Author Huw Morgan
People and Wildlife Officer (Brighton)
The Sussex Wildlife Trust Youth Rangers were involved in an unusual task recently, helping to restore a huge chalk hawk cut into the side of the hill at Sheepcote Valley in Brighton. Created in 2001 by a community arts group, the hawk has become a popular local landmark but was in need of a little tlc which the youth rangers, along with several other groups, were able to help out with.
Cutting and re-defining the outline of the hawk and then adding fresh chalk has seen it restored to its former glory as a distinctive feature of the valley. It was the first time the group had worked in Sheepcote Valley which is the largest open grassland site in the city.
The site is renowned for its variety of bird species, often being used as a stop off point for birds migrating from Europe and beyond. Osprey, nightjar and dartford warblers have been spotted here and the Valley is home to linnet, whitethroat and skylark.
On a hot sunny afternoon, the youth rangers identified many different species of butterfly including the essex skipper and painted lady. Close to the chalk hawk can be found the silver spotted skipper, one of Brighton’s rarest species. A stroll to the valley pond, created 18 months ago by the Access to Nature project, revealed damselflies and dragonflies such as the common darter.
The group will continue to work closely with Paul Gorringe, the council’s ranger for the site over the winter months opening up areas for sheep grazing to help restore chalk grassland habitat.
Find out more about Sussex Wildlife Trust’s Brighton & Hove Community Wildlife Project and sign up for their newsletter here.