Spring has not officially started yet. Each year, upon seeing my first Orange-tip butterfly of the season fluttering along a roadside verge, I declare that Spring has officially sprung. However, I’m writing this at the end of April and I still haven’t seen one!
April was a cold month (we even had a flurry of snow on the 26th!) but, when the sun did break through, we had glimpses of what’s to come. Bees, butterflies and hoverflies became active when temperatures were raised. The first migrant birds flew back from their winter grounds south of the Sahara too. Swallows, nightingales and cuckoos were all reported mid-month and, by the end of April, I started hearing Common and Lesser Whitethroats singing from the hedgerows.
Nature’s going to get busy in May – and here at the Sussex Wildlife Trust we’re getting busy too with a packed programme of events to help you experience the wonderful wildlife of the county.
May Wildlife Walks
May starts with International Dawn Chorus Day (1st May). Our dawn chorus event in West Sussex is fully booked but over at Rye Harbour in East Sussex the team have organised a Wader Watch where you can listen to the birds and help count the whimbrel leaving their roost at dawn.
On May 6th we’re teaming up with the South Coast Train Partnership to offer a walk from Southease railway station to Well Bottom on the South Downs.
May 7th is the first of a series of events offering you the opportunity to learn more about Rye Harbour and its wildlife. Two days later (9th May) the Shoresearch team will be at the opposite end of the county exploring the marine wildlife of Selsey.
The beautiful downland of our Levin Down reserve (near Singleton) will be the location for our walk on May 12th. We’ll be looking out for downland flowers and butterflies such as grizzled and dingy skippers. Also in West Sussex Jan and Irwin will be leading a walk around the lovely Clapham Woods on May 14th which, by coincidence no doubt, starts and finishes at a local pub.
Over in the east there’s a chance to learn about the birds and other wildlife of Castle Water on the Rye Harbour reserve on May 14th. There are also other opportunities to learn about Rye Harbour on a ‘Shingle, Birds & Flowers’ members-only event (May 25th) and a ‘Coastal Plants’ event (May 28th).
On May 26th there’s a guided walk exploring our grazing project at Friston Forest an interesting area rich in wildlife between Seaford and Eastbourne.
May Wildlife Courses
A lot of our courses are already fully booked or are very close so make sure you book up to avoid disappointment.
On May 15th there’s a Seashore Identification course run by Olle and Nikki, our marine officers, giving you the chance to explore and identify wildlife along the Sussex Seashore.
There’s just a few spaces left on our ‘Evening with Bats’ course on May 20th and the ‘Wildflowers of Sussex’ course the following day is almost fully booked too.
Development pressure is a constant issue for wildlife in south-east England. Each year we run a ‘Wildlife and the Planning Process’ course (25th May) to offer some insights into this issue and help you understand wildlife legislation. Many people have found this course helpful when opposing proposed developments.
Laurie Jackson’s mammal courses are always popular and the ‘Ecology of the Hazel Dormouse’ course on 27th May gives attendees a chance to learn more about this rarely seen animal and learn important survey techniques.