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


4th May 2022: Wildflowers in Bloom

Emily Ford, Park Ranger

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

Throughout our parks and green spaces, those with a keen eye may have spotted various wildflowers growing. The species of the wildflower will depend on the site and their location. Below are some common ones to keep an eye out for.

The dandelion: The bright yellow multi-petaled flower is often regarded by most to be a weed and undesirable, but I find they have a certain charm and light up an otherwise empty space. Well known for its large fluffy seed head which are used by children as a fun but not necessarily accurate way to tell the time, the dandelion is a great early source of nectar for pollinators being one of the most common early flowering plants.

2022-05-04 - Dandelion

Another common wildflower is the oxeye daisy - a staple of hay meadows that also thrives on roadsides and verges. The oxeye daisy is the largest of the British native daisies with the flowers growing to around 5cm in size. While the daisy looks like one big flower, the centre is actually made up of loads of small flowers which each have their own supply of nectar.

2022-05-04 - oxeye daisy

The Forget Me Not is a small blue flower with multiple varieties that flowers from April to June. Wood Forget Me Not and Meadow Forget Me Not thrive in various sites, but are most common in areas that used to be arable.

2022-05-04 - forget me not

The last wildflower I'll mention is the Common dog-Violet, is a pansy-like purple flower with dark green heart-shaped leaves that can be spotted from April to June in meadows, woodlands among other places. Unlike other violets the common dog-violet is unscented. This plant is highly important for many species of fritillary butterflies as this is what they lay their eggs on.

2022-05-04 - Common dog-Violet

Over the last few months alongside various community groups including the Friends of West park helped by the 2nd Worthing Scout group, Friends of Brooklands and Friends of Whitebeam woods we’ve been planting out wildflower seeds and plug plants to help boost the displays of wildflowers seen in our parks.

If you would like to find out more on our renaturing project, please visit the page below:

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13th April 2022: Showcasing some of the wonderful work in our parks

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 take the opportunity to showcase some of the wonderful work that has been taking place in my patch of Adur and Worthing, which is Brooklands (photo below) to Shoreham Beach including Lancing and Sompting.

PR22-034 - Brooklands Park, Worthing

I would like to say a massive well done to the Bees&Seas project team at Brooklands as they won the Bees' Needs Championship. This Defra-established award works in partnership with Green Flag Awards, CFE and the Nature Friendly Farming Network.

It is designed to 'celebrate examples of the best practice in all areas of pollinator work' and recognise 'exemplary initiatives undertaken by local authorities, community groups, farmers and businesses to support pollinators'.

The team was one of 21 winners of the award in the Local Community section. The works of We are Food Pioneers, Friends of Brooklands, Creative Waves and the Ranger team have worked hard to complete phase one of the plan and got the site prepared for the bee hives, new containers and reading the site for various activities.

Phase two this summer follows on from the three-day Bee Weekend that was run last summer, attracting 400-plus visitors, with games, activities, plays and stalls. This is a very exciting project that will be a great addition to this park.

Photo: The Worthing Honey Collective preparing Honey Bees for delivery to their new home at the Brooklands Apiary

PR21-112 - The Worthing Honey Collective busy preparing Honey Bees for delivery to their new home

The Friends of Malthouse Meadow, who are working very hard clearing more brambles, opening up the meadow and enriching the site, deserve lots of praise. While I would also like to say a big thank you to the hardest workers on the site - the sheep, which are cared for and looked after by the local community and owner Leighton alongside the Ranger who help with the health checks of the sheep.

I am very excited to see how well this site does in the summer and the group can reap the benefits of what their work has sowed this year. There has also been an additional 32 trees planted on the site, the majority of which are fruit and nut trees all funded for by the Tree Council in partnership with Network Rail community fund.

Last of all, Sompting is getting a new playground. This is made possible by the partnership funding with Big Sompting Local (SBL). Work lasting seven weeks starts after the Easter break. During this process SBL, Adur and Worthing Ranger team and engineers worked with the local school and community to have their say on what they wanted to see in their playground. See Press release: Funding boost delivers new play park in Sompting

PR22-079 - Following a consultation with the local community, the playground was identified as in need of modernisation

It is lovely to see the great work community groups have made in recent months and if you wish to get involved in your local green space please contact:

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30th March 2022: Take only memories, leave only footprints

Emily Ford, Park Ranger

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

As the weather warms, I'm sure like us more people will be spending their free time out in parks and greenspaces, as well as enjoying the South Downs that surround us. It's therefore important that everyone who uses those spaces takes care of them to keep them open for all in the future.

The Countryside Code is advice for people to follow when they are out in the countryside, to encourage them to respect the land, aid enjoyment and help everyone stay safe in the great outdoors.

A key part of looking after the countryside and enjoying it responsibly is knowing what sites are open access – meaning there are no footpaths but you are free to roam – and which sites are not open access – when you have to stick to the footpaths.

Sticking to footpaths not only means you don't damage crops, but you also help to protect various wildlife that live on farmland such as lapwings and skylarks, which are ground nesting birds so can be flushed from nests by people going too close and even trampling on them.

Photo: Lapwings and skylarks are ground nesting birds - please watch your feet

2022-03-30 - Lapwing (Pixabay - 6601790)

It is also important to use the gates and stiles in place to access and cross footpaths, preventing damage to fencing that could then allow livestock out of enclosures and place them in danger. It is important to make sure that you leave gates as you find them, if a gate is open then it has likely been left open for a reason, possibly to allow for livestock to access water and shade or in crop fields.

Also, when parking on roads and in car parks, please ensure you are not blocking gates as this causes a problem not just for the access of land managers but also for the access of emergency services onto sites. Many times in the summer we have driven on to a green site only to find ourselves trapped because someone has parked across our access point.

An important part of the Countryside Code is keeping your dogs under control, including keeping your dogs on lead around farm animals, on country roads and around heavy machinery. This is not only for your own safety, but the safety of the animals and livestock.

Photo: Cows at Cissbury Ring, Worthing

2022-03-30 - Cows at Cissbury Ring, Worthing

Many sites are highly prone to fires in the summer months, even the smallest of sparks can set off a major incident in grasslands or on heathlands. This is why it's important to follow all bylaws in place on a site, particularly those pertaining to the use of barbeques. It is advisable to not even smoke in certain areas.

A common phrase you may have heard before is take only memories, leave only footprints. This is used to reflect the need of users of public spaces to leave natural spaces as you find them, don't uproot plants or pick flowers, unless you have permission from the land owner, if you take them then no one else can enjoy them. It's also important not to leave anything behind, make sure to take anything you bring with you home or into an appropriate bin, if the bins are full then again… take it home.

A few simple changes to how you use a space can make all the difference in keeping access to the countryside available for all, and help to keep it enjoyable and safe for every user of a space.

Photo: Walkers at Lancing Ring

2022-03-30 - Walkers at Lancing Ring

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23rd March 2022: Public turn out in force to help renature Cissbury Fields

Graeme Brooker, Park Ranger

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

If you happened to be driving by Cissbury Fields on the 12th or 13th of March 2022 you might have seen the Rangers' team from Adur & Worthing Councils and South Downs National Park Association (SDNPA) beavering away with the Findon Valley Residents' Association (FVRA) and members of the public.

As part of 'renaturing', run alongside a programme to remove barbed wire fencing from the site, it was decided that a section of the roadside fence should be removed and replaced with a new hedge at the top of Central Avenue - a process known as 'hedge laying'.

2022-03-23 - Planting the new hedge saplings

The plants were supplied from a range of sources including Woodland Trust, The Conservation Volunteers (I Dig Trees) and the South Downs Trust (Trees for the Downs). These organisations all offer free trees to community planting projects and we found ourselves with a varied mix of native species.

The new hedge contains blackthorn, hawthorn, hazel, crab apple and dogwood amongst others and as it matures will provide a valuable source of nectar for pollinators, as well as a mixture of berries for birds and small mammals. The long-term plan includes allowing one section of the hedge to reach a height where it can be layed South of England style - cut and layed over to create a double brush on both sides.

Despite the rain on the Sunday, the group, including councillors and families containing three generations, fully completed the planting of the new hedge and also helped with 'beating up' - the term for planting additional plants into gaps in existing hedges.

2022-03-23 - Young volunteer planting the new hedge saplings

As well as the ecological value of planting new hedgerows, they also contribute to reducing air pollution, prevent soil loss and also help reduce the risk of flooding. Hedgerows provide important wildlife corridors, allowing species such as bats to navigate, as well as allowing small mammals such as dormice to move between wooded areas with less risk of predation.

2022-03-23 - The new hedge saplings planted at the edge of the field

The weekend provided an opportunity to observe some of the wildlife on the site and birds spotted included kestrel, blackcap, red kite, chiffchaff and greenfinches.

Some walkers also reported spotting adders around the site. Although adders are present throughout The Downs, they pose very little risk to people using the site, preferring to disappear into the undergrowth. However, they do pose a risk to dogs who will investigate and provoke adders into biting them. The risk of dogs being bitten is greater earlier in the year when the adder has recently emerged from hibernation and is still a little sluggish.

The easiest way to identify an adder is the dark zig-zag along its back, whilst its main colouration is varied from browns through to grey and even black the zig-zag is always present. If you think your dog has been bitten you should seek urgent help from your vet.

2022-03-23 - Adder

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16th February 2022: The benefits of trees

Keith Walder, Park Ranger

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

The Park Rangers Team has recently been on a basic tree survey and inspection course.

Trees provide significant benefits to the ecosystem and quality of life for billions of people and are integral to most natural environments providing habitat, nesting and roosting sites and feeding locations. They help slow water run-off, improve air quality and store carbon.

Trees also have economic benefits of timber for construction and other wood-based products, fuel, paper etc.

Trees generally pose an extremely low risk of causing harm to people or property. Current statistics indicate about five or six people are killed each year by being struck by part of a tree. Our training was designed to help us recognise hazardous trees and then report them to an appropriate person.

Trees are complex structures that grow according to the environment in which they live, responding to external and internal influences. They will add wood to areas that need reinforcement but won't waste resources.

The ability to grow and change is dictated by the vitality of the tree, that is the amount of sugars being produced by photosynthesis. Most trees achieve equilibrium with their surroundings and grow to their full potential.

Trees conduct water from their roots, up through the functional wood, the previous years' growth rings, to the leaves in the crown. The water is combined with carbon dioxide from the atmosphere in the presence of sunlight to create sugars and oxygen. These sugars are distributed around the tree to provide energy to power growth, defence, reproduction. A proportion is stored for use at certain times of year or in the event of a need for extra resource.

The majority of that distribution occurs via the phloem, a thin layer of cells associated with the bark region. New cells for annual growth occur between the phloem (living tissue) and the wood of the tree. If the bark is damaged or removed new cells won't be produced and distribution ceases. A wound will develop that may form into a cavity over time, allowing colonisation by fungal species, which requires energy from the tree to defend and repair.

As a tree grows, it won't attempt to maintain all its tissues as functional or living areas and will divert resources to the areas that are essential or productive.

Health problems occur when the ability to absorb and transport resources is reduced. A healthy tree is more likely to be able to withstand climatic conditions, predation or colonisation by fungi.

Some of the things to look out for:

  • Is the crown of the tree dense when in leaf or containing obvious buds and twigs when dormant?
  • Is there fungus at the base of the tree?
  • Is the bark damaged?
  • Are there any cracks in the soil around the tree?
  • Are there any obvious cracks, splits or damaged branches?
  • Is there damage to the roots that are any exposed, has the soil level been altered?
  • Is the tree leaning?
  • Are there swellings in the branches or the main stem?
  • Is there any fungus on branches?
  • Does the tree have weak fork structures?
  • Does it contain deadwood or hanging/broken branches?

If you are unsure about any of these things, ask an expert.

Photo: Trees at Worthing Crematorium

2022-02-16 - Trees at Worthing Crematorium

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9th February 2022: Hedges

Emily Ford, Park Ranger

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

Over the next few months we will be busy planting new hedges across our sites, a process known as 'hedge laying', as well as topping up existing hedge lines to fill in any gaps that have formed.

These new hedges will be planted with a mixture of native trees that take well to being layed, including Hawthorn (photo below), Blackthorn and Bird Cherry, as well as many other species.

These hedges play a vital role in our park systems from acting as barriers along fence lines to creating areas of habitat for wildlife.

2022-02-09 - Hawthorn bush and flowers (Pixabay 3440965)

The main traditional use for a hedge is to divide up fields into smaller pastures as agriculture has changed over the years; many hedge lines have been lost to expanding field sizes of modern day agriculture, as well as land use changes. 

A hedgerow may support:

  • up to 80% of UK woodland bird species
  • 50% of our mammal species
  • and surprisingly 30% of our butterfly species

This is particularly true in areas without woodlands or with minimal woodland. The best kind of hedges for our wildlife are  thick hedges with wide bases that provide plenty of cover. But it is also good to have a variety of hedges for different types of species to inhabit.

2022-02-09 - hedge sparrow (Pixabay - 5011463)

A hedge is able to reduce pollution exposure along roadsides, a hedge is able to cut back carbon by up to 63%, as well as being able to reduce the numbers of particulates in the air.

Noise pollution is also a major environmental health concern with road traffic being a main source. A dense hedge, though, is able to reduce the amount of noise.

Hedges also help to mitigate flooding at its source by intercepting rainfall and slowing down runoff, which reduces the risk of flooding or can reduce the levels.

After a hedge line is a few years old and the new trees are well established, you begin a process called laying. The process of laying a hedge may seem quite drastic, but it is an important part of creating a new hedge line and for restoring older hedge lines. Laying of a hedge allows for regeneration of the trees from a lower point, which helps to reduce gapping in a hedge.

With certain tree species if you don't lay the hedge it quite simply does not become a hedge but remains as a series of closely planted individual trees, which while good, don't provide the same benefits as a hedge would.

Keep an eye out when you're out and about for newly layed hedges as it's always interesting to see the different variety of laying styles used in different areas.

References for the figures:

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2nd February 2022: Why picking up after our dogs is so important

Graeme Brooker, Park Ranger

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

If you are a regular reader of this page you will have seen the most recent blogs by Danielle, the dog warden, discussing the issues of dog fouling and dogs that are not under proper control.

As park rangers these two issues are probably the most frequent complaint we hear from you, the public, when we're out and about. As well as being anti-social, these behaviours also cause issues with the management of our sites.

As many of you already know, it's a legal requirement that dog owners pick up after their dogs in all public spaces. Many owners will leave their dog's waste if it is off the path in long grass or a hedgerow. Whilst this might work in some areas - indeed the Forestry Commission promotes a 'stick and flick' method to remove dog waste from footpaths - this causes a range of issues across our sites.

The parks team, including the rangers, spend much of the time off the pathways maintaining the sites and will often encounter dog waste when working, which as well as being unpleasant, is also a health risk. Also, when children play on our sites they will often explore away from paths and we often hear from parents about children getting covered in dog waste, which is distressing for the child and parent, as well as dangerous. Dog waste often contains roundworms which can cause toxocariasis, and in turn, cause significant health problems to humans.

Additionally, some of our sites such as Cissbury Fields (photo below), Highdown, Lancing Ring and Mill Hill (within the South Downs National Park) require specialised management of the grassland, which involves either the use of grazing animals or an annual hay cut.

2022-02-02 - Cissbury Fields, Worthing

However, dog waste is highly toxic to livestock and can carry a parasite Neospora caninum - one of the largest causes of miscarriage and stillbirth in cattle. Dog owners are generally not aware their pet is infected and once infected there is no treatment for livestock.

It can lead to cattle being destroyed as the parasite is often passed to the calf if they survive and then they would then become a carrier. As the eggs of the parasite remain active for around six months there is also a very real risk that they will be harvested in hay cut for livestock.

In fact, on one of our local sites, several farmers were offered the hay for free in return for cutting and removal. However, the large amounts of dog waste present would have resulted in the hay being unusable for animal feed and the farmers declined the offer. This is a rapidly growing issue nationally and indeed our neighbouring National Park, the New Forest, has launched an awareness campaign.

They have found that the increasing amounts of dog waste on their sites has resulted in a significant increase in numbers of cattle aborting their calf due to the presence of the parasite.

When challenged about failing to collect their dog's waste, the owner will often say that they cannot find it in long grass or it is only like manure. These are not valid reasons for not picking up your dog's waste and you could still receive a fixed penalty of £100.

2022-02-02 - Dog in long grass (Pixabay - 4125723)

There are also problems that off-lead dogs cause to the management of some sites and the steps being taken to support the re-naturing of sites.

On some of our sites this year, visitors might have encountered agricultural machinery being used in the restoration of the site and this is likely to become more common in future as we implement our plans to help re-nature sites across the area. Despite warning signs being in place and the equipment itself being pretty substantial, the operators have had problems with off-lead dogs getting dangerously close to working machinery. This again could result in a penalty of £100 as this would be considered as failing to keep your dog under control in a public place.

The additional problem caused by dogs off lead is the disturbance to wildlife and one species badly affected is the skylark. A few of our sites support this red listed bird species and as a ground nesting bird they are easily disturbed by dogs that are off-lead. The birds can be flushed from their nest and this can lead to the death of chicks or eggs failing. If the birds are regularly disturbed they may abandon their nest completely.

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

I have recently been accused of being a dog-hater, which ironically couldn't be further from the truth. My simple response was that I love dogs, but I'm not keen on irresponsible dog owners. The really ironic thing is that a very large number of complaints we receive are actually from the 99.9% of dog owners who are responsible. They, like anyone, do not enjoy having to clean their boots or dogs as a result of the 0.1% who don't pick up.

If you observe anyone failing to pick-up after their dog then you can pass details to the dog warden team who can visit sites, and there are plans for dog wardens to visit our sites alongside park rangers to look at ways at this growing problem.

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19th January 2022: Big Garden Birdwatch

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 shine a light on the hugely popular Big Garden Birdwatch scheme run by the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB).

RSPB

Last year there were one million people who took part in the UK's biggest bird recording event, documenting around 17 million birds. This year it would be amazing to increase these numbers.

2021-12-08 - Sparrows on a bird feeder (Pixabay - 6789542)

For one hour between 28th to 30th January all you need to do is count the number of birds you see in your garden or local park, you may be amazed at what you can see in a short space of time. You could get to see the roosting kestrels in Brooklands or Malthouse Meadow, or even the Laughing Green Woodpecker of Whitebeam Woods.

This is a very important event to record what is happening across the UK. We have lost around 38 million birds across Britain in the past 50 years as a result of habitat loss and climate change.

This survey can showcase what is working well, what needs to be improved and in what areas where birdlife is still thriving. As these areas are highlighted, efforts can be made to replicate elsewhere. As the RSPB says:

“Wherever you are, whatever you see, it counts!”

Everything recorded makes a difference. To get involved simply watch a space for an hour and record anything you see or land in your garden, their species and numbers. This then needs to be recorded:

Why not take to the wonderful South Downs to record wildlife where you can visit via several different access points across Adur and Worthing, from Mill Hill, Lancing Ring, Highdown or Cissbury Fields and see what you can see of the natural beauty around us.

Photo: Views from Lancing Ring towards Shoreham

2021-11-10 - Views from Lancing Ring towards Shoreham

There are also great locations such as Malthouse Meadow, where you can spot various birds swooping and gliding through the area, from woodpeckers to sparrows in abundance. However if you wish to look more at the less common garden birds then take a look around Brooklands lake or Widewater Lagoon and see what other variations of species can be seen.

If such an event makes you realise you would like to do more for the world around you to support these struggling species then please get in contact with the Park's team via environmentalservices@adur-worthing.gov.uk and see what local Friends of Groups operate in your area.

Friends alongside the Ranger team and Ground Maintenance have changed the landscape of many parks and are striving to improve the biodiversity of many areas. We have planted more than 200 trees this year as well as grown hundreds of metres of new hedge-line. This gives shelter, food and resources to many small birds that are struggling.

Please get involved in this great event, and take some time to enjoy the wonderful spaces right on your doorstep. This is an event for everyone, all ages, and all levels of bird identification, do not be afraid to try it. There are many useful guides on the RSPB website.

2021-12-08 - Finch on a hanging bird feeder (Pixabay - 1839844)

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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 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: 04 May 2022

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