About our 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:
See also: Parks
This week we have a guest blogger - Steve McKenna, Operations Manager for the Parks and Foreshore Team.
Please check out my blog on the work that goes on over the winter to ensure our sports pitches are in great condition come the start of the respective seasons.
The cricket, outdoor bowling green and croquet seasons may be over for this year, but the work never stops for our Grounds Maintenance team, who have embarked on the autumn programme to ensure our summer sports pitches will be in tip-top shape for next year.
It is the perfect time of year to give our sporting green spaces in Adur and Worthing some tender loving care as the weather is still fairly mild, there is moisture in the ground and the air temperature is good as the fine turf responds well to the work.
There are five parts to the essential maintenance programme that we undertake:
Scarification: This is the process of cutting rhizomes, Rhizomes are how grass grows and spreads and are horizontal offshoots of grass which allows them to grow and by the end of the season have grown so much they need to be removed as they can cause diseases and prevent moisture from getting past the grass down to the roots. Their removal is by a specialist machine that has a rotating roller with vertical blades that spin very fast and cut and pull out all the dead grass called “thatch” to ensure the grass is healthy and can absorb moisture easily and prevent grass diseases.
Photo: Thatch removed from one bowling Green at Church House Grounds
Mowing: The scarification process produces lots of dead grass that needs to be collected and removed from the playing surfaces with a high quality cylinder mower. The bowling green or cricket table is usually mown in opposite directions to ensure as much thatch as possible is collected. You can see in the image the amount that was removed from one bowling green.
Dimpling: This is a machine that runs over the bowling green and has a cylindrical drum with one-inch long metal nodes across its surface which create depressions for fine turf grass seed to be sown into the surface. This is used as opposed to spiking or hollow tining when the grass is essentially in good condition and just needs a small depression for grass seed to fall into across the green. (Photo: Dimpling and top-dressing a bowling green)
Top-dressing: This is the adding of a quality mix of 70% sand and 30% topsoil that is worked into the upper surface that leaves the bowling green flat and fills in any small undulations and helps ensure a quality microclimate for the seeds to germinate. It is normal for grass seed to be lightly covered with soil to germinate (Plus it helps ensure that the pigeons and other birds don't have a massive feast eating up all the seeds sown. For cricket, a soil (Loam) with a high clay content is used to ensure there is always a firm surface that is demanded for the game.
Slitting: This is a process where another type of machine with a rotating cylinder with metal blades spin and cut into the top two inches of the bowling green to allow aeration and moisture to penetrate. This is not usually carried out in autumn but later in winter once the grass seed has germinated and is growing healthily. This allows moisture and air to penetrate the soil down to the roots to help ensure they are healthy and ready to grow in spring when the temperature starts to rise
This process has been carried out in Adur over the last two weeks at Southwick Recreation Ground, which has two bowling greens, Buckingham Park and Lancing Manor.
In Worthing, the two bowling greens at Beach House Park, Church House Grounds, Field Place's bowling green and croquet lawn, Marine Gardens' putting green and the cricket tables at Manor Sports Ground (2), Broadwater Green, Fernhurst Recreation Ground, Goring Recreation Ground and two each at Hill Barn Recreation Ground and Rotary Recreation Ground.
Hi - my name is Graeme and I am the blogger of the week from the Park Rangers' Team.
“The majority of dog owners are unaware of the dangers posed by dog waste to livestock and are unaware of a parasite that can be carried by dogs.”
As a team, the rangers have to carry out certain jobs all-year-round, such as weekly playground safety checks - a task that is carried out without fail regardless of time of year or weather.
However, at this time of the year one of our other jobs we start looking at is our vegetation management plans for the autumn/winter.
A key task at this time of year for myself is the management of the grassland sites on the South Downs that fall within my ranger area. These include Lancing Ring in the east through to Highdown Hill in the west. The sites contain around 50 hectares of grassland (the equivalent of 70 football pitches or 120 acres) the majority of which have the potential to be restored as chalk grassland.
Traditionally, these sites would have been managed through natural grazing by rabbits and using livestock such as sheep to keep the grass sward short. This process would also stop woody plants such as brambles and dogwood from taking over and encroaching on the grassland areas. These processes ensured the chalk wildflower species could compete with the grass and produce a species-rich habitat that supports a wide range of pollinators, including specialist downland butterflies such as members of the skipper and blue families.
The rabbit population in the UK has been dramatically reduced due to Rabbit Haemorrhagic Disease and the levels of natural grazing have been greatly reduced. As a result of this, grass and woody scrub has started to take over on many of our sites, leading to a reduction in wildflower numbers. In an effort to reverse this process we now manage these sites by a combination of cutting and baling and cut and collecting.
One of the major issues affecting the management of these sites is the presence of dog waste where owners have failed to pick up after their dogs. We have tried to work with local farmers offering them the hay for free in return for carrying out the cutting and baling process. Unfortunately none are willing to use the hay due to the dangers posed to their livestock by the dog waste.
The majority of dog owners are unaware of the dangers posed by dog waste to livestock and are unaware of a parasite that can be carried by dogs called Neospora caninum. Dogs are unaffected by this parasite, so the owner will not know their dog is a carrier, but the parasite is the largest cause of miscarriage and stillbirth in cattle in the UK.
The parasite remains active for six months and consequently if the hay contains dog waste it is unusable for livestock. Additionally, once infected, the livestock cannot be cured and this sadly results in the livestock usually being destroyed.
The uncollected dog waste also poses health risks to other dogs such as hookworms, whipworms, roundworms, giardiasis, E. Coli and faecal coliform. Indeed the majority of complaints we receive about dog waste on site come from other dog owners concerned about the risks to their pets and also the anti-social aspect caused by the very small minority of dog owners who fail to pick up after their dog. In many cases I speak with dog owners who will pick up other's waste whilst walking their own dog and place it correctly in the bin.
The dog waste across our sites also poses significant health risks to those using our green spaces. The data shows that around 100 cases of toxocariasis are recorded in the UK with around 50% resulting in sight issues. In addition, it can also lead to dizziness, nausea, asthma, pneumonia and seizures. Viruses such as E.Coli and Coccidia can also be spread in dog faeces that can result in stomach upsets and throat infections. In our parks, sports teams have to inspect and remove dog waste every time they play due to the health risks posed to them by dog waste being left on the ground.
It has reached the stage where complaints about uncontrolled dogs and dog faeces on green spaces is the most common complaint I encounter when working out on site, especially from other dog owners. The Council will be looking at ways of tackling these problems and be looking at engagement, education and if necessary enforcement as we seek to tackle this growing problem.
Fixed Penalty Notices of £100 can be served for failure to pick up after your dog.
This is a national issue as this policy report by Bristol University highlights:
- Community-led science and action to reduce dog fouling and improve child health - PDF on the University of Bristol website
Hi - my name is Graeme and I am the blogger of the week from the Park Rangers' Team.
“Whilst installing the piece of equipment at the playground I received a call asking me to look at a tree on one of our other sites which was showing signs of disease.”
I thought this week I would start by running through one of the days I recently had, which highlights how varied the role of the ranger can be.
I started the day visiting a playground to reinstall a piece of damaged play equipment which had been in our workshop for several months waiting for the various replacement parts to arrive. It isn't unusual for members of the public to approach us during our weekly playground checks and ask how long it will take to repair or replace damaged play equipment which has been damaged.
The problem with most play equipment is that in many cases replacement parts need to come from the manufacturer and in some cases this can take several months. We also find on occasion that the parts are not available, and then the equipment needs to be removed or replaced if the money is available. As part of our role, all rangers are required to qualify as Outdoor Operational Inspectors, which enables us to carry out safety checks on playgrounds and become members of the Register of Play Inspectors International.
Whilst installing the piece of equipment at the playground I received a call asking me to look at a tree on one of our other sites which was showing signs of disease.
Another part of our duties are to carry out visual checks on trees across our patches and all rangers are Lantra-qualified in basic tree surveying and inspection. If we identify any issues with trees on our sites these are then referred to our arboriculture team for any further action.
On arrival it quickly became obvious that the tree in question was a Horse Chestnut which was suffering from leaf miner damage caused by a moth in the family Gracillariidae.
A quick check of the site discovered that one of the buildings had large and offensive graffiti sprayed along its side and some building rubble had been fly-tipped in the car park. This is something we often encounter on our sites and we then refer to the Council Cleansing Team with pictures to resolve the problems.
After finishing at this site, I moved to Cissbury Fields where I had planned to put up some information posters in the car parks. Whilst on the site I was approached by a dog walker who had encountered some cattle in one of the small woodlands on site and wasn't sure who to inform. Whilst it is hoped that in the long-term some form of grazing will take place there, at present the site doesn't have the fencing to prevent cattle from reaching the road and so I went to investigate.
On arrival, I was greeted by several cattle who were moving quickly towards nearby roads.
After several phone calls I discovered that the cattle had come from the National Trust land adjacent to our site. In the end I was joined by a Trust ranger and Trust volunteers along with two PCSOs and between us we managed to herd the cattle back up the hill and into their field.
Whilst not a completely normal day it does give an idea of some of the things that we as rangers might get involved in on a daily basis.
Hi - my name is Emily and I am the blogger of the week from the Park Rangers' Team.
“Other things to keep an eye out for are the many butterfly species that inhabit our green spaces.”
This week I am taking a look at how important wildlife is and, with numbers in decline, how we must preserve their natural habitat.
This time of year when walking through green spaces you can often hear the sounds of bird songs, the buzzing of bees and, if you're quiet enough, the chirping of grasshoppers hidden amongst the flowers and long grasses.
Did you know that there are 11 native species of grasshopper present in the UK and each species produces a different noise. So much so that, like birds, you can tell which species it is from the sound alone. Listen out for them as you walk through the paths around and in between patches of renaturing in your local green space.
Other things to keep an eye out for are the many butterfly species that inhabit our green spaces. They will appear quickly fluttering from flower to flower on sunny and still days. From the more common red admiral to the marbled white, there are more than 58 species of butterfly native to the UK, many of which can be found in Sussex.
Sadly, though, due to habitat loss and fragmentation the populations of many of these species has been steadily declining, which is why the creation of more habitats for them is so important with species such as the small tortoiseshell decreasing in population by a massive 80% in South East England since 1990.
Photo: Marbled white butterfly
When you think about bees, the first thing that comes to mind is often the Bumblebee. An easy-to-spot iconic insect of which there are 24 different species that live in the UK - all of which are social and live in colonies ranging from a few dozen to several hundred. You'll often see them buzzing away in between different types of flowers as they gather nectar and pollen to take back to the hives. Despite some common fears, the bumblebee is very unlikely to sting and will only do so when feeling threatened.
The renaturing of greenspaces is important to support insects by, not only creating more habitat for them, but also by creating corridors allowing them to travel between larger pieces of habitats that were once joined together, allowing for populations to expand and to mix between individual groups and sites and therefore helping to prevent local extinctions of species. This has a knock-on effect by supporting many other species as insects form the base for many food chains and are vital for the pollination of many types of flowers.
Hi - my name is Graeme and I am the blogger of the week from the Park Rangers' Team.
“Chalk grassland is one of the richest habitats found in the UK with potentially 40 plant species per square metre...”
In this week's blog I intend to revisit something I have previously discussed. Did you know that we are fortunate to have nearly 100 hectares of rare chalk grassland across Adur and Worthing, and although some areas are in a poor condition, they haven't yet reached the stage where they cannot be saved?
Chalk grassland is one of the richest habitats found in the UK with potentially 40 plant species per square metre and this high level of biodiversity has led to it being referred to as the “Rainforest of Europe”.
The most effective way to manage these sites is by grazing, and historically on the South Downs, this would have been carried out by sheep and rabbits. The sites that are owned by the Councils are popular dog walking areas and this means that sheep grazing is not practical. The intention is to mimic the effects of grazing livestock by using a variety of machine cutting techniques and in order to improve these sites the cut grass needs to be removed from the sites.
Unlike your garden which you might improve with compost and fertiliser, chalk grassland flower species need soil that is very low in nutrients. Traditionally sheep would graze on the grassland and then be 'folded away' at night in pens, meaning they removed the nutrients from the site leading to an increase in wildflowers.
One of the issues we have found during the first year of working to restore and improve our chalk grassland sites is the presence of large amounts of dog waste. These sites are our closest areas of countryside for many and rightly attract many users - something the Councils are keen to support. However, the presence of dog waste creates problems with managing the site.
I have already explained that the soil needs to be nutrient poor and this waste increases the soil nutrient value and changes the chemical balance. The biggest issue has been that dog waste is highly dangerous to livestock, and this has resulted in no farmers being willing to cut and take the hay. The intention had been to offer the hay to local farmers in return for cutting, baling and removing the hay.
Last season it cost the Council and the National Park several thousand pounds to have this work carried out. This money could have been used elsewhere on the site to help improve the habitat by sowing additional wildflower seed.
When talking with site users it is clear the majority of dog walkers are unaware of the dangers posed by dog waste to livestock. Whilst many people are aware of toxocara that it can lead to blindness in humans, they are unaware of another parasite carried by dogs called neospora caninum. Dogs are unaffected by this parasite, so owners will not know their dog is a carrier, but the parasite is the largest cause of miscarriage and stillbirth in cattle in the UK.
The parasite remains active for six months and consequently if the hay contains dog waste it is unusable for livestock. Additionally, once infected, the livestock cannot be cured and this usually results in the livestock being destroyed. This isn't only a local issue as a farmer in the New Forest who turned out 38 in calf heifers onto the forest had 18 heifers miscarry due to becoming infected by dog waste.
A positive for our chalk grassland sites is that Cissbury Fields has been chosen as a site suitable for payment from the Beelines project (on the South Downs National Park Trust website) and a bid has been made for £4,200 to purchase chalk grassland wildflower seed. Whilst this may seem a significant amount of money this will only purchase 24kg of seed. This is sufficient to resow 0.8 hectares and the aim is to restore 33 hectares on this site alone.
The majority of visitors to our sites will not have had the opportunity to experience chalk grassland in good condition and the myriad of flower and invertebrate species it supports, meaning that many are unaware the sites are in desperate need of habitat management. To illustrate this these pictures show the current condition of Cissbury Fields compared to how the sites would look if we are able to successfully restore them. These improvements not only make the site more pleasant to visit but also help increase pollinator numbers and increase carbon sequestration.
Photo: Cissbury Fields unrestored chalk grassland
Photo: Restored chalk grassland
Our Rangers are listed below - and at the bottom of the page is a map of the areas the Rangers cover.
Anthony is the Head Ranger for Adur & Worthing Councils.
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 Conservation Volunteers charity as a project officer working to enable communities in Adur and Worthing to improve their health and wellbeing.
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 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.”
“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.”
“I am the Park Ranger for the Adur District, east of the River Adur.”
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.
Page last updated: 25 November 2022