Wildlife of the Cuckmere Valley

This is a view of the Cuckmere Valley in flood as seen from the Litlington Whitehorse

The Cuckmere Valley is great place for wildlife. This is partly due to range of diverse range of habitats found on the floodplain - a mix of fresh and salt water, ponds, ditches and the fast-flowing river. It is one of the best sites in Sussex for dragonflies that thrive in the water meadows, with a key colony of small red-eyed damselfly present in the valley.

Twice a day the tide falls and rises bringing with it grey mullet feeding on the bank side algae.  During very rainy periods the area around Burnt House Brooks floods, creating wetter grassland conditions for plants such as marsh marigold .

Why not check out the creatures in the ponds and try to find some frogspawn?
A close up image of a tiny frog in the hands of a child

During the winter when water levels are higher there lots of wildfowl to be spotted including teal, wigeon and the ever present Canada goose feeding on seeds and plant material. Grey heron and little egret are found all year round and nest in the trees of nearby Friston Forest

A mal teal
A male teal in its breeding plumage

The chalk downland of the High and Over river cliff and Cradle Valley are great sites for rare butterflies and other insects with the wall brown, small blue, silver-spotted skipper thriving along with occasional appearances from the grayling.

A Wall brown butterfly
A wall brown butterfly

The downland around the valley is full of chalk grassland flowers which include kidney vetch, the rare burnt tip orchid and the pride of Sussex - round headed rampion.

Round headed rampion, a Sussex speciality that is abundant here in July
The glorious purple blue of a spiky round headed rampion flower on a chalk grassland hillside, a Sussex speciality

On the valley floor there is a large population of the uncommon red star thistle. It is considered native to Sussex but in the rest of the UK it is thought to have been introduced by the dumping of ship’s ballast in the 19th century.