Wild Park: South Downs National Park

Whilst there has been earlier mention of the Wild Park LNR and the wildlife seen in the area, it has been announced that as from 1st April 2010 the area will be incorporated into the South DownsNational Park.

Clearance work on Wild Park
Clearance work is commencing soon on some of the slopes of the WildPark coomb and includes the re-introduction of sheep to graze. In Victorian times the northern banks of the coomb, behind the Sports Pavilion and Cafe, were a popular venue for butterfly enthusiasts. Since then patches of grass have remained thanks to enthusiastic volunteers but generally the area has become scrub, with hawthorn predominating. Butterflies over the area include Chalkhill Blue, Adonis Blue, Brown Argus, Small Copper, Green Hairstreak, Marbled White and others.

Bird life in the area
The bird life of the LNR has been studied for over twenty years and breeding counts and migration have been well documented. Rarities do turn up from time time and of course sightings mean being in the right place at the right time. Scarcer birds seen have included Honey Buzzard, Red Kite, Wryneck, Hoopoe, Tawny Pipit and Serin. The winter roost of Magpies of around 300 birds is probably one of the highest roosts in the country.

Plant life in the area
Plantlife, too, has been studied in recent years and an extensive list of species have been found. Orchids are well represented here, especially the thousands of Early Purple Orchids which appear on the Hillfort in the spring. Interesting plants found annually are Sainfoin, Salsify, Pirri-pirri-bur, Fox and Cubs, Colt’s-foot and Knapweed Broomrape.

Why not see for yourself?
These photos are from my own collection. Hoping this brief article has given the incentive for others to enjoy the wonderful nature that abounds around the perimeters of Brighton. Why not come up and explore (but beware proximity of Hollingbury golf course). The views are pretty spectacular too! Access east of the Ditchling Road; from Moulsecoomb Station or Lewes Road; or northwards from Hollingdean Park.


Comments about this page

  • I enjoyed your article Peter. I love all wild life but wild flowers and plants fascinate me. During the 1950s I used to walk home to Moulsecoomb from Varndean (Ditchling Road) via the golf course. I can remember the smell of the fresh grass as I rolled over and over down the steep slope then sitting watching lizards scuttle through the longer grass as I looked fruitlessly for a four leafed clover.

    By Joan Cumbers (02/04/2010)
  • I enjoyed the article too. When I went to Westlain School, 1959 – 1963, I used to sometimes walk home to Hollingdean via Wild Park and the golf course and during school holiday would walk the other way, down into Wild Park with my sisters and our friends, taking our bottle of water and, if Mum wasn’t around, sugar sandwiches. Our Romany dad knew all the names of the wild flowers and how they were used. He would point out a plant or tree and tell us what else would be growing in the area. Sadly, I can’t remember all that he taught us. It was a lovely childhood living up on the downs at the top of Hollingdean, with all that countryside just a few hundred yards away. Never found a four-leafed clover but loved the tottle grass and all those little flowers in the downland turf. Yes, we rolled down those step sides, too.

    By Janet nee Keats (02/04/2010)
  • A very interesting article, and particularly pertinent at the moment as much of the land mentioned is being cleared, and large trees felled and burned on site. What happens to the many birds nesting and feeding in those trees? Surely we should be preserving them for our children to enjoy.

    By Susan J (26/04/2010)
  • In agreement with Susan J, yesterday I walked from Ditching Road to Wild Park (one of my favourite areas of Brighton) and discovered to my absolute horror that a section of the woodland had been cleared and burnt leaving a horrific scar on the land, with apparently plans to clear the whole area which the council are calling scrub. Does this include the beautiful oak trees? Did anyone consult the badgers?

    By Katie K (28/04/2010)
  • Why is it that in the name of butterflies so called conservationists can go to a beautiful wooded area (ie Wild Park) and just destroy. Maybe it wasn’t always covered in trees, maybe it was once popular for butterfly spotting, but does that mean that mature trees have to be felled to bring back the past. I would have thought the future was more important and that as humans on this declining planet we need all these trees. The damage done to Wild Park is horrific, a huge scar. We rant on and on about the desecration of rain forests. What about our own forests and woodlands. The scrub and trees of Wild Park are surely part of the park now, why destroy. What is happening is ecological vandelism to re create the past.

    By Julie W (13/06/2010)
  • I love Wild Park but sad to see the mess that the council have left it in, bare banks which are succumbing to soil erosion, pulled up fences blotting the landscape that need taking down and loads of rubbish at the far end that has been there for two months. I am writing to the council to remind them of their duty of care of this beautiful area that they so badly want to destroy. I really don’t care for butterflies when it means that foxes, badgers, rabbits etc end up losing out.

    By rRbert Marriott (14/02/2011)

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