Today’s eyes and ears belonged to Angela T, Chris & Ann, David and Maureen F, Hazel and myself. Beautiful sunny day, but boy was that wind cold as we neared Stretham!

A tuneful start with a Dunnock singing just the other side of the road, several Song Thrushes, Wrens and Robins in serenade mode, and a couple of drumming Great Spotted Woodpeckers. Floods were high again, so we stuck to the railway line, hearing a few Redwings and noting Blackbirds feeding on the ivy berries. On the water we had reasonable views of Tufted Ducks and Coots, Chris noticed a Jay along the embankment, and we all were able to get the Treecreeper working its way along a branch.

Didn’t appear to be too much near Rye Farm, but further down Teal must have numbered about 400, with good numbers of Wigeon and Pintail, a few more Tufties and some Shoveler. A flock of Lapwing went over – we only counted about 20, but reckoned more preceded them. Gulls were Black-headed and Herring and a very white-headed Cormorant was sitting on one of the shooting blinds. Two Grey Herons were actually standing at the nests and another 4 loafing around nearby. By the stream were loads of Wigeon and a small group of Egyptian Geese. Some of these have been seen elsewhere in Sussex already with goslings, but none noted here.

It was 11:15 by the time we got to the Streatham where we heard a Goldcrest singing, (how did we take that long?), the wind was cold, and I wasn’t sure whether the path at New Inn would be passable, so we retraced our steps, finding a Little Egret on the east side. Dave & Maureen had to head back, but the rest of us diverted down to the Rye Farm track where we found Gadwall on the water to the west, saw two Kestrels being mobbed by a crow, and at least 5 Chiffchaffs over the pools. The Marsh Marigolds were in flower, and when I downloaded a photo I noticed there was a ladybird hiding at the top of a stem. Chris and Ann were tempted towards The Cabin, so Angela and I walked back up the track, hearing a Tawny Owl and at last finding Siskins – at least two in trees on the east side.

Splendid walk with the added amusement of several of us recording a few things for the Henfield Nature Challenge – it’s getting a bit competitive! Thanks to all for coming.

Val Bentley, 12th February 2024