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Autumn in Chichester Harbour

Autumn in Chichester Harbour

Welcome and introduction

Richard Austin - AONB Manager

Welcome to the November edition of Harbour CHIRP.
With cold mornings becoming more frequent, many small mammals adopt several approaches to help them cope with the chilly weather.

Larger mammals may migrate or grow a winter coat but these options are not always possible for smaller mammals -  they let their body temperate fall, through torpor and hibernation, to save energy.

Torpor is a short-term reduction in body temperature, driven by cold weather and limited food. Hibernation is an extended form of torpor. In Chichester Harbour, dormice, bats, hedgehogs and woodmice will soon go into torpor, which may last for several days at a time.

Mammals will come out of hibernation to forage for food, drink water and to boost their immune system and this will continue until the warmer weather returns.

If you’d like to help hibernating animals in your garden this winter, consider replacing fences with hedges, growing a wide variety of plants and creating a dry winter shelter for them, using a slightly elevated and secure flat board with leaves near the entrance.

All this will help to make the winter months as cosy as possible for small mammals in the Harbour.

Join us for our winter bird watching events

Judi Darley - Communities Officer

Autumn is well underway, so we’re thinking about our winter bird watching events. Harbour birds, however, have been preparing for the winter season for some time, with birds arriving back from their summer breeding grounds and others changing their plumage.

Curlews breed in the northern parts of the UK from April to July and return to the coast from July onwards, whereas Black-headed Gulls breed from April to July and will change their distinctive black heads (that are actually chocolate brown) to a silvery white with grey smudges either side of their head.

The first of our bird watching events is a walk at West Wittering on Sunday 1st November and our annual Joan Edom Memorial Walk is at Nutbourne on Sunday 15th November. Joan was the Harbour's first Conservation Warden and worked as a volunteer before Anne de Potier became our full-time Conservation Warden. Today, this role is fulfilled by James Parkin, our Farming and Wildlife Officer.

Why not join us for a boat trip on Saturday 14th or Sunday 22nd November?  The Solar Heritage is ideal for bird watching as the birds aren’t fazed by the boat so we can observe them in close proximity, and its near-silent engines mean we can hear the beautiful and evocative sounds they make.

Click here to find out more and to book a place. Remember to wrap up warm!

Seals doing well in the Harbour but will they stay?

James Parkin - Farming & Wildlife Officer

This year, volunteer John Arnott and I teamed up with Langstone Harbour for the first time to co-ordinate our monthly counts of the Common and Grey Seals that grace our Harbours and “haul out” on the mud at low tide. They do this to rest, breed, give birth and moult and they feed on fish throughout the Solent when the tide is in.

The highest count of Common Seals was 21 adults and 8 pups.  In 2010, the Common Seal population was estimated at 23-25 seals and our new estimate is now 34 - excellent and encouraging news that Common Seals have had pups this year and the population appears stable.

We also counted 5 Grey Seals, not usually seen in the Harbour- which raises the question “Where did they come from and will they leave here to breed?” - the nearest breeding populations are in Cornwall, Brittany and the Lincolnshire coast.

As with Harbour birds, seals are easily frightened when boats and people approach them. This could lead to mothers abandoning their pups and, if continually disturbed, they could decide to leave the Harbour.

We urge people to protect our seals by following the Solent Seal Observation Code and hopefully they will happily stay here and continue to thrive.

Archaeology in the Manhood Peninsula

Archaeology in the Manhood Peninsula

The Manhood Peninsula is a large peninsula of land to the south of Chichester. The name is thought to derive from the Anglo-Saxon maene-wudu meaning ‘common wood’. It has long been known as a particularly attractive area because of its fertile soils and its rich, varied natural resources. This popularity is borne out by concentrations of archaeological sites and... Read More»

Maritime History

Maritime History

For most of its history, Sussex has been an agricultural county. The Chichester area, with the fertile coastal plain for arable and the Downs for sheep and cattle grazing, has long been one of the richest in agricultural terms. Just as the medieval sea trades were based on wool, Chichester Harbour’s sea trade from the 17th to the early... Read More»

Marl Pits

Marl Pits

The Manhood Peninsula was a source of marl until the late 18th century, and marl found in Selsey was considered some of the best available. Marl has been defined as a pit from which marl, a mixture of clay and carbonate of lime, is excavated. Marl was commonly used as a fertilizer and marl pits were at one time... Read More»