In late August a team of 20 volunteer ecologists undertook the first ever comprehensive habitat mapping of the Brede Valley. The data from the survey will be written up and presented in the form of a map and made widely available. The volunteers were all staff from The Ecology Consultancy, Local landowners were helpful in facilitating access for the project and providing camping accommodation. The team covered the majority of the land between Doleham and Winchelsea Station below the 5 m contour.
Whilst in general the grazing meadows proved to be of restricted interest, some of the ditches, of which there is an abundance, and other wetland areas were of more interest. Seven species of pond weed Potamogeton spp were found including flat stalked pond weed, which is uncommon nationally and with no other recent records in East Sussex, along with rootless duckweed Wolffia arrhiza the UKs smallest flowering plant and a local specialty.
Invertebrates were surveyed in the extreme west and in the central part of the valley. In the west the tall fen habitats ‘tick the right boxes’ for several groups of flies including the snail killing flies (Sciomyzidae). In the central areas the main interest was the ditches and their water beetles. Samples from both sites are currently being identified but invertebrate ecologist Graham Hopkins has high hopes of some very interesting discoveries.
The Ecology Consultancy team plan to visit the area again in 2010 and subsequent years in order to extend the mapping to as much of the valley as possible. Consultation with interested parties will take place over the winter to ensure that local naturalists are involved and help guide the process. Important wildlife features will be highlighted with the general aim being to provide guidance to landowners as to where nature conservation benefit can be best and most easily achieved.
Oenanthe fistulosa – relatively common in the ditches of the Brede valley.
Sparganium erectum a common plant in the Brede Valley ditches.
The Brede Valley comprises miles of valuable ditch habitat.