Harbour CHIRP August 2015

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Photo: John Arnott 

Welcome to the latest edition of Harbour CHIRP. August is a great month for bird watching. There are many waders out in the AONB, including Redshank, Curlew and Greenshank. You may also see Ospreys flying around the Harbour - hopefully using our artificial nest platforms.

In this month's CHIRP we are featuring some exciting national awards, along with articles on dark skies, BioBlitzes, farming and wildlife.

I hope you enjoy this edition. Please feel free to contact us if you have any questions about the articles or any of our work. 

Richard Austin - AONB Manager

 Sid and Michael receive Landscape for Life award

Staff honoured with national award

Our two longest serving members of staff have had their combined 78 years' service honoured with the Landscapes for Life Award. This award from the National Association of Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (NAAONB) recognises those who have contributed 20 years or more to the conservation and enhancement of AONBs.

Philip (Sid) Kennett has been the face of Chichester Harbour in Emsworth for 47 years. Sid says "It's not work - it's a way of life and I enjoy every minute of it. Chichester Harbour AONB is first class. It's a place where people come to enjoy themselves - it is unique!" Sid works principally on the water, helping the yachtsmen to enjoy the Harbour.

Michael Ward joined Chichester Harbour Conservancy in 1984. Based in Itchenor, Michael is the Harbour Technician and Barge Master. He looks after the maintenance of all the Harbour vessels, navigational marks, lights and moorings, skippers the moorings barge and is also part of the Harbour Patrol.

The awards were presented on 2nd July at the Annual Conference of the National Association of AONBs that took place in Winchester. They both received a certificate and a copy of the Landscape Photographer of the Year book courtesy of Visit Britain. View videos from the conference here.

Sunset

Photo: Evelyn Simmons

Dark Skies

We would like to find the best place for star-gazing in Chichester Harbour. Our dark night skies are important for science (astronomy), nature (owls, bats, badgers, insects, arachnids, molluscs, mice, hedgehogs), local businesses (‘astro-tourism' is one of fastest growing sectors), and for helping to manage development in this protected area.

Therefore, throughout August we are inviting quotes from interested parties to undertake a Feasibility Study, which will provide background information to support the potential nomination of a Dark Sky Discovery Site in the AONB. We would like to know where the best site is, what you can see, how accessible it is, and what local people think. Each Dark Sky Discovery Site is around 100 m² and there are already over 100 designated sites in the UK.

If you are interested in finding out more about this potential opportunity at Chichester Harbour, please click here to find out more.

Richard Austin, AONB Manager
Photographer in the landscape

Photo: Paul Gonella

It's not all science and geography...

Many young adults visit Chichester Harbour to work with our Education Team to collect coursework data and to improve their understanding of coastal processes whilst studying the superb biodiversity of the AONB.

At the end of June, Yr 9 pupils from The Tower Convent School, Steyning, joined our team teachers, Sue and Tim, to find out about coasts and take part in the National Trust's Bioblitz at East Head.

This year, the National Trust is celebrating the Coast and are holding several BioBlitzes - a race against time to survey and record as many different species as possible. Over 302 species were recorded at East Head.

But it's not all science and geography....

We also help art teachers from local schools to inspire their students with the beauty of the Harbour. In July, photography teacher Stephen Winslade and his students from Chichester High School for Boys visited Dell Quay and worked with professional photographer Paul Gonella. Stephen said "Workshops in the Harbour have helped my students to achieve higher grades".

Jane Latawski, Education Officer

 Whaley rescue boat

Youngsters benefit from community funding

Youngsters from the Havant Youth Sail Training Scheme will enjoy the Harbour from two new Whaly rescue boats for the first time this summer, thanks to our Sustainable Development Fund.

Funding is still available to support community projects within the AONB which deliver three important benefits - social, environmental and economic. The maximum grant is £4,000 and we have a total of £30,000 to hand out this financial year.

Two of the latest projects to receive funding are an archaeological excavation of the western side of the Warblington Roman villa complex and a history project on the salt working industry in Chichester Harbour.

Other ideas that have been discussed this year include a wild flower meadow, a school yurt for outdoor learning, a community orchard and a power boat modified for moderate-physical-disability power-boating training.

If you have a project in mind, do get in touch to ask our advice. Please contact me in the first instance. You will then need to complete the simple form on our website. All applications will be assessed and the final decision is made by the Grants Committee.

Judi Darley, Community Officer

 Friends social

Fabulous Friends social

Forty volunteers from the Friends of Chichester Harbour joined us for a fabulous afternoon at Northney Farm, Hayling Island on 14th July to mark the end of our summer programme.

We had lunch and homemade ice cream in the large barn at the Tea Rooms - a project part-funded by our Sustainable Development Fund.

Owners, Stan and Mary took us on a tractor and trailer ride to see the Harbour from one of their fields and we also watched their dairy herd of Ayrshire cows being milked and saw their lovely new calves.

Approximately 25 volunteers join us each week to carry out a variety of tasks around the Harbour. They have helped us with 38 work parties from September to July, totalling around 2,000hrs of volunteer time. Georgie and I are extremely grateful to the volunteers - they turn up in all weathers and are always keen to help us out.

This year, we've laid footpaths around the Harbour, secured the bank along the Bosham stream and carried out a range of regular conservation tasks. We couldn't have managed these without them!

If you would like to join the Friends of Chichester Harbour and find out more, visit their website.

Keith Rathbone, Countryside Ranger

 Swans and signets

Where to get help

July proved to be a good month for walking around the Harbour and looking at the beautiful scenery. With more people out and about, there are an increasing number of wildlife sightings and incidents.

We have had reported sightings of Pyramidal Orchids on new sites and also Lapwing chicks. This is fantastic to hear from you all and keeps us informed.

However, we also have sad and worrying news reported too. Some of you may spot injured or sick animals and there are specific organisations who can deal with this. For example, anyone finding a sick or injured Swan should seek advice from the RSPB or Brent Lodge Wildlife Hospital who can also advise on other birds and wildlife.

Sightings of unusual plants and damage to plants or trees within the AONB can be reported to us.

Georgie Siddle, Community Ranger
 Field margin

Farming and conservation

Farmers have an important role to play in nature conservation. The area between the boundary of a field where the crop is sown is known as the "margin" (1m-6m wide). This can be managed in a range of ways that can benefit wildlife or protect water quality.

On 7th July a group of enthusiasts from the the Sussex Botanical Recording Society (SBRS) conducted a survey of the wildflowers growing on the wide margins of a farm in Itchenor. The margins at this farm are ploughed at the beginning of the year, and left unsprayed with crop protection products in order to provide an excellent habitat for arable wildflowers. This initial cultivation followed by zero agrochemical treatment is essential for the survival of annual wildflowers that have long been associated with and dependent on the rhythms of traditional arable farming. Uncommon arable wildflowers recorded by the group included; Field Woundwort, Corn Spurrey, Grass Poly and Round-leaved Fluellen. If you would like to join a SBRS field trip then please see their website.

This is one example of how a habitat rich in wildlife can coexist with a productive modern arable farm. The farmer is rewarded through the Countryside Stewardship Scheme, which is available to farmers, land managers and woodland owners to help conserve the environment on their land.

James Parkin, Farming and Wildlife Officer
 Interpretation board

New look for Harbour information

Have you seen our new interpretation boards at Fishbourne Meadows? These are part of a project to refresh the interpretation boards, funded by the Friends of Chichester Harbour. We will be working our way around the Harbour and replacing the old ones over the next few months.

We hope that you like the new look boards, which include new maps and pictures of plants and wildlife that you may see in each location.

The Harbour is a protected landscape and, with thousands of visitors each year, we rely on your goodwill and cooperation and we ask your help with a few simple things. Please:

• follow the footpath and take your rubbish home

• keep dogs under control and clean up after them

• wash your footwear and bicycle tyres to avoid spreading plant pests and diseases around the countryside

As with anywhere, cycling is not permitted on any footpath - cyclists can enjoy the Salterns Way, a dedicated cycle route from Chichester to West Wittering.

Judith Meagher, Countryside Officer
Calf

Photo: Matt Simmons

Looking forward...

Countryside Day at Eames Farm

Saturday 5th September

Explore this organic beef farm at the heart of the AONB. There will be a chance to meet the animals, tractor trailer rides, farm walks, fun family activities, local artists and a local food market. Entry is free - for more details, see our website.