Journal Entry: Spending an hour in a single city spot reveals almost 100 different species | Written by Mya Bambrick
Among the hustle and bustle of Brighton, a sliver of land between gardens and the railway is an important corridor for wildlife and a place for people to connect with nature. The Deneway nature reserve is managed by Sussex Wildlife Trust, where I’ve been working as a communities intern.
On a chilly, cloudy morning, I am awake early to lead a session of Deneway’s “Wild Future” program. The goal of this project is to transform the Deneway into a reserve run by young people between the ages of 16 and 25. These young individuals will play a central role in managing the reserve, involving the local community, and gaining important skills for potential careers in conservation.
Amidst the loud sounds of chainsaws and trains whizzing by, long-tailed tits communicate with their contact calls while a group of goldfinches flit above. A red fox moves stealthily along the train tracks, following the wire fence that divides us. Accompanied by five enthusiastic youth, we set out to make a difference in our local wildlife. As we head towards the end of the reserve, we come across evidence of badgers. Due to the cold weather and pregnant females, badger activity may be sporadic during these winter months.
We are surrounded by ivy, buddleia, and brambles that are slowly closing in on us. Our task for today is to clear some of these plants to make it easier to move around and allow more light to reach the understorey species, including primroses, bluebells, and wood anemones. As we trim the vegetation, we also hear the high-pitched chirps of goldcrest and see them flitting about in the ivy.
Following a satisfying lunch break, we embark on a brief “bioblitz” to identify the maximum number of species within an hour. Our first destination is the pond, where we use nets to uncover hawker dragonfly nymphs, greater water boatmen, and water lice. As we flip over logs, we come across leopard slugs, small pill millipedes, and brown centipedes basking in the warmth. Pausing to appreciate the birdsong, we continue on our search.
The urban choir is composed of Robin, great tit, stock dove, and jackdaw. Among the various fungi species we discovered, are turkey tail, crystal brain, and yellow brain. We tally our findings and conclude the day with almost 100 species.