A nature reserve set in lovely West Sussex countryside. Hedged paths lead through quiet meadows to several bird hides and viewing platforms. The reserve is best suited to view ducks, geese and swans in winter, and wading birds, nightingales, warblers in spring.
Star species include Bewick swans, barn owls, teal, nightingales, and wigeon, depending on the season. Butterflies and dragonflies abound at the height of summer, especially around the hedged nature trail and ponds.
The Pulborough Brooks site is set in the Arun Valley, part of the South Downs National Park. The site offers a wide variety of habitats, from heath to woodland and wetlands. The varied natural environment makes the reserve a haven for a wide range of wildlife and bird populations.
The visitor centre with cafe is open daily and is free of charge, and the nature trail (fee payable) is open from sunrise to sunset. There are regular guided walks, nature courses, and introductory events throughout the year, and there are often volunteers on hand to help if you are new to birdwatching or simply want to learn more about Pulborough Brooks.
A combination of controlled flooding, grazing and hay cutting are used to manage the wet grassland to create a healthy mosaic of grassland habitats and the perfect conditions for wintering wildfowl such as wigeon, teal, pintail and black-tailed godwits and for our breeding waders such as lapwings, redshank and occasionally snipe.
The wet grassland is criss-crossed with ditches which are home to some very special wildlife including the rare and threatened Little Whirlpool Ramshorn Snail (Anisus vorticulus). The ditches are cleared out on rotation which ensures that we can move water around the site but that we also retain sections with plenty of vegetation as a refuge for the wildlife.
In summer 2017, as part of the Heritage Lottery Funded 'Back from the Brink' project we'll be creating more scallops and ditch spurs along our ditch system which will act as a refuge for the special snail and other aquatic species.
Woodland, scrub and hedgerow are all important for our breeding songbirds, such as nightingales, blackcaps and whitethroat and during the autumn and winter months we carry out coppicing, pollarding and hedge laying to ensure there are both established trees and new growth. The management of the blackthorn hedgerows is done with the brown hairstreak butterfly in mind - this rare and elusive species lays its eggs in the fork between new and old blackthorn growth.
We are managing our small arable plot for the benefit of a wide range of wildlife to provide seed for winter finch flocks, nectar for bees and butterflies, harvest mouse nesting habitat and we hope to attract turtle doves to the site in future. This involves ploughing and leaving some patches as fallow and planting of special seed mixes in other sections.
On the south-eastern part of the reserve, we are restoring a 25-hectare area of lowland heath, bare ground and acid grassland to provide more habitat for birds such as nightjars, and specialist invertebrates including tiger beetles, digger wasps and mining bees. Our restoration work began with the felling of the modern conifer plantations on areas of former heathland. This enabled the heather seed present in the ground to germinate and grow. A network of pools has also been created and these are now fantastic for a number of dragonfly and damselfly species including black darters and small red damselfly.
Work continues on the heathland as there is a constant need to control scrub and bracken growth, and to create and maintain the scrapes of bare ground that are so important to the invertebrate populations. This work forms part of the Heritage Lottery Funded 'Heathlands Reunited' project - a partnership project led by the South Downs National Park Authority aiming to create bigger, better and more joined up heathlands across the South Downs.
Read more at https://www.rspb.org.uk/reserves-and-events/reserves-a-z/pulborough-brooks/#7MLK2bpz1URYulS1.99