Wildlife Art Auction

THE AUCTION IS NOW LIVE

Top wildlife artists, Nick Day and Mark Greco, have kindly donated their artwork to raise money for the Sussex Wildlife Trust.

The auction will run on eBay until Sunday 5th April 2015 and both pieces of artwork will have a starting price of 99 pence.

Eurasian Skylark Ascending by Nick Day

Eurasian Skylark Ascending by Nick Day

Eurasian Skylark Ascending by Nick Day

Multi-award winning wildlife artist Nick Day, has donated a signed and numbered ‘Artist’s Proof’, this is the very first colour print of the finished original, printed for the first colour match. The numbered edition of this Artist Proof is (A.P 4/5).

The framed and mounted print is approximately 52 cm x 43 cm. It is a white-washed ash frame with ‘museum glass’.

Click here to bid for Eurasian Skylark Ascending by Nick Day

Blackbird by Mark Greco

Blackbird by Mark Greco

Blackbird by Mark Greco

Mark Greco has donated a strictly limited, signed, Artist Proof Fine Art Giclée Print of the Blackbird. This print is a limited edition of 70 and the number of this print is 2/70.

The print is approximately 31 cm x 44 cm and is printed on high quality Hahnemuhle Paper.

Click here to bid for The Blackbird by Mark Greco

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The Murky World of Sharks, Skates, Rays and Mermaids?

Author Tom Simpson
Wild about Worthing Officer

small-spotted catshark / Paul Naylor

small-spotted catshark / Paul Naylor

Following a “discussion” with my dad, a keen fisherman, about whether or not a small-spotted catshark Scyliorhinus canicula was in fact a dogfish, I decided to dive deeper into the taxonomy of some of our common sharks, skates and rays. I was soon very confused and wished I’d stayed floating safely on the surface.

As with many well-known species, especially those with some kind of commercial value, the small-spotted catshark has been subject to a degree of re-branding over the years and has appeared in fish and chip shops nationwide under aliases such as rock salmon, flake, rigg, huss, dogfish and rock eel. All of these names may be very appealing to the consumer but offer little information about which species you are actually eating. Fortunately, eating a shark steak is not the only way to find out what’s occupying our coastal waters.

Female small-spotted catsharks lay eggs during spring and early summer in nursery grounds close to the shore. As the egg cases or “mermaid’s purses” break free, these smooth, paper thin and translucent capsules with their long, curly tendrils extending from each corner can be found washed up all along the coastline.

small-spotted catshark egg case / Paul Naylor

small-spotted catshark egg case / Paul Naylor

Catsharks are not the only producers of mermaid’s purses in the coastal waters around Sussex. Their close relatives, skate and ray are flat, cartilaginous fish, with a similar reproductive strategy and similarly misleading names.

Generally in the UK, species with long snouts are known as skates while those with shorter snouts are called rays. This is not entirely accurate however, and can lead to confusion. For example, both undulate rays Raja undulata and spotted rays Raja montagui are in fact skates.  More information on identifying skates and rays can be found on this handy guide by the Shark Trust: http://www.sharktrust.org/shared/downloads/about_sharks/british_skates_and_rays_taxonomic_chart_a3.pdf

undulate ray egg case / Erin Pettifer

undulate ray egg case / Erin Pettifer

Luckily for us beachcombers, some handy clues to the true identity of our local marine population wash up on our shores. All true skates lay distinct eggs cases, unlike rays which give birth to live young. So if you found an egg case that doesn’t have the long give away tendrils of a lesser-spotted catshark it’s almost certainly a skate.

Still confused? Don’t worry, whether your patch of coast is inundated with undulate rays, thronging with thornbacks or you think it’s a spotted ray you’ve spotted, you can be sure of one thing; they are all skates.

Wild About Worthing would love to hear about the egg cases you’ve found. Not only will this help us find out more about the plants and animals of Worthing, but your findings could help the Shark Trust to identify potential shark, skate and ray nursery grounds, providing valuable data to aid conservation.

If you find an egg case please tell us about it; http://www.sussexwildlifetrust.org.uk/wildaboutworthing/page00003.htm

If you are having trouble identifying your egg cases, there’s plenty of information on the Shark Trust website www.sharktrust.org.uk . A picture (with something for scale like a coin) can help confirm the identification.

Tom Simpson is the People and Wildlife Officer for the Sussex Wildlife Trust’s Heritage Lottery funded project – Wild About Worthing.

Find the Wild About Worthing project on Facebook and @WildWorthing on twitter

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Count Down

Author Ronnie Reed
People and Wildlife Officer Seven Sisters Country Park

A wild day in the woods

A wild day in the woods


The count down is on; only a few more days left of this term and the Easter holidays begin. There is a hint of Easter egg hunts and chocolate in the air. Teachers are ready for a break, kids are getting excited and parents are wondering what to do with their offspring for two weeks.

It is an early Easter this year and let’s be honest the weather is leaving something to be desired. There have been warm days blushed with the promise of Spring, but as I write the sky is grey and heavy and the wind is blowing from the north east with a cold edge that made me grab a coat and gloves this morning.

So what are your children going to be doing over the holiday? There will be those lovely lie in mornings when the pressure is off and no one is rushing around to find missing socks, homework or PE kit. Life is about to take a gently, more civilised pace. But what do you do with bored children once they emerge from their bedrooms for the day?

There is always the computer or they can rummage amongst the pile of games for the Nintendo 3DS, or grab their tablets and do what they do on tablets. They can spend the day on their mobile phones or they can channel hop the television. There can be trips to the local swimming pool, expensive visits to the bowling centre, or buckets of popcorn at the cinema. But like the white, pale creatures that lurk at great depths in the world’s deepest oceans at the end of the holidays your children will emerge grey and pallid to be swallowed up inside the classroom once more.

O.K a bit of an exaggeration but what about giving the kids a bit of freedom, the thrill of an adventure, some excitement, a little bit of the unknown. Get the coats out, the wellies, the gloves, the hats (you won’t need them once they have warmed up!) and get them outside. Go for a brisk wall along the beach with the wind behind you, pick up some shells, turn over the damp seaweed to discover what is living beneath it; skim stones across the waves. Head for the Downs, plan a walk with them, make it circular so it doesn’t seem too long, feel the bite of the wind in your face, take a deep breath of earth and sky, compete for who hears the first skylark and spots the first buzzard lifting on the thermals. Find a warm sunny spot to knuckle down for a picnic lunch and keep an eye open for the first bumblebee.

Find a woodland, climb obliging trees, hide amongst fallen branches, build a den, splash through some muddy puddles, find a stream to walk through, look for the dark green leaves of bluebells and search for weird and wonderful fungi. Stop for a second to listen to the raucous rooks.

Or if you want something organised why not join us down at the Seven Sisters Country Park where we are ‘doing’ Spring what ever the weather. If the weather is uncertain why not drop into our Spring Special event in our old Sussex flint barn and let the children spend the morning making things from card, paper, glue and paint, blowing eggs, building nests, sowing seeds and lots more. If the skies clear there is a spring trail down to the pond where there are nets waiting to dip the deeps. There is a Wild Day in the Woods when you can have a go at fire lighting, build a shelter, use tools to create magical things out of green wood and play with mud or just sit by the fire eating marshmallows (rationed!), or bring your younger ones to a Teddy Bear’s Picnic. Or if you need to escape for the day and you have kids that love all things bug like or want a bushcraft challenge why not book them onto a holiday club session.

Who needs to stay indoors and grow grey and pallid!!

Visit our website for family events and holiday clubs across Sussex over the Easter break

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The Most Important Election of 2015

will robin top the poll? / Lucia Brown

will robin top the poll? / Lucia Brown

Author Mike Russell
Senior Conservation Advisor

There are two important elections taking place on May 7th: one of fairly minor importance is deciding who might be running the country for the next five years, but the other one is of far major significance, voting closes on what should be Britain’s national bird.

A campaign has been led by David Lindo, widely known as the Urban Birder, who is looking to establish a national bird for Britain, as many other countries have done. A shortlist of ten birds has been drawn up and you can vote online by going to www.votenationalbird.com; voting ends on May 7th.

In the past, the robin has been voted Britain’s favourite bird but can it now go one better and become the national bird? It has some competition in other popular garden birds such as wren, blackbird and blue tit while two of our more iconic species, kingfisher and puffin, have made it to the shortlist despite many people having never seen them. Barn owl is another very popular bird and seeing one quartering a meadow or marsh of an evening is one of the great sights of the British countryside.

mute swan / David Ball

mute swan / David Ball

The remaining three can be viewed as a bit more controversial. Lovely as they are, I’m not sure whether the mute swan, should be there as, although it has been here a very long time, it was originally introduced. Including two raptors is likely to upset a small minority of people who believe that anything that has a hooked beak and talons should be terminated rather than exalted, but red kite represents a great conservation success story while hen harrier is a bit of a political candidate in some way as it a species that is being threatened with extinction in England at least through illegal persecution. If you are going to have a representative raptor on the shortlist, then I thought the more familiar and widespread kestrel would better fit the bill.

Inevitably though people will wonder why their favourite bird isn’t in contention. Where is the skylark for example? Nightingale would be a popular choice, although the candidates are all resident species, they live here all the year round, so as a summer migrant, it doesn’t qualify. It has to be said on that basis though; puffins are on dodgy ground as they disappear to spend the winter out at sea. We have no birds that are endemic to Britain, Scottish crossbill and red grouse, previously thought to be endemic species have now been discounted.

So, there are your candidates; my money is on the robin but I’m happy to be surprised. Whoever wins, they are likely to be more popular than the victor in that other election on May 7th.

red kite / Dave Kilbey

red kite / Dave Kilbey

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Growing Forward

Author Martin Felstead
Community Development Manager

Sorting through my daily back-log of emails, I came across a pleasant surprise when I opened one from the National Probation Service which contained a letter praising our Growing Forward Project in Brighton. Growing Forward is a project funded by the Safer in Sussex Community Fund as part of the Sussex Police and Crime Commissioner’s initiative to find new innovative ways to work with offenders and is led by Huw Morgan, Sussex Wildlife Trust’s Community Officer in Brighton.

The letter highlighted how both offenders and probation service staff had enjoyed the simple pleasures of being outdoors at our Stanmer Park site. Throughout the murky month of February the group learnt how to weave hazel fences, make bird-feeders and cook over the campfire in a non-judgemental, all-inclusive atmosphere shot through with good humour. This ‘can-do’ approach created an exciting experience for all involved within which people shared skills in an atmosphere of cooperation and team-building.

Most importantly, this allowed people to experience nature in new ways that helped them feel valued, respected and part of their own community when they are more used to isolation and exclusion. The project engages with small numbers of people but in a deeper way which is aimed at helping people change their perspectives on the world around them.

It was great news indeed to hear that some people who had been through the project had enrolled in other courses or voluntary work and some had offered to volunteer directly to the project in order to help others who will follow. Finally, the Commissioners Office came to film the group at work in Stanmer Park, during which participants gave interviews to camera in order to share their positive experiences.

The project ends at the end of March and we are looking for further support in order to carry on this valuable work. Our thanks go to the Safer in Sussex Community Fund, the National Probation Service and all those who took part.

New native hedgerow, pond and fence / Huw Morgan

New native hedgerow, pond and fence / Huw Morgan

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My Wild Life – my Seven Sisters

Author Amanda Solomon
Communications Manager

What's your wild life? / Miles Davis

What’s your wild life? / Miles Davies

We hope the phrase ‘My Wild Life’ will be on everyone’s lips this year as we join with the 46 other Wildlife Trusts in the UK to spread the word that nature matters.

This campaign aims to engage people with their local wildlife and wild places encouraging them to submit their own stories showing the value of nature to them as individuals.

At Sussex Wildlife Trust we teamed up with Brighton Theatre Group (BTG) who are currently rehearsing for the musical Sister Act, to produce this show stopping image to launch our Sussex campaign. We wanted to raise awareness of the fabulous views and wonderful walks freely available for everyone to share and enjoy.

Colette Ridehalgh who plays nun Sister Mary McCrystal lives in Headland Avenue, Seaford and regularly walks on Seaford Head with her family. Her ‘sisters’ were stunned by the fabulous views of the Seven Sisters cliffs and they attracted more than a few stares while having their picture taken during a break from rehearsals.

Sister Act, Tuesday 14 April – Saturday 18 April at 7.45 pm will be performed at All Saints Church, The Drive, Hove, BN3 3QE. Tickets 01273 709709 or visit: www.brightonticketshop.com

Sussex Wildlife Trust is encouraging everyone to join in with the campaign, submit their own My Wild Life story and be featured on the My Wild Life website. Please visit: www.mywildlife.org.uk for details.

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Stand Up and Be Counted

Time To Act

Time To Act

Author Ronnie Reed
People and Wildlife Officer Seven Sisters Country Park

Just over a week ago, I joined 20,000 people on a climate change march in London. ‘The Time to Act’ demonstration was organised by the Campaign against Climate Change working alongside many other organisations whose intention was to put climate change at the top of the political agenda ahead of the general election in May and the international climate change talks in Paris in December.

Twenty thousand people got out of bed and congregated at Lincoln Inn Fields to walk to Westminster because they were all seriously concerned about the future of the world we live in. We walked in bright, spring sunshine down the Strand, passed Nelson on his column, passed 10 Downing Street, passed Big Ben to the Houses of Parliament. There were old and young marching beside each other, people from different political persuasions, different ethnic groups, different religions; all united in one aim which was to make our political leaders wake up and listen to our fears about the future, our concerns about the world’s dependency on fossil fuels and our hope that sooner rather than later those who govern us will wake up to the fact that we need to change the way we live and the way we think if we want a future on this planet. The slogans and organisations taking part were diverse but the bottom line was that we need to do something about climate change now and, with the right initiatives, we can.

Standing there on a tiny patch of grass beside the imposing gothic edifice of the Houses of Parliament with the river Thames a stone’s throw away, I listened to speakers who ranged from the Green Party’s Caroline Lucas to a twelve old girl who holds the future in her hands; I listened to those who called for the government to put aside vested interests and financial gain and take investment out of fossil fuels and divert it into green technology, I listened to anti-fracking campaigners, to representatives from the unions who promised green jobs, and I listened to speeches full of hope for the future from those who believe, not only do we have the technology to solve our problems, but we have the will and the force to persuade those who we vote into power to act on our behalf to achieve a cleaner, more sustainable world.
I listened and wished I could share some of this hope. Age and cynicism seem to have taken their toll. As I watched those on the podium rally the crowd I was aware of the continual stream of aircraft flying overhead on their way to London airport, polluting the clear spring skies and it struck me that if we don’t do something soon this part of London with its beautiful impressive buildings beside the river could be underwater as the Thames Barrier fails to hold back sea level rise.

I joined the rally because I have children, quite grown up children now and I fear for them. I want them to enjoy the world as I have enjoyed it. I want them to walk through woodland in the spring filled with the smell of bluebells, I want them to pause on a summer’s evening and watch bats on the wing, I want them to be able to sit in the grass and gaze at wild flowers. I want them to be able to enjoy the world we live in, its wildlife, its wild places, its wild beauty. I don’t want their lives to be a struggle against extremes of weather, rising sea levels, flooding, food shortages, famine and disease. I don’t want them to have to face the destruction of the world as we know it. As one of the speakers said, ‘the planet will survive but we won’t’.

It’s time to act, time to stand up and be counted.

We need nature – so let’s put it back in our lives, where it belongs. Please support our campaign for a Nature and Wellbeing Act here

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Countryside or Concrete?

MIkeAuthor Tony Whitbread
Chief Executive

Pre-election television debates between the leaders of the main parties are very much the in the national news at the moment.  It is therefore good to see that, here in Horsham on Saturday 21 March,10.00am to 12.30pm, CPRE Sussex is hosting a pre-election hustings for Horsham’s Parliamentary candidates. This will take place at the Drill Hall, Denne Road, Horsham RH12 1JF.

Countryside or Concrete is the essential theme because a fundamental issue for communities has been the rewriting and dumbing-down of planning regulations by the Government. This seems to have enabled developers to build where they like on green fields adjoining villages, irrespective of the justified concerns and objections of residents. In Horsham, for example, the Planning Inspector has imposed an apparently arbitrary target of 15,000/16,000 houses on the District. See here for an interesting article on this subject by Roger Smith of CPRE.

CPRE Sussex’s pre-election hustings will be an unprecedented and much needed opportunity for members of the public to put questions to and hear what Conservative, Green, Labour, UKIP and independent Parliamentary Candidates have to say about planning and the future of our countryside, and the rights of communities to decide where development should go.

Book your free place either on line through the CPRE Sussex website:

www.cpresussex.org.uk or by emailing:lesley.wilson@cpresussex.org.uk

or by phone: 01825 890975.

 

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Countryfile welcome rare breed Exmoor ponies

Exmoor ponies / Sue Curnock

Exmoor ponies / Sue Curnock

Author Mark Monk-Terry
Reserve Manager

Countryfile will feature the arrival of three Exmoor ponies to our Levin Down nature reserve near Singleton in West Sussex in their Sunday, March 29 broadcast. The ponies will play an important part in keeping hawthorn, blackthorn and tough grasses in check on this Site of Special Scientific Interest nationally important chalk grassland site in West Sussex.

Countryfile’s Adam Henson travelled with the ponies to their new Sussex home where they will live out the rest of their lives. The three yearlings; two fillies and a colt even have their own passports, which Adam handed to me before he left. Named Zola, Zara and Zeus, the ponies are not used to human contact and will avoid people. We ask that people visiting the reserve don’t try to pet or feed them.

BBC Countryfile's Adam Henson with Mark-Monk Terry / Sue Curnock

BBC Countryfile’s Adam Henson with Mark-Monk Terry / Sue Curnock

Grazing by a variety of animals such as ponies and sheep is essential to our land management plan as it allows rare plants and wildlife to thrive by removing coarse grasses and scrub which can block sunlight. We expect to see an increase in wild flowers such as round-headed rampion as a direct result of the ponies arrival as well as clustered bellflower and cowslip and butterflies such as the brown argus and the chalkhill blue.

Ponies have a different pattern of grazing from the sheep already hard at work on the reserve, being able to tackle more woody scrub, and reach up to a higher browse line. As an added bonus we are pleased to help with the conservation of this Exmoor breed, which is listed as ‘endangered’ by the Rare Breeds Survival Trust.

BBC Countryfil filming the release of the Exmoor ponies / Bill Young

BBC Countryfile filming the release of the Exmoor ponies / Bill Young

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Window on Wildlife

The Infinity Foods window

The Infinity Foods window

Author Amy Hope
Infinity Foods

If you live in Brighton or are visiting the town please take a moment to visit our shop in North Laine and enjoy the new window celebrating wildlife.

Infinity Foods has been a vegetarian whole foods shop since 1971, as well as a workers co-operative for almost as long. We’ve always believed in supporting causes and charities with values aligned with our own, and our relationship with the Sussex Wildlife Trust has been one of our longest.

We came up with the idea of using a window campaign to link our two organisations and decided to use the start of spring and Easter to launch. Easter means eggs and eggs means birds so a woodland bird theme was chosen. We used our own hand drawn bird illustrations to make vinyl window stickers and then used acrylic chalk markers to draw a sprouting springtime woodland scene for the birds to sit in! We really wanted to celebrate wildlife and nature and show our support for the Sussex Wildlife Trust and all the work they do.

Online we launched the campaign with matching graphics and will run a weekly post sharing facts about the 11 native British birds featured in the window. We will also raise awareness of the different initiatives and projects that the Sussex Wildlife Trust run.

As the weeks pass we will add more details to the window, such as nests and flowers, to keep building on the abundant nature feel. So far the feedback has been really great and we’re very happy to be partnered with such an important charity as the Sussex Wildlife Trust.

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