Ice free drinking water

Birds need clean water for both drinking and bathing whatever the weather. We know you put out clean water for your garden visitors during the drought but please don’t forget they will need the same support as the temperature falls and natural sources of water freeze over.

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SWCK54

There are two public footpaths that cross the reserve: SWCK53 and SWCK54.

Alan and Sarah, long-term Friends of Southwick Country Park, have been clearing SWCK54 where it exits the reserve through a kissing gate on the north west side of Sleepers and heads to Wingfield. Hard work maintaining a public right of way among the overgrown brambles and nettles – thank you.

Christmas tree

Which is the greener option when it comes to Christmas trees: real or artificial? A real Christmas tree is a beautiful and traditional addition to our commercialised modern Christmases but it comes with a frisson of guilt. Should we be cutting down trees at a time when our struggling planet and its biosphere need all the trees they can get? Fear not; the news is good.

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Camouflage

Some of our residents are really quite hard to see. Here are some of the late DKG’s pictures of the well-camouflaged.

Header picture: public domain.

Fact of the week!

Eurasian wrens (Troglodytes troglodytes) share territories during the winter, in particular they will share sheltered winter roosts, sometimes crowding together for warmth in nesting boxes. The record number of wrens seen leaving a nesting box after a cold night is sixty three.

Header image: wren by Cheryl Cronnie

We apologise for the delay in posting. A series of errors, some mine and some from the organisation that registers our domain name, resulted in the webpage being taken offline for a couple of days. Sorry.

Butterfly rescue

At this time of year, if you find a butterfly fluttering on the inside of your window, it will probably be either a peacock (Aglais io) or a small tortoiseshell (Aglais urticae). It will have come in during the autumn looking for a cool, dark and sheltered place to overwinter and the gap behind the wardrobe in your bedroom must have seemed just right.

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Fact of the week

According to the sort of scientists that count things, there is only one mammal in the UK more numerous than we humans: Microtus agrestis, the field vole. The latest estimates put the field vole’s population at 75 million while our own is only 67 million.

Header image: field vole by Sam McMillan (CC BY-NC 2.0) flickr.com

Bag it and bin it

To make it easier for you to access the reserve’s litter bins, we have laid flagstones through the muddy approaches that inevitably grow around the bins once the wet winter weather has set in.

Dog faeces on the reserve’s paths are unpleasant and unsightly; in the fields they are a source of infection for the animals that will eat next summer’s hay; everywhere and anywhere, they are a danger to the health of our visitors, their children and their pets. Bag it and bin it, please.

Thank you

Lambrok wetland areas

Clive Knight has sent in pictures of the wetland scrapes in Lambrok Meadow. Now that the rain has refilled Lambrok Stream and spilled into the scrapes, we can see how they are intended to develop.

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Fact of the week

In Britain we have two native species of oak which look very similar. This is how to tell them apart: pedunculate oaks (Quercus robur) produce acorns which hang on a stalk or peduncle while the acorns of the sessile oak (Quercus petraea) are stalkless.

Left: sessile oak; right: pedunculate oak. Header image: the oak by the bridge between Sleepers and Cornfield photographed by Ian Bushell

Native reptiles

There are six species of native British reptiles and three of them are resident in the reserve: we have European adders (Vipera berus), grass snakes (Natrix natrix), and slow worms (Anguis fragilis).

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Fly agaric again

This is fly agaric, a mycorrhizal fungus, Amanita muscaria, which is found in the reserve every year despite our lack of its preferred partners: birch and pine trees. In classic pictures of this red and white fungus, those that don’t have an elf sitting on top are usually growing picturesquely in the moss under a birch tree.

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