Bats - At dusk, several species of Bats can be seen hunting for insects over streams and neighbouring gardens around Southwick. Many may roost in our ancient trees, perhaps even the rare Bechstein Bats recently discovered in nearby Southwick Country Park.
Hedgehogs - Numbers of our once familiar hedgehog have greatly declined in recent years, but there is much more we can do to help them. As they wander through fields and gardens, our often high, secure fences prevent them from accessing our gardens. If we make sure there is a small, 5-6 inch high hole at ground level hedgehogs will be able to wander freely from one garden to another and help keep down out slug population.
Please don't use slug pellets as these are poisonous to hedgehogs and other wildlife. We can provide food and water (but not bread and milk) and pile leaves, twigs and branches against a fence where they can shelter and hibernate.
Water Voles - Once common, Water Voles are fast declining due to habitat loss and predation by mink. Vegetarians, they have occasionally been seen on the Lambrok Stream that runs around Southwick and we must do all we can to protect this habitat. They are distinguished from rats b ytheir round chubby faces, small fur covered ears and fur covered feet.
Polecats - These were once widespread but persecution in the past greatly reduced their numbers. They are solitary and hunt for small rodents along river banks, hedgerows and surrounding farmland. A Polecat was seen earlier this year in hedgerows by the Lambrok Stream in the field behind Blind Lane. Polecats are protected and rarely seen.
Badgers - Both badgers and their setts are protected. They hunt at night and I believe they have a sett near farm buildings in the field behind Blind Lane. On several occasions, during frosty weather, a Badger has visited our garden at 13 Blind Lane.
Grass Snakes and Slow Worms - Loss of habitat threatens the survivial of all our reptiles. Grass snakes and Slow-worms like to live in tussucky grassland, woodland edges and near water. They are sometimes found in gardens, allotments and compost heaps and are predated by cats. We can help them by providing a pile of logs, twigs and leaves where they can shelter and hibernate. Last year a 3ft long discarded Grass Snake skin was found in a garden near the Lambrok stream and recently one was found unfortunately squashed on the road in Lamberts Marsh.
House Martin - This small bird with glossy blue-black upper parts, white under parts and a distinctive white rump and forked tail spends much of its time on the wing collecting its insect prey. Its mud nest is usually sited below the eaves of buildings. These are summer migrants and can be seen flying over (particulary arable) fields and streams around Southwick. They are in decline but we can do much to encourage them to nest here by putting up House Martin nest boxes under our eaves.
Swift - This is a medium sized aerial bird that even sleeps on the wing. It is plain brown but appears black against the sky, has long scythe like wings and a short forked tail. This summer visitor has been seen flying high over the fields and houses around Southwick hunting for insects. Swifts nest high up in old buildings and are fully protected.
Kestrel - A once familiar bird of prey seen hovering over fields and roadside verges. Numbers have been declining since the 1970s. They have recently been seen hovering over the fields behind Blind Lane hoping to catch small mammals. We should protect their habitat.
House Sparrow - House sparrows are in severe decline in the UK. These noisy, gregarious birds once so common are now rarely seen in gardens. They have recently been seen in the hedgerows surrounding Blind Lane and Hoggington Lane. Sparrows prefer to live in dense cover such as hendgerows and Ancient Hedgerows like ours are also protected by the Hedgerow Regulations 1997. Their decline is thought to be largely due to the loss of nest sites. Historically Sparrows prefer to live in association with man and nested in holes in our eves but now in our drive to be energy efficient, we leave few holes that Sparrows can access.
Kingfishers - These are small, unmistakable, bright blue and orange birds of slow moving or still water. They fly rapidly over water to catch fish from waterside perches. Several have been seen over Lambrok Stream behind Blind Lane and Chantry Gardens. Lambrok Stream does contain fish (this is not simply an irrigation ditch). Kingfishers are protected as they are vulnerable to hard winters and loss of habitat. We must do all we can to protect their habitat here in Southwick.
Bullfinch - The male Bullfinch is unmistakable with its bright pinkish red breast and grey and black plumage. He feeds on buds of various trees in spring and seeds from berries later in the year. Bullfinches live in hedgerows and wooded edges and are very shy. Numbers have been declining due to persecution.
Tawny Owls - These bulky owls live and hunt over fields and gardens around Southwick. They can be heard calling at night, The male calls 'ki wick' and the female answers 'hoo hoo'. They roost in large old trees, in or near fields and are threatened by habitat loss.
Song Thrush - Pale, with a spotted chest, Song Thrushes are declining in many area. This familliar bird has a wonderful song which it sings from the top of tall trees and is well known for its habit of smashing the shell of snails against a large stone. It lives in trees, bushes and hedgerows and is occasionally seen in gardens bordering fields.
Emporor Dragonfly - This is very large and often seen hunting by the Lambrok Strea, and in nearby gardens. The large eyes touch on the top of the head and the widespread wings are usually clear. The male is blue while the females body is green.
Field Vole - Also known as the short tailed vole as its tail is shorter than many other voles. It is small, has shaggy fur that almost covers its ears and eats grass, roots and seeds etc. In Spring a Field Vole visited my garden from bordering fields to gather fallen seeds from the bird feeder.
Red Fox - Our most widespread large mammal, the Red Fox roams fields, towns and villages in search of food. He will often visit gardens especially in winter months when food is scarce and you may sometimes hear his nocturnal, high pitched bark. This spring a young, long legged fox was a regular night-time visitor to gardens in Blind Lane.
Deer - Usually woodland inhabitants, deer are increasingly found in suburban areas especially in frosty weather and are occasionally seen in fields around Southwick. Grazes in open woodland or on nearby crops and earlier this year one was a regular visitor to the garden of 23 Blind Lane.
Wild Rabbits - These are a familiar part of the British countryside and their droppings can be seen on the foorpaths and fields around Southwick. This spring a young rabbit was a regular visit to our garden from the fields behind us.
Little Egret - The most widespread of Europe's white herons, Little Egrets have become regular British summer visitors and can often be seen flying over the fields and wading in Lambrok Stream. A dazzling white, long legged bird, it is easily recognised and last year a pair nested in the garden of 23 Blind Lane.
Grey Heron - A familiar bird, the Grey Heron visits our fields when they become waterlogged after heavy rain. A long necked, long legged bird, mainly grey and white, it can often be seen flying over fields around Southwick.
Green Woodpecker - Easily detected especially in spring by its loud, laughing calls this woodpecker forages mainly on the ground, probing for ants with its very large tounge. Often visiting garden lawns accompanied by young birds easily recognised by the mottled bars across their chests. Regulary seen in fields and bordering gardens around Southwick.
Jay - Often shy these birds keep to thick cover but some may visit gardens and even bird feeders. In autun one bird may gather hundreds of acorns which are buried for food in the winter and will usually remember where most of them are. A regular early morning visitor to our garden in cold weather it collects peanuts scattered over the lawn, burying some for later.
Common Buzzard - One of the most common and widespread birds of prey, Buzzards are often seen soaring on broad wings above the fields around Southwick calling loudly as they scour the ground for prey. They have nested in trees on the field edge and are often mobbed by other birds.
Great Spotted Woodpecker - This woodpecker is easy to spot in its black, white and red plumage and can often be heard 'drumming' as it hammers at bark or timber looking for insects. If disturbed it will swoop away in a deeply undulating flight. Often feeding in gardens as ewll as mature trees and scrub, it is a regular visitor to peanut feeders and has been seen hunting for ants on lawns in Southwick. Nests in holes bored into trees and I understand old nest sites are often used by the rare Bechstein bats.
Little Owl - A small, stocky owl with relatively long legs and no ear tufts. Little Owls prefer a patchwork of habitats including grassland, hedgerows and treelines around large gardens, farmland and villages. An established pair will occupy a territory all year round and are most active between dusk and midnight and at dawn but are often seen during the day. They enjoy sunbathing, so be on the look out on still, sunny days. Little owls do not build their own nests but occupy tree cavities, farm buildings and nest boxes. Chocolate brown in colour with an olive tinge, pale spots and streaks on breast back and head and with bright lemon yellow eyes. A little Owl was recently seen during the day, in fields behind Brookmead .
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