Highwoods Preservation Society Reg. Charity No: 282289
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Highwoods' year of achievement

COMPLETION of the Tesco Bags-of-help access-for-all trail, the extension to the car park and the asphalting of its central strip highlighted a year of solid achievement for Highwoods Preservation Society, outlined at its annual general meeting.

Praising the commitment of work-party volunteers, woodland warden Alan Dengate said that with 14 or more on some mornings a great number of tasks had been completed including putting the finishing touches to the professionally-laid Bags-of-help trail and contractual work in the car park which had yielded about 15 extra places.

Last year's fungus season had been good and this year's had started so early that he had fitted in an additional fungi foray. Recent sightings had included Horn of Plenty, Yellow Brittlegill and Elfin Saddle fungus.

The two forest schools operated in the woods. Cub Scouts and two primary schools and Cub Scouts had used them. The meeting at Little Common Methodist Church Hall on Saturday, September 30th heard that Alexis Markwick had designed new maps showing the footpaths and horse trail. Examples had been placed at the main entrance and would be erected elsewhere. In his report as outgoing treasurer, Alan Dengate said £29,933 had been spent during the past year on projects in the woods.

There are clever bats and dim bats, fast bats and slow-fliers but all are utterly fascinating Jenny Clark of the Sussex Bat Group told the meeting. Jenny has been caring for bats for 40 years. Some of the injured bats brought to her can be healed by loving care and the gentle application of Manuka honey to the wound. Others, like “Sophie,” a Serotine bat she named after her granddaughter 18 years ago, can never be released.

Jenny quickly dispelled myths about bats. Not only are they totally harmless to humans but, handled correctly and calmly, enjoy being stroked and petted. Jenny detailed the many investigations she makes on every injured animal brought to her. She outlined how each cured patient has to pass her flight test before being assessed as fit for release. In an often amusing and always informative address she explained how she hand-rears orphans; how by gentle stroking a bat can be put in a virtual trance and how those bats which have to remain in her care have to have their nails clipped regularly!

Just as each species echo-locates on a different frequency and so can be identified in flight by use of an electronic bat detector, so each species leaves a distinctively different dropping. Bats are marsupials. New-born young have to climb from mother's pouch to reach her nipples. For 10 days whilst being fed by mother they must cling to her during flight. Their early life is a steep learning-curve, copying mother to learn to fly and to hunt. Among revelations was the fact that bats have four ears. Time flew as fast as a hungry bat after a moth as members plied Jenny with question after question and Jenny produced bat after bat from their baskets and showed them around the room.
Highwoods SSSI