Harbour CHIRP - October 2015

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Photo: Peter Arnold

Photo: Brent goose feeding

Welcome and introduction

Richard Austin - AONB Manager

Welcome to the October edition of Harbour CHIRP. As AONB Manager, this is my favourite time of year for one simple reason - the overwintering birds are returning to the Harbour!

The first of the Dark-bellied Brent Geese have been spotted, and over the coming months this figure will rise to around 10,000. With 5% of the world population feeding and resting here, it makes Chichester Harbour internationally important for this species.

What I really like is the effect that the Brent Geese have on local people, whether they are bird watchers, artists, or photographers, or simply talking about them to a friend or neighbour. Those lucky enough to see and hear a flock fly overhead are in for quite an experience, it is simply one of nature's wonders. So please welcome and look after the Brent Geese, and all of our birds for that matter, for they are collectively one of the special qualities that define Chichester Harbour as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.


Facelift for Salterns Way north of Chichester Marina

Work has already stared to give the Salterns Way cycle path north of Chichester Marina a much needed facelift.  This stretch is prone to getting muddy and waterlogged and the improvement works along 380 metres will provide a stable and more durable surface for walkers and cyclists.

This section, marked in red on the map, is currently closed but the work should be complete by mid October, please keep an eye out for updates here on our website and Twitter.  See our Salterns Way page.


Photo - Feeding Curlew

Volunteers needed for Solent bird studies project

James Parkin, Farming and Wildlife Officer

The Solent Bird Studies project has been launched by the East Solent Coastal Partnership. This exciting project will study the importance of the network of high tide roost sites and inland feeding areas within the Solent for the conservation of the overwintering bird populations.

People are being encouraged to sign up as volunteers and submit their sightings of wildfowl and wading birds from around the Solent.  Bird sightings can be submitted via the project website www.solentbirds.org.uk or using the smart phone app available from the app store or google play store.

All counts should be undertaken between September 2015 and April 2016 and carried out 2.5 hours either side of high tide (except for Geese feeding on fields which can be recorded at any state of the tide).

Please help to conserve birds in the Solent by getting involved with this project.


All welcome!

Jane Latawski, Education Officer

September has been a busy month for the Conservancy's Education team.  We've worked with a wide range of ages as well as arranging a wide range of experiences and activities for our guests - from 5 year olds enjoying a solar boat trip and crab hunt, to an adult group using the classroom at Dell Quay as an art studio.

The month began with the teaching team and volunteers supporting our Countryside Day, with family activities such as kite making, seed sowing and ladybird crafts.

We have hosted Geography field trips with several schools, from Hampshire, West Sussex and Surrey, to help GCSE students complete their exam coursework on coastal defences.  We also worked with Liphook Primary School so their Year 5's could learn about rivers and Bidbury Junior School to help some of their pupils to get afloat.

All these visits have one thing in common - they enable everyone involved to experience the beautiful and inspiring landscape of Chichester Harbour AONB.


'Terror' oysterboat success

Judi Darley, Communities Officer

The old Victorian oysterboat Terror has just completed a successful season of public trips from Emsworth, where she was originally built in 1890. 

This year, for the first time, she was run entirely by volunteers, with the kind support of Emsworth Yacht Harbour - the Conservancy  passed the management of Terror to the Friends of Chichester Harbour last winter. From a schedule of 59 trips this year, she has enough income to cover her costs.

If you would like to see her up close, she will be moored by the quay at Emsworth as part of the British Food Fortnight on 3rd and 4th October.

For more information, or to book a trip visit the website www.oysterboatterror.org.uk

Why not join the Friends of Chichester Harbour and support this historic venture?  Visit their website for more information www.friendsch.org

England Coastal Path in the AONB

Nicky Horter, Countryside Officer

We recently met with Natural England advisors to talk about their plans to start rolling out the England Coastal Path in the Chichester Harbour AONB.

The plan to create a continuous coastal path around England was set out by the Marine and Coastal Access Act in 2009. The new trail is being developed in sections, and must be completed by 2020. When finished, it will be one of the longest continual coastal walking routes in the world.

In our area, the first stage of the process launched on 21st September to start preparing the route for the path, before it goes out to public consultation.

We will be involved in advising on the route in the AONB, particularly to safeguard our most sensitive wildlife sites. You can find out more about the path at www.nationaltrail.co.uk/england-coast-path


Learning from the past

Judith Meagher, Countryside Officer

I had a lovely time at the Chichester District Archaeological Society (CDAS) open day on 16th September. Archaeologists and volunteers have been digging at Warblington villa to uncover the past at the site.

Earlier this year, they started digging in an area away from the main villa to look at the outbuildings and try to establish what they were used for. They found substantial stone walls and a drainage ditch, along with remains of some of the building materials.  

CDAS held exhibitions at Fishbourne Palace and Emsworth Museum, showing the findings from the first dig and they will be collating pictures and drawings from the second dig to share with others.

This is lovely reminder of 'days gone by' in this area and, if you have ever wondered what else CDAS has discovered, you can visit their website www.cdas.info or, alternatively, why not join them as a volunteer and find out for yourself?


Keep an eye out...

Georgie Siddle, Communities Ranger

This month has been brilliant for the bird spotters amongst you and for those who aren't interested in sitting for hours waiting for one to show up -  unlike me, I'm quite happy to wait around just in case!

The weather has been very changeable - really hot one day and tipping down the next. This is not a problem for our wildlife in the Harbour as it is a signal that winter is approaching. This means that the summer visitors will start leaving, making room for the winter migrating birds to move in.

On Friday 18th September, our Committee Members came to visit us at the Harbour Office. Whilst we were chatting about our work and what we are trying to achieve, I noticed a strange bird being mobbed by crows and gulls.

To my amazement, I saw that it was an Osprey, flying towards Langstone Harbour on its way to hotter climates.

I think the members were quite impressed and they wondered if we had staged it for them - maybe we had a caged one that we released just for them? I can honestly say it was real and it was a pleasant surprise.

As I said, if you're prepared to keep your eyes peeled and wait a little while, you never know what you might see!


A date for your diary - FoCH AGM

Please make a note in your diary for the Friends of Chichester Harbour Annual General Meeting. It will take place at Chichester Yacht Club on Thursday 22 October, starting at 7.45pm.

The AGM is a great place for members to find out about how the Friends of Chichester Harbour support the Conservancy's work.  After annual updates from the Friends Executive Committee and Chichester Harbour Conservancy, there will be the premiere of a new short film by Millstream Productions on the Conservation Work Parties, and a special 'Colours of the Sky' talk by local astronomy enthusiast, Storm Dunlop.

The AGM is exclusive to the Friends of Chichester Harbour, so if you're already a member, then please do come along for what will be an enjoyable evening. If you're not yet a member, then there's never been a better time to join! Membership fees start at just £10 per year. Please visit their website www.friendsch.org/joinus to find out more.