West Sussex has an array of different habitats to explore, from salt marshes, heathland, and chalk grassland to ancient woodland, sand dunes & river valleys.
In each you’ll find specialist species, rare or unusual creatures and in some special places a joyful abundance of all. Spending time in the Sussex countryside will certainly reveal some of natures’ secrets but if you are new to the area or short of time you could consider a guided tour which will get you straight to the heart of the action. Here is our pick of our favourite Sussex wildlife experiences:
The Knepp Estate has made an incredible impact on ecology. It used to be an intensively farmed arable & dairy farm. The farm was failing and in the year 2000 they took the radical decision to sell off all of the farm equipment and begin the process of rewilding the land. Fast forward to today and you’ll find that the Knepp Wildland is now home to rare species, the land is regaining diversity and it is lauded as one of the most influential and remarkable conservation projects in the world. Footpaths crisscross the Estate so you can easily go and visit and soak up the extraordinary atmosphere. Alternatively, you can book onto one of the myriad of wildlife tours that they have on offer. You’ll be led around the Estate by an experienced and knowledgeable guide who will take you off the paths to the wildlife hot spots and you’ll be able to see some of our rarest native wildlife for yourself.
Wildlife Boat Trips in Chichester Harbour
Chichester Harbour is a Site of Special Scientific Interest and an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Rich with wildlife, and including rare salt marsh habitat, it’s teeming with life and there’s no better way to explore it than by boat. Chichester Harbour Conservancy boat trips are available on their solar powered boat the Solar Heritage or the restored Victorian wooden sailing boat, The Terror. The Solar Heritage glides quietly through the harbour without disturbing the wildlife. You’ll see a fantastic range of bird species and possibly the growing seal colony who live in the Harbour. The boat is suitable for large groups and can take up to 50 people. It’s an accessible wildlife trip in Sussex with access to the boat for wheelchairs with a lift to the deck. The Terror takes up to 6 people for skippered harbour trips, a wonderful experience run by local volunteers. Chichester Harbour Water Tours also run guided trips around the harbour with smaller boats taking up to 12 people to see the sights and wildlife of the harbour.
Wildlife in Sussex
If you would like to see our local wildlife then starting at one of the nature reserves near to Chichester is a good start. We came across this baby deer by taking a stroll in the woods one day. Sometimes you just have to be in the right place at the right time!
From the RSPB reserve at Pagham, chalk grassland with spectacular views at Harting Down or the ancient woodland of Kingley Vale.
There are also many different guided wildlife tours in Sussex searching out butterflies and birds, mammals and marine life. You can join a group tour or you can create a bespoke tour with local experts such as South Downs Wildlife who know all the best spots and can cater for your particular interests.
Wildlife at Oakwood West
If you’re visiting Oakwood West, you will get the chance to spend time next to our wildlife meadow, full of wildflowers, insects and excitingly it is a hunting ground for barn owls. Meadow Hide has the best views of the meadow. It is an accessible holiday lodge; our guests have had some incredible viewings of the barn owl from the comfort of their sofa and from the lovely nook, pictured below, in the master bedroom. A short journey down the road will take you into our woodland which we are enhancing for the benefit of wildlife. Spend some time underneath the trees and you’ll see deer, birds, and butterflies galore. We’re all avid nature enthusiasts here. Stop and have a chat with us or send us a message about the ongoing renaturing project at Oakwood or anything to do with wildlife in Sussex. We’re always happy to talk about nature and will share with you our personal recommendations on where we go to see wildlife.
Find out more about Oakwood West Holidays, Chichester