North Bersted nature reserve celebrated

C111007-1 JPOS Bog Birthday  Photo Louise Adams''Tradtitional chestnut fence maker Ian Bartlett    demonstrates his craft at the Bersted Brooks event.
C111007-1 JPOS Bog Birthday Photo Louise Adams''Tradtitional chestnut fence maker Ian Bartlett demonstrates his craft at the Bersted Brooks event.

Just under 200 people said happy birthday to an area in North Bersted.

They attended the first anniversary of the creation of Bersted Brooks local nature reserve.

The event on Saturday saw a range of activities for all ages staged at the open space north of Rowan Way.

These included pond dipping, birding, tracking, sweeping the grasses for bugs, moth trapping and fire dancing.

There was also the chance to handle two owls – six-year-old barn owl Lottie and Turkmanian eagle owl Benjamin, 16 – as well as watch wood working and for children to enjoy gym games. The fun continued into the night with a barbecue.

Among the visitors were Trisha Johnson, 35, and her daughter, Rebekah, seven, of Osprey Gardens in North Bersted.

“This is a fantastic area,” said Trisha. “We probably come here about once a week in the summer.

“It’s really nice to come up here and have a walk around. It’s a nice wild space. You can either do a really big circuit or go for a short stroll.”

Bersted Brooks became a public open space in 2000 but it was not designated as a local nature reserve until last year. It comprises 38 hectares of floodplain woodland over three fields.

A six-strong committee of Friends organised the open day. They have also been responsible for planting more than 14,000 trees in the past three years.

The species include the rare black poplar, alder, willow and oak.

Friends chairman Wayne Jones said: “The open day is about promoting our relationship with the local community and especially the Trees Estate which is on our doorstep and is one of the most deprived areas in the country.

“We want to educate people and raise awareness of the site so they do not view it as just a place to come with their mini-motorbikes and have a party in the evening.”

The Friends would be putting up a community noticeboard this month and planned a community orchard to enable people to grow their own fruit, he said.

A series of healthy walks had begun around the area to increase its use.

One of the successes of the nature reserve with its baked soil in summer and floods in winter was the discovery of the picture-winged fly which had been thought to be extinct in England.

It was also the only site in West Sussex where the population of voles had increased this year.