Welcome to Harbour CHIRP

Chichester Harbour, Information from a Remarkable Place

Harbour CHIRP September 2015

Harbour CHIRP September 2015

Welcome and introduction

Richard Austin - AONB Manager

This month we would like to invite you to attend our Countryside Day, which will take place from 11am until 3pm on Saturday 5th September at Eames Farm on Thorney Island. There will be a selection of local foods to taste and a range of family-friendly activities and a minibus transfer from Emsworth Square.

Later in the month, our annual three days of Harbour walks will run from 16th - 18th September. The walks are a fantastic way to enjoy the landscape, and at this time of year, you may well see some migrating waders such as the Black-tailed Godwit, Greenshank, Redshank, Spotted Redshank - and the first of the Brent Geese.

Whatever your plans for the weeks ahead, we hope you will find time to enjoy your Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. In the meantime, please click here to find out more about our Countryside Day.


Little Tern fledglings

Photo: Paul Adams

Little Terns fledge for the first time in 30 years

James Parkin, Farming and Wildlife Officer

Little Terns, the smallest of our Terns and one of Britain's rarest breeding seabirds, are making a comeback! Seventeen Little Terns fledged from the Harbour this summer, the most successful year since the mid 1970's.

Our records show that Little Terns have attempted to nest in the Harbour most summers, although the young have not survived due to a host of pressures that are felt throughout the country. Summer storms and rising sea levels can wipe out nests, whilst their preferred shingle nesting sites can be eroded. Inadvertent disturbance by water users or people and dogs out walking, plus pressure from natural predators all threaten successful breeding.

We are extremely pleased with the breeding success this year, as the number of breeding pairs in south east England has decreased by 86% in the last 30 years.

Click here to learn more about the Little Terns success.



Photo: George Spraggs

Bird watcher needed for Harbour surveys

James Parkin, Farming and Wildlife Officer

The British Trust for Ornithology's Wetland Bird Survey (WeBS) monitors ducks, geese, swans, Cormorants, herons, crakes and rails, waders and Kingfishers in Chichester Harbour. I am responsible for coordinating these important monthly surveys, which are carried out by a group of dedicated surveyors.

The most important months for surveys are between September and March, when tens of thousands of migratory water birds arrive in Chichester Harbour to feed over the winter period. This provides vital information that can be used to estimate population sizes and monitor any changes to the quality of feeding areas within the Harbour. Therefore, our volunteers are vital to the protection of these birds.

We are currently looking for volunteers to help with surveys throughout the winter period. If you have time to spare and would like to take part, please visit the British Trust for Ornithology's website to find out what's involved and then contact me.


Harbour helps young writers to develop confidence

Jane Latawski, Education Officer

August can be a quiet time for our Harbour Learning Zone as the schools are closed, but after a highly successful field trip to look at different habitats, St Thomas More's Catholic Primary School in Bedhampton contacted us to ask if we could help with a summer literacy school.

On the 17th August, a group of children spent a day at Fishbourne Meadows and Dell Quay. They used different writing techniques to record their responses, feelings and ideas in words. They also went for a walk, did some stream dipping and had a crabbing competition from the quay.

Jenny Brown, our Conservancy teacher, led the day and was particularly impressed with the quality of the children's poetry. Amie Ridd, from St Thomas More's was very pleased with the workshop and found that getting the children into a new, natural environment had boosted their confidence in their own writing as well as having a fun day out.

If you think your school or group would benefit from learning through outdoor activities and experiences, we can help. Please click here or contact me for more information.

Go on safari in a canoe!

Judi Darley, Communities Officer

The new canoe safaris are great fun and have proved to be a wonderful new addition to our Activities programme. All the sessions have been fully booked and they have attracted a wide range of people.

This lovely, new initiative is delivered in partnership with the Cobnor Activities Centre Trust - with staff at Cobnor leading the canoeing and the Conservancy providing a nature guide.

We are holding the last of this year's safaris during October half term and anyone with kayak experience is welcome to book.

Although our event leaflet says that you need the Canoe Union 2 star qualification for this safari, Gary Palmer, the Centre's Manager is happy for his staff to supervise anyone with kayaking experience, so this is no longer required.

The Centre offers informal kayaking and canoe sessions on Tuesday evenings and Saturday mornings - phone 01243 572791 for more details.

We also offer a wide range of exciting and interesting events throughout the year. Click here to find out more.

Great to be back

Nicky Horter, Countryside Officer

I returned to the Conservancy this month after a year's maternity leave and I'm really excited to be back.

I'm looking forward to developing projects which help people to enjoy the AONB, including footpath improvements, volunteering schemes and planting new hedgerows and woodland.

I'll be sharing the Countryside Officer role with Judith Meagher, who has done a wonderful job over the last year and is delighted to stay on and become a permanent member of the AONB Unit.

I'll be working on Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays, so please feel free to get in touch to find out more about our countryside management activities and how you can get involved.

New plant monitoring scheme in the Harbour

Judith Meagher, Countryside Officer

On 6th August I joined 11 keen volunteers for an interesting training day for a new National Plant Monitoring Scheme. This important, long term scheme is organised and funded by the Centre of Ecology and Hydrology, the Botanical Society of Britain and Ireland, Plantlife and the Joint Nature Conservation Committee.

Whilst many surveys provide valuable data on birds and wildlife in the UK, plant surveys are not carried out to the same extent and records are limited.

Volunteers can adopt a specific area (5m2) which they survey in spring and summer to record plant species in as many different habitats as possible.

During the training we found species such as Hawthorn and Spindle in the hedgerow, and Sea Beet and Sea Lavender on the shore and we are hoping to adopt an area near the Harbour Office and survey the plant species there for years to come.

Contact the NPMS Volunteer Coordinator to find out more about the scheme or visit their website.


Keeping the Harbour footpaths clear

Steve Peters, Seasonal Ranger

Keith, Georgie and I have been grass cutting all around the Harbour since April and we have just started our second round of cutting on the footpaths.

We are making sure that all the footpaths are accessible, and clear of weeds and brambles. We also look out for any problems and check if any of the gates, fences or interpretation boards require maintenance.

I really like this time of year as there are lots of wild berries and nuts - we had our fill of hazelnuts, blackberries and plums, so we'll never go hungry on our travels around the AONB!

We also deal with the unexpected and Keith worked with a tree surgeon to make an old oak tree safe at The Dell, Chidham. The tree had shed two large branches, and the rest of the tree was unsafe. Sadly, most of the tree had to be cut down but we have retained as much of the wood as possible for habitat and we are hoping to make something nice with the rest.

This is my last month at the Conservancy and I have enjoyed every minute in the Harbour!


Assessing our approach to sea defences

Richard Austin, AONB Manager

There are over 86 kilometres (54 miles) of shoreline in the AONB, with a maze of inlets and rithes that criss-cross expanses of saltmarsh and mudflats.

Although it is the largest natural Harbour in the South East of England, much of the sea defences are man-made, protecting farmland and local villages from flooding.

Over the next few months, with the support of a consultant, we'll be assessing our overall approach to sea defences in Chichester Harbour. We'll be considering the range of existing defences that are present today, their overall effectiveness and the visual impact that they have on the landscape.

With an anticipated rise in sea levels, we would like to ensure that we give the best advice to landowners on how to defend their properties from the sea, whilst protecting and enhancing the natural environment of the Harbour. If you are interested in finding out more about this piece of work, please click here.


Photo: Paul Adams

New Local Plan is good news for the AONB

Steve Lawrence and Linda Park, Planning Officers

Chichester District Council has adopted its new Local Plan which is good news for the AONB. It sets out their key policies and we have worked with them for many years to achieve the best outcome. They now have a strong, clear, stand-alone policy relating to the AONB; for proposed development within it, or affecting its setting.

We helped to ensure policies were stringent enough to safeguard this nationally important landscape and provide a strong steer for development proposals - promoting appropriate development and discouraging possible impacts on the AONB.

We also advised on policies relating to other types of development, such as Existing Employment Sites, Built Tourist and Leisure Development, New Residential Development, Development around the Coast and in the Countryside, Biodiversity, and Development and Disturbance of Birds in Chichester and Langstone Harbours Special Protection Areas.

The Council will consult on its Site Allocation Development Plan Document in early 2016 - this covers areas that are not in neighbourhood plans and will allocate smaller sites for housing and employment, and review settlement boundaries. This plan has significant implications for the AONB and we will work closely with the Council to reduce any potential impacts.

We have already worked with Havant Borough Council to influence both their Local Plan (2011) and Allocations Plan (2014) - both plans are approved and in place.