By Michael Blencowe
Senior People and Wildlife Officer
Spring finally arrived in April and after a slow start to year it had a lot of catching up to do. It certainly made up for lost time by delivering some very hot weather which jump-started a lot of spring wildlife. Butterflies emerged in force and our summer migrant birds who had been making a hesitant journey north started to pour in. So we’re back on track for May and there should be plenty of wildlife singing, swooping and slithering about to keep everyone busy.
Throughout May there are plenty of events to help you to enjoy this wildlife-packed month. Unfortunately some our events are so popular that they are already fully booked – but there are plenty more events available.
We’re celebrating the 50th Anniversary of the opening of our Woods Mill reserve and we are laying on a plethora of special events throughout the year. The first event is a guided walk through a wonderful bluebell woodland on 2 May. On 3 May the Eastbourne group will be exploring the flowers and other wildlife at Ashburnham Place near Battle.
We’ll be leading special guided walks around Woods Mill at selected weekends throughout the spring and summer. Join us on 5 May for walks at 10am or 2pm. The dawn chorus walks over this weekend have sold out but, if you’re in East Sussex join us on International Dawn Chorus Day (6 May) for a walk amongst the waders at Rye.
The Eastbourne group will be investigating the wonders of a moth trap on 8 May which – along with a croissant breakfast – should prove to be very interesting. There’s another bluebell walk here at Woods Mill on 9 May and on 11 May there is a special Spring Morning Walk to listen out for our summer migrants also at Woods Mill. If you’d like to learn some birdsong there are just a few places left on our Introduction to Warblers course at Coldwaltham also on 11 May. In the afternoon on 11 May we’ll be out again on Seaford Head looking for birds, bees and butterflies amongst this beautiful landscape.
There will be a walk from the Three Horseshoes pub in Elsted near Midhurst on 12 May which guarantees some splendid views across this beautiful part of the county. Also on the 12 May we’ll be searching for a cuckoo (and other birds) at Castle Water, Rye Harbour.
The Eastbourne group will be searching for rare burnt orchids on Mount Caburn near Lewes on 15 May and here at Woods Mill we’ll be looking for owls, nightingales and other Dusk Birds on 15 May. The following day (16 May) is the last chance to join us for a bluebell walk through the woods. On 18 May we’ll open up a moth trap to see what has been flying around Woods Mill while we were asleep.
There’s the opportunity to learn a new hobby on 18 May when we run our popular Botanical Illustration course. Saturday 19 May see another two guided walks around Woods Mill as part of our 50th celebrations and there’s another early evening dusk birds walk here on 22 May too.
Over in East Sussex there is a guided walk to explore the fascinating species which thrive on the shingle of our Rye Harbour reserve on 23 May. On 25 May there is a course aimed at attracting bees and other pollinators to your garden. If you’re a wildlife friendly gardener come along to learn how you can help these declining insects. We’ll be looking at how to help ourselves on 26 May when herbalist Kym Murden runs a course on herbal medicine.
The month ends with a circular walk around Old Lodge on the Ashdown Forest (30 May) . A wonderful reserve where we should find some unusual birds and insects. We’ll hopefully see you somewhere in May – have a great month!.