Harbour CHIRP - May 2017

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Welcome and introduction

Welcome to May’s edition of Harbour CHIRP! This month is National Walking Month, featured in National News below. Why not take part and walk round the Harbour?

You could join us for one of our guided walks which form part of our Activities programme. Our new leaflet will be available towards the end of May, with family activities planned for Half Term (29th May – 2nd June). Watch this space!

I hope you have managed to get out in the sunshine and enjoy the Harbour at its best. The overwintering birds have gone and new summer visitors are arriving all the time. Please bear this in mind if you are working in your garden as the birds will need places to nest!

Our weekly work parties to keep the Harbour in good shape will continue until July and our Rangers will be out cutting the footpaths two days a week. Please bear with them though – they have 56 miles to cover!

If you want to support our work in the Harbour, why not join the Friends of Chichester Harbour? Your membership will help with conservation work and projects, now and in the future.

National News

May is National Walking Month

May is National Walking Month and there's nowhere better than the Harbour to enjoy a peaceful, scenic walk.

Walking is good for general health and Living Streets, a UK walking charity, is promoting National Walking Month, with 20 tips to encourage people of all ages to walk more. From a power walk to a romantic stroll, there's something for everyone!

And the Government is backing walking too! Last month, England's first ever Cycling and Walking Investment Strategy (CWIS) was published, following a campaign by Living Streets and their partners. 

We hope you enjoy walking round the Harbour - maybe you can share some of your photos on Twitter @Chichesterharbo. Please check our website for any footpath closures or diversions, such as the one at Thornham Point mentioned below.

Photo: Paul Adams

It's Hedgehog Awareness Week!

Did you know that this year's Hedgehog Awareness Week takes place between 30 April and 6 May? The annual event is organised by the British Hedgehog Preservation Society and aims to highlight the problems hedgehogs face and how you can help them.

This year, efforts were focussed on a strimmer campaign and they produced waterproof stickers that they sent to councils, tool hire companies and grounds maintenance teams to remind operatives to check areas for hedgehogs before using any machinery.

Once they have received their stickers they can send a picture of themselves in action, for it to be added to the Hedgehog Heroes Roll of Honour! #hedgehogweek

As well as checking areas before cutting, there are other things you can do to help:

• ensure there is hedgehog access in your garden - a 13cm x 13cm gap in boundary fences and walls

• move piles of rubbish to a new site before burning it

• ensure netting is kept at a safe height

• check compost heaps before digging the fork in

• stop or reduce the amount of pesticides and poisons used

• cover drains or deep holes

• ensure there is an easy route out of ponds and pools

Don't wait for next year's event to take action! Please do your bit to help our hedgehogs.

Local News

Update on Thornham Point Bridge

Regular walkers in Chichester Harbour may be aware that Thornham Point Bridge was closed towards the end of last year.

The decision was taken for health and safety reasons, because the wood was starting to rot and the foundations weren't as strong as they need to be. The bridge has stood for 20-25 years and is part of the landscape of the Harbour.

We are aware of the local affection for this intricately designed bridge and we're working with West Sussex County Council on plans for a like-for-like replacement later this year but we don't yet know when the plans will be realised. We intend to dismantle the current bridge during the summer and install the new bridge as soon as possible.

In the meantime, a short diversion around the saltmarsh is possible, so walkers can continue to enjoy the footpath. As and when there is further news, we'll report it on our website and in Harbour CHIRP.

#harbour100 launches May half term

Judi Darley - Communities Officer

We've been busy getting our new initiative ready to launch in May half term.

#harbour100 is all about asking you to make up a challenge of your own choice, based in the Chichester Harbour Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. It can be collecting or recording a hundred of whatever you choose - be it exercise, flora and fauna, hours spent on art or simply 100 hours taking time out to enjoy the peace, tranquillity and beauty of the Harbour.

I have decided to make my challenge 100 different species of bird - either seen or heard - and I want my challenge to last for one year. I've started a bit early in order to give an example and I'll report on my progress each month.

I began my #harbour100 on Saturday 29th April at our bird song event at North Common, Hayling Island. During the 1½ hours, we heard or saw seven different birds (see list pictured)

At this time of year, I hoped to spot a Whimbrel - a species that passes through the Harbour in spring and autumn, and I did. The intriguing part of my challenge is that I really don't know if I will be able to record 100 different species within my time period of one year, but I'll keep you posted!

Do please join in with this new challenge, just think of the pleasure you will have along the way and the feeling of achievement at the end. Also, once your challenge is completed you will be able to apply for a special #harbour100 achievement badge to wear with pride and to encourage others to set their own challenges too.

Do please tweet #harbour100 to let us know how you are getting on!

More details will be on our website soon.

Let's talk Brown-tail moths....

Peter Hughes - Ecologist

This spring, a number of people have reported ‘nests' of hairy caterpillars in hedges around the Harbour. These are brown-tail moth caterpillars.

The moths lay their eggs in June or July, on a variety of woody plants (hawthorn, blackthorn, or bramble are the most popular hosts). The young caterpillars hatch out in late summer and spin larval webs in which they survive the winter.

These look like untidy cobwebs and are usually about the size of a tennis ball, but they can be bigger. They are often in large numbers, scattered over the same bush or hedge.

In early spring, the caterpillars become active again, leaving their webs to feed for a few weeks before pupating into adult moths.

Brown-tail moths are a native species and they are present every year around the Harbour. They seem to have had a good year, and the caterpillars are particularly abundant this spring - the mild winter probably benefited them.

Although very attractive, the caterpillars are definitely ‘just looky, no touchy' - the hairs can cause serious irritation to the skin, and are best left alone.

Their numbers are likely to go up and down from year to year, as weather and parasites impact on their population, and they are important food for one of our most famous spring migrants, the cuckoo.


Conservation on Thorney Island

Richard Austin - AONB Manager

The Thorney Island Conservation Group met at Baker Barracks, the Ministry of Defence Army base last month. They discussed instances of Brown-tail Moth and the continued conservation work required to look after the WW2 pillboxes around the island.  They also confirmed that the proposed England Coast Path will go around the Island, with an alternative route across the northern part for when the security gates aren't in use.

They discussed the issue of cyclists using footpaths as, unfortunately, it is a problem on the island and elsewhere in the Harbour. As well as the conflict of use, cycling accelerates erosion on paths not suitable for bicycles.

There were also updates on the Thorney Island shoot, the deer management programme, and a round-up from the tenant farmer, based at Eames Farm.

Overall, the group is a useful forum where partners can meet up every six months to discuss the latest issues and opportunities to work together.

All aboard for family fun this summer 

Gil Gladwin - Team Teacher

This year, we're hosting six ‘Days Out at Dell Quay' for families with a child or children with a disability, in collaboration with the charity Time Aside.

Sueloo Brown, from Time Aside secured funding from WSCC's Short Breaks initiative to offer an affordable day out in Chichester Harbour. This includes the opportunity to get onto the water and time to explore the shoreline at Dell Quay, with additional support.

We ran the first two of these family outings in April. Most of the time was spent outside, with a trip on our solar powered boat, Solar Heritage as well as activities along the shoreline.

The families gathered crabs and seaweed before returning them to the shore and enjoyed a spot of beachcombing to create a collage as a permanent reminder of a very enjoyable family day out.

Feedback from all the families was great, with one mum commenting,

‘We've all had an amazing day as we've been able to do activities we can't do normally without help and we would never have considered a boat trip before. We left feeling calm and relaxed, which is unheard of from a typical family day out!

'Great day at the Duck Race!

Georgie Siddle - Harbour Ranger

We had our annual Duck Race on 10th April at Fishbourne Meadows and it was a huge success.

We had over 70 people, all decorating their ducks. The colours ranged from bright pink with blue feathers, right down to Bat Man - all in black, including the cape!

The weather was glorious which meant all our competitors were able to have a picnic outside, with a pre-race rest for some.

This has become a very popular event and I think it may be here to stay for the foreseeable future... I highly recommend that if anyone wants to attend the race next year they should book early.

We had ten winners and a last place winner, this way no one is a loser and it's definitely more competitive. I think that some of the parents enjoyed it more than the kids!

I must say that it is fun for everyone, so I hope to see you all there next year.