Welcome and introduction
Richard Austin - AONB Manager
Happy New Year and very best wishes for 2016 from everyone at Chichester Harbour Conservancy!
Although January tends to be a busy time, with people catching up after the winter break, I'd encourage you to participate in our activities programme if you have time.
Why not join our Harbour Creekies for a gentle stroll around Chichester Marina on Friday 8th January or, if you fancy something a bit more challenging, join our Harbour Hares for a brisk country walk around Itchenor and Birdham on Saturday 23rd January.
There's an opportunity to go bird watching at Black Point, Hayling Island on Friday 15th January and, for those interested in folklore, natural history enthusiast John Arnott will be exploring Salterns Copse on Sunday 17th January.
Finally, on Sunday 24th January, both budding and expert photographers are welcome to join us for an all-day nature and landscape photography session inspired by Chichester Harbour. This popular event starts at Dell Quay and places must be booked in advance.
Please visit the What's On page for details of all our activities and events, including bird watching trips aboard Solar Heritage.
Photo: Gareth Fuller/PA Wire
We would like to wish Tim Peake, a local hero, all the best for his mission on the International Space Station.
Tim grew up in the area and we will be tweeting him with our question - "Does Chichester Harbour Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty still look outstanding from space?"
We hope you like the nice new path at Cobnor.
If you're looking for a nice place to walk off your new year celebrations, why not pop down to Chidham and walk south from the car park at the end of Chidham Lane along the coastal path towards the activity centres at Cobnor? You can enjoy lovely views across to Bosham and the Downs beyond.
The footpath has been given a facelift and we hope you like it. The path was closed for five weeks and we asked walkers to bear with us whilst the work took place. Over 850m of footpath was scraped back and surfaced, replacing the old, muddy stretch that was there before.
Please visit our Facebook page for before and after photos and to let us know what you think.
Photo: Linda Stanley
New homes for Bats and Barn Owls
James Parkin - Farming & Wildlife Officer
Bats looking for a new home are spoilt for choice as we installed 10 wooden bat boxes for them at Fishbourne Meadows in November. Barn Owls in the AONB can also choose from six new Barn Owl boxes made from recycled plastic, which were installed a safe distance from major roads.
Boxes must be erected 1km or more away from roads as, sadly, up to a massive 42% of newly fledged Barn Owls are killed by cars each year - you may recall the young Barn Owl we preserved last year.
Barn Owls usually start laying eggs in three day intervals from mid April. The nestlings hatch approximately 30 days later, but they are not independent for another 10 weeks. The male brings food back to the nest whilst the female is incubating and during the first few weeks of the hatchlings' life.
Barn Owls are now very dependent on nest boxes due to the loss or modification of traditional nesting places. What they really need to thrive is plenty of "rough" grassland which supports their prey; voles and mice, and the protection of their existing nest and roost sites. If you have a large garden or plot of land 1 km away from a major road, then you can help them by leaving a patch of grass to grow longer and only topping it every two years.
Find out more about Barn Owls on the RSPB website.
Working in partnership for a sustainable future
Richard Austin - AONB Manager
The eastern side of Chichester Harbour is on the Manhood Peninsula, which incorporates 16 villages and around 25,000 people.
In 2001, a partnership was established to enable and empower local people to have a say in, and to work towards, a shared and sustainable future. Today, the members include representatives from Chichester Harbour Conservancy, Chichester District Council, West Sussex County Council and various other agencies and local interest groups.
The partners met in December to consider the surface water management plan and the road infrastructure around Chichester, and the Coastal Economy Team gave an update on their work.
I reported our progress on several issues, including our forthcoming Shoreline Defence Guidelines, the ongoing management of the Salterns Way, our exciting refurbishment plans for our classroom at Dell Quay, and a new report from the Marine Archaeology Trust that looked at the potential impacts of bait digging on archaeology in the Harbour.
If you would like to find out more about the varied and interesting work of the Manhood Peninsula Partnership, please visit their website.
The Conservancy's work varies throughout the year. To get a flavour, here's a look back at some of our memories from 2015.....
Keith Rathbone - Countryside Ranger
The highlight for me this year has to be when, I went down to the south of Thorney Island to do a beach clean, and counted 27 Seals that had hauled out on the mud banks at Marker Point. Then later in the month I saw an Osprey perching on the landing lights near Thornham Point on two separate occasions. To see an Osprey once was great, but to see another, or possibly the same one a second time, was fantastic.
Spot the sunshine in a year of gloomy weather!
Judi Darley - Communities Officer
I recall 2015 as a year of only a few days of sunshine, dotted between windy and cloudy conditions. Local meteorology enthusiast, Trevor Buttress of Bellfield Nursery, Birdham has been recording the weather for many years and shares my thoughts.
He told me that November 2015 had less than 30 hours of sunshine - fewer than in any November since his records began - and that we only had 60% of the average hours of sunshine in August 2015.
Thankfully, we didn't suffer extreme rainfall (like parts of the North West last year) but we did notice the effect that weather conditions had on tides. On a Harbour Hares walk from Emsworth to Langstone, the tide came in so quickly that we were almost cut off two hours before high tide was expected. This was a timely reminder that, in future, we can't just think about average rising tides but the effect that changing weather has on tides too.
On one of our rare sunny days in April, we held our first ever Duck Race in Fishbourne Meadows. This successful family event was great fun and helped us to engage with more families. The Duck Race will be back again this year, and is planned for Tuesday 5th April.
Keep an eye out for our new-style activities leaflet, which will be published soon or to find out more visit our What's On page.
We're out there, whatever the weather!
Jane Latawski - Education Officer
We have a great team of teachers and volunteers at Chichester Harbour Conservancy.
They are a highly qualified and dedicated bunch of people, who are out and about in the Harbour, whatever the weather.
The photo shows three of our team at the end of a school visit on a blustery day at East Head!
2015 was a very busy year...as a team we have met and worked with 5,684 young people and adults, helping them to spend time in the Harbour, learning about nature and having fun in the AONB.
Friends get together for seasonal celebration
Nicky Horter - Countryside Officer (job-share)
Forty-five volunteers from the Friends of Chichester Harbour came along to a well-deserved seasonal celebration in December at The Stables, our lovely converted barn at Eames Farm.
The celebration was our thank you to them for helping our Rangers, Keith and Georgie, to keep the AONB in good shape. We enjoyed a conservation film together and it was an opportunity to spend time catching up and chatting as they don't get much time to do that during work parties!
They turn up each week, whatever the task and whatever the weather, and get eagerly stuck in and make a real difference - we couldn't do it without them.
To find out more about our work parties, visit our volunteering page.
Preserving the Harbour for future generations
Judith Meagher - Countryside Officer (job-share)
My favourite day from 2015 was a visit to see local archaeologists from the Chichester District Archaeological Society (CDAS) at work during an excavation at a site near Warblington.
It was a lovely reminder of the Harbour's rich history and the need to preserve this treasure for future generations. We must remember that we are all temporary custodians and, one day, archaeologists may be looking at what we did and how we lived in the Harbour!
You can help now when you're out and about by:
• following footpaths to protect the fragile habitats along the foreshore
• respecting wildlife and viewing birds from a distance to avoid disturbing them whilst they are feeding or nesting
• keeping dogs under control and clearing up after them
• taking your rubbish home
Click here to find out more about archaeology and CDAS.
Planning matters - successful objection in Bosham
Linda Park - Planning Officer (job-share)
The planning application for a solar farm at ‘New Barn Farm' in Bosham, in the heart of the AONB countryside, has been refused by Chichester District Council (CDC) on the following grounds:
- it is major development within an AONB, with no exceptional circumstances to justify overriding the presumption against such development
- harmful impact on the AONB's natural beauty, character and special qualities.
The Conservancy and key consultees, such as Natural England and the Parish Council, raised a strong objection to the application on these grounds and were pleased that CDC agreed with the objection.
Even when the original plans were revised to halve the size of the proposed development, it was still viewed as a major development within the AONB and all key consultees maintained their objection.
The Conservancy considers that this is a landmark decision (being the first of its kind within Chichester Harbour AONB), which demonstrates our view that developments of thousands of solar panels are detrimental to the landscape and character of our nationally treasured landscapes.
We plan to share news of this decision with other AONBs to help them to object to similar developments where they cause harm to the special qualities of the landscape.