By Michael Blencowe
Senior Learning and Engagement Officer
It’s been a mostly mild and wet start to 2020 but there were a few frosty nights during January which made it feel like winter. In the middle of the month my local foxes were screaming their mating calls. It’s quite a noise which I’d imagine would be a bit unnerving if you were out in the woods and weren’t familiar with it. To me it’s a reminder that wild dogs live among, it brings a touch of the Serengeti to Sussex. Another amazing noise (although not quite so bloodcurdling) is the drumming of the Great Spotted Woodpecker. My local woodpecker has been drumming since Christmas, a territorial proclamation in the absence of a song. It’s a reassuring signal that spring is coming – although it’s still a way off yet.
We’ve had a lot of interest in this year’s events programme and many bookable walks and courses are sold out. So here’ s a reminder to look ahead through our 2020 ‘What’s on’ programme to avoid disappointment. Meanwhile there are plenty of opportunities to get closer to wildlife in February.
It’s World Wetlands Day on 2 February and one of the best wetland sites on the South Coast, Rye Harbour, will be celebrating with two walks. The first walk will be looking out for wetland birds including Waders, Egrets, Ducks, Marsh Harrier and, if you are very lucky, a Bittern. The second event is in the early evening watching birds from the reserve’s hides as they fly in to roost.
There is another early evening event on 4 February at our Woods Mill headquarters as James Duncan leads a walk looking for owls and other winter birds. On 5 February we’ll be out doing some practical conservation work with a beach clean at Seaford Head. James is out again looking for owls and winter birds at our Rye Harbour reserve on 6 February.
Also on 6 February at Rye Harbour the will be an environmental poetry workshop with writers Clare Syrad and Clare Whistler. Come along and explore a different perspective on the wildlife around you.
James Duncan will be back out on a hunt for winter birds on 12 February. This time he is targeting winter thrushes on a walk around Woods Mill. In the evening on 12 February Sussex Wildlife Trust’s president Dr Tony Whitbread will delivering a talk at the Shoreham Ropetackle Centre about what we mean by rewilding and its relevance to nature conservation, ecosystem restoration and to our own health and wellbeing.
The following day, 15 February, there’s a chance to explore a hidden and usually locked Sussex Wildlife Trust reserve in Brighton and hear about the work the Trust are doing on the site. Come along to the Deneway and help plant a range of wild flowers to encourage pollinating insects to visit the site in a newly created butterfly glade. And if you want to learn more about pollinating insects there is a talk all about bumblebees in Winchelsea on the same day.
Winter is a great time to encounter birds and at Rye Harbour and we have some guided walks to help you learn more about them. There’s a ‘Beginning Birdwatching’ event (18 February) while on 20 February there is a workshop to create birdboxes and bird feeders to attract them to your garden. And in the evening an illustrated talk in Eastbourne will teach you all about British Owls and Woodpeckers.
There’s another illustrated talk in Chichester on 25 February focusing on the wildlife that can be found in the local parks around the city. There’s another chance to get involved with some practical work in the Big Beach Clean at Rye on 29 February.