By Michael Blencowe
Senior Learning and Engagement Officer
We are in the middle of a long drought. There’s no rainclouds on the weather forecast and the dry, cracked paths and yellow fields make the countryside look more like the Serengeti than Sussex. I was staring into my wardrobe this morning at my waterproof coat and jumpers. They look like relics from a bygone age – I can neither remember when I last needed them or imagine that I ever will again!
This weather is having an impact on some species of wildlife. I’ve found six dead moles on my travels; refugees from the baked ground. On the Downs the emerging Adonis blues are finding that their foodplant, horseshoe vVetch, is withered and dry. Other heat-loving species are flourishing and we’re already seeing ripe blackberries on the brambles. There’s plenty of chances to join us and explore Sussex and its wildlife in August. Hopefully we may find that real rarity – a drop of rain. Why do I think I’m going to regret saying that?!
We’re having a year-long celebration of 50 years since our Woods Mill nature reserve opened its doors to the public . There are a number of free events being held here throughout the month. On 1 August we are holding a Summer Butterflies and Dragonflies event as part of the celebrations.
On 3 August we are organising a beach clean at Worthing – one of series of community events across the county to help clean up our environment. Do your bit and join us! Back at Woods Mill on 3 August we are running a tree identification walk as part of the 50th celebrations.
There are two wildlife walks in East Sussex on Saturday 4 August. One up on the South Downs at Butt’s Brow (near Eastbourne) and the other at Camber Castle on our Rye Harbour reserve. The following day (5 August) we’ll be opening up the Rye Harbour moth trap for a Moth Morning.
Our reserve at Graffham Common near Petworth has come on in leaps and bounds since we harvested the pine plantation to return the land back to heathland. Join us for a walk here on 7 August. At Woods Mill on the 8 August we’ll be looking out for late birds on a summer bird walk and the following day 9 August) we’ll look for butterflies (and the impressive Hornet Robberfly) on the Lewes Downs.
Crickets and Grasshoppers are a familiar sight and sound in the Sussex countryside – but how many can you identify? Our day course on 11 August will help you sort your wartbiters from your coneheads. On the same date we will be running two guided walks around our Woods Mill reserve (10am and 2pm)
With summer in full swing it’s easy to forget that many birds are already making their escape back to Africa. On 12 August we are running a special migration event at Woods Mill and, weather permitting, will be able to watch licensed bird ringers surveying the birds.
We’re out exploring our Old Lodge reserve in the Ashdown Forest on 14 August. There is a guided walk for families around Castle Water at Rye Harbour on the same date. Come along and learn about the wildlife and fascination history of the area.
Moths are very popular with bats, and if you want to know more about these fascinating insects we have a special moth morning at Woods Mill on 31 August.