Park Rangers

About our Park Rangers:

Park Rangers

Our team of Park Rangers at Adur & Worthing Councils maintain our parks and open spaces, working with green space volunteer community groups across Adur and Worthing helping them with various projects and supporting them in developing their groups, working to enable communities in Adur and Worthing to improve their health and wellbeing.

You can read our Park Rangers' current blog posts on this page below:

Find out about our Park Ranger bloggers below.

See also: Parks


21st July 2021: Get out into the sunshine with the Big Butterfly Count

Emily Ford, Park Ranger

Hi - my name is Emily and I am the blogger of the week from the Park Rangers' Team.

The sunshine is out, the wind is low, and the annual Big Butterfly Count has just begun. What more of an excuse do you need to get outside?

The Big Butterfly Count is a nationwide citizen science survey aimed at helping the Butterfly Conservation assess the health of our environment - with butterflies being a key indicator of ecosystem health. It started on Friday and will run until Sunday, 8th August 2021.

An area that is rich in butterflies and moths will also typically be rich in other invertebrates, which contribute a large amount to food chains as well as helping to pollinate plants and crops.

This count is easy to get involved with for people of all ages and requires little in the way of prior knowledge or experience to do so, so it's a great way to connect with your surroundings and identify wildlife.

All you have to do is count the butterflies you see for 15 minutes during bright and preferably sunny weather. You then report directly back to the Butterfly Conservation charity - which has a handy identification chart you can use. If you're counting from a fixed position, like your garden, count the maximum number of each species you can see at a single time.

The charity gives the example that if you see three Red Admirals together (photo below) then record it as three, but if you only see one at a time then record it as one - even if you saw one on several occasions - this is so you don't count the same butterfly more than once.

2021-07-21 - Red Admiral butterfly (Pixabay - 5542125)

If you undertake your count while out on a walk, add up the number of each butterfly species you see during the 15 minutes.

Butterflies are a type of flying insect, belonging in the same order as moths. The body of a butterfly is grey, brown or black, but their wings are brightly coloured on the inside. The underside is a camouflage colour to allow for protection, with display colours on the upper side.

Many species of butterfly have very specific habitat needs, involving specific food plants that leave the species vulnerable to changes.

Over the last few decades butterfly numbers have declined significantly because of changes in agriculture and climate change, which have removed these niches. Urban parks and gardens form a vital connection between main habitats as well as providing food sources for these species.

This is another vital reason we work to manage green spaces with conservation and biodiversity in mind, creating wildlife havens within our sites.

When you're next in one of our parks or even just sitting in your garden, why not keep an eye out for what you see, and remember, even if you don't see any butterflies, that's still important to record.

For more information, visit:

Photo: Comma butterfly

2021-07-21 - Comma butterfly (Pixabay - 4028049)

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14th July 2021: ReWilding - ReNaturing - What's the buzz?

Graeme Brooker, Park Ranger

Hi - my name is Graeme and I am the blogger of the week from the Park Rangers' Team.

Throughout the country the way green spaces are being managed is changing and that includes here in Adur and Worthing.

As you look around it's hard not to notice that green spaces are looking different, and while this new look isn't always popular, it's undoubtedly the future for the UK's green spaces. The South Downs National Park Authority has launched its 'Renature the South Downs' project, and personally, I think renaturing is perhaps a more accurate description than the common term of rewilding.

Here in the South-East there are no truly wild places left with the influence of humans shaping our countryside, whether it be farmland, grassland, woodland, heath or coastal. The original 'wild' in the UK consisted of dense woodland full of large predators, then along came our ancestors who started to influence their environment.

The oldest stone axe found is around 500,000-years-old and since the human species as we recognise it left Africa 60,000 years ago, our impact on the land has been relentless.

The key impact was the cutting down of woodland with large areas being cleared for agriculture, and many remaining woodland areas being managed using techniques such as coppicing and pollarding, to produce materials for our use.

This land management resulted in a patchwork of habitats throughout the UK such as heathland, grassland and coppiced woodland. These changes also resulted in many species adapting to take advantage of the various niches created by these differing habitats and reducing competition amongst different species.

The problem is that through development, changes in farming practices and generally being less in touch with our surroundings, many of these habitats we created are in rapid decline and consequently so are the various species that have adapted to survive in them.

So while it will be impossible to 'rewild' our green spaces by establishing thick forests full of large predators, there is still time to help 'renature' our green spaces by looking at management regimes that will support those species that have adapted to those habitats we helped create.

The most obviously observed as you travel around are areas of grass that are no longer being cut short, allowing the grasses and flowers present to reach maturity and provide valuable food sources for a wide range of species including birds and mammals, and not just the more obvious pollinator species.

The most common accusation is that these areas are being left fallow to save money or due to 'laziness'. Ironically there is a large amount of work taking place behind the scenes developing management plans and carrying out baseline habitat and species surveys to help maximise the biological value of these sites.

There is also the potential costs of new equipment and the staff time that will be required to implement these future management plans.

We are at the start of a long journey to help nature to 'renature' our green spaces and at the same time ensure they can still be used by the public, there may be some bumpy roads and wrong turnings along the way, but the long term benefits for nature and future generations will make it a worthwhile journey.

I haven't even touched on the increased sequestration of carbon and the contribution these sites will make to tackling climate change or how we are managing local coppice woodland, that's for a future blog.

So what's the buzz? That's the sound of pollinators hard at work!

Photos: Wildflowers on the South Downs

2021-07-14 - Wild flowers (1)

2021-07-14 - Wild flowers (2)

2021-07-14 - Wild flowers (3)

2021-07-14 - Wild flowers (4)

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7th July 2021: An insight into the behind-the-scenes work on our playgrounds

Adam Scott, Park Ranger

Hi - my name is Adam and I am the blogger of the week from the Park Rangers' Team.

This week I'm going to talk about our playgrounds and how we look after and maintain them.

Playgrounds are amazing, they are the hubs of local communities and the meeting points for families and friends to catch up in. I've worked in playgrounds for more than 16 years and I've seen a lot of sights, some good and some bad.

I've witnessed tears of uncontrollable laughter and tears of conflict and anger, but when the dust settles and the tears have been wiped away, playgrounds have been and still are an integral part of our childhood.

Playgrounds are the perfect place for children to engage in free play. Structured play - including sports or organised activities - differs from free play. When a child is on a playground, the different structures and spaces give them the freedom to choose exactly how they want to play. They can explore their own natural tendencies, interact with a broader range of age groups and awaken their creative instincts.

It is Council policy that all of our playgrounds, skate parks and outside gyms are inspected for faults once a week. All of our Rangers have been trained to industry recognised operational inspection standards.

As one of the Rangers who has the job of inspecting play areas, I can confirm we pick up and repair a lot of small faults within the playgrounds on our weekly inspection. Faults that wouldn't necessarily be picked up by general playground users, but we are there in the background ensuring equipment is safe to use.

What happens when something breaks?

Due to the nature of playgrounds - them being outside, having moving parts, and the sheer volume of use - in time equipment will start to wear out. When this happens the Rangers will make the item safe by immobilising it or removing it completely.

Then what happens?

Once the equipment has been made safe, the new parts need to be ordered from the right manufacturer. This is where things get tricky, there isn't one big catalogue that has all of the parts for all of the play areas.

Each play company produces individual parts that will only go on their play equipment, it's a case of “one spring doesn't fit everything”. Then in the office we have to go through large folders that have the play equipment stripped down into each individual part. Once we have found the part or parts we need to do the repair, we then contact the manufacturer.

Once we get the quote back we order the parts. This is where things have sometimes stalled since we entered the pandemic. Some of the companies we have to order from are based abroad, so getting the parts has been difficult to do due to restrictions on goods entering the country.

Why can't you make do with a different spare part?

This is something that we as a Council refuse to do. It would be like trying to fit a Ford motor into a Mazda car, it's just not going to work properly.

The safety of our playground users is the highest priority and sometimes it does take a while for spare parts to come in and be repaired.

It's not only frustrating for the public but it's also frustrating for us as Rangers, as we want people to use our parks and open spaces, but we aren't going to put people in harm's way just to get some equipment back out quickly.

As Summer is round the corner the Rangers are working hard across both Adur and Worthing to keep playgrounds safe and open so that the children and adults that use them can start making memories that will last a lifetime.

See also: Find a playground

Photo: Fencing around broken play equipment

2021-07-07 - Fencing around broken play equipment

Photo: Repairing broken play equipment

2021-07-07 - Repairing broken play equipment

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30th May 2021: Summer activities galore to get people of all ages appreciating our parks and green spaces

Craig Ifield, Park Ranger

Hi - my name is Craig and I am the blogger of the week from the Park Rangers' Team.

This week, I would like to highlight the events that the Park Rangers Team are running throughout the summer holidays:

  • on Tuesdays there are events in Worthing, and
  • on Thursdays there are events in Adur

They will be led by the Park Rangers' Team, with support from 'Friends of ...' Groups, and any other groups that we currently work on our spaces with. New groups are welcome to come along and take part.

Great Outdoors AW logo

This is linked to the Great Outdoors campaign which the Councils are putting on, around getting people back outside and using their local green spaces, and showcasing that parks are much more than just dog walking parks #GreatOutdoorsAW

We are running a handful of different types of events that will be repeated, allowing as many people the opportunity to get involved with what they wish to do, and the events are as follows:

We will be hosting Big Games Days which will include a mixture of commonly-loved board games, but supersized. There will be Snakes & Ladders, Draughts, Space Hopper Racing, Connect 4, Jenga, Cannon Ball Drop, Disc Golf and assault courses.

This will allow families and friends to play together and potentially try something new outdoors, and provides the chance for people to learn more about their local area. We are very excited to offer Disc Golf, a flying disc sport in which players throw a disc at a target, which means people can experience something different in our parks.

Bushcraft will be an event where people can get hands on with nature and they will be encouraged to explore their local parks. We will be using materials from our sites and helping people with woodwork skills, identification abilities and teaching them how much the natural world can provide for us.

2021-06-30 - A tree spirit

We will be doing friendship bracelet making, name badges, making spinners, tree spirits (see photo right), plant prints, bark painting and other similar activities. This is a great way to interact with nature, being led by our Forest School trained Rangers. It's also great to show everyone how else a green space can be used.

We are also offering Art in the Park - we will provide all the equipment needed to draw, paint, imprint and sketch in our parks and inspire people to view them in a different light.

Here we will have a series of stations allowing people to have a go, get messy or take the arts aspect a bit more seriously - and make an artistic impression of what the park means to them. During these events we will also be offering free face painting, so you can become your own canvas.

All of these events are free to everyone and are tailored to people of all ages.

We also encourage people to pop along and talk to the Rangers and groups.

We have more events on, so for information about activities and dates, please visit:

Anyone who wants to volunteer to help run any of the events, please email:

Photo: Buckingham Park, in Shoreham

PR21-094 - Buckingham Park, in Shoreham

Photo: Craig Ifield, Park Ranger at Adur & Worthing Councils, at Brooklands Park

PR21-094 - Craig Ifield, Park Ranger at Adur & Worthing Councils, at Brooklands Park

Photo: The Park Rangers' Team - by Brooklands Lake

Park Rangers - by Brooklands Lake

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16th June 2021: Compost heaps are so much more than a pile of rubbish

Keith Walder, Park Ranger

Hi - my name is Keith and I am the blogger of the week from the Park Rangers' Team.

We are going to have a compost heap in Buckingham Park. Some may think it's just a pile of rubbish - but a well made compost heap can turn fruit and vegetable waste into valuable plant food for the next generation of flowers and vegetables. It can also be a great place for wildlife.

The process depends on the activities of armies of microscopic plants and animals, and some larger organisms as well, which feed on the refuse and break it down into simple substances that can be absorbed by plant roots.

If you dig into the centre of a compost heap you will find it is remarkably warm. The temperature may reach 60 degrees celsius, thanks to the activity of millions of unseen bacteria. Their chemical attacks on the softer plant material release energy in the form of heat. The temperature is lower towards the outside of the heap.

A powerful microscope is needed to see the bacteria and other organisms that inhabit the heap, but some of the fungi are easy to see. Huge numbers of animals belong to the compost community. Many are microscopic but some can be seen with the naked eye. Vegetarian and predatory species all bound in elaborate food webs.

Several species of earthworms invade the outer parts, significantly contributing to the process of decomposition, by dragging plant remains to places where they can be more readily attacked by bacteria.

Related to the earthworms, although much smaller, are pot worms or enchytraeids. They are small, white worms often seen in clusters. Microscopic examination of some of the less decayed material from the outer part of the heap may reveal silvery hairs waving about. These are roundworms or nematodes. Most are scavengers feeding on the decaying material contributing to its conversion to humus.

The decaying matter of the heap attracts numerous slugs and snails as well as flies. Centipedes find a wide range of prey and can be found in numbers. Woodlice also revel in the moist conditions. The abundance of small animals attract plenty of predatory creatures which may even take up temporary residence there, such as the hedgehog.

The warmth of the heap is an added attraction and it's not uncommon for hedgehogs, grass snakes, toads and slow worms to nest there.

Less welcome lodgers are rats and mice which excavate snug nests for themselves. The wasp is generally unwelcome although there is no denying its value in controlling garden pests. It is likely to nest in your heap only if there is a fair amount of uncompacted twiggy material from which it can hang its nest. Bumble bees are more frequent lodgers often taking over abandoned mouse nests.

Compost heaps are so much more than a pile of rubbish.

2021-06-16 - Compost (Pixabay - 3663514)

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9th June 2021: Top tips for foraging your own food in our parks and greenspaces

Emily Ford, Park Ranger

Hi - my name is Emily and I am the blogger of the week from the Park Rangers' Team.

Do you forage, or want to get into foraging? We are currently trying to find out what forage is available in our greenspaces and need your help to do this.

In greenspaces and parks there are many forageable resources, from dandelions, to apples, elderflower and sweet chestnuts. These are an important food resource - not just for wildlife but also for us, with forage being high in nutrients.

2021-06-09 - Dandelion growing in long grass

Why foraging?

Foraging gets you outdoors, enjoying open spaces and exploring new areas. It helps to reduce shopping bills as foraged food is free, as well as your carbon footprint.

Here are my top tips for foraging:

  • Only pick and eat a plant if you are 100% certain you know what it is, if there's any doubt, leave it out.
  • While some plants are easy to identify, there are others that look very similar with some edible species looking almost identical to poisonous ones. For example, Sorrel - a lemony salad leaf and herb - may be confused for Dogs Mercury, which is toxic and ingestion may lead to death.
  • Pick away from roadsides and areas that have potentially been sprayed, plants near roadsides can pick up a lot of pollutants and heavy metals.
  • Where possible pick from waist height or above, and try and pick away from footpaths where there is the likelihood of contamination from animal waste.
  • Look out for nature, only pick what you will eat, and don't take everything from one area. If there's only one flower in the area or one fruit left on a tree, leave it for wildlife and to allow the species to spread. Don't trample everything else to get to one plant.
  • Remember to always thoroughly wash the forage before consumption.
  • And of course, respect the countryside code and observe any byelaws in place - make sure to forage respectfully and within the law.

Recipe:

If you're looking to get into foraging, here's a nice and easy recipe to get you started for Dandelion and lemon biscuits:

Ingredients:

  • Approx. 20 Dandelion flower heads
  • 125g softened butter
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 1 egg
  • zest of 1 lemon and 1 tbsp of its juice
  • 180g plain flour
  • 20g cornflour
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • and a pinch of salt

First, you want to prepare the dandelion heads by giving them a wash and removing the yellow petals from the stem by pinching them out - this is to remove the green, which can be bitter.

Combine the sugar and butter. Then add the eggs and lemon zest. The next step is to sift in all the dry ingredients and then add the lemon juice and Dandelion petals.

Once on a baking tray, these go in the oven for 12 minutes at 180C or until golden brown.

Tell us about forgeable resources across our parks and green spaces in Adur and Worthing:

If you want to help with mapping the edible plants of our parks and greenspaces or have any knowledge about foraging in Adur and Worthing that you wish to share please use this form:

2021-06-09 - Dandelions and lemons (Pixabay - 5172490)

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2nd June 2021: Skylarks are at risk of decline in the South Downs - but we can help them and their habitats thrive

Graeme Brooker, Park Ranger

Hi - my name is Graeme and I am the blogger of the week from the Park Rangers' Team.

Higher still and higher
From the earth thou springest
Like a cloud of fire;
The blue deep thou wingest,
And singing still dost soar, and soaring ever singest.

To a Skylark, by Percy Bysshe Shelley

If, like me, you are fortunate enough to spend time at The South Downs National Park as we move into Summer, you might be lucky enough to hear the song of the Skylark as it flutters higher and higher above the ground.

2021-06-02 - Skylark flying (Pixabay - 4974797)

I've found as I've got older they are harder to spot, but their song is unmistakable. The species has sadly been in rapid decline and is now listed as 'Red' on the list of species of conservation concern.

While it's clear to those who have grown up on the Downs that there has been an obvious decline in many species, including many chalk downland flowers, the thought of future generations no longer being able to hear the song of the Skylark is a very sad thought indeed.

The Adur & Worthing Councils' Park Rangers Team are fortunate to have responsibility for several areas of chalk downland which are home to this enigmatic bird: Mill Hill, Lancing Ring, Cissbury Fields, The Sanctuary and Highdown Hill all support or are able to support Skylarks.

These are all classified as chalk grassland, which is a very species rich habitat. However, it remains under constant threat with 80 per cent lost since the Second World War. The chalk grassland needs appropriate management to maintain its wide range of plant species, with as many as 40 species occurring in one square metre. The large number of species of both flora and fauna it supports has often led to this diversity rich habitat being described as the rainforest of Europe.

In the past, much chalk grassland has been lost to intensive agriculture, development and a decline of traditional management practices. Alongside these, there is the additional threat of visitors to these sites. The Skylark makes its nest on the ground.

This past year in particular has seen a large increase in visitors to open spaces and by failing to follow pathways, and by allowing dogs to run off lead through the long grass areas, there will almost undoubtedly have been an increase in disturbance to nesting Skylarks. The adults are flushed from their nests allowing eggs or chicks to become cold or at greater risk from predation.

I am certain that no-one would wish to see a further decline in chalk grassland species and we are fortunate to be in a position to actually help species on our sites to recover. The Rangers Team will be working alongside the South Downs National Park Authority and local residents to help achieve this goal.

We will be constantly reviewing the management plans for these sites and adopting techniques that will help preserve and restore them. This will not happen overnight, but will be an ongoing process and we will arrange consultation sessions, work with local groups and publicise volunteering opportunities as they arise. We are in the process of carrying out surveys on specific sites at present to allow us to clearly identify a baseline from which we can start.

It would be amazing to think that these steps might help future generations to enjoy the song of the Skylark.

2021-06-02 - Skylark flying (Pixabay - 5848180)

2021-06-02 - Skylark sitting on a fence post (Pixabay - 5069553)

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26th May 2021: Help us to restore the Rotary Dirt Jumps Track to its former glory at our volunteer clean up event

Adam Scott, Park Ranger

Hi - my name is Adam and I am the blogger of the week from the Park Rangers' Team.

I'm going to talk to you about a somewhat forgotten gem of a facility in the local community and how your helping hands can assist us in giving it a makeover next week, on Tuesday 1st June 2021.

In Worthing, tucked halfway between Rotary Recreation Ground and Hill Barn Recreation Ground, there is a small wooded area of trees that measures up at about 3,500 square meters. Hidden in the middle of those trees is a dirt bike track that is used by both the young and old - that many don't even realise exists.

2021-05-26 - Rotary Dirt Jumps Track map

As it's the only dirt track here and across the surrounding areas, it attracts dirt bikers from out of the district. It was built more than 10 years ago and has been widely used by a range of ages from people just starting to find their feet in the world of dirt biking - to seasoned bikers who are just looking for a new track to tame.

Due to COVID and the associated Government restrictions that came with it, the area has started to become overgrown. Myself and other teams within the Council have been working with local dirt bikers to reclaim the area and restore the track to its former glory.

With this in mind, the track will be closed on Tuesday, 1st June 2021, between 10am and 2pm for a clean-up.

We are encouraging all dirt bikers and any other members of the local community to get involved with removing stones and weeds from the jumps, cutting back dead wood, and in general having a jolly good tidy up before the diggers are sent in to re-sculpt the track.

Do come along and help restore this important facility and meet up with fellow like-minded individuals with a common goal. Let's get those bikes back on the track.

The Rotary Dirt Jumps Track is in Worthing, BN14 9HY - see location on Google Maps.

If you have any questions, please email:

Photos of the Rotary Dirt Jumps Track

2021-05-26 - Rotary Dirt Jumps Track (1)

2021-05-26 - Rotary Dirt Jumps Track (2)

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19th May 2021: 'Bees and Seas' project well underway at Brooklands Park - and an update on the Swans and Coots

Craig Ifield, Park Ranger

Hi - my name is Craig and I am the blogger of the week from the Park Rangers' Team.

This week I would like to highlight the 'Bees and Seas' project taking place at the back of Brooklands Park in Worthing. It's a fantastic project that we are working on in conjunction with other groups, such as We are Food Pioneers, Honey Collective, Creative Waves and Friends of Brooklands. Seas and Bees will draw bees to the park, as well as helping it to become a hub for community activities and events.

The site has been under works for several months now. Old condemned containers are being removed and new ones are being put in. This will create storage and activity space, allowing for workshops to be conducted and providing indoor space for smaller groups in the future, as and when Government guidelines around Coronavirus allow.

The project will drive home the high importance of pollinators in the wider world, and how we can support them. The site will showcase this with various planters, from skips to boats, being planted up with pollinator-friendly species. This will be a combination of trees, like crab apple and willow, herbal plants, as well as wildflowers - creating a heaven for pollinators.

We will be tackling shingle planting at the site to represent the shoreline and beach, and that of the chalk downlands. These are two unique landscapes which Adur and Worthing fall between, so we will be bringing the South Downs closer to home, and showcasing how all of us can help to support nature even in such fragile and unique habitats.

We have also installed an additional fence made of recycled wood and doors, to allow for the bees to be kept safe as well as to drive their flight path high, so that they are not a nuisance to local residents. Honey bees forage up to one mile away from their hive, therefore the site around this compound will not just be for these bees, but for more endangered bees and solitary bees, providing them with foraging areas.

In the spirit of welcoming new things to Brooklands, I would also like to point out the various new baby Coots, Ducklings and the seven new Cygnets that are on the site. There have been worries for the Coots as their floating nest has rolled over and is now submerged in the water.

We believe the chain has caused this, and we shall look into it at the end of the nesting season - for at the moment we will not be able to get near the nest to upright it, without causing disruption to the Coots. They have however proceeded to build their nest on top (the previous bottom) and seem to be doing well.

There have also been fears for the swans struggling to get back to their nest, however from investigating and speaking to the ever helpful Waders, we have seen that they are doing well and that there is plenty of space for them to move onto another island if they struggle. But as the Cygnets are small, if they do struggle the Cobb or Pen will carry the young to the nest. They are also very confrontational towards the Grey Heron - so please do not try and intervene.

As all walks of life with young, wildfowl will project them at all cost, so please do feel free to feed the birds grain and other recommended food sources, but do not get too close, or get between the young and the adults, just be more vigilant.

Please also let environmental services if there are any unwell birds or young that appear to be left on their own for an extensive time.

Photos: Swans and Cygnets on Brooklands Lake

2021-05-19 - Swans and cygnets on Brooklands Lake

2021-05-19 - Swans and cygnets on Brooklands Lake in the reeds

 

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12th May 2021: Help habitats and creatures to thrive with these simple garden and mowing tips

Anthony Read, Park Ranger

Hi - my name is Anthony and I am the blogger of the week from the Park Rangers' Team. I am the Head Ranger for Adur & Worthing Councils.

The grounds maintenance teams are now well and truly into the mowing season across all our parks and green spaces, and you may have noticed we are leaving areas unmowed in some of them. These areas are either on the perimeter of the parks or are larger swathes that have less footfall than in the rest of the park.

The reason we do this is to give wildlife, and especially pollinators, more habitat to thrive in and on this point you can help and save yourself some time in the process. If you are wondering how - it really is quite simple - just don't mow all of your grass.

If you are a beginner, let your lawn grow naturally for a month or so in the Summer, and mow as you normally would outside of that time. Enjoy the flowers that some plants will throw out and remember that daisies and dandelions are excellent early plants for pollinators which will give them the start they need.

If you don't wish to have your whole lawn grow long, then you can be creative and mow paths or leave islands of long grass which can look attractive.

If you want to be a bit more creative, you could try a Spring meadow which would have an even bigger impact for wildlife. Simply don't mow your lawn at all in the Spring until the end of June or early July. Then mow as normal until the grass stops growing in late Autumn.

You could also add some extra plant life by adding extra wildflowers into the lawn - bird's-foot trefoil, black knapweed and field scabious are excellent flowers to try, as well as yellow rattle which taps into the grass roots, reducing their vigour, allowing other flowers to better thrive.

By doing this simple thing you will encourage more pollinators and other insects into your garden. The seeds from wildflowers will attract more birds and give all these creatures more habitats to thrive as well as being something quite beautiful to watch on a warm summer evening.

If you don't have a garden or you don't wish to do this with your lawn then I hope you enjoy the benefits of the longer grass areas and wildflowers in our parks and green spaces.

2021-05-12 - Wild flowers thriving in an unmown area

 

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5th May 2021: Grazing on our sites: Why it's very important and how each animal does it

Keith Walder, Park Ranger

Hi - my name is Keith and I am the blogger of the week from the Park Rangers' Team.

We are fortunate to have parts of the South Downs National Park within our remit at the Councils, and we work closely with the South Downs National Park Authority in managing these sites.

As part of this management system we have practised conservation grazing with sheep and cattle on Mill Hill in Shoreham, and we would like to extend this to other downland sites.

Most wildlife habitats require some grazing to maintain the structure on which plants and animals depend for their survival.

When not enough grazing takes place, there are consequences for the habitats which require it in order to sustain the delicate balance of plant, insect, bird and other animal species which make them unique.

There are benefits from using livestock grazing that are not seen when machinery is used.

Insects and small animals can move to safety, as the livestock move slower than a mower and ant hills are not damaged. They can graze on steep slopes where it would be unsafe to use machinery. They can also be moved or positioned to remain in a specific area as required.

Another benefit is the dung produced, which will encourage dung beetles, which are a food source for birds, and that carries on up the food chain. There's also the bonus of not burning any fossil fuels.

Native livestock have been found more suitable for conservation grazing as they do not need as much nutrition as the continental breeds. They also tend to be more placid and forgiving of the public and their dogs. It's important that the type, numbers and timing of grazing is tailored to each individual site.

Different types of livestock graze in different ways, and this influences their suitability for a site:

  • Sheep: Sheep have thin, mobile lips and move slowly while nibbling the grass. They graze very close to the ground and can push their way through scrub and browse saplings, preventing new growth. However, they find it harder to graze longer vegetation which is often trampled instead.
  • Cattle: Cattle use their tongues to pull tufts of vegetation into the mouth. This means they don't graze too close to the ground and often leave tussocks of grass which are used by insects and small mammals. Because of their wide mouths, they don't graze selectively, and don't target flower heads and herbage which is important for botanically diverse habitats. Cattle are able to create their own access into rough areas and the trampling of these areas can be an important way of controlling scrub.
  • Horses and ponies: Horses and ponies have teeth which point slightly forwards and can graze really close to the ground. They are selective grazers and will leave some areas of pasture untouched. This can benefit insects and small mammals. Hardy breeds can also help to control scrub by browsing saplings and other woody material.

We will be working hard with South Downs National Park Authority to ensure that we do the best for these important sites.

See also: South Downs National Park Authority website

Photo: Cattle on Mill Hill in Shoreham

2021-05-05 - Cattle on Mill Hill

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28th April 2021: Spotting different species of birds during breeding season

Emily Ford, Park Ranger

Hi - my name is Emily and I am the blogger of the week from the Park Rangers' Team.

With Spring well under way and the weather improving, it's the perfect time to get outside and enjoy the great outdoors. It's also the breeding season for many species, particularly birds. During the breeding season you may see some species more regularly as they become more active.

One example of these are Skylarks, a species of ground nesting bird, which flies as high as it can while singing. This is a fairly distinctive tune and means you can try and spot this type of bird in the sky before it lands. Beyond doing these display flights, Skylarks are typically quite hard to see as they are well-camouflaged and live among long grasses in meadows.

Ground nesting birds like the Skylark are easily disturbed, so when out and about it's best to stick to paths and areas of short grass and to keep dogs under close control. This prevents birds from repeatedly getting flushed from the nest, putting chicks and eggs at risk from predators, and from becoming too cold.

While some species choose to nest on the ground others create nests in trees with many of these choosing to use nest boxes - from Great Tits to House Sparrows. While it's too late in the year to put up a nest box for use this season, you can check if any birds have decided to use one of the many nest boxes up in our green spaces.

From a distance of at least five meters away you can observe a nest box if there are chicks inside then you'll see feeding flights every five or so minutes. If you get any closer you could cause a disturbance and prevent the adults from returning. You may be able to hear the chicks calling out for food.

Observing a nest box not only allows you to know that it's being used but also what species is using it. That way if it's not been used this year you can think about repositioning it in the future. Though it's worth noting that birds will often have successional broods if food levels are high enough, and will sometimes use different nest boxes for each brood, so as a rule of thumb it's best not to disturb anything until October.

The most obvious breeding birds and chicks for many are our wetland bird species, such as mallards and swans. Keep an eye out for ducklings and cygnets following behind adults. If you're lucky and see a little grebe or other species of grebe, look out for their young which often ride on the back of the adults.

If you chose to go for a walk and do a bit of bird watching the best time to go is early in the morning or towards dusk. Keep an eye out for swifts and swallows returning from Africa for breeding season. It's also a good time for birds of prey to be performing food passes where one will hover and drop items of prey for the other to catch, as a form of display, and also to feed chicks without having to return to the nest every time.

Among our parks and green spaces there are areas that are great for bird watching, such as Brooklands, Whitebeam Woods, Lancing Ring, Shepherds Mead, and Mill Hill to name a few.

Photo: Great tit on feeder

2021-04-28 - Great tit on feeder

Photo: Mallard ducklings at Brooklands

2021-04-28 - Mallard ducklings at Brooklands

Photo: Female mallard at Brooklands

2021-04-28 - Female mallard at Brooklands

Photo: Female mallard with ducklings at Brooklands

2021-04-28 - Female mallard with ducklings at Brooklands

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21st April 2021: What have the Romans ever done for us?

Graeme Brooker, Park Ranger

Hi - my name is Graeme and I am the blogger of the week from the Park Rangers' Team.

What have the Romans ever done for us? Well they introduced sweet chestnuts to the UK! Or did they?

It has long been believed that sweet chestnuts, the traditional Christmas treat, were introduced to the UK by the Romans during their occupation. Roman soldiers used nuts to ground into a flour to feed the legions and indeed many respected organisations still support this tale.

However, recent research by the University of Gloucester and Historic England has cast doubt on the Romans being responsible for the introduction of chestnuts. They have found only one case where the Romans can be directly linked with chestnuts. The remains of five chestnuts were found at an Essex location and these were likely carried to the UK from Southern Europe. They have discovered no recognised evidence such as pollen records confirming the presence of mature trees during this period. The research is now trying to identify exactly when the trees may have been introduced with the oldest tree identified so far being from 1640.

2021-04-21 - chestnut tree

Now, you might be asking yourself, what has this got to do with the ranger team? We are fortunate that in one of our local parks there are a number of large veteran sweet chestnut trees. These trees which are located in Buckingham Park in Shoreham are the survivors of an avenue of trees planted in the grounds of Buckingham House in around 1740, of which there are only six remaining. Chris from the 'More Trees Please' community group has collected nuts from these remaining trees and used them to propagate new saplings, which he has kindly donated to the council to be used in a project aimed at reinstating the original avenue.

The ranger team are working in partnership with a local tree planting project and with the help of pupils from the local primary school and are now planting these saplings in Buckingham Park. Sweet chestnuts are a fast growing tree and hopefully in 25 years time an avenue of trees will be re-established and these pupils will be returning with their children to show them the trees.

This will be one of the first activities where the ranger team have been able to invite members of the community to work in partnership with us, as we move out of lockdown. The aim is to increase community involvement in the work of our team in our local green spaces. The team are working hard planning events and drop-in sessions with partner organisations, so watch this space!

If you would like to find out more about 'More Trees Please' visit their Facebook page.

Photo: The Buckingham Park chestnuts, picture taken from the 'More Trees Please' Facebook page

2021-04-21 - Buckingham Park

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14th April 2021: Why you should join the new community gardening groups coming to Worthing

Adam Scott, Park Ranger

Hi - my name is Adam and I am the blogger of the week from the Park Rangers' Team.

I'm going to tell you about some community-based activities that are coming to the Worthing area in the near future.

With the success of different volunteering schemes at other sites across Adur and Worthing, Worthing Borough Council is going to start two new gardening groups at both Homefield Park and Field Place.

The idea of these groups is for the local community to start getting back outside in the fresh air, to meet new people in a relaxed and friendly environment, and take part in some gentle exercise while also helping to make the parks look fantastic.

The details will be posted on the Councils' page when we have clear start dates.

While a bit of weeding and pruning might not seem like the most energetic of activities, studies show that gardening goes beyond providing a good workout, as it can also be therapeutic and help to reduce anxiety as well as physical pain.

Research has shown that prolonged light exercise like gardening can burn more calories than a gym session, in spite of feeling much easier to do. This physical exercise, combined with spending time outdoors being creative and productive, can also improve mood and self-esteem.

Below are just a few ways community gardening can improve your physical and mental health ...

It helps to clear your head: Looking after your mind is just as important as looking after your body. Being in green and nature-filled spaces provides cognitive rest that can help reduce feelings of stress, depression and anxiety.

It boosts your immune system: It's no secret that a daily dose of Vitamin D from the sun helps fight off nasty colds and flus, but did you know that garden dirt can be good for you too? Garden soil contains the friendly bacteria called Mycobacterium vaccae, which is most common in garden dirt and is absorbed by the inhalation or ingestion of vegetables. These bacteria have been found to help alleviate symptoms of psoriasis, allergies and asthma.

It helps you meet new people: Gardening, and spending more time outdoors, can help you meet new people and make friends, reducing feelings of depression and loneliness. If you don't have your own garden, why not take the plunge and join a local community garden?

Improved sleep: A good night's sleep (or lack of it) can have a massive impact on our bodies and concentration the following day. Spending time in the garden doing physical work and breathing in fresh air will help tire you out and reduce anxiety levels, all helping you get ready for some quality sleep.

Keep your eyes open for the gardening group announcements, coming soon online.

2021-04-14 - Hand holding a plant about to be planted (Pixabay - 865294)

2021-04-14 - Seedlings (Pixabay - 5009286)

2021-04-14 - Tomatoes in punnets (Pixabay -256426)

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7th April 2021: How we're working to re-establish our much-loved woodland areas

Craig Ifield, Park Ranger

Hi - my name is Craig and I am the blogger of the week from the Park Rangers' Team.

As Spring comes into full flow and the bulbs, flowers and trees start to bud, it means the planting season has drawn to a close. Now, we can start looking at what to plant, and where, for the next season.

At this time of year we can see the change in the landscape that has been made by local communities, it is also a great time to highlight what more can be done, and the need for more community groups to help.

This year has been the first year in which we have tackled and started to fight back against Ash Dieback, a disease that is said to kill off some 80-97% of all Ash trees. Ash is a pioneer species, meaning it is always one of the first in England to take hold, and can outcompete other native trees.

It is a wonderful tree with many properties, such as being the tree with the lowest water content in England. It is easily identified by its black buds and light green leaves. Many of our sites will be changed forever due to this fungus. You may have seen the removal of the trees over the last few months and the works being carried out.

The Rangers have worked alongside the Arborists Team, as well as the South Downs National Park, in planting these woodlands with a wide variety of native woodlands species including Hazel, Whitebeam, Bird Cherry, Oak, Hornbeam, Beech, Small Leaf Lime and Field Maple, which will create a defined woodland and for natural characteristics to develop.

We have planted some 2,000 to 2,500 trees in the three main areas affected, including Lancing Ring, Sheeps Coomb and The Gallops in Findon Valley. Many of the trees will really start to change the landscape in the next 15 years, however the true woodland will not be fully redeveloped until about 150 years.

Photo: An area of replanted trees

2021-04-07 - An area of replanted trees

We have used plugs and bare-roots trees that are 2-3 years old, using these in wooded areas is the best way for a woodland to be reestablished. They can compete more easily with other trees when roots are small and can find alternative channels for their nutrients. However, when planting trees of this size, we do expect to lose a third of them. We have 2,000 more saplings on stand-by for next season to replace the ones that we lose. We have also overplanted in areas to combat this.

It's also important to note that there is already a resistant seed against the fungus that is being germinated and looked after, but again due to the simple nature of the loss and the time nature takes, this will not be effective for many years and results will not really be seen in our lifetimes.

We will be making regular checks of these trees to see how they are doing, I am however also asking all walkers, hikers, cyclists and dog walkers to please report any trees found damaged, including guards and stakes to:

Help us protect these trees and allow for these woodlands to thrive and be a source of wonderment for the next generations.

Photo: Ash trees

2021-04-07 - Ash Trees (Pixabay - 329314)

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About our Park Ranger bloggers:

Our Rangers are listed below - and at the bottom of the page is a map of the areas the Rangers cover.

Anthony Read:

Anthony Read, Park Ranger

Anthony is the Head Ranger for Adur & Worthing Councils.

 

Craig Ifield:

Craig Ifield, Park Ranger

Craig is a Park Ranger at Adur & Worthing Councils. His main role is to maintain our parks and open spaces. This includes working with green space volunteer community groups across Adur and Worthing helping them with various projects and supporting them in developing their groups.

Craig's background is with the The Conservation Volunteers charity as a project officer working to enable communities in Adur and Worthing to improve their health and wellbeing.

Adam Scott:

Adam Scott, Park Ranger

Adam has worked for the Councils for over 16 years - with the majority of his time spent in parks and playgrounds. Adam says:

“Hi everyone, my name's Adam Scott I'm a Park Ranger in the Worthing area. I really enjoy trying to make the experiences people have in our parks and open spaces good ones, whether that's working with community groups to improve them, or consulting the public about new ideas and equipment that we can provide to enhance people's quality of life in our local area.”

Graeme Brooker:

Graeme Brooker, Park Ranger

Graeme has a background in countryside management. Graeme says:

“Having grown up in Worthing, much of my childhood was spent in the surrounding countryside and I grew up with a passion for the outdoors. I'm fortunate that my 'patch' includes several green spaces that fall within the South Downs National Park.”

Emily Ford:

Emily Ford, Park Ranger

Emily says:

“I am a Leisure Attendant within the parks department, where I help to manage the allotments and parks. Before I worked for the Council I was an intern for the RSPB and have a background in nature conservation and ecology.”

Keith Walder:

Keith Walder, Park Ranger

Keith says:

“I am the Park Ranger for the Adur District, east of the River Adur.”

 

Map:

Below is a map of the wider area, showing you the patches each Ranger covers. They will be the person to get in touch with regarding any park or green space within their patch.

2021-03-31 - Park Ranger areas in Adur and Worthing

  1. 1 - Anthony Read
  2. 2 - Adam Scott
  3. 3 - Graeme Brooker
  4. 4 - Craig Ifield
  5. 5 - Keith Walder

Park Rangers - by a boat planter in Brooklands Park

Park Rangers - by Brooklands Lake

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Page last updated: 21 July 2021