Kingfisher

9/9/16 The photo shows hops growing in the hedgerow near Sprays Bridge.
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In the evening my husband & I went for a walk along the Brede River just off the A28. (We believe we were just within Westfield parish boundary). In the beautiful evening sunshine it was very special seeing Swallows & House Martins flying towards Rye, but best of all we saw a Kingfisher. The Kingfisher flew in a straight line over the reeds so we got a wonderful view of this special bird.
Libby
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Morning walk

23/7/16 As I walked down Wheel Lane towards Sprays Bridge a Grass Snake slithered across the road & disappeared into the leaf litter at my feet. I got a clear view of its yellow neck collar.
The photo shows a Broad-leaved Helleborine in flower in the woodland beyond the pond on the 1066 Path towards Brede.
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Out for a walk

Friday June 10th
The Common Spotted Orchids shown in the photos are to the right of the 1066 Path just beyond the first footbridge towards the A21.
There are a number of Broad-leaved Helleborines in the wood beyond the pond on the 1066 Path to Brede. It was while looking at these plants that a brilliant metallic blue Beautiful Demoiselle landed nearby.
 When I arrived home a pair of Painted Lady butterflies were on a Valerian plant.
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Saturday June 11th
I wanted to look at the orchids again. Just as I left the footbridge a family of Bullfinches flew low in front of me. There were at least three youngsters.
I noticed two small birds rising into the air apparently having a spat. It was a female Linnet and a Willow Warbler (I think). The Linnet returned to an Alder tree. Through the binoculars I watched the warbler approach the Linnet & then make a lunge at it. They then flew upwards having a tussle. I watched these antics for at least 20 minutes.
A male Reed Bunting was singing sweetly on top of a Hawthorn bush all the time I was watching the Linnet & warbler.
Just as I reached the stile at Sprays Bridge I heard what sounded like the clink of pebbles. I knew this was the alarm call of Blackap. Sure enough there was a male Blackcap in a bush. I waited around & then spotted the female in an Oak tree.
Libby

Cuckoo

Lovely walk in Guestling Woods and heard my first Cuckoo.  The Bluebells are beautiful and this is my favourite place to walk at this time of year.

Mary Ashbolt

Thanks Mary, that’s not far away from Westfield parish! Has anyone heard a Cuckoo in Westfield yet?  I heard one near Heathfield on Friday (22/4), which had already been there for about a week I was told by the landowner!

Ralph

PS The first of the 7 BTO tagged Cuckoos to arrive back in Britain had reached Devon on Thursday (21/4) and was back in Norfolk on Friday (22/4)! http://www.bto.org/science/migration/tracking-studies/cuckoo-tracking

 

Lousewort

21/4/16  In the field beside the diversion on the 1066 path, Sprays Bridge towards the A21 there is an extensive area of Lousewort. This plant’s name comes from the old belief that if eaten by livestock the animals would become infested by lice.
Libby
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Winter birds and first Primrose

15/01/16  As I walked through the small wood beyond the pond on the 1066 Path – Sprays Bridge towards Brede, I got a close view of a Treecreeper. A Buzzard was circling & calling overhead.

I crossed the road to the 1066 Path which goes towards the A21. In the field to the right of the path there was a flock of at least 12 Redwings.  This was my first sighting of these birds this winter. There were also two Mistle Thrushes. Their chests looked golden in the beautiful winter sunshine.

When I reached the footbridge I saw my first Primrose of the year. It was at the base of a tree to the right of the bridge.

Libby

Wildlife gardening tips

Here’s a useful looking blog from Graham Eaglesham (posted below with his permission) with lots of things anyone can do to encourage more wildlife into the garden. Apart from just ‘letting things grow wild’, most of these don’t have to make the garden look untidy and are quite easy to do, though a change of mind-set from ‘tidy’ to ‘natural’ or ‘informal’ at least in some parts of the garden, would help even more wildlife of course!

The only wild plants I would suggest not tolerating (or at least keeping well on top of) in a wildlife garden are Creeping Thistle, docks, brambles, and Blackthorn which suckers, as all of these can quickly take over grassy areas to the detriment of more desirable wildflowers. Marsh Thistle and Common Sorrel are much better in the small garden as they host many of the same insects as their larger relatives, whilst Bramble and Blackthorn if they are to be tolerated are best restricted to a boundary hedge!

Ralph


Gordon Eaglesham blog Song Thrush

“There’s been a lot of talk recently in Britain about grand plans for ‘ecological restoration’. But what about rewilding on a smaller scale?  At a time when our garden wildlife is suffering from the effects of overly manicured lawns, pesticide-laden vegetation and a general lack of habitat connectivity, there’s never been a better time to inject some much needed wildness into your garden.  Here are some suggestions on how to go about it and some information on the species that could benefit as a result.

  • Let things grow wild.  Sounds very simple, and it is!  Just sit back and let nature take its course.  This is the easiest and arguably, most productive thing you can do to improve biodiversity.
  • Create log and leaf piles and compost heaps, which provide an ideal dwelling for hibernating hedgehogs, toads and newts.
  • Install a pond.  This could attract a wide variety of wildlife, such as toads and dragonflies and needs little maintenance.  Or if that’s not suitable, even keeping a dish of fresh water out should attract more birds.  Having a water feature in the garden is one of the best things you can do to boost biodiversity.
  • Plant wildflowers and develop a mini-meadow ecosystem; this will be a haven for enticing myriad insect species, which in turn, will attract birds and small mammals, such as voles and shrews.  Voles and shrews then increase the chances of larger predators, such as kestrels, foxes and badgers, establishing themselves nearby.
  • Put up nestboxes and bat boxes.
  • Stop using pesticides and metaldehyde* slug pellets.  The latter are toxic to hedgehogs.
  • Ensure there is plenty dead wood lying around.
  • Create hedgerows and rock piles.  Hedges function like a woodland in  microcosm and can support a wealth of bird species; rock piles and hedgerows can act as a den for species such as Stoat and Weasel.
  • Remember, a dense, tangled, rotting pile of vegetation is good!
  • Grow trees and shrubs with berries.
  • Allow as much variety in the garden as possible, whether it’s plant species or types of habitat.
  • Keep your green space as undisturbed as possible.
  • Check that any plants you have, or acquire, are not poisonous to wildlife and are, ideally, native species.
  • Keep your weeds!
  • Encourage moss and lichen growth.  Both are widely used by birds for nest building material.
  • Construct a rockery, which can support a rich variety of insects”.

Gordon’s always interesting wildlife blog can be read here.

*I have added the ref to metaldehyde as organic slug pellets containing ferrous phosphate are meant to be a lot safer to birds and mammals – see earlier post on Westfield Wildlife here. Ralph

Ragged Robin and orchids

Some fine displays of Ragged Robin and Common Spotted Orchids on Wheel Park Farm, Westfield. These colonies have appeared spontaneously in new native woodland planted by Hamish Monro some 20 years ago.

 

Woodland wildflowers

30/4/15.  I feel very privileged to have found this very scarce plant so I did some research. Coralroot is a plant which grows in old deciduous woodlands but only in the acid, damp woods of Kent & Sussex and the more calcareous Chiltern beechwoods. It might be confused with Cuckoo Flower/Lady’s Smock. The pale, lilac flowers are on stalks a foot to 18 inches high. Between the leaves & stem are little, purple/brown bulbils.
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On recent walks I have found patches of another spring flower which is easily overlooked – the Moschatel or Townhall Clock/Clocktower Flower or even Good Friday Plant. It grows in damp woodland. The flowers are pale yellow/green in colour and are arranged at right angles like the face of a town clock with a fifth on top facing skywards.

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It really is worthwhile getting a closer look at this delightful flower.

Libby

 

Bonfires, and wildlife photos

The following paragraphs are due to appear in the next Westfield Community Association newsletter, which will be circulated after bonfire night, so we thought a reminder now about Hedgehogs using wood piles meant for burning would be useful!
As many ‘Westfield Wildlife’ followers will know, Hedgehogs have become a rare sighting these days. We are therefore asking all residents in the parish if they are having a bonfire at this time of year to check before lighting them to ensure no Hedgehogs have decided to hibernate underneath. Also if you see a Hedgehog, dead or alive, please inform ‘Westfield Wildlife’ by visiting the website.  
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Also, we have noticed amongst all the lovely photos submitted to ‘Westfield Wildlife’, very few are of wildflowers and we wonder if there is a reason for this. Perhaps it is because people tend to think of wildlife mainly as mammals, birds and insects etc, whereas anything and everything growing or living wild actually counts as wildlife, including many trees and even the weeds in your garden!  
Field Bindweed - beautiful, but not so welcome in the garden! RH, 24 Aug 2014

Field Bindweed – beautiful, but not so welcome in the garden! RH 24Aug2014

If you have taken any photos of wildflowers you are proud of, or fungi now that autumn is here, then ‘Westfield Wildlife’ would be a good place to share them with others!  Wildflowers can be a lot easier to photograph than animals because they don’t run off or fly away! So even if you don’t know the name of the plant or toadstool why not give it a go? We can always try and help with identification.

Dave — Ralph
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    WESTFIELD WILDLIFE has been created for Westfield residents and visitors to submit news and photos of any wildlife observed in the Parish. We also aim to post our own sightings and topical wildlife news as often as time allows.

    WESTFIELD PARISH lies just to the north of the coastal town of HASTINGS in E. Sussex (south east UK), and a MAP of the area covered by the Parish is here http://www.westfieldvillage.co.uk/maps

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