Monday, 30 April 2018

Around the sites

Chesworth Farm
Everyone loves a big red tractor!

Sacrificial Crop Preparation - Chesworth Farm

A very exciting time at Chesworth as this week saw the beginning of a project I have wanted to carry out on the Farm for many years. The project is taking place in Wheat Rick and New Town Nine Acre fields respectively and the more observant visitors to the Farm might well have noticed two plots have been ploughed this week.

The aim of the project is to sow several crops which we will not harvest but come the autumn will produce lots of seeds and grain to support the bird population which winters on the Farm, you may see these in the future being referred to on the blog as sacrifical crops. Species such as Linnet, Yellowhammer, Greenfinch, Goldfinch, Chaffinch and Reed Bunting should all benefit from the bounty of free food during the winter period and we hope they will use the nice big hedgerows to roost in and avoid predators from.

The next stage of the process is to power harrow the project area which will break the large clods of mud down into a fine tilth which will support the seeds and give them a better medium to grow in. We hope the weather will brighten up soon so we can get on with sowing the all important seed. These two plots are going to be the center of lots of attention throughout the year and I will keep you posted with how they are developing.

Around the Farm David Verrall has once again been busy finding lots of different species and this time he managed to get a lovely photo of a pair of Small Tortoiseshell butterflies which have been surprisingly few and far between this spring.

Small Tortoiseshell - D. Verrall

Friends of Chesworth Farm AGM
Lastly on the subject of Chesworth Farm, last Monday we have the Friends of Chesworth Farms' AGM which was very well attended. All of the formalities were swiftly sorted out and then we had a fascinating talk by Nick Sexton about his life living on the edge of the Farm. From a personal point of view it was fantastic to further my knowledge of the Farm's history though World War II and see how the Farm has developed over time. Very well done to all involved and to Nick and Angela Sexton for their wonderful talk.

Leechpool & Owlbeech Woods

Owlbeech Woods
A trip down to Leechpool and Owlbeech Woods at this time of year is a must as the Bluebells are just starting to fill the air with their sweet smell and the purple/blue carpet is just starting to cover the forest floor. It makes the fresh green leaves of the Beech and the perfect white trunks of the Silver Birch show up even more all giving an truly brilliant wildlife spectacle that is not to be missed.

Up on the heathland at Owlbeech the warm spring sunshine has brought a plethora of species out and about with Common Lizard and Adder seen this week mainly in the areas with Bracken and the Green Tiger Beetles are making the most of the bare earth areas. Plenty of butterflies are now on the wing with many Brimstone's seeking out the vast amount of Alder Buckthorn to lay their precious eggs on. Willow Warbler's are very evident with their melodic song being heard throughout the heathland, soon we hope to hear the churring of the Nightjar once more.

Southwater Country Park

Horsham Green Gym at Southwater Country Park
Horsham Green Gym have once again been busy down at the Country Park, this time they have been installing a new rustic bench on the beach area as well as continuing to improve the drainage around the circular path. This is the first of a number of small improvements we have planned around the Park before the busy summer season kicks in.

Our thanks as always to the volunteers at Horsham Green Gym for supplying us with immense support and skill. It does not go unnoticed around the district and we are always grateful.

Warnham Local Nature Reserve

Orange-tip - D. Verrall
The Reserve has been very busy whilst the weather was nice and warm and as a result there have been lots of wildlife sightings logged over the past ten days. David Verrall once again managed another excellent shot, this time of a male Orange-tip which was feeding for a change in stead of buzzing around the woodland rides.

We have seen a real increase in the number of summer migrants and passage migrants this week with Common Sandpiper being seen every day with a peak of three birds on the 28th April. The best place to see them in Tern Hide and they are often feeding on the muddy scrapes right in front of the hide. Sean Collins managed to get this fantastic photo of all three birds not only together, but together in flight!!!
Common Sandpipers - S. Collins
There has been a marked increase in the number of hirundines on the Reserve this week with Swallow being seen every day as well as plenty of House Martins and a handful of Swifts too. Hopefully the Swift numbers will continue to increase over the next few weeks as the local breeders begin to find their nest sites once more and come on feeding forays over the millpond. Sean Collins also managed to bag a nice shot of the first returning Common Tern for the year which was exciting and as seems to be the theme this year it was about a week behind the 5-year average first arrival date at Warnham.
Common Tern - S. Collins
Many thanks to everyone who has sent me photos and any wildlife records, they make the production of the blog a lot more fun to read! Until next time...