Took the usual “summer” route along the railway, then under the arch and through the fields.  As we stood near the arch Dave spotted a Treecreeper – always good to see one of these! On the narrow path there was a lot of orange balsam, seems more prolific this year, and in the field near the railway line, lots of purple loosestrife.  From the fields we could see some Herons and a Little Egret, and there was a family of House Sparrows.  A little further on we heard something quite unusual for this walk – a Tawny Owl!  Also got nice views of a singing male Linnet, and we heard  Reed Buntings, Reed Warblers and Whitethroats, then a Greenfinch.  In fact we heard Greenfinches at several points along the walk.  A Kestrel was perched on one of the shooting blinds.

Back on the railway line we  heard a group of Long-tailed Tits, and were delighted to see one of the Egret nests had three gangly youngsters in it!  Poor photo, but they did look cute.

One of the other nests had at least one youngster and the third probably did too, but it was tucked a long way into the tree.  Along the river, were several Skylarks, a singing Meadow Pipit (quite unusual here) and at the overflow pit a Reed Warbler and Sedge Warbler singing at the same time, giving us a good opportunity to note the difference in songs.

A Moorhen called from Sam’s pond, and a lovely family group of Swallows were flying around as we went up the track past Leeches, then we finally added Robin to the day’s list when a juvenile was hopping around on the path in front of us.  However, we did fail to get Mute Swan and Mallard!

Butterflies seen were Meadow Brown, Gatekeeper, Large, Small & Marbled Whites, Comma & Red Admiral, and there was also a Broad Bodied Chaser.

Frankie made it at last!  On the 4th attempt to come on the Nightjar visit, she joined me, Ian, Mary, Sharon & Brody for the annual trip to Heyshott Common on the 21st.  Really difficult driving into the low sun, but we made it and had a wander around for about ¾ hour, seeing Stonechats and hearing a Tree Pipit’s lovely descending call and a frustratingly close Yellowhammer which was singing but refusing to show itself.  Brody noticed a large caterpillar on the path – Ian identified it as of an Emperor moth.

Looked as though there was some problem with one end of it, but it was moved to safety.  We noticed someone had set up some recording equipment near where we planned to stand.

About 9.20 we stationed ourselves where I had heard a Nightjar churring on a branch very close by a couple of weeks ago, and after a hesitant start we started to hear some flight calls, then  3 or 4 were churring, and we got some pretty good views of some in flight.  Two were quite close to us, and I think it was Sharon, Frankie and Brody who managed to see one sitting on top of a nearby bush.  Of course, I just saw it fly off!

As we left soon after 10, we realised that the sound equipment was with David L, and hoped that our chatter didn’t spoil the recordings!

We took the route back to the A272 via the very narrow road, ignoring lots of road closed signs – it wasn’t – and winced on Ian’s behalf every time a moth splattered itself against the car!

Highlights of this month’s walk with Ian & Angela to Stretham and along the river to New Inn and back were a couple of calling Bullfinches at the start, lots of Skylarks, some Reed Buntings giving themselves away by singing but remaining invisible, juvenile Grey Herons, Little Egrets on 2 nests, a Lapwing in the overflow pit, and a female Marsh Harrier over the brooks, driven off by corvids before any successful photos could be taken! 45 bird species seen or heard, and Ian took some lovely photos of a Meadow Brown butterfly and Silver Y moth. The Lapwing pic shows that what looks like a black and white bird from a distance actually sports a whole palette of colours!

My second Bash walk of the weekend today, in “Area 9”. Extremely windy unfortunately, but we still managed to find 40 different species – including House Martin, Swift, Cetti’s Warbler and Kestrel which “Area 4” failed to provide! We didn’t find a Dunnock today, but of course one was singing nearby this afternoon. Whitethroats seem to be doing well, and we noted Speckled Wood butterfly and Common Blue Damselfly as well as Beautiful Demoiselles, which didn’t stay still long enough for a pic!

Eight of us were on Paul’s walk this morning – unfortunately Paul wasn’t one of them, as he was suffering from a poorly foot!  So starting off were myself, Angela, Hazel, Mark & Hannah (with George the setter) Daniel and son Sam (age 10) – Sam’s Mum Sharon swapped with Daniel  just over half way round.

Among the birds we saw from the car park was a Heron which surprisingly flew over very low – maybe after a garden fish pond?  Not long after the guide hut a Nightingale was singing on the left – the only one we heard today.  A bit further on and a Whitethroat treated us to a wonderful singing and flight display, and there was a quiet Yellowhammer lurking nearby.  Heard a distant Cuckoo to the east, and that was probably the bird Mark saw fly across a field by Little Betley.    Near the bridge a Reed Warbler was singing in a ditch to the east, and we saw a Red Kite.  Along the first part of the riverbank Sam spotted a bird in a bare tree – it was the Cuckoo, so were able to get ‘scope views, as we were of a Yellowhammer and Reed Bunting on the northern bank.  Just before the bend of the river we had amazing views of a Barn Owl hunting over the adjacent field, including a catch, when it dropped down into the long grass and after  about a minute, came up with something round and dark in its talons.

Turning south, a very smart male Linnet looked stunning in the scope, and I spotted a distant Lapwing in a ploughed field.  Then one rose up from just the other side of the river and was displaying beautifully, really close. We heard Green Woodpecker, Greenfinch and Moorhen, and a Mute Swan was sitting on a nest on the other bank.  Finally saw a Buzzard as we neared New Inn Farm, and a Swallow flew over.  There were a few more flying around Canons.

Along the bridleway there was a brief glimpse of a Jay in flight, and we finished with a “buy one get one free” set of wagtails as we got back to the village – a Pied Wagtail on the roof of Acacia Rentals, then a colourful Grey Wagtail at Grommetts.

Species total was 47.  Which we managed without Nuthatch, Long-tailed Tit or Goldcrest.  Though one of the latter was singing in our hedge and House Martins were chattering overhead as soon as I got home.  Super walk, thanks to all for their company and spotting!



A super walk with Angela T, Hazel and Sharon J along the Downslink to Stretham and back along the river , kicking off with Goldcrest and Nightingale right at the start, then we heard strange sounds coming from a hole in a tree, stood watching for a while and then a Great Spot came shooting out, so it must have been feeding nestlings. In the field to the right we saw a Kestrel hovering, and had good views of a Whitethroat, which appeared to be carrying a feather for nest-building – a notch up on the BirdTrack data. Hazel heard a distant Cuckoo to the east, and on the fields were Mallards, Little Egrets and rather surprisingly a pair of Shelducks. There was also a group of what looked like juvenile wildfowl with them, but they weren’t right for Shelduck young, just plain brown, so maybe a group of well grown Mallard ducklings. Though we tried they had scuttled off into the grass and we couldn’t find them again. A Mute Swan was on a nest on the far side of the field, one pair of Greylag Geese had 4 goslings, we heard Reed Warbler and Reed Bunting song, saw a Swallow and two House Martins over the fields, but – oh joy – at least a dozen Swifts overhead, with those lovely screaming sounds of summer. At the heronry there was quite a lot of noise and activity and, as Mike noted from his walk, now two Little Egret nests, though one was more hidden.
Breezier and quieter along the riverbank, though we added Linnet and a Cetti’s Warbler near the overflow pit, which also held another singing Reed Warbler, and as we neared New Inn a Green Woodpecker called, we heard the Rooks from the rookery near Sharon’s and saw the only Buzzard of the day.
BirdTrack tells me we saw 48 different species. How could we have walked so far and not picked up Great Tit or Nuthatch?
10 of us + Maya the collie at Ferring this morning; We met Ferring birder Clive at the beach at 9.30, and a little later another Ferring resident, David, was able to join us for a while. There was nothing to be seen out to sea, though Clive reported Wheatears, a group of Whimbrels and several Sandwich Terns earlier – of course!
Along the Rife spring migrants and residents were singing very well; among them were Song Thrushes, Greenfinches, Robins, Blackcaps Chiffchaffs and Willow Warblers. Several of us got to see the Willow Warbler as it sang, which was delightful. Grey Herons were coming & going, and a Little Egret was looking extremely photogenic, even holding its yellow foot up for everyone to see! A Sparrowhawk flew over, as did a couple of Swallows, and in the fields to the west Skylarks were serenading. Scratchy song of Whitethroat heard too. A Buzzard went over while we were enjoying a cuppa at the Ferring Country Centre.
Back at the beach a Great Crested Grebe was about the only bird on the water, and some Brent Geese did a flypast.
Lovely warm morning, good company, and special thanks to Clive for showing us around his local patch – the only disappointment for me was the lack of choice of cakes at the country centre!
Thanks to Ian for photos of Greenfinch, Little Egret and butterfly, Goldfinch pic is mine.
ovely warm morning, good company, and special thanks to Clive for showing us around his local patch – the only disappointment for me was the lack of choice of cakes at the country centre!
Belated report from the Monday walk! Myself, Angela, Hazel, Ian, Maggie and, joining us for a walk for the first time, Pat N. 44 species seen or heard.
From the start we were serenaded by Chiffchaffs – very rarely were we out of earshot of one. Song Thrushes in good voice too. At the “crossroads” we watched a cheeky Jackdaw with a beakful of nesting material disappear down into the chimney of Victoria House, and heard the wheeze of a Greenfinch. Still some ducks on the water to the west – about 20 Teal, 30 Shoveler and 40 Wigeon. One pair of Pintail noticed, and a couple of Lapwing. Down by the heronry 3 Grey Herons were loafing around by the stream, with a Little Egret. Could have been one heron sitting on the nest, but not sure. Three Cormorants in the oak tree, looked like immature birds, but were they sitting by nests.
As we neared Stretham a Blackcap broke into song in the trees, and along the river we heard a Reed Bunting in song, but unusually it was hiding and we could find it – normally they sit at the top of a bush. A pair of Egyptian Geese took off and flew east – what a strange noise they make! The overflow pit wasn’t showing any emergent vegetation yet so the swans were looking a bit bored – if they’d started nest building, they would have been flooded out. A group of 4 Linnets flew up from the brambles by the river, then one was briefly heard singing on Sharon J’s land. Two Lesser-Black-backed Gulls landed near New Inn.
Coming back along the bridleway a Brimstone butterfly zipped past, and we saw a Red Kite over Canons. Ian took a fabulous photo of the Skunk Cabbage in the ponds. It’s an invasive American species, introduced into the UK in 1947 – banned from sale here in 2016. According to an American website it’s useful to dissuade squirrels from eating your corn or raccoons getting into your tomatoes! One of our members had been working on a protein it produces which results in a release of heat from the plants which is now proving invaluable in the treatment of African sleeping sickness and has potential for the treatment of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases – amazing what you can learn!