Author Tom Simpson
People and Wildlife Officer
During my first week as People and Wildlife Officer for the Wild about Worthing Project, I have spent a bit of time getting to know the people and places of this urban landscape and, most importantly, getting a glimpse of some of the wonderful wildlife there is to be seen around the town.
First stop was Whitebeam Woods, a tiny remnant of ancient woodland in west Worthing which certainly lives up to its designation as a Site of Nature Conservation Importance. A huge feral honey bee hive hanging from the limb of a mighty oak grabbed my attention and as I stared up trying to get a decent photo a noisy flock of long-tailed and great tits rushed past on the hunt for food, closely followed by the distinctive yaffle of a green woodpecker.
Next stop was the beach at Sea Lane, where a swift search of the strandline revealed an abundance of mermaids purse. These tough, leathery egg cases of skates, rays and sharks wash ashore after the eggs inside had hatched and serve as a great indicator of whats going on beneath our seas. A pair of grey wagtails joined in the search, bouncing along the strandline.
I continued my whistle-stop tour with a visit to Cortis Avenue Community Wildlife Garden, where the hard working volunteers had been digging a new pond. As I left, I was very excited to see a buff-tailed bumblebee buzzing around looking to find flowering plants.
A bumblebee in early February? Even on a warm day thats an unusual sight but not as unusual as you might think. According to the Bees, Wasps and Ants Recording Society (BWARS), over the last dozen years or so Bombus terrestris workers have been seen foraging at a wide range of winter-flowering plants as mated queens establish nests in the autumn, and the colonies exploit the increasing amount of forage resources available throughout the winter in our gardens, parks and amenity areas. You can record your sightings of winter active bumblebees here.
This brief taste of Worthings urban landscape has really got me Wild About Worthing and Im looking forward to working with the many conservation and community groups around the town and seeing the seasons progress. A summer of swifts and stag beetles awaits, perhaps?
Our wWildlife Rangers and Youth Rangers programmes will be up and running soon. If youre interested in gaining practical skills and work experience, learning more about your local environment and helping to make it a better place then why not get in touch?
Tom Simpson is the People and Wildlife Officer for the Sussex Wildlife Trusts Heritage Lottery funded project Wild About Worthing.