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


20th October 2021: Help save our hedgehogs

Keith Walder, Park Ranger

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

As we move into winter I would like you to give a thought for the gardener's friend ... the hedgehog.

Hedgehogs are in serious decline. Although it is difficult to accurately monitor numbers, it is believed they could be down by half in rural areas and by a third in urban areas.

There was thought to be about 1.5 million in 1995 and now less than 500,000.

Loss of habitat, hedgerows and woodland may be a major factor, depriving the species of food and shelter from badger predation.

The use of pesticides may also reduce the food supply. In urban areas the use of impenetrable fencing, loss of greenery and increasing development is thought to be negatively impacting hedgehog populations. Another threat is roads as thousands are killed by cars each year.

Hedgehogs were named due to their peculiar foraging method as they root through hedges and undergrowth in search of food they make pig-like noises. They are widely spread throughout western europe and were introduced into New Zealand in the 19th Century.

2021-10-20 - Hedgehog (Pixabay - 439735)

Their spines are made from keratin - the same as our fingernails, they have poor vision but excellent hearing and sense of smell. Nocturnal insectivores are solitary creatures that only come together for mating.

The gestation period for hedgehogs is 35 to 40 days. There is normally a litter of between three and seven. The young spend up to eight weeks with their mother. They become sexually mature at 12 months old.

They sleep in nests which may just be a pile of leaves or a compost heap and may travel up to two miles a night in search of food.

They typically hibernate from late December to early March, depending on the weather and the individual hog. Some will hibernate earlier or later or not at all.

Underweight hedgehogs will not survive hibernation. These are usually juveniles born too late to put on weight. If they haven't reached 600g by the end of November and we get a cold snap they may enter hibernation and quickly burn through their fat reserves.

If you see a small hedgehog in December, it will need to be overwintered, where they need to be kept indoors at a constant temperature of 18°C (or 65°F) so they don't go into hibernation.

Contact our wonderful local animal rescue service WADARS and they will be able to help.

If you do accidentally disturb a hibernating hedgehog, do not move it, cover it over with leaves and put some water and cat or dog food nearby in case it wakes up which burns up fat.

If you are lucky enough to have hedgehogs visiting your garden in autumn and early winter it is the essential time to feed them, but not with bread and milk as hedgehogs are lactose intolerant. Feeding them cat or dog food with a dish of water will be gratefully received!

2021-10-20 - Hedgehog eating pet food (Pixabay - 1777957)

Encouraging insects to your garden will help as they are their natural food source.

We will be putting some hedgehog boxes on some of our suitable sites to give them somewhere safe to hibernate.

And one last thought - if you are having a bonfire this November, please check it for hedgehogs before you light it.

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13th October 2021: Improving Bourne Close Park and Playground

Emily Ford, Park Ranger

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

If you are a frequent visitor to Bourne Close you may notice some changes to the park this week. We've been busy at work, removing vegetation and lifting the tree line upwards, focusing particularly in the spaces around the fence lines and in the areas between play equipment. This has made space in the hope of creating a more open and welcoming environment within the site.

In Bourne Close, the level of vegetation that has grown up over the years has increased and taken over various areas of the playground.

While increased trees and scrub is good in most sites - helping to increase wildlife and increasing the biodiversity of the area - it is important that the vegetation is in the right place and doesn't prevent the use of greenspaces, especially within urban areas.

The increased vegetation in Bourne Close reduced the sight lines and light levels in the playground area, making the area feel more closed off and less welcoming. This has excluded various people from using the playground, reducing the feeling of safety in the playground, and also potentially helping to contribute to antisocial behaviour.

The work to remove this vegetation was assisted by the arboricultural team and the reactive grounds maintenance team, allowing for some of the larger branches to be removed and for the easy removal of the cut items via chipping on site.

A second team will at some point complete this clearance work, and we are hoping to get the safety surfacing jet washed soon to remove the moss that has started growing there.

Removing this vegetation has increased the visibility within the playground. Better sightlines, or unobstructed view, are highly important in playgrounds.

They help to maintain a sense of safety in a playground, allowing adults with multiple children to keep them all in sight easily while enabling the children to explore and enjoy the space freely.

They also help children to be able to see the adult that is in a space with them, which can improve their confidence and independence in a safe manner, while also allowing them to play with other children their age without having to worry about getting lost.

The increased visibility will remove the level of blindspots in the space, which will hopefully reduce anti-social behaviour.

Opening up the lower canopy of the area has also increased the light levels, allowing for sunlight to enter through the canopies and to travel through to the different sections of the playground. Increasing the light levels allows for the site to be used for longer hours in the winter periods when it gets darker earlier in the day.

The hope with all this work is not only to open the space back up but to also make an important community asset more usable for everyone in the community.

Photos: Before and after showing clearer sight lines through the trees, along paths and across and around the playground and park

2021-10-13 - Before & after - clearer sight lines through trees & across the playground & park at Bourne Close (1)

2021-10-13 - Before & after - clearer sight lines through trees & across the playground & park at Bourne Close (2)

2021-10-13 - Before & after - clearer sight lines through trees & across the playground & park at Bourne Close (3)

2021-10-13 - Before & after - clearer sight lines through trees & across the playground & park at Bourne Close (4)

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6th October 2021: Re-naturing our green spaces

Graeme Brooker, Park Ranger

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

As part of Adur & Worthing Councils’ commitment to reduce carbon and increase biodiversity, the Park Ranger team has been looking at the way we manage our sites.

Included in our sites for re-naturing are Cissbury Fields, located at the base of Cissbury Ring and The Gallops in Findon Valley. Cissbury Fields was previously leased to a local farmer who managed the site as agricultural land, the site was regularly ‘topped’ with a tractor which encouraged the growth of pasture grass whilst reducing the growth of wild flower species. Also, on at least one occasion, the site was sprayed with herbicide to reduce the growth of wildflower species. All these management techniques have resulted in a reduction in the site's biodiversity, and in turn, the soil becoming enriched.

On many of our sites there are no biological records of the species present, so like many others, Cissbury Fields has been allowed to grow for a complete year to give those species present in the seed bank a chance to grow, while an additional ecological survey has been carried out by a qualified ecologist.

The ecologist recorded more than 130 plant species across the 42-hectare site and confirmed that, as you would expect on a site managed for agriculture, coarse grass species dominated. The good news is that there are a significant number of key chalk grassland species present and the correct management would reduce the percentage of grass and increase flower species.

Photo: Cissbury Fields, Worthing

2021-10-06 - Cissbury Fields, Worthing

Initially we had already planned to manage the site by means of a hay cut and this was the key suggestion from the ecologist. Working with rangers from the SDNPA we arranged for several farmers to visit the site, the intention was that one of the farmers would cut the site and take the hay as payment. Unfortunately, due to the high amount of dog waste on the site, none of the farmers were able to take the hay, as the dog waste is highly toxic to livestock.

Diseases that may pass from dogs waste to livestock include Neospora, which causes abortion in farm animal species and Sarcocystis that causes neurological problems and abortion in sheep.

Consequently, at this stage the site remains uncut due to these issues and we are looking into alternative ways of managing this site for this season.

The Gallops is a completely different type of site, managed as an agricultural site up until at least the 1950s when the bungalows in Findon Valley were built. The northern end was managed as a hay meadow, whilst the southern end was used for growing crops including potatoes and cabbages. The more recent management for this site was regular mowing, producing a thick grass sward. However, this season the site was left uncut to allow any dormant wildflower species to grow.

This site was previously designated as a Site of Importance for Nature Conservation for the presence of particular chalk grassland species around the edges of the mown area and is now designated as a Local Wildlife Site with the Sussex Wildlife Trust for the same species.

Photo: A rich wildflower mix at the Gallops, Worthing

2021-10-06 - Wildflowers at the Gallops, Worthing

Anyone who has visited the site this summer will have noticed the diverse range of wildflower species present at the northern end including four species of orchid. As you travelled south down The Gallops there was a rapid decline in wildflower species with the lower half producing very few wildflower species. It is clear that the historic management of the northern end as hay meadow produced a more diverse seed bank which has quickly allowed some species to become established.

The action of allowing the site to grow uncut this season, whilst unpopular with some users, has achieved its aim by allowing a more sympathetic management plan to be produced for the site. At present, the mowing plan is to regularly cut the lower two-thirds to produce 'amenity-type’ grassland for dog walkers and children to play, whilst the top third will be left uncut with some pathways to encourage the growth of wildflower species. The area left un-mown will be cut in late summer/early autumn using cut and collect techniques to remove the cuttings. These cuttings can then be used to increase the strength of the seed bank around the edges of the site which will remain uncut.

There have been changes across all sites in Adur and Worthing, with either part or all of most sites being allowed to grow, many people have accused the councils of trying to save money or not caring. Ironically the opposite is true, with the long-term management requiring specialist equipment and more labour-intensive management techniques. These changes will ensure an increase in biodiversity and increased carbon storage. As a team, the rangers are now looking at the mowing plans and additional planting on the sites we manage to achieve the challenging goals that have been set.

The road towards restoring or increasing biodiversity across all our sites is a long one and it will take several years before we start to see real results on some sites. These initial steps may appear untidy compared to the management we have become used to, however the science is clear that with the correct management and support from the public there is the potential to achieve amazing long-term results. As a society we have tended to seek instant gratification, but in this circumstance holding our nerve and seeing beyond the 'untidy' areas of long grass will hopefully ensure our future generations will look back at our work and be grateful we made the changes needed.

Photo: The Gallops, Worthing

2021-10-06 - The Gallops, Worthing

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22nd September 2021: Friends of Denton Gardens

Anthony Read, Park Ranger

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

This week I would like to talk about the newest 'friends of' group coming to one of Worthing Borough Council's many green spaces.

The group in question is the Friends of Denton Gardens, who I'm very pleased to say held a public meeting over the weekend to vote in their constitution and organise a managing committee. The meeting was well attended by approx 30 people, all of whom have a keen interest in the space and want to help keep it as peaceful, well-maintained and welcoming to everyone as possible.

On the 11th May 1922, Edward Knoblock Esq, the owner of Beach House, sold the land to Alderman Denton. A month later on the 20th June 1922, Mr Denton gave the land to the town. Two years later, Denton Gardens opened to the public and included two 18 hole golf putting courses, a sunken garden with attractive planting, a pergola and flower beds lining the extremities of the gardens. All in all a pleasant, sheltered, open environment for the public to relax and enjoy a little quiet time away from the busy and sometimes windswept promenade.

The gardens haven't really changed much over the years in regard to layout and the amount of open space, and there is still a pergola to the south of the sunken gardens which the Friends of Denton Gardens are keen to refurbish with the help of the Park Rangers.

Photo: Plants and the sunken garden in Denton Gardens (credit, copyright John-Paul Rowe, Friends of Denton Gardens)

2021-09-22 - Plants in Denton Gardens (credit, copyright John-Paul Rowe, Friends of Denton Gardens)

Excited to get started, the group has many ideas to help maintain and enhance the gardens - and over the next few months we will be developing a management plan with them to help achieve some of these goals.

If you would like to know more about the group you can visit their website:

I cannot emphasise enough the importance of groups like these, as they bring an invaluable source of knowledge and understanding to our treasured green spaces. The work that has already been done in some of our other parks and gardens is a great example of this and something which has been a privilege to be a part of.

There are so many success stories, with the Friends of Marine Gardens, Homefield Park, Heene Cemetery and Brooklands Park to name a few, and if you would like to get involved in your local green space then please send us an email and we'll do our best to assist you!

On a final note, I would like to say a huge thank you to all the volunteers who do such amazing work on the green spaces we have across Adur and Worthing.

We're excited to start working with the Friends of Denton Gardens and would like to thank them for coming together with a common aim of keeping the historic grounds as a beautiful, quiet place for generations to come.

Photo: Flowers in Denton Gardens (credit, copyright John-Paul Rowe, Friends of Denton Gardens)

2021-09-22 - Flowers in Denton Gardens (credit, copyright John-Paul Rowe, Friends of Denton Gardens)

Photo: Seafront seating shelter in Denton Gardens (credit, copyright John-Paul Rowe, Friends of Denton Gardens)

2021-09-22 - Seafront seating shelter in Denton Gardens (credit, copyright John-Paul Rowe, Friends of Denton Gardens)

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15th September 2021: Recovering habitat for Stag Beetles

Hi, my name's Zara Breden and I'm a Kickstarter working with the Park Rangers Team here at the Councils.

I'm an entomology enthusiast and I keep a range of exotic insects, these include; Atlas Moths, Beetles (Rainbow Stag Beetles, Sun Beetles and Flower Beetles), Comma Butterflies, Black Beauty Stick Insects, Orchid Mantis, Giant Rainforest Mantis, and leaf insects (Phyllium Giganteum, Phyllium Bioculatum nymphs). I also keep two lovely white tree frogs, a hamster, and a cat. As you can see, I have quite the collection!

Our UK Stag Beetles (or scientifically known as Lucanus cervus) numbers have depleted massively in the last few years. Stag Beetles used to thrive almost everywhere, but now they are mostly found in suburban areas in London, and are hardly seen in the West Sussex area. The most common cause is habitat loss.

2021-09-15 -  Stag beetle on tree bark (Pixabay - 6394538)

Stag Beetles hide beneath rotten wood and lay their eggs within the wood or around the surrounding soil. They often tunnel through the wood and lay their eggs inside for safe keeping. The larvae then hatch within three weeks. They take up to three to seven years to develop into an adult and have six stages of metamorphosis - these being:

  • Egg
  • First instar larvae
  • Second instar larvae
  • Third instar larvae
  • Pupae
  • and adult

The larvae instar stages just means how many times they shed. So, in total the larvae shed their skin and their face three times!

Next, they make themselves a cocoon - this process normally takes around 2 to 3 months. Pupae duration is around 7 to 8 months. The beetle will then emerge, but it normally comes out a brownish red colour - this is because the wing coverings (or elytra) and the rest of the body is yet to dry and grow it's natural colour. The reason why stag beetle's metamorphosis takes so long is because of the larval stages. Stag larval growth is very gradual.

Stag beetles are actually endangered. The sad fact is, we as a nation have removed their habitats. Those rotten stumps which may be considered rubbish are actually a habitat for these amazing insects. However, we can change this.

One way you, the readers, can help is by making log piles in our gardens. The logs have to be rotten, slightly submerged in soil and positioned in a shaded area. Gardens are the best place to build a log pile, they are sheltered and have a large area for stags.

Regarding the ecosystem, stag beetles do also have a niche part to play here too. The larvae destroy rotten wood, therefore returning crucial nutrients to the soil and aiding plant growth. This is incredibly important and valuable. They are a protected species, which are illegal to be sold or transported in the insect trade.

2021-09-15 -  Stag beetle (Pixabay - 383984)

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8th September 2021: Flying ants season

Keith Walder, Park Ranger

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

Over the summer you will probably have noticed the flying ants swarming, whether it be on your windows, car roof or simply amongst the grass. Why do we see so many of them at this time of year? Let's take a closer look ...

The black garden ant is distributed throughout the British Isles, but is most common in the southern third of England. This species takes to the air in swarms to mate on warm, humid summer days.

If you were to look into the black garden ants nest at any time from late July to the end of September, you'll find three different types of ants. The largest ones are queens and they have four thin transparent wings. The smallest ones, which are also winged, are the males, and the slightly larger individuals are the workers. For most of the year the workers are the only ones easily seen in the nest.

The mating flight takes place in the summer. Males and queens emerge from the nest in swarms, those from nests in the same neighbourhood all appearing at much the same time. They take to the air in vast numbers, then disperse. Many fall victim to predators.

Mating takes place in flight, afterwards the queens settle on the ground, tear off their wings and either return to their original nest or find a suitable place under a log or stone to over winter. The queen will start digging a tunnel, block the entrance and retreat to the bottom.

When the mated queen starts laying eggs, until the first eggs hatch and the larvae reach maturity the queen will not eat, therefore relying on the protein of her wing muscles being broken down and digested. She may have to eat her own eggs to survive.

After 8 to 10 weeks, the initial eggs develop into workers which take on all the labour and build up the nest. Later in the summer, new winged queens and males are produced (incredibly the males are from unfertilised eggs!).

Life in the colony centres around the queen. She is carefully tended by the workers who feed her a sugar rich fluid which was gathered as honeydew from aphids, or from the nectaries of flowers. The queen eggs are taken to special brood chambers and guarded. The larvae when they hatch are fed and cleaned. Apart from honeydew and nectar, black garden ants will also eat soft fruits and sweet sugary substances.

The ants themselves are eaten by a variety of predators. The green woodpecker, for instance, scratches into the nest and extracts ants with its long tongue. Some beetles, spiders and centipedes also prey on ants and even members of the same species attack their own kind if they come from a different nest.

Just lift a paving slab or turn over a large stone in the garden and the chances are you'll find a colony of black garden ants!

2021-09-08 - Flying ant (Pixabay - 22889)

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2nd September 2021: Adapting urban wildlife

Emily Ford, Park Ranger

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

This week I'm going to be talking about the different species that call our towns and cities home and how some of them have adapted to city life.

The urban environment can be viewed as both a place of refuge and as a wasteland, and while much can still be done to improve an urban environment to increase biodiversity, our urban spaces are an important habitat, with an estimated 8% of UK land being classed as urban environments. A number of different species can inhabit urban spaces, from the more expected fox to the more unexpected peregrine falcon.

Cities and urban environments are in many ways extreme environments for wildlife to inhabit because of heat islands - urban areas that are warmer than their suburban or rural surroundings - and pollution such as light and sound. To be in urban spaces these animals have cleverly adapted in different ways to cope with the different environments.

Peregrine falcons appear to have started to inhabit cities in the 1990s, though there are records of them using Salisbury Cathedral since 1864. They have chosen to nest on building ledges, bridges and even pylons which bear resemblance, at least for them, to the cliff faces they inhabit in more rural areas.

2021-09-02 - Peregrine falcon (Pixabay - 371610)

The urban fox is a well-known member of streets of towns and cities. In the countryside a fox's diet is mostly meat, supplemented with insects, worms and fruit. For the urban fox, the meat diet is instead supplemented by various household refuse. While the fox is a scavenger, they do also hunt for small mammals, which helps to keep down the population of mice and rats, playing a vital role in urban ecosystems.

The fox has been documented as living in our cities since the 1930s, which is in part due to their ability to exploit new territories. In 2011 there was even a fox that moved into the 72nd floor of The Shard in London while it was being built.

Photo: A fox on the beach under Worthing Pier

2021-09-02 - A fox on the beach under Worthing Pier

Another common member of urban wildlife is the herring gull. The rooftops of cityscapes represent safe, steep cliffs for these birds with reduced numbers of predators and often no shortages of food for them on the streets below. The first record of a gull nesting on a building was on a mill in Cornwall in 1909.

The herring gull was practically forced to inhabit urban areas with landfills providing a great food source for them and their coastal habitats becoming more disturbed and food harder to find due to industrialised fishing practices. The gull is particularly intelligent and is able to time their arrival to locations for delivery of compost materials and to school bells; they've also been observed fishing with bread as bait.

2021-09-02 - Gull (Pixabay - 4349143)

Many species of bird such as the blackbird and the great tit (photo below) have changed the pitch and volume of their calls to be able to be heard over urban noise singing louder and higher. It has been argued that this may create population islands between urban and rural populations.

2021-09-02 - Great tit (Pixabay - 3806010)

While wildlife is commonly associated with greenspaces, there are also habitats in urban settings that might surprise you. The potentially most surprising of all is brownfield sites. These typically give an air of being devoid of nature, but this can often be far from the truth.

In fact, there are certain species that rely on these brownfield sites such as the shrill carder bee and the distinguished jumping spider.

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11th August 2021: Bees & Seas Events - creating a buzz

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'd like to take the opportunity to highlight the Bees & Seas Events which are taking place at Brooklands Park from Friday 20th August to Sunday 22nd August 2021. They are all free, with various activities, games and stalls to get involved with.

With a focus on celebrating bees, the weekend also aims to highlight how important our landscapes are, as well as showing how we can give back to nature, and how much we depend on the smaller walks of life, for our own lives. There will be shows, workshops and talks, taking place 11am to 4pm each day.

Worthing is based in a microclimate between the South Downs and the sea. This makes it a unique climate that does not always conform to the norms of other downland areas, hence why some plants are less successful here, when they should be well adapted to the area.

The main Bees & Seas Project showcases the link between these two amazing and unique climates, connecting the alkali chalky Downs to the salt sea, and the wonderful host of wildlife they both inhabit. These landscapes are so important to our livelihoods and can help to reverse elements of climate change.

They support an abundance of biodiversity. Many birds and insects will migrate over the sea to come inland for breeding, using the Downs as their first source of food after they have made their long journeys from Europe and Africa.

I would like to give a huge thank you to all those involved in this project, for the massive effort that has been put in on site, and to make this weekend of events happen. It's been a long process, but I'm looking forward to finally opening it up to everyone - it will be a fantastic asset to the park and the wider community.

Among the stalls we will have Park Rangers and Coastal Rangers on hand, to not only help people engage with our local landscape, but also to help them learn what they can do at home to support wildlife and fight back against climate change.

The team have managed to get conservation groups to attend to help spread this message, and support people to make their homes greener, more bio-rich, and be in unison with the world around them. We depend on the lives of all the natural processes around us - so we must help nature as much as possible, or we will all suffer the consequences.

For more information about the weekend of events and how to get involved, visit:

Photo: Visitors will be able to meet beekeepers at part of the weekend of events

PR21-112 - Visitors will be able to meet beekeepers at part of the weekend of events

Photo: The Worthing Honey Collective busy preparing Honey Bees for delivery to their new home

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

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27th July 2021: Spot the difference: your guide to identifying insects, creepy crawlies and other animals

Keith Walder, Park Ranger

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

Last week was the start of the annual Big Butterfly Count - a nationwide initiative run by the Butterfly Conservation charity. A butterfly is an insect, but when is a creepy crawly not an insect?

Creatures such as ants, bees, butterflies, spiders and mites are invertebrates - they have no backbone. All insects are arthropods, but not all arthropods are insects. Arthropods have segmented bodies, jointed legs and hard outer skins.

These characteristics separate the arthropods from other invertebrates, such as earthworms, slugs, snails or jellyfish. There are 12 different groups of arthropods which together make up 85 percent of the world's animals. Some of the best known non-arthropods are spiders, mites, centipedes (photo below), millipedes and crustaceans, such as lobsters and woodlice.

2021-07-27 - Centipede (Pixabay - 975248)

The hard, outer skin arthropods have is one of the main reasons they thrive. It stops loss of moisture through evaporation and protects them from damage and bacterial invasion. It also limits size, because if the animal becomes too big, the weight of the outer skin would be too great for the muscles to support.

An arthropod has to undergo a special moulting process in order to grow. Moulting is the manner in which an animal casts off a part of its body, either at specific times of the year, or at specific points in its life cycle.

With most insects, this takes place when the animal is still immature. The adult insect does not grow except for some simpler ones like silverfish (photo below), which continue moulting until they die. In order to moult it slits its skin, sheds it and emerges in a new coat which has to dry and harden.

2021-07-27 - Silverfish (Pixabay - 61638)

The easiest way to learn how to recognise an insect is by first looking at the adult, since the complete life cycle of more advanced insects may include metamorphosis - in which the young may look very different from the adults.

There are three main things to look for. If it has wings it's an insect because all invertebrates with wings are insects. Adult insects have three pairs of legs, never more and seldom less. All insects have three separate body parts - head, thorax and abdomen. The head carries one pair of antennae or feelers, compound eyes or simple eyes and mouthparts.

The thorax carries three pairs of legs and one or two pairs of wings, although some insects have lost their wings. The abdomen carries the sex organs. The wasp (photo below) carries all these parts and is the classic insect.

2021-07-27 - Wasp (Pixabay - 5578547)

None of the other arthropods have wings and most have more legs. For all practical purposes, three pairs of legs mean it's an insect, more than three mean it isn't. Insects are the most successful animal group ever. There are almost one million known species worldwide, and more than 21,000 which live in the British Isles.

Superbly equipped, these insects can exploit almost every habitable corner of land, water, and air and eat pretty much every kind of plant and animal food.

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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 is easy 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 with 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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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: 19 October 2021

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