Memories of the 2016 SWOF event

What a great time we had in May 2016; snorkelling, cycling, walking, stargazing,owls, bats, animals, plants and wonderful weather.

Here are a few photographs of the event:

On Tuesday, we walked along the Selsey Tram Way, ending at the Chichester canal basin cafe.

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A popular long walk in the festival is from East Head to Selsey, helped by a minibus lift to West Wittering. We walked along the shore and then turned into the Medmerry  Sea Defence Scheme to see how the environment has changed since the area was flooded in 2013.

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Thanks to Sir Patrick Moore, Selsey is synonymous with astronomy. Dr John Mason was inspired by Sir Patrick, worked with him, and has become an internationally renowned astronomer. We were fortunate to have Dr Mason give us an inspirational guide to the stars whilst walking along the Selsey foreshore which is still blessed with low artificial light.  Dr Mason talked to us about the Dark Skies initiative in the South Downs National Park, and also discussed the importance of properly controlled street lighting, showing us the difference between Bognor and Littlehampton.

night sky

Sadly, none of us brought our low light cameras so all we have are black photos! This is a recurrent problem for what is a regular part of our festival, and one which we always enjoy.

For the first time in our festival, we had a visit to Owls about Town, a private owl rescue sanctuary in Selsey. We visited the ‘Parliament of

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Different eye owl

Owls’ in their aviaries, including Winston Churchill, Maggie Thatcher, and Denis Healey and Zsi introduced us to Boris Johnson, the friendly Tawny Frogmouth.

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Then owners Andy and Zsi brought out the more sociable owls, and out them through their paces.

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Finally, bolder members of the group were invited to handle the birds for themselves. This encounter with these amazing creatures was highly memorable, and the visit will definitely be repeated in future festivals.

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Selsey is surrounded by fantastic nature trails, sea, fields and nature reserves. The programme had a number of events to demonstrate this and we were fortunate to have two experts from the Manhood Wildlife and Heritage Group give us a wonderful introduction to our natural surroundings as part of their presentation on the bat life in the area.

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Sarah produced a number of bat detectors which were adroitly handled by the group, some of whom seemed rather anxious about that they might detect. Finally we were all delighted to see and hear the bats skilfully hunting for their dinner.

Our guide, Richard, didn’t need a hat. Sarah told us bats getting caught up in your hair is an urban myth!

Cycle rides form a regular part of the festival, and the sun shone on the intrepid cyclists who peddled from Selsey across Medmerry and along the Salterns way to Itchenor  – and back again.

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   Another first in 2016 was Jill Sutcliffe’s Wildflower Walk, a successful walk that will be repeated.

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You can contact us at:  selseywalkingfestival@gmail.com,

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