50 Years of Woods Mill

by Sarah Dobson Events History Wildlife Spotlight on Families Recreation Nature

Taking Conservation into the Next Generation

The Sussex Wildlife Trust headquarters of Woods Mill by Henfield first opened its doors as a nature reserve and education centre to the public on June 8th 1968. To mark half a century they are holding a year-long celebration and we’d like to invite you to come along and join us. Thanks to the generosity of ScottishPower Foundation, there is funding for this project with employment of Woods Mill Engagement Officer James Duncan.

Throughout 2018 and into 2019 we’re offering a busy ‘Woods Mill at 50’ programme of events, ranging from wildlife walks and talks, from moth traps to bat nights, from ID training sessions to survey techniques in declining species. Hopefully we’ll have something to suit everybody, giving the chance to learn and enjoy the wildlife and wonderful surroundings at Woods Mill.

Woods Mill lake (c) Neil Fletcher / Sussex Wildlife Trust

A special anniversary weekend on 9-10th June is being held, with a total of seven events over the two days and incorporating a presentation on the history and wildlife of the reserve. All of these ‘Woods Mill at 50’ events are absolutely free of charge and everybody is welcome. Check the website https://sussexwildlifetrust.org.uk/woodsmill50 for details, and note that some events have limited places and therefore booking is essential.

There’s an awful lot to see at Woods Mill nature reserve at present, including a variety of nesting birds with chicks – mute swan, little grebe, moorhen and of course kestrel, for which we’ve set up a fantastic nest camera to watch their endeavours throughout the breeding season. Many of our smaller woodland birds are actively singing, foraging and feeding young - species such as blackcap, whitethroat, chiffchaff, chaffinch, robin, great, blue and long-tailed tit, song thrush and of course our most prolific singer, the nightingale (pic below). You may even hear the distinctive purr of the turtle dove, an increasingly rare summer migrant owing to rapid population decline.

Nightingale (c) James Duncan / Sussex Wildlife Trust

As the sun shines and the temperature ramps up, the reserve abounds to the dazzling colours of beautiful damsel and dragonflies and fluttering butterflies, punctuated by vivid wildflower displays, buttercup, cuckooflower and yellow rattle in the meadows, red campion, forget-me-not and stitchwort in the woodlands, flag iris surrounding the margins of Woods Mill Lake. Reed and Cetti’s warbler may announce their presence and grass snake may be spotted along with the assortment of wonderful pond life. A walk in the meadows could reward with the sight of a ghostly barn owl, gliding gracefully on the hunt for a vole or wood mouse.

Poplar hawk moth

Poplar hawk moth (c) James Duncan / Sussex Wildlife Trust

In short, there’s a whole lot more to see. Come on down to celebrate the anniversary with us. Explore our woodlands, waterways and meadows, learn to identify our birds (by both sight and sound) and search for the huge variety of invertebrates that thrive in the diverse habitats here. We’re excited to welcome you and show you why we love it!

James Duncan, Woods Mill Engagement Officer
Sussex Wildlife Trust

Wood Mill is located in the north-west corner of The Living Coast, near Henfield in West Sussex – find out more about places to visit and enjoy in the ‘Explore TLC’ interactive map.

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