Cooksbridge, Offham & Hamsey

Cooksbridge, Offham & Hamsey news
Cooksbridge, Offham & Hamsey news

CHURCH SERVICES: Sunday, St Peter’s Church, 8am Holy Communion, 10.15am Sunday School in the church hall, 10.30am parish Communion followed by coffee in the hall.

OART: I have just received my summer edition of the Ouse and Adur Rivers Trust newsletter, which is full of interesting articles and information about the work that this Trust and local volunteers do to protect the Sussex River Ouse and River Adur. One of the articles, Tackling erosion on the Tickerage Stream, brought back many childhood memories for me as Tickerage Mill was one of the favourite places to walk with my friends. We thought nothing of walking from Buxted around the country lanes in those carefree days. Paddling in the stream in the hot summers and in winter gathering chestnuts from the woods nearby. Those were never to be forgotten days. Robin Pepper’s article is always most interesting, continuing his series on small river fish with the stone loach and gudgeon described in details. When I read the article headed, A clean home shouldn’t mean a dirty river, it made me wonder how many of us actually read what our household cleaning products contain and I have now looked closely at some of the things I use such as dishwasher detergents, laundry detergents etc and realise we can all do our bit to help eliminate phosphate pollution of the rivers. There is a useful list of brands printed with no phosphate included. All of the brands are available to buy, either locally or on-line. Alternatively by choosing low-phosphate products you can help too, aim for those with 5 percent or less.

Another article says that many river trusts are able to help students with their undergraduate and postgraduate research. Oart have just launched student membership and can provide opportunities for practical conservation work through their active river task force. Student membership costs £8 per annum and they will keep you up to date with all their opportunities for practical river work, water testing and research along with a quarterly e-newsletter. For further information email info@oart.org.uk

Another important aspect of the Trust’s work is the biological control of Himalayan Balsam which has rapidly become one of the UK’s most invasive weed species and is a real problem along the river banks. A lack of natural enemies allows it to successfully compete with native plants for space, light, nutrients and pollinators, reducing biodiversity and contributing to erosion. This summer the task force spent three days at Spring Meadow removing and floating 200 tree guards and wooden stakes across the river for disposal and recycling.

Trees alongside rivers don’t only help slow the flow of flood waters and reduce diffuse pollution; they can also help with the survival of some of the most iconic fish species. It is because the shade that riparian trees provide can help keep our rivers and streams cooler even as the summer air temperature increases. A service that is vital for the survival of many freshwater species but notably Atlantic salmon and brown trout.

The articles that I have mentioned gives a little insight into the tremendous amount of work that Oart with volunteers undertakes.

JIM’S DIARY: No newsletter would be complete without Jim’s Diary, which is always a delight to read and the following are two of my favourite diary dates in the summer issue. June 9 - An early cup of tea at 3.45am and I decided to walk out and listen to the dawn chorus. As it gets light, I am at White Bridge and the hedgerows and small coppices are resounding with bird song. The more it gets light the more the birds sing, all seem to try and outdo each other; chiff chaffs, willow warblers, blackcaps, chaffinches and hedge sparrows. Even two blackbirds. All this rounded off with the skylark, complete with a barn own hunting in the Brooks by the Longford stream. Back for breakfast and well worth the effort.

July 5 - The banks of the Ouse have cast blooms of meadowsweet and teasel with small patches of self-heal in the fields along with hemlock balsam, angelica, ragged robin, red campions and flag iris. Thank goodness no giant hogweed, just a wonderful display in nature’s waterside garden and a family of swans that I call the ‘aristocrats of the waterways’ and a most useful plant, the figwort, used for a number of medical conditions as an antiseptic. Wasps love it. I even found some woad growing by the roadside, sometimes called dyers woad, whose leaves were used by the ancients to provide a bright blue dye. A pair of hobbies feeding on dragonflies, one snatched a house martin in free fall.

Many people who enjoy walking along the riverbanks and the wonderful world of nature all around will probably not realise the amount of work that goes into the protection of the Ouse and Adur.

LOCAL CHARITY: Oart is a local charity making a real difference. Can you help to protect your local river and its wildlife? Membership costs £15 for adults and £8 for students. Every membership helps the Ouse and Adur Rivers Trust protect and restore rivers and streams and create new habitat for wildlife. The rely on local volunteers and support to carry out the river work. Get in touch by email info@oart.org.uk or visit www.oart.org.uk. You can now purchase a very smart polo shirt in deep navy with the kingfisher embroidered logo. They cost £20 including postage and they come in a range of sizes. Each one sold will help raise the profile and much needed money for Oart’s work in 2016. For information write to Neil Pringle at Little Knowlands, Spithurst Road, Barcombe BN8 5EF.

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