) and Dunnock (Prunella modularis) in more established hedges nearby and two Redwing (Turdus iliacus) as they overflew the site.

MPFm 16.01.14 Work Party - © FM - Comp

Volunteer Working Party – ©2014 Felicity McStea


Volunteers from round England join in to help MWHG

September 7th, 2013 by Jill Sutcliffe

Installing coir rolls in a ditch to aid water voles

Volunteers hard at work, photograph by Jane Reeve

A dozen people who are involved with the Trust for Conservation Volunteers are visiting the Manhood Peninsula at the beginning of October as part of their working holiday.  The extra hands will be a great asset and will help with work to improve the habitats on the peninsula.

Hedgerow Update September 2013

September 7th, 2013 by Felicity McStea

Two and a half years have passed since we planted the new hedgerow at Mile Pond Farm. A dry start led to a quarter of the young hedging plants failing in their first year. Of those surviving, some have fared better than others. Those at the lower (wetter) end of the site have put on the most growth.

Once the hedgerow is fully established, we hope to hone our hedge laying skills. In the meantime, maintenance working parties keep down the worst of the pernicious weeds growing in the hedge line. However, we do leave a few flowering plants to add interest and to benefit the insect world. Side trimming and topping will ensure growth does not encroach on The Salterns Way Cycle Path, nor obstruct views across the fields to the South Downs.

© 2011 Felicity McStea

At 7 months – Oct 2011




© 2013 Felicity McStea

Great Willowherb (Epilobium hirsutum)    growing in hedgerow – Aug 2013



© Felicity McStea

At 2½ years – Sept 2013






Sidlesham Recreation Ground and Community Orchard

September 4th, 2013 by Gina

Planting the Community Orchard

Planting the Community Orchard

We work with Sidlesham Parish Council to manage the woodland strip adjacent to the childrens’ playground, and we assist with management of the Community Orchard, planted in 2012 with heritage fruit trees.  Each tree has been ‘adopted’ by a member of the community.

Beachwatch Big Weekend 2013

July 29th, 2013 by Tom
East Beach, Selsey
Saturday 21 September 3:30pm – 5:30pm
Beachwatch is a national event held annually by the Marine Conservation Society the third weekend in September.  MWHG organizes the clean-up at East Beach, Selsey, in conjunction with the Mulberry Divers, who clean below the waterline at the same time. 
All rubbish collected is recorded, weighed and the information sent to the MCS for their records and use in publicity.
It is a good family event and the reward is a super barbecue organized by the Selsey Lions. See Poster for details.

Haydon’s Pond

March 22nd, 2013 by Gina

Working in Haydon's Pond

Working in Haydon’s Pond
©2011 tba

We have been working at this roadside farm pond in Almodington for two years now.  We had a lot of work to do clearing out an accumulation of rubbish and dead tree branches.  A long spell without rain the first summer meant the pond dried out and we could get right in there!  We used the dead branches to create a dead hedge on the east side of the pond which forms a new habitat.  We took down some overhanging branches to open up the pond to daylight.  We also cleared the ditch feeding the pond.  Tracks of deer and badgers were found in the mud when this dried out. Two pond dips,one when we commenced work, when there seemed to be very little life, and  at the end of the first year, showing a greatly increased number of invertebrates, prove our efforts are successful.  Water voles have also returned to the site.  This very wet period has meant the pond is almost permanently flooded, and we have been unable to do much, but an owl box has been erected as a Barn Owl uses the area.

Florence Pond, Sidlesham

March 22nd, 2013 by Gina

Florence Pond is adopted by Sidlesham Parish Council and MWHG has entered a formal Agreement with the PC to improve biodiversity and manage the pond on their behalf.  Work will start at the end of the summer but surveys of flora and fauna will take place during the summer months.

ASHE Group

March 22nd, 2013 by Gina

Refreshments after a hard day's work

Refreshments after a hard day’s work ©2011 Adam Johnson

ASHE stands for Almodington, Sidlesham, Highleigh and Earnley. Most of our work is involved with restoring rural ponds but we are also involved with Sidlesham Recreation Ground, where we are creating a ‘woodland walk’ adjacent to the childrens’ playground and helping to plant a community orchard nearby.

Marine Matters

September 17th, 2012 by Bruce_author

Common Tern

Common Tern seen on Pagham Walk ©Bruce Wilkinson

Manhood Marine Matters has been funded by the Chichester District Council coastal pathfinder grant which aims to raise awareness about marine issues on the peninsula. To that end the MWHG has been able to purchase some field guides and some equipment, lead monthly guided walks based at Pagham Harbour and arrange a series of talks on marine topics in Sidlesham.


Mile Pond Farm

September 17th, 2012 by Bruce_author
Hedge Planting Mile Pond Farm

During March/early April 2011, MWHG planted over 170m of hedge at Mile Pond Farm (SU 850 032). A mix of Hawthorn, Hazel and Willow were planted along the margin of the field behind the Apuldram Centre.

Hedges are an important aspect for wildlife – providing a haven for mammals, birds, bats, etc. and also providing a wildlife corridor

Leader: Felicity McStea

Manor Green Park Site

September 17th, 2012 by Bruce_author

Sensory Garden ©2011 Bruce Wilkinson

Manor Green Park (SZ 859 939) is in a newer development area of Selsey behind the Selsey Centre. There is a small group of enthusiatic volunteers who look after the Sensory Garden as well as helping with maintenance of the park and the new orchard of old English apple trees. We are currently looking for more volunteers so as to be able to increase the scope of our work.

See the Diary of events for planned activities.

Selsey Medical Centre

September 16th, 2012 by Bruce_author

Selsey Medical Centre: (SZ 854 935)

Aromatic Garden;

Leaders: Barbara Bond and Gerry Williams

Selsey Common Site

September 16th, 2012 by Bruce_author

Sulphur Tuft ©2011 Dave Haldane

Selsey Common (SZ 865 931) is on the seafront in Selsey adjacent to the fishermans huts by Kingsway. Activities include bramble clearing, land management to encourage biodiversity and wildlife surveying

See the Diary of events for planned activities.

Leader: Dave Haldane.

Bracklesham Site

September 16th, 2012 by Bruce_author

MWHG has cleared and brought back to life, the stream running around Bracklesham Bay Park:(SZ 809 966). It was previously overgrown with trees and brambles and full of rubbish.

Bracklesham Bay Park ©2010Trevor Gibson-Poole

Activities continuously required include bramble clearing, rubbish removal, letting light in for wildflower diversity, habitat maintenance and water vole Surveying.

See the Diary of events for planned activities

Crablands Meadow Site

September 16th, 2012 by Bruce_author

Crablands Meadow (SZ 847 935) is a designated SSI with a significant orchid population. MWHG help with it’s managment and activities include orchid Counts, willow coppicing and bramble Clearing. The orchid counts take place in June while other activities are when required.

See the Diary of events for planned activities

Leaders: John and Jane Reeve, John Hiscock.

East Beach Pond Site

September 16th, 2012 by Bruce_author

East Beach Pond ©2007 Sarah Hughes

East Beach Pond (SZ 865 934) is in Selsey and is managed by MWHG for people and wildlife.

There are regular meetings on most Tuesday afternoons.

See the Diary of events for planned activities

The leader is Rex Clements.

Water Voles Signs

April 16th, 2012 by Bruce_author

Water Vole Drawing

Water Vole ©2008 Peter White

Surveying carried out in the Manhood area by our group have found very encouraging signs of water vole activity. The results are sent to the Biodiversity Record Centre and have provided the most complete and detailed records for all of Sussex. We are very fortunate in having such a strong population of this endangered mammal. However, as so many of us know, seeing signs of the creatures is not the same as seeing them in the flesh! They are very elusive and even if you are lucky enough to have a quick glimpse, photographs have so far escaped us.

The following pictures were taken during a survey at Medmerry in 2009.


Water Vole Ditch

Water Vole Ditch ©2009 Cynthia Lawson

This is an example of good water vole habitat – open water with good cover at the side and plenty of varied and fresh feeding material.


Water vole latrine

Water Vole Latrine ©2009 Cynthia Lawson

We are not entirely happy to confirm water vole presence without a good bit of poo!


Water Vole Burrow

Water Vole Burrow ©2009 Cynthia Lawson

A typical burrow will have feeding remains at the entrance. Feeding stations are the most common sign of water vole presence. The voles cut lengths of reed at a 45degree angle until they come to a succulent enough piece to eat. The discarded pieces build up into piles which can act as boundary markers to vole family territories. When they move territory, the female will often mark the pile further by using it as a latrine.


Water Vole Footprints

Water Vole Footprints ©2009 Cynthia Lawson

And sometimes you will find a good footprint!

Dave’s News 2

November 29th, 2011 by Bruce_author

News from Dave Haldane

November Fungi

November was a wonderful month, not only for the splendid weather but also for the abundance of fungi to be seen around the local area. Very noticeable were the Mycena and Marasmius species found in large numbers along the grass verges in the residential sector. Eye catching in their abundance, these small fungi are however difficult to identify and usually require a sample being taken for closer inspection. Also found here, although in smaller numbers, were clusters of Coprinus atramentarius with their gills rapidly liquefying as an aid to spore dispersal, hence the name ink cap and the smaller Fairies bonnets Coprinellus disseminatus which is very fragile and crumbles rather than deliquescing.

A Yellow-stainer mushroom

Yellow Stainer ©2011 Dave Haldane

Another species often found growing on grass verges, is the edible mushroom look-a-like Agaricus xanthoderma . It is not dissimilar to the edible variety but caution is required if a gastric upset is to be avoided. This species is flatter on top and a simple identification test is to bruise the cap and lower stem with your finger. Should the pressure produce a strong crome-yellow discolouration which persists, then it is very likely you have a Yellow-stainer mushroom which should be discarded.

The Kingsway

Along the hedgerow skirting the Kingsway I found several Blewits Lepista nuda growing in small groups. The cap, which is buff to violet in colour with the gills veering towards lilac is fairly distinctive and the pleasant smell is a give-away to the more knowledgeable fungi forager.

Sulphur Tuft

Sulphur Tuft ©2011 Dave Haldane

Also close to the Kingsway I found a species usually found in a woodland setting. Sulphurtuft Hypholoma fascicularis seen here growing out of the gravel. This is a saprophytic fungus which feeds from decaying wood such as old tree stumps. The example shown is most likely to have emerged from mycelium growing from a buried wooden perimeter post.



Fairy rings

Fairy Ring

Fairy Ring ©2011 Dave Haldane

Fairy rings are produced by several species of fungi but one of the commonly associated species is the mushroom Marasimius oreades. This is a small mushroom with a cap which rarely exceeds 5 cm across and ranges in colour from tawny to pale brown. The photograph shows one of several distinctive fairy rings found on the grass verge at East Beach Pond. A much larger mushroom, again growing in a ring or horseshoe shape, is the Clouded agaric Clitocybe nebularis. This spectacular species is normally found under heavy scrub and has a pale grey colour cap and can reach 15 cm across.

The Earth Star

Geastrum Triplex

Fairy Ring ©2011 Dave Haldane

The earth star is one of the oddities sometimes encountered when rummaging among the hedgerow leaf litter. I have seen only two species Geastrum pectinatum growing under privet on Selsey Common and a recent find, believed to be a Collared earthstar G. triplex growing under heavy scrub over chalk in the Brandy Hole woods. The cylinder shaped fruiting body acts in the same way as a puff ball by discharging its spores from a small central opening when pressure is applied.

Manor Green

To find attractive little Puff balls you need go no further than Manor Green where Bovista plumbea and Lycoperdon perlatum were frequently observed during October and November.

To sum up: You need not be an expert to try your hand at identifying and recording fungi but you do need to be very knowledgeable if you intend to eat what you find.

Dave’s News 1

September 29th, 2011 by Bruce_author

News from Dave Haldane

This is the first of what l hope will be a regular blog on the MWHG website. The content will consist of items of interest relating to the natural history and heritage across the Manhood Peninsular. Its prime aims are to bring to the members attention up to date news on topical issues and hopefully provide a valuable supplement to the quarterly edition of the MWHG Newsletter. To achieve this we will require regular contributions from other members. Contributions can be e-mailed to Dave Haldane.

East Beach Pond Selsey.

The recent Gold Award at the South and South East in Bloom was a fitting reward for the dedicated work carried out by the regular members of the East Beach Pond sub group. We were however disappointed to have lost valuable marks because of a problem relating to public access. The netlon path which helps stabilise the ground has a tendency to buckle as a result of root disturbance. Despite our best efforts at root pruning and relaying the netlon surfacing, we failed to impress the judge on this issue. This will now be a priority task.

Ducks Hiding

Ducks Hiding ©2011 Dave Haldane

At long last, after many attempts by Mallards to successfully rear a brood beyond the first three weeks, one mother duck has achieved some small success by raising two of her clutch of five ducklings. The mother is very vigilant and the youngsters, who are not quite fully developed, have become masters of concealment.

Earlier broods were lost to predation by the Heron, Carrion crows, Herring gulls, Brown rats and Foxes. One unfortunate duckling was even killed when it was drowned by a Mallard drake, according to information passed to the group.


Knopper gall ©2011 Dave Haldane

There are two young English oaks Quercus robur growing on the East Beach Pond site. Both have played host this year to several gall inducing Oak cynipids (Gall-wasps). The Marble gall Andricus kollari, Cherry gall Cynips quercus-folii, Ramshorn gall Andricus aries, Spangle gall Neuroterus quercus baccarium and the interesting Knopper gall Andricus quercus calicis. The latter is caused by a gall wasp which lays its egg in the emerging acorn often distorting its development and destroying its seed. Galls arise as a result of a growth reaction by the host to an invasion by a parasite. The resulting gall with its nutritious tissue is associated with the reproduction cycle of the parasite. Small infestations rarely harm the host plant.

Selsey Common.

The Brown tail tussock moth caterpillars, which at this time of the year are tucked up within their web tents, have recently been controlled by chemical treatment. Operators working on behalf of Chichester District Council were forced to take action to reduce the 500+ individual webs covering much of the bramble. The caterpillars are covered in barbed hairs which they shed freely and should they come into contact with skin will cause varying degrees of irritation and occasionally lead to breathing difficulties, if inhaled. The use of chemicals was sanctioned solely in the interest of public health and safety. Warning signs have been placed around the site.

Special congratulations to Selsey Town and Manor Green who shared in the environmental awards at this year’s South and South East in Bloom ceremony at Fontwell Park.


Sightings 2 by Peter Driscoll

September 19th, 2011 by Bruce_author

Summer 2011

Summer is a difficult season for sightings. It is not that there are not plenty of individual specimens to observe and record – far from it. It is more that populations of many species tend to disperse – often to secret or inaccessible spots. With the countryside full of such individuals or pairs my reader is not going to be greatly excited by a report: Blackbird 5. The job of the Sightings columnist is much easier in those seasons when large flocks can be counted with precision and confidence and comparisons drawn with earlier years.

Exceptions to this rule are birds, such as terns, that nest in colonies and which can be observed, counted and even ringed as whole populations. Here, another issue arises as ‘bad guys’ may read an article about a particular nesting site and join the foxes, uncontrolled dogs and other marauders in disturbing would-be nesters. Of course, not all disturbance is wilful but especially for ground-nesting species an off-the-lead dog always represents a potential threat whether or not it is in hunt, play or potter mode. This summer at Pagham Harbour the failure of the 8-10 pairs of common terns to rear any young at all is put down to disturbance – which might include a fox. It is good to be able to report that some little tern chicks survived to the end of July and that lapwings and redshanks also raised young. It is sad to have to be cautious in reporting this success in case disclosure of a breeding site leads directly or indirectly to disturbance of one kind or another.

One summer visitor who had something to shout about was the Sidlesham cuckoo. I suppose the average predator is unlikely to connect the urgently repeated call of the male cuckoo with the furtively deposited egg or the monstrous chick bullying its unsuspecting foster parents. So the breeding cuckoo can afford to make as much noise as he wants attracting mates and cheering our hearts. For there can surely be no other two-note phrase that is so instantly recognisable or so welcome to our northern ears. I am pleased to report that the Sidlesham cuckoo not only ‘sang’ for several weeks from 10 April but once deigned to show himself high in the robinia tree in my garden that is alternately a roost for a pair of wood pigeons, a watch tower for the magpies who have their nest in the neighbour’s garden, and a vertical feeding table for the locally resident green and greater spotted woodpeckers. I am sorry to say that this was my first live sighting of a cuckoo although I did once find one dead on the lawn.

Noteworthy visitors to Pagham Harbour over the past few months have included: hen harrier, marsh harrier, black redstart, short-eared owl, red kite and 2 ospreys.

My pond project continues but this is a pond without water as the water table appears to have fallen far below the deepest part of the pond, or rather hole in the ground. Tempted though I am to buy a liner I have decided to persevere for 3 more seasons in an effort to create a natural pond. I am strengthened in this resolve by my experience of last winter, when the surface of the water in my garden was level with the top of the grass – at least a metre higher than it is now. So, I am watching keenly as summer turns to autumn, accompanied by strong winds and some rain, but not enough to leave a puddle in my pond, sorry, ‘hole’. As the pond fills, I shall try to seal the bottom and sides with liquid clay but apart from occasional watering of the ‘marginal’ plants that mark what should be the margins of the pond I shall not be using tap water to ‘top up’ any shortfall in natural water supplies. The test will come in the spring of next year – but that is a long way off.

The tree where the buzzards perch is again a centre of activity, with various corvines joining forces to mob generally local kestrels and, as today, a pair of buzzards. The birds of prey see the slender branches as potential vantage points but by landing expose themselves to divebombing attacks by the combined squadron of carrion crows, rooks and jackdaws and the auxiliary wing of magpies and the occasional jay. I don’t know where the buzzards have been nesting – and would not tell if I did.

As autumn approaches, our summer visitors are in the course of, or preparing for, migration to warmer winter quarters. I would welcome reports of latest sightings of swallows this autumn on the Manhood peninsula, plus sightings of other species that seem to you to be late. Likewise, keep an eye out for redwings and fieldfares, which spend their winters here. No prizes, but a friendly competition and a small amateur contribution to science.

We would like to include here records of wildlife you have seen on the peninsula – in your garden, on the shore, or just out and about. Please send your sightings (if in doubt indicate with a ‘?’) to: sightings@mwhg.org.uk

Peter Driscoll

Sightings 1 by Peter Driscoll

June 28th, 2011 by Bruce_author

Late Spring 2011

The title of this article is not a comment on the weather but is meant to indicate that these notes are additional both to the Spring 2011 Sightings already published and the Summer 2011 Sightings that will appear later. We are taking advantage of the technological change that affects the whole Newsletter to bring the Sightings articles into sync with the actual seasons and at the same time revising the format to give fewer lists and more analysis. Those who want a more scientific approach are referred to the excellent websites of the British Trust for Ornithology (www.bto.org.uk) and Sussex Wildlife Trust (www.sussexwt.org.uk).

The new Sightings will refer occasionally to ‘phenology’ (the study of the times of naturally recurring phenomena, especially in relation to climatic conditions). We British, with our seemingly built-in urge to talk about the weather, would surely be champions in any phenology Olympics. The first cuckoo in spring is eagerly awaited – mine was heard at 11:44 on 10 April this year and continues to sing daily. Likewise, the swallow – with the knowing proviso ‘one swallow does not make a summer ‘ – is for many the ‘harbinger of summer’. I saw one on 11 April but since then none. Meanwhile they have been observed at Pagham Harbour since 22 March. Can you beat that?

Those of us who live ‘on the doorstep’ of Pagham Harbour Local Nature Reserve need sometimes to be reminded of how privileged we are. The Reserve qualifies for protection under a whole range of national and international measures and, using data kindly supplied by Ivan Lang, Conservation Warden, I would like Sightings to give a snapshot of how our key species are doing as well as reporting the numerous rarities that pass through.

In the past few months numbers in some of our key winter species have been as follows:

Dark-bellied Brent Goose 2453
Black-tailed Godwit 155
Northern Pintail 80
Grey Plover 557
Teal 318
Cormorant 105
Slavonian Grebe 4

In future articles I hope to see how these winter populations are faring over time and whether any trends emerge.

Pagham Harbour is also important as a breeding site for a number of coastal and wetland species and as a stopover point for numerous passage species. The latter have now arrived or have passed through on their Spring migration but it is worth singling out the lapwings that are nesting probably as a direct result of a Pagham Harbour project.

A key subject for study in phenology is the geographical spread of life forms perhaps in connection with climatic conditions. Climatic conditions have certainly affected my plans for digging a pond in my garden. I began last autumn when the water table was level with the top of the grass ie there was a centimetre of standing water. This made each spadeful of clay incredibly heavy. As I dug down – in the absence of rainfall – the water table fell ahead of me so that I now have a huge, deep dry hole.

The following is taken from the Met Office UK climate website:

With high pressure influencing the weather for most of [April], it was much warmer, drier and sunnier than normal. The mean temperature was 4.0 °C above the 1971–2000 average and it was the warmest April in the series from 1910, being 0.6 °C warmer than April 2007 (now ranked second). In central England, it was the warmest April for over 350 years. The daily maximum temperatures in particular were well above normal, by as much as 6 °C in the south-east. Rainfall was below normal in all areas — exceptionally so over much of southern, central and eastern England where less than 10% of normal rainfall was recorded. It was the second successive very dry month in these areas. Many places in the eastern half of England recorded less than 1 mm of rain. Provisionally, it was the 6th driest April in the series from 1910 and in East Anglia only April 2007 was drier. Sunshine amounts were generally around 150 per cent of normal, making it the sunniest April in the series since 1929.

The pond is supposed to attract wildlife to the garden and when I saw two mallards swimming, one moorhen wading and a pheasant in the pear-tree I was delighted with the success of my plan. However, my delight, like the pond-water, has gradually drained away and the waterfowl have abandoned us. Of course, many birds have deserted the garden to nest elsewhere. Some, like the pheasant, have come back again, in her case without young, with long-term residents like the blackbirds and robins feeding fledglings in the borders.

Maybe among the birds nesting locally is the blackcap who overwintered this year in Sidlesham instead of chasing back to Africa or wherever? He joined in merrily at the new bird feeding station (2 containers). If he does breed after not migrating then perhaps we are seeing evolution at work?

On the subject of feeding stations, mine is currently subject to non-stop raids by rooks and starlings. However, in February and March it really earned its keep with daily visits from troupes of long-tailed tits and, star of the show with his brilliant red underparts, the greater spotted woodpecker clung with claws and tail to the hanging containers. After a hesitant start, the robins also learned to perch on the wire containers rather than trying to eat while hovering.

We would like to include here records of wildlife you have seen on the peninsula – in your garden, on the shore, or just out and about. Please send your sightings (if in doubt indicate with a ‘?’) to: