Cooksbridge, Offham & Hamsey

CHURCH SERVICE: Sunday at St Peter’s Church, 10.15am Sunday School in the church hall, 10.30am Family Communion followed by coffee in the hall.

DON’T FORGET: Sunday is also a Hamsey Sunday Evensong at 6pm. The Reverend Judith Egar will conduct the service.

OPEN GARDEN: Sunday at Offham House, Offham from 1pm to 5pm.

WILDFLOWERS: Last week, a new Protection of Pollinators Bill was presented to the House of Commons. It contained a proposal to establish a national network of wildflower-rich pollinator corridors, restoring and creating tens of thousands of acres that would be beneficial to bees. Some 97 percent of British wildflower grassland has been destroyed since the 1940s and, over the past few years, wildlife charity Buglife has been working with more than 150 partners to gather support and draw up a map outlining the best areas in England that can be connected with remaining wildflower-rich areas in both town and country. If they get landowners, farmers, businesses, local authorities, schools and the general public to help, then the wildflower networks can become a reality says Paul Evans of Buglife. Under the new Bill, DEFRA would be in charge of approving the map and encouraging public authorities to get involved. It follows on the heels of a DEFRA-backed ban on the use of neonicotinoid pesticides for all outdoor crops, which was endorsed by EU member states last month. Plantlife have published a list of the ‘dirty dozen’ plant marauders that are especially rampant on verges, the floral richness of which, it claims has been reduced by 20 percent, with hugely wildlife-friendly red clover and lady’s bedstraw in rapid decline. The conservation charity also identifies ‘silent killer’ air pollution and poor management by councils as culprits. I am pleased to read that something is being done as it is noticeable along the verges that a lot of our lovely wild flowers have vanished. We do not spray around the farm which unfortunately encourages thistles and nettles but even they attract insects, butterflies etc, and a few years back I was delighted to find the pretty little harebells around the edges of the fields. I have already seen a variety of butterflies around including the chalk hill blue that have been around for years. One thing that is flourishing around the lanes is the lovely cow parsley and I have some nice photographs that I took in Allington Lane where it used to grow in abundance. We are being encouraged to make a plot for Pollinators Planting, just one plot in each of the UK’s estimated 24 million gardens will make a huge difference says the Butterfly Conservation Ambassador. If everyone did thhis, the whole country would be linked with nectar and pollen rich flowers. To take part visit www.butterfly-coservation.org/plantpots. I have a lovely book which was given to me by a friend in 2005 which is entitled Downland in Flower. The author, WN Macleod. I really love it as when we first moved over the Courthouse, Derek and I used to regularly walk on the Downs above here, which he told me was like coming home as he came here when he was just 12 years old in the 1930s. He told me that when he was in North Africa just before the Battle of Alamein, he used to long to be back at Courthouse to walk once more on the Downs amongst the wild herbs and beautiful wild flowers. Fortunately we were able to do that for many years and enjoy the wonderful array of Downland flowers that are featured in my book.

RAVENS: When I read that a pair of breeding ravens, with three or four chicks fledged, has been spotted in Suffolk for the first time in 138 years I can only hope that the ravens that I have here do not breed as there are at least two pairs that are still attacking my windows. This happens at this time of year when the nesting period is in full swing. Not only do they make an awful mess of the windows but they also make a tremendous din in the early morning, about 5.30am and sometimes earlier. During very sunny periods I have to close the curtains again as they can see their reflections in the glass and continue to bash themselves against the windows. The trouble is they have a very large wingspan as I discovered one day when I tried to chase them off. It was quite scary when one came after me. I have now left well alone until the nesting period is over.

POTHOLE EPIDEMIC: Having been told recently by a resident that they had to have their car repaired due to pothole damage I was not surprised to then read somewhere that it is costing £1 million every month in repairs to vehicles, which is reported by the AA, who add that the number of claims for the first four months of 2018 already equals those of the whole of last year.

THE KISS: It is not only Lewes that has had the pleasure of having the famous sculpture on display. The Kiss by Penny Hardy has been unveiled at the Moncrieff-Bray Gallery’s exhibition until June 17. The difference is that this Kiss has been welded from scarp metal into something infinitely more appealing. The gallery is near Petworth, West Sussex www.moncrieff-bray.com.

THEY HAVE ARRIVED: This morning I went out to feed the birds and was greeted by the sight of six tiny mallard ducklings on the lawn near the pond. There may be more to come as there were more pairs of mallards this year which are still around.

GREEN WOODPECKERS: A lovely sight as they have now appeared to grace the bird feeders which, according to what I have read, is unusual as apparently ants are their chief source of food. Whether foraging on the woodland floor, in the trees, or on the short turf of lawns or open pasture. I have always called them green woodpeckers but my book gives the correct name, Picus Viridis, also known as the Yaffle, and is ready to flick out its long, whip-lime tongue and mop up ants and their larvae by the hundreds. It’s been estimated that a nest-full of six or seven Yaffle chicks will consume some 1.5 million ants before they fledge. Having now read about them I am wondering why they are coming to the bird feeders and feasting on wild bird food, fat balls and Niger seed. Maybe the chicks have consumed all the ants and let nothing for the parents.