The well stocked garden and lawns for guests’ use offer an attractive and restful view from the wide windowed building at all times of the year. We aim to use environmentally friendly gardening techniques wherever possible, in order to attract the widest range of wildlife over the year. Don’t be surprised to see fox cubs playing in the garden in May and June, a wide variety of common garden birds including both green and great spotted Woodpeckers, and a visiting Sparrowhawk. Further afield a walk across the Pevensey Levels will offer Reed Warblers, Herons, Skylarks, Mute Swans, Lapwings, Goldfinches, Marsh Harriers, Little Egrets, winter thrushes (fieldfare and redwing), flocks of Starlings, and Buzzards.
We also attract a range of butterflies including the brimstone, orange tip, red admiral, painted lady, peacock and tortoiseshell.
The wildlife pond generates damsel and dragonflies in the later summer.
Below you’ll find some of the Nature Watch blog entries we have made over the years, click the title to read the full story.
December this year has been unseasonably warm, although wet and at times exceptionally windy. Being only five miles from the sea we can always look forward to the gales that drive through the Channel.
Indeed the Met Office has declared December 2015 the warmest December on record, and the wettest since 1929. The mean temperature was 8C, double the long-term average, beating the previous record of 6.9C, set in 1934. There was a national average of 211mm of rain.
The strong El Nino weather phenomenon is believed to have driven tropical air up into the UK, causing the moisture and wind that formed one storm after the other.
The garden, and the birds, haven’t been quite sure what to make of the weather, in the mid teens most of the month, not dropping below 10C at night even until the very last night of the year when we had a slight frost.
Of interest in the garden this month has been a female Sparrowhawk lurking, looking for an unwary small bird as a catch. We have also seen Redwings, visitors from Scandinavia, taking the hawthorn berries from the hedging, sharing these with the blackbirds. Flocks of goldfinches have been regularly seen – and heard – passing through. And we have heard the Great Spotted Woodpecker drumming on the trees, and another echoing the sound – a sure sign that they think Spring has arrived. They are also regular visitors to the bird tables in the garden.
The other lovely thing this autumn has been the ‘Singing Hedge’ – we are surrounded and protected on three sides by thick and high hawthorn hedges, which not only act as a windbreak and create a micro-climate in the garden, and provide food in the form of berries and insects for the winter birds, but they are also used as a roost at night by sparrows. At dusk the hedge just ‘sings’ as the birds settle down for the night and presumably are chatting to each other. They are so well camouflaged that even in the winter when there are no leaves it is difficult to see them in the gathering darkness.
Another first for us this year has been the fact that we have had as many as six Little Egrets grazing in the field opposite every day, a sure sign that it is quite waterlogged and full of insects – the horses that normally graze the field have been moved, as a result of the wetness of the ground all round here after all the rain. On one occasion a crow chased a Little Egret into the oak tree in our garden – obviously a territorial thing.
The month started well, on an albeit sunny but very cold and windy morning, with the sight of a pair of bullfinches in the damson trees. You can’t miss them, well the male actually, who has a brilliant red chest and black head, whereas the female is a sensible grey with a black head, which provides excellent camouflage.
The new year started grey, dank and gloomy. Lots of visitors to the garden including a small flock of six goldfinches, and the sparrows and blue tits continue to fight over possession of one of the nest boxes, the sparrows being the winners owing to their larger size.
The month started off grey and raw, with an average temperature of 7C in the first week.
However, visitors to the garden include a number of Blackbirds, who are gradually consuming a range of berries – the holly which has a good crop this year, the hawthorns and the pyracantha.
With the nights drawing in and the weather being wet and relatively mild, like last year, there are no obvious winter migrants in the garden, although flocks of redwing and fieldfare are to be seen stripping the berries from the hawthorns on the Pevensey Levels.
Spring has really arrived at Little Marshfoot this month, with the first Swallow spotted on the Pevensey Levels on April 1st.
The Chiff Chaff was the first of the summer migrants to arrive, first heard on March 16th, and this month was followed by Whitethroats and Willow Warblers, all singing away here at Little Marshfoot.
The year started with hard frosts, and snow in the evening of the 5th, it snowed all day on the 6th although the temperature was oC so there was little settling during the day unlike in other parts of the country.
This was a very wet month, and the Levels are already flooded, something we don’t normally see until the New Year.