Photo: Terry Heathcote
Welcome and introduction
Richard Austin - AONB Manager
Welcome to the December edition of Harbour CHIRP.
It's a great time of year to enjoy a stroll in the crisp air of our Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. This month, we have two morning walks - a Harbour Creekies walk around the sand dunes of East Head on 4th December and an opportunity to go bird watching at Black Point on Hayling Island on 11th December.
We've also got three Solar Heritage trips on 2nd, 5th and 19th December. They all focus on watching overwintering birds, so whether you're a keen ‘birder' or you'd simply like to find out more, why not book a trip to see the birds from our solar-powered catamaran? Please note that space on our bird watching boat trips is more limited than usual (to cater for all the equipment) so please book in advance.
Places are rapidly running out for the ‘Christmas Songs with the Harbour Buoys' event at Dell Quay. This live event on 8th December celebrates the cultural heritage of the Harbour and is good fun!
To book tickets for any of our events, please call 01243 513275.
Finally, everyone at Chichester Harbour Conservancy sends greetings for the festive season. Do get out and enjoy the landscape with your friends and family. The Harbour Office is closed between Christmas and New Year and reopens on 4th January 2016.
Maria Court - Communications Officer
Chichester Harbour is one of England's most beautiful and cherished landscapes; rightly regarded as a treasured natural resource and internationally recognised for its special qualities. As part of a family of protected landscapes throughout the country, we are looking forward to benefitting from a closer working relationship between the National Association for Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty and National Parks England.
The two national organisations signed an Accord in November to consolidate their collaborations and ensure protection of our most treasured landscapes for the future. They hope to build on the significant joint working that already exists at both national and local level to secure investment, protect sources of funding and promote the benefits to the wider public of protecting these areas.
Roger Price, Chairman of Chichester Harbour Conservancy said, "We welcome this national commitment to work together. Locally, we aim to strengthen our relationships with other AONBs and National Parks in the south. The joint Accord will help raise the profile of these special places that all face similar environmental and financial challenges."
The Environment Minister, Rory Stewart was present to witness the signing of the Accord and said, "Our Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty and National Parks are vital to rural life. They protect and care for some of our most cherished landscapes. I am delighted that these two organisations will now be working even more closely together."
You can read the full text of the Accord here.
Friends on film
Our Friends of Chichester Harbour volunteers have made it onto the silver screen!
We commissioned Millstream Productions to film one of our conservation work parties at Beaky's Wildlife Area, Dell Quay.
This area is used as an outdoor learning environment for schools and groups with special needs.
The first showing of the film was at the Friends AGM on 22nd October and you can watch it here.
Photo: Northney Tea Rooms that benefitted from LEADER funding.
Help available for rural businesses
Judi Darley - Communities Officer
Rural businesses have the chance to apply for their share of £1.5m in EU and Government funding between now and 2020. The LEADER programme announced by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, will provide grants to small businesses, farmers, foresters and communities for projects that create jobs and grow the rural economy.
Most of Chichester Harbour is included within the designated Sussex Downs and Coastal Plain area. Grants will be awarded by a Local Action Group comprising local people and organisations with knowledge of their communities and rural issues. The process is supported by West Sussex County Council and Louise Goldsmith, Council Leader and Conservancy Member, said, "This is fantastic news for the rural economy here in West Sussex as we know how successful and well appreciated the previous LEADER scheme was.
Previously, 153 projects received funding under the earlier scheme and 141 new jobs were created between 2008 and 2013. We want to get the message out to all rural businesses - and to anyone thinking of setting up their own business - we want you to apply.
If you have an idea which you think will create a job, or benefit rural communities in any way, get in touch with the LEADER programme.
Getting crafty this autumn
Rose Teal - Event Administrator
Several families joined us at Dell Quay during half term for a lovely autumn walk along the Harbour shoreline and woodland paths before going to Beaky's Wildlife Walk - our special wildlife area, created as an outdoor learning environment for schools and groups with special educational needs.
Here, they saw a variety of homes that wildlife enjoy, such as bug hotels, bird boxes, ponds, wild meadows, herb gardens and the special places where grass snakes like to curl up to sleep.
We collected treasures from the trees and hedgerows along the way to bring back to the classroom and create some special works of art. We let our imaginations run wild and made leafy hedgehogs and squirrels, glittery leaves and wonderful people and animals from acorns and conkers.
Why not join us for an upcoming event?
Make your garden the bees knees!
James Parkin - Farming & Wildlife Officer
Research shows that insects such as bees, moths, hoverflies, and beetles pollinate more than 80% of European crop species. This includes most fruits and many vegetables.
The value of this free and essential service is thought to be in the region of £690 million per year in the UK alone. The loss of over 90% of our wildflower meadows over the last seventy years is thought be a key reason for the decline of bees, as this habitat would provide a plentiful supply of the nectar and pollen on which they rely.
Traditionally, we think of the honeybee as being responsible for the majority of pollination in the countryside. However, there are over 250 species of wild bee in the UK which are just as important for pollinating our crops. We must look after them all in order to protect our ability to produce food now and in the future.
We can all help bees and other pollinators by growing nectar and pollen rich plants in our gardens, leaving long areas of grass and reducing pesticide use.
Use the Bee Kind tool to help make your garden more supportive of bees needs.
Bringing the Harbour into schools
Jane Latawski - Education Officer
During the autumn months we have been developing new activities to take into local schools. These include presentations to primary and secondary pupils and workshops about Harbour habitats for older primary school children.
Our aim is to raise awareness of the beautiful landscape and wealth of wildlife that we have on our doorstep and to encourage children to spend some time in the Harbour with their families.
If you would like more information about our new Outreach sessions for schools, please email me or call 01243 789173. The presentations and KS2 workshop are free of charge to local schools.
Watch the birds - watch out for the tide!
Georgie Siddle - Communities Ranger
Last month was very warm, considering that it was November and now we're heading into December. Earlier last month, I saw two Swifts that obviously hadn't realised that winter was coming!
On 16th November, I attended a bird walk around Langstone with a group of experienced bird watchers. We saw a wide range of species including Oystercatchers, Brent Geese, Mergansers, Teal, Widgeon, Curlew, Dunlin, Common Tern, Cormorants, Redshank and Greenshank.
Langstone is a really good place for spotting the majority of the birds in the Harbour as it has a lot of saltmarsh grazing areas which they love. The tides were extra high on the day and we were a little concerned that we would get cut off by the sea, so we beat a hasty retreat, triumphant with the numbers we had counted.
It's always a good idea to check the tide times when bird watching - have a look on our website for the tides in your area.
Trees lined up for planting
Nicky Horter - Countryside Officer (job-share)
Our first batch of saplings arrived in late November, and they have already been planted at Cobnor Activities Centre. Our Friends volunteers used these to thicken up an existing hedgerow, which will be ready to lay once they grow bigger.
We have lots of planting sites lined up this winter. Our volunteers love tree planting as it's one of the best activities for leaving a legacy in the landscape - they can come back in 10 or 20 years and say "I helped with that!" - a very satisfying feeling.
We will be planting native species including hawthorn, hazel, field maple and oak, providing vital food and shelter for wildlife. We also have over 20 larger oak trees donated by Bosham Primary School ready to be planted out; each one will be adopted by members of the school's eco-group.
In addition, four young English Elm trees have been donated to grow in the AONB, and we hope that they are resistant to the prevalent Dutch Elm Disease. Their progress will be monitored by dedicated volunteers and we will keep you updated.
This work ties in with a policy in our management plan:
The need to maintain and enhance the landscape character through woodland and hedgerow creation, improving the condition of existing hedgerows and planting coastal shelter belts to replace those at risk of coastal erosion.
Meet the latest addition to our team!
Judith Meagher - Countryside Officer (job-share)
This young male Barn Owl was found on the road in September so we decided to turn his sad loss into something positive, by preserving him as a valuable educational resource. Sadly, Barn Owls are often hit by cars as they tend to fly very low when crossing roads. This is not the only threat they face - loss of nesting places and hunting grounds and the widespread use of pesticides has put populations at risk.
Preserving this Barn Owl means his death was not in vain - we can take him to events, talk about his plight and explain what we are doing to help Barn Owls in the Harbour. We have installed Barn Owl boxes in several locations, and we hope some of these will be occupied by breeding pairs.