Factsheet 8: Flora and fauna




Дата канвертавання19.04.2016
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Seven Sisters Country Park

Exceat, Seaford



Sussex, BN25 4AD

Factsheet 8:

Flora and fauna
Badgers are nocturnal animals and spend the day sleeping below ground in their setts, although during the summer months they are often out before dark. The sett consists of a number of entrances with passages that lead down to chamber one to one-and-a-half metres (3 to 5 feet) below the ground, which the badgers line with dry grass or leaves. They are clean animals who change their bedding frequently and so small bundles of grass can often be seen near the sett entrances. Badgers live in family groups, with two to three cubs being born in February. They eat a wide variety of food ranging from earthworms, beetles and grubs to bulbs, roots and sometimes small mammals. Much of the badgers' night is spent foraging for food and they may wander two to three miles away from the sett before returning around dawn. Although the badger's entrance hole is like a flattened d-shape lying on its back and that of the rabbit is o-shaped, they are often modified by foxes.
The intensive activity of these animals has removed most of the vegetation, but plants like the great burdock (Arctium lappa), spear thistle (Cirsium vulgare) and nettle (Urtica dioica) persist due to their preference for soils with high nutrient concentration and their unpalatability to badgers, rabbits and sheep.
A number water and wading birds can be seen hunting in the shallow water and mud of the meanders. Cormorant, heron, mute swan and shelduck can often be seen, and in autumn and winter large numbers of little grebe or dabchick gather on the water and dive for water insects and small fish. Wildfowl, including mallard, teal, tufted duck and wigeon find shelter and feed here during the winter months.
The field above the barracks has not been permanently or intensively grazed as the grassland you saw at the first post. This has led to the spread of aggressive grasses like false brome or tor grass (Brachypodium pinnatum) and upright brome (Zerna erecta) and the development of scrub where the dominant species are hawthorn (Crataegus monogyna), blackthorn (Prunus spinosa), elder (Sambucus nigra), blackberry (Rubus fruiticosus) and privet (Ligustrum vulgare) - a very different looking shrub from that grown in gardens. The development over time of a change from grass, through scrub to woodland is a process called plant succession. The spread of scrub has also been accelerated by the decline of the rabbit population following the outbreak of myxomatosis, a virus disease spread by the rabbit flea, which reached Britain in the late summer of 1953. The first wave of the disease killed a very high proportion of rabbits, but although it still persists, fewer deaths are caused because the rabbits are becoming increasingly resistant.
Longer grass and scrub provides feeding and nesting sites for more birds than shorter grass. Dunnock, linnet, robin, stonechat and yellowhammer are to be seen throughout the year, and in spring and autumn migrating birds such as blackcap, firecrest, goldcrest, whinchat, and whitethroat are to be found in the cover of the scrub.
Among the longer grasses you may see plants like the two types of mignonettes (Reseda lutea and R. luteola), mugwort (Artemisia vulgaris), wild carrot (Daucus carota), red bartsia (Odonitites verna), which is sometimes confused with heather, vipers bugloss (Echium vulgare) and yellow rattle (Rhinanthus minor agg.). These conditions are suitable for large numbers and variety of animals and are of high conservation interest for butterflies, crickets and grasshoppers.

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