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Welcome to February's edition of Harbour CHIRP.
This month, we're celebrating the wonderful birds that visit the Harbour and we have a special event - Brent Goose Day on Tuesday 21st February. This family event is at Dell Quay and there are plenty of activities to keep the children busy while they learn about the geese and why they come here.
We also have three lovely guided walks this month - a gentle walk around Black Point and Sandy Point in Hayling Island on Friday 3rd February (free to Friends of Chichester Harbour) and a faster walk along the Chidham shoreline on Saturday 25th February.
Birdwatchers can join us for a stroll along the Nutbourne shoreline on Sunday 12th February and we're hoping the winter sun will come out to warm up these winter walks!
Why not sign up here to find out what's happening each month? We have monthly themes and a variety of events.
We're also consulting on whether to designate parts of the Harbour as Dark Sky Discovery Sites - scroll down to Richard Austin's article for more information.
National News - World Wetlands Day photo competition
World Wetlands Day is celebrated on 2nd February each year, marking the adoption of the Convention on Wetlands on 2 February 1971, in the Iranian city of Ramsar on the shores of the Caspian Sea.
World Wetlands Day helps to raise public awareness about the importance and value of wetlands. There are 174 sites designated as Wetlands of International Importance (Ramsar Sites) in the UK and Chichester Harbour is one of them.
This year's theme is Wetlands for Disaster Risk Reduction - specifically chosen to highlight the vital role of healthy wetlands in reducing the impacts of extreme events such as floods, droughts and cyclones, and in helping to build resilience.
There's a photo competition with the chance to win a trip to the wetland of your choice. This is open to anyone aged 18 - 25. Good luck!
Here in the Harbour, we are have two special bird watching trip on Solar Heritage on 3rd & 4th February to mark the occasion.
Local News - recent incident
We were recently made aware of an incident where a swan was killed by a loose dog and the incident was reported to the local Wildlife Crime Officer.
It is really important for owners to keep their dogs under control whilst walking along the shore, particularly while the overwintering birds are here in the Harbour.
If you witness an incident, please contact the police on 101 and ask to speak to the Wildlife Crime Officer. In an emergency, call 999.
We're consulting on dark skies
Richard Austin - AONB Manager
Where is your best local place to see the stars? It could be closer than you think!
It will be somewhere a little away from direct street lighting, with good sightlines that aren't blocked by buildings or trees. Dark Sky Discovery Sites are a nationwide network of places that provide great views and which are accessible to everyone. They have been nominated by local groups and organisations as their top local spot to see the stars.
Throughout February we're consulting on three new potential Dark Sky Discovery Sites in Chichester Harbour. The candidate sites are along the foreshore at West Itchenor, Maybush Copse in Chidham, and Eames Farm on Thorney Island. If our bids are successful, these sites will be formerly recognised as great places to go stargazing!
You can help us by spreading the word so we get as many responses as possible. Please click here to find out more about why our dark skies are important and the chance to have your say on our plans.
Building work at our Education Centre begins!
Jane Latawski - Education Officer
Thank you to the Friends of Chichester Harbour and the F.G. Woodger Trust for funding some much needed improvements at Dell Quay.
We have a lovely, and possibly unique, Education Centre at Dell Quay as there can't be many classrooms based on a quay and looking out onto a beautiful estuary! With its stunning Harbour views and aspect, our many visitors really enjoy using the classroom.
However, our toilet facilities are limited at the moment and the classroom needs updating so, last year, we began planning a refurbishment. With more toilets, pupils will spend less time queuing and more time exploring the outdoor environment. With large groups of young children, this can take up quite a lot of valuable time!
Work began in January and the funding will also enable us to put in new sinks and a new entrance into the classroom.
Nutbourne Farm or Nutbourne Waters?
Peter Hughes - Ecologist
Nutbourne Farm or Nutbourne Waters? Well, hopefully it's a bit of both...
Nutbourne Farm is a small fragment of grazing marsh, at the northern end of the Nutbourne channel, and part of the Chichester Harbour Site of Special Scientific Interest.
For most of the last 15 years, this area has been un-grazed and largely unmanaged. This led to much of the site being dominated by reed, bramble, scrub and tall grasses.
Over the last few months, much of this vegetation has been reduced in height and extent, through a combination of cutting and grazing. You may have seen the Belted Galloway cattle grazing which will reduce the grass height and the extent of the reeds.
Although it may look a bit drastic, over the next few years this management will improve plant diversity and should provide good feeding areas for a variety of waders and waterfowl.
It is likely that waders such as Snipe, Curlew and Black-tailed Godwits will use the grassland to feed on earthworms and other invertebrates, and when winter water levels allow, ducks such as Teal and Wigeon will feed in the flooded areas.
Creating new habitat around the Harbour
Judith Meagher - Project Officer
Every year, we continue our programme of tree and hedgerow planting. Over the last two months, I have ordered thousands of hedgerow plants and dozens of trees to create new habitat in the Harbour.
The Rangers and our trusty volunteers from the Friends of Chichester Harbour have already planted 1,200 plants in Bosham and will have their spades ready to plant a further 400 at Nutbourne Farm SSSI on 8th February.
Landowners and volunteers have helped by planting hundreds of plants in Cobnor and along Wayfarer's Walk, near Nore Barn Woods in Emsworth and another 800 will form a new hedgerow at a farm in Bosham.
Southbourne Beavers planted two pear trees and 100 plants at Eames Farm last Saturday, which was great fun.
We're also creating an orchard in Itchenor and we'll be planting some bluebells later in the year to provide a carpet beneath the trees. The land is owned by Chichester Harbour Trust and this is an opportunity to develop a small orchard to enhance the area.
Do you know where this is?
Last month, we asked our readers if they knew where this lovely picnic spot was.
Well, it's at Emsworth Yacht Harbour, looking over towards Emsworth.
Now that you know where it is, maybe you can go and see it for yourself.
Hopefully, the weather will be as nice as it is in the picture!