An Urban Refuge

By day……

Even in the bustling centre of Brighton and Hove our city is home to an abundance of wildlife, much of which is struggling elsewhere in the landscape. Our Herring Gulls and Starlings, that give our city so much of its unique character, providing the soundtrack to our days and gifting us natural spectacles such as the winter Starling murmurations are in fact in serious decline globally and are red listed as a result, as species of serious conservation concern.

(Image Steve Geliot c)

Murmurating Starlings (Steve Geliot c)

Across our city’s green spaces B-banks have been constructed, chalk banks or scrapes populated with Chalk Grassland specialist plants which offer food and refuge to a myriad of Downland invertebrates. These inner city oases act as stepping stones for wildlife to move through the city and out onto the Downs.

A recent study of our city’s B banks by Ecological Surveyor Graeme Lyons found more species with conservation status than the average nature reserve he surveys. This is an incredible result!

The Liz Williams Butterfly Haven located in the grounds of Dorothy Stringer School is an excellent example of this approach to habitat creation’s potential for bringing the Downs back into our backyard.

The Changing Chalk project will be building more B Banks across our city over the coming years. Find out more…

Our city’s ponds host Emperor and Southern Hawker Dragonflies, Great Diving Beetles, Common Toads, Common Frogs, Great Crested, Palmate and Smooth Newts. Many of these species disperse out into the wider landscape and can often be found some way from their breeding ponds outside of the breeding season.

Viviparous (Common) Lizards, Slow Worms, Grass Snakes and Adders can be found in parks, gardens and nature reserves across Brighton and Hove. These species need to bask to fulfil their metabolic needs, and are best seen on the edges of scrub and grassland in mid-morning and mid-afternoon in Spring and Autumn on warm but slightly overcast days.

By night…….

As dusk descends, Noctule, Serotine, Common and Soprano Pipistrelle Bats can be found fluttering about in our gardens and city parks, chasing flying invertebrates, eating everything from tiny midges to large beetles and Hawkmoths. It is estimated that a Common Pipistrelle Bat can consume as many as 3,000 mosquitos in a single night!

(Video- Steve Geliot c)

Moths come in a fantastic array of different colours, shapes and sizes, with equally wondrous names, from Rosy Footman, Green Angle Shades and Mother Shipton to Hummingbird, Elephant, and Death’s Head Hawkmoths. While most moths nocturnal, many others are day flying. Just like our bees and butterflies they are important pollinators and act as vital food sources for everything from bats to Blue Tits.

Hummingbird Hawkmoth- Kim Greaves c

Red Foxes, European Hedgehogs and European Badgers all patrol our streets and green spaces. In the wider landscape these mammals are accompanied by Brown Rats, Woodmice, Harvest Mice, Yellow-necked Mice, Common and Pygmy Shrews, Bank and Field Voles and Hazel Dormice.

(Video- Steve Geliot c)

On the urban fringe we still have Glow Worms on many sites such as Southwick Hill, Hollingbury, Wild Park and Waterhall. Constellations of these snail-and-slug eating beetles can be seen glowing amongst the grassland as night descends between June and August.

Watch this feature on Brighton’s urban Red Foxes on BBC Winterwatch

“BHWF looks forward to a future where nature and our community live together to our mutual benefit, enabling our city to play its part in addressing the nature and climate crises.”

Last updated 25 February 2021