This year’s Henfield Birdwatch Big Bash took place between September 25th to 29th, with the objective of recording as many species of birds as possible in the village over the five days. The previous record stood at 62 species and the aim was to see if this could be beaten, and it was to be Mike Russell that got the event underway on Friday evening, leading a group from Woods Mill and along the Mill Stream. Highlights of this first walk were a small flock of Yellow Wagtails, a Sparrowhawk and Tawny Owls calling from Woods Mill. The end result was 30 birds recorded; a solid if not spectacular start to proceedings.
The following day saw a three pronged attack, with Paul Cole leading a group up the Downslink and back down the river, Nigel Colgate covering Wantley, both in the morning, whilst Mike went out again in the evening covering the same area as the night before. More new species were added to the list: a Hobby over the river, a Little Egret at New Inn Farm, a Treecreeper on Nigel’s patch, Grey Wagtail at Woods Mill and a Snipe further along the Mill Stream. With new birds being added to the list all the time, things were starting to look promising. Indeed, at the end of the first two days the running total now stood at 57 birds seen or heard.
Next up was Will Green, who undertook to see what he could see on Henfield Common and in Woodmancote. He found two species that hadn’t been ticked yet, Pheasant and Mistle Thrush on his way to a solid 36. We were now on 59, just four short of a new record.
The final expedition, led by Val Bentley, had been pushed back to Tuesday, but in the meantime Mike and Lesley Milward had been busy checking out their garden every morning. Proving that you don’t have to look much further than your own doorstep, they amassed 42 species. This included some exciting Finch action with Siskin, Greenfinch and Crossbill passing overhead, and joining them was a passing Raven. And there they were, the four we needed and the record was broken!
So Val Bentley headed off on the Tuesday morning walk with the pressure off and a chance to put some icing on the cake. This she certainly did, not only adding several birds that hadn’t been seen so far, but also recording the highest total of any of the groups – 45. This included Whinchat (a scarce migrant in these parts) and a dashing Kingfisher.
With the total at the end of the five days at 67 the record was beaten by five, with some excellent birds seen or heard in the process and a good time had by all. As ever, it’s the taking part that counts and a big thank you to all those who did come out and brave the at times blustery conditions. After such a long enforced lay-off it was brilliant to get the members out on organised walks once more, and hopefully it won’t be too long before we can do it all over again!