Sussex Wildlife Trust opened its nature reserve at Woods Mill to the public 50 years ago on the 8 June 1968.
Over the past 50 years the nature reserve has been visited by tens of thousands of people from all walks of life and age groups. These include children pond dipping on school visits, people attending courses or events to identify birdsong or learn more about wild flowers, butterflies and other wildlife or, in many cases, casual visitors enjoying the serenity of a relaxing stroll or the chance to picnic in a beautiful natural setting.
Now, thanks to generous support from ScottishPower Foundation, Sussex Wildlife Trust is celebrating 50 years of inspiring and educating visitors with a host of free activities throughout the coming year. Thanks to their donation, more people will learn about wildlife and be inspired to take action to protect species and habitats for the next generation.
Leading the programme of events is Woods Mill Engagement Officer, James Duncan.
He said, ‘Why not join us on our wildlife walks and talks and get closer to nature at Woods Mill? Maybe join in a family pond dipping session, a bat watching evening, or come and watch us open one of our moth traps to reveal the fabulous moths that fly during the night but are seldom seen. Popular events s the regular birdsong walks which take place at dusk, when the birds are singing loudly to assert their territories before night falls.
‘Our events to celebrate the 50th anniversary are free of charge and start this weekend (9/10 June) but numbers on each event are limited to ensure those attending get the best wildlife experience possible. Please do book your place via our website.
‘We have also launched a Sussex Wildlife Trust Nature Table online. This Facebook group will share, discuss and ask questions about the wildlife at Woods Mill and the surrounding area with the page being updated daily with wildlife sightings at Woods Mill.
‘A nest box camera has been installed in the kestrel nesting box at the reserve and we are delighted that a pair of kestrels is successfully raising a family giving people the privilege of watching these amazing birds of prey via a small and unobtrusive nest box camera.’
Sarah Mistry from the ScottishPower Foundation said, ‘The ScottishPower Foundation offers practical support to a wide range of worthwhile projects right across the UK from Aberdeen to Aberystwyth to here in Sussex. These projects share our values, namely to advance environmental protection, education and community engagement.
‘Our hearty congratulations to Sussex Wildlife Trust for not only reaching its first 50 years at Woods Mill nature reserve but also for laying the groundwork to ensure many thousands more visitors can enjoy nature and learn about conservation at the nature reserve for years to come.
‘The Sussex Wildlife Trust programme of free events has something for all and we would encourage people to come and take part.’
Carole Nicholson, Chairman of Sussex Wildlife Trust said, ‘On behalf of Sussex Wildlife Trust, I should like to thank ScottishPower Foundation for their amazing financial support that is allowing us not only to celebrate the anniversary of 50 years at Woods Mill, but over the next nine months to make transformative habitat improvements for wildlife. This will include restoration of the reedbed and enhancing the visitor experience by improving path access. The project will enable us to give more people wildlife identification skills so that they in turn become Wildlife Champions. Already the KestrelCam nestbox with recently hatched chicks is proving to be addictive viewing! Because of the support of ScottishPower Foundation we really will be able to take conservation into the next generation.’