Invitation to an Illustrated Talk on Climate Change & British Wildlife by Trevor Beebee on Thursday 29th August 2019



The Woodland, Flora & Fauna Group

invite you to an illustrated public talk by the emeritus professor TREVOR BEEBEE entitled CLIMATE CHANGE & BRITISH WILDLIFE

It will take place on Thursday, 29th August at 7.00 pm in the Main Hall at Hurstpierpoint Village Centre, Trinity Road, Hurstpierpoint, BN6 9UY.

The talk provides a factual review of the changes that are occurring to our natural environment and the effect it is having on our wildlife populations. It will immediately follow a brief introduction by The Woodland, Flora & Fauna Group.

Trevor Beebee has published several books and more than 200 scientific papers and articles on ecology, conservation and genetics of wildlife populations. Our climate is changing and this is having a tremendous effect on British ecosystems. He examines the changes so far to our plant, fungi and animal species and reveals how wildlife is being impacted by the warming climate. It is a talk that will be of extreme interest to all nature lovers concerned about the well-being of our natural environment. He is a busy person so we are very pleased that he has found time to speak to us. We strive to organise eminent speakers to improve our knowledge so please join us to make the most of this opportunity.

Entry is free (although voluntary contributions are welcomed) and all are invited. Bring any interested friends. There is a car park opposite the building.

Michael Nailard.   –   Chairman.

More Wildlife Support Provided To Nature Reserve

Talbot Field Nature Reserve has many bird nesting and bat roosting boxes mounted in the main woodland at the western end of the meadow. These were originally purchased by Hassocks Parish Council and mounted and maintained by The Woodland, Flora & Fauna Group. Recently, following a meeting with council officials and a group representative, it was agreed that further boxes would be purchased by them to compliment the existing ones which had been so successful. Every year inspections revealed a high level of occupancy which suggested an increased number of boxes would further benefit local wildlife species.

The additional boxes were ordered by the Parish Council and collected from their office by the group. They were subsequently mounted in the existing woodland and the tree cluster at the eastern end of the reserve. It is anticipated that these will be welcomed by the local bird and bat populations and make the nature location even more valuable for the indigenous wildlife. We are obviously very grateful to Hassocks Parish Council for their on-going investment in the local natural environment and will continue to support this to maximise the benefit to nature.

A new bird box mounted on a tree within the reserve.


Each one is located in a position most suitable for nesting.


They include boxes of various types to appeal to different bird species.


Bat boxes are mounted on trees throughout the woodland.


They are often mounted considerably higher than the bird boxes to suit the requirements of their occupants.


When entering the wood it is necessary to look up in the canopy to notice them.


Bats are sensitive to temperature and humidity and select roosts to match their particular needs in respect of height and orientation.


This woodland at Talbot Field is highly used by roosting bats.

These measures compliment the richness of the surrounding meadow to provide a sanctuary where wildlife can flourish in an increasingly hostile world. Below are some of the other natural attributes flourishing in the reserve this year and sustaining local wildlife populations.

 Colourful flowers form displays throughout the meadow.


Each plant blending with its neighbour to compliment the impressive overall appearance.


Different species and coloured areas of plant growth provides a rainbow patchwork throughout the meadow.


Each plant providing a valuable source of food for different species of local wildlife.


Knapweed is one of the richest providers.


Appealing to insects of all descriptions….


….and a vital source of food for the bee populations.


Other plant displays appeal to different insects….


….like this beautiful moth ….


….or cinnabar moth caterpillars on ragwort.


Clover adds to the insect attraction and value of the meadow.


  Fungi of many descriptions can also be found here.

Overall this small nature reserve area is providing an increasing appeal to wildlife populations and improving our natural environment. Foxes and deer are often seen around us as we perform conservation work there and frogs hop through the long grass disturbing the huge population of grasshoppers and crickets inhabiting it. The majority of bird and bat boxes are populated each summer and we have high expectations from the additional ones that have just been erected. Increasingly this small area is becoming a wildlife haven and one we are proud to contribute effort to improve in conjunction with Hassocks Parish Council.

Summer Barn Owl Breeding Survey Undertaken

Each summer all the group’s barn owl boxes are visited by our authorised team to determine which ones have breeding occupants within them. From this a record is kept of the stage of development of any young to determine when they are large enough for a return visit to be made to ring and record them. Every box is logged initially and all findings added to our data base to complete the historical record of each one.  Kestrels, jackdaws and stock doves are often inclined to make the most of our effort to assist the local barn owl population and are regularly identified as interlopers. The jackdaws complete their nesting before we arrive and we are often presented with a box almost completely full of the mud and sticks they use to form their nest. These have to be removed entirely and the boxes cleaned of all redundant debris to make them suitable for occupation by owls again. It is always a difficult and very dirty job and produces clouds of dust which totally engulfs the person undertaking it and anyone else in the vicinity. Any old stock doves nests found are also cleared but any doves still residing within a box are left undisturbed to complete their breeding in peace. Even in a location where we had only weeks before erected new boxes we already had a stock dove resident with several eggs.

During our winter inspections we had noted only half the number of resident adult owls compared with the previous bountiful breeding year, so we were expecting the summer breeding population results to follow the same pattern. This indeed proved to be the case. The spring and early summer had been dry and hot and this resulted in a delay in the growth of meadows where their mice and vole prey reside. This in turn affected the prey populations and made food availability for owls less plentiful which affected the size and frequency of owl broods. In some cases the number of barn owl young found on our initial inspections had reduced further by the time we returned to ring them and it was suspected that some smaller siblings had been sacrificed to compensate for the food shortage. We found no larders of dead mice and voles this year which further adds weight to this theory.

The first box visited however had a really healthy brood of young kestrels in it. These are very fiery even at a very young stage of growth and make a lot of noise to try to force us to leave.

Young kestrels huddling together for protection.


When we returned to ring them several weeks later they demonstrated even more defiance.

Several boxes were found to contain broods still at the egg stage. This meant we had to stagger our return visits as ringing can only be undertaken when they reach a suitable size and each box contained young at vastly differing stages of development. This development difference even occurs within a single box depending on the timing of individual egg hatching.


Five barn owl eggs found in one box.


Three eggs found in another.


Four kestrel eggs found in a further box. These unfortunately had been abandoned by the parents, probably because the box was occupied by an adult barn owl at the time of our initial visit.


This was a young stock dove resident found enjoying the safety of a barn owl box to develop. It was left undisturbed.


This was one of the many boxes found with young barn owls within it. At this size it was several weeks before they were sufficiently large enough to ring.


This was one found in another location having grown enough to develop much of its adult plumage. This one was revisited fairly quickly to ring it before it fledged.


By the time we had returned to record this owl it was already showing evidence of having undertaken an exploratory flight in the world outside the box. This could be determined by the cleanliness of its feet. They become very dirty during their time inside the owl box and need a hunting trip to clean them.


 It had fully formed and decidedly sharp talons which immediately became evident to us during its handling. 

Each fully grown young owl we are able to ensure develops to maturity is another boost to the fragile continuity of the species in an increasingly hostile world. Without such conservation initiatives they would be struggling to survive so we are encouraged to continue with the considerable effort we currently expend. Our supporters often generously help with donations to assist us with the expenses we incur to achieve this. We are obviously very grateful for this.

Countryside Conservation Observations

During the course of our nature conservation work we witness many intriguing and wonderful sightings which provide us with an added bonus to our effort to improve conditions to help nature to survive. They do not always directly contribute to our projects but provide evidence of countryside assets surrounding us. From time to time we feel we should share these encounters with those around us to allow all to appreciate the beauty of nature. The following pictures are included to achieve this.






The diversity of fungi species are always a sight to behold.







Wild flora species provide an explosion of brilliant colour throughout our countryside.









The insect populations that share our natural environment provide both splendour and considerable value to all of us.


Even our encounters with larger countryside dwelling species generate an inquisitive and friendly response and demonstrate their own natural beauty.

The countryside species around us are distinctly variable but all contribute to our lives and future well-being. Our continuous contact with them whilst performing our conservation projects makes us truly appreciate the wonders of nature. Each has a unique but essential role in supporting continuing life on our planet.

Nature Reserve Restoration Completed

In the early months of this year all work to restore Talbot Field Nature Reserve was completed. Volunteers worked hard to clear all unwanted brush in readiness for the onset of spring and the appearance of the new flora growth now released from the canopy that restrained it. With the new growth in the cleared reserve comes the exciting prospect that new species can be introduced to enrich the area for nature.


The conclusion of the restoration work in the early months of this year.


This picture shows the thick under-storey of bramble which was originally spreading outwards from the trees across the reserve.


This was progressively removed to allow other flora species to flourish.


With the arrival of spring the new woodland carpet of vegetation appears.


The sunshine penetrates the young tree foliage to encourage the released ground flora to re-establish itself.


In the surrounding meadow Lady’s Smock emerges….


….and beneath the trees Bluebells abound. 


No longer battling against bramble for sunlight….


….they take full advantage of their opportunity to flourish again.

Hassocks Parish Council has generously agreed to the purchase of additional bat and bird boxes to increase survival opportunities for wildlife. These will be mounted on existing trees and in the woodland that already provides welcome sanctuary to many bat and bird species which are regularly monitored by The Woodland, Flora & Fauna Group.


The local bat population will especially benefit from the provision of this increased roosting habitat.

It cannot be emphasised enough how such areas provide a life-line to dwindling wildlife and flora species in an increasing hostile world for nature. The Parish Council has taken a commendable step towards offsetting this damage for the benefit of us all and deserve our thanks. We look forward to working with them to maximise the natural environmental contribution provided by this small but valuable area.