The Week’s other highlights

Wed 6th (from Val): The usual good numbers of geese and gulls on the brooks, with about 50 Lapwing and two larger grey waders with heads tucked into their backs.  Wondered what they were when one raised its head and flapped its wings – Black-tailed Godwits.

Sat  9th (from Peter & Penny): The flood water is back around Rye Farm and lots of birds have moved in – 100+ Canada Geese, large flock of Fieldfares, family of Swans, Mallards, Wigeon, Heron, loads of gulls and  2 or 3 pairs of Tufted Duck (first ones recorded this year).  A pair of Stonechats in the reeds by the barn conversion at this end of the track

Sun 10th (from Paul): Around Betley were good numbers of  geese and Wigeon, plus a pair of Shoveler. In the field behind Bishop Park were approx. 250 Black-headed Gulls with a lone Common Gull. Despite much scanning with fingers crossed there wasn’t a single Med Gull in with them!

More Black Redstarts

Paul found 2 on the Bishop Park estate on Sunday, which Paula managed to photograph against a remarkable blue sky, and on Nige’s area walk on Tuesday 5th another was just to the north of Park Farm – sitting on a fence with a Stonechat and 4 Meadow Pipits.

Black Redstart 27th October

Paul took his usual route on the 27th, heading up to Betley bridge and then back down the river. A mini-flock of three Mistle Thrushes were moving around the east end of Stonepit Lane, a Kingfisher shot under the bridge at Betley and there were 50ish Wigeon and a pair of Gadwall on the floods west of the river alongside the Mallards and Greylags. Also seen on the way back along Stonepit Lane were three Goldcrests, a Nuthatch and a Coal Tit. Arriving back at Bishop Park he noticed a small dusky bird flitting around the posts that line the road on the central footpath area. All of a sudden its quivering red tail became clear….  a Black Redstart! It flew off north and despite keeping an eye out all day it appeared to have quickly moved on. A great end to a lovely walk in (at last) some decent weather.

Big Bird Bash – September

Nige, Angela B, Brian S, myself and Maya on the final Big Bird Bash walk on 30th September. We were so lucky to have a dry still day when the others battled with wind and/or rain. 52 different species seen, including two major highlights, Kingfisher and Whinchat. Both of the Saturday walk teams saw Spotted Flycatchers which were migrating south through our area. The total for the weekend was the same as the June bash at 62, but with a few different species the combined total for the 2 weekends was 72.  Amazing how many species we have in the patch.  And the winter visitors are yet to arrive!


Yellow Wags

Have been staring at herds of cattle for several weeks now (people think you’re off your head!), but it’s finally paid off.  A flock of Yellow Wags seen at Cissbury on Sunday and now two along the river on 20/9 between Betley and Chates on their way to winter in Africa.

I admit they were on the opposite river bank and aren’t nearly as yellow as Grey Wags, but these could be our first Henfield record of the species for 2019?  Also Kingfisher in same stretch of river yesterday.


September in Area 9

A good call to postpone the walk. The mist was clinging rather poetically to a spider’s web suspended between outer twigs of a tree. About 20 Swallows were flying over the fields, in some hawthorn bushes Angela & I saw at least 4 male Blackcaps, a brief view of what I’m pretty sure was a Garden Warbler, and then a Lesser Whitethroat showed nicely for several minutes on a low branch – affording a “record” shot.

As we headed up river from Stretham, Meadow Pipits were pipitting around and we saw a female Reed Bunting. A lone heron was by the overflow pit, the family of Mute Swans only had 2 young with them this month, we saw 2 Teal, and heard Coot & Moorhen. A bit further along there were Chiffchaffs, Whitethroats and a sunbathing Wren in some cut, dead branches lying on the grass, and another flock of hirundines passed over – this time a mixture of Swallows and House Martins.

Final sightings were 2 Buzzards flying across the Rye Farm track and then a flash of orange alerted us to a Clouded Yellow butterfly feeding on thistles and buddleia.

White Storks

Apparently 24 juvenile White Storks were released at Knepp last week.  Debbie & Nigel saw 20 of these over the High Street this morning (21st) and others saw varying numbers.  I missed these but got my first Kingfisher of the year down near the Adur confluence!

Perseid walk 13th August

Astonishingly there were 14 of us on the annual August evening walk. Along Stonepit Lane we stopped to look across the fields towards the monastery, which probably had breeding Peregrines this year, and features in Peter James newest book.

By the river I set up my ‘scope to look at the clear bright moon – eliciting a “Wow” from Bella (Louise’s 11 year old daughter) – the craters looked fabulous, and we could just about see Jupiter (?) with 2 of its moons. Disappointingly though not a single Barn Owl was seen out hunting, the first time ever for one of these walks. We did hear a Tawny hooting though.

Just before Betley Bridge the first Glow Worm of the evening in the grass was spotted – Louise & Bella both saw it first!! At the bridge Louise finally got to grips with her state-of-the-art bat detector, and was able to reveal that somewhere nearby were Common and Soprano Pipistrelles. Three more Glow Worms were spotted on the way back, and a couple of people managed to see brief streaks of Perseid meteors, but by then the sky was more hazy and stars partially obscured. There’s still a chance of seeing them until the end of August, and the best time is after midnight, when the sky is clear, so worth wandering outside if suffering from insomnia for the next week or so!

Thanks to all for coming and for the company.

Nightjar Outing

There were 5 of us (Louise, Grahame, Paul, Nige and me) for the Nightjar outing to Heyshott on 26 June, which meant we could all fit into Louise’s roomy VW.

The weather forecast had been for the wind to drop (it didn’t) and the sky to be clear (it wasn’t) but the 3rd requisite for Nightjar watching is warmth, and it was very pleasantly so. We set out for a short walk around, enjoying views of Tree Pipits and Stonechats, to the accompaniment of a singing Yellowhammer. Some finches silhouetted against the darkening sky were probably Siskins.

At about 9.45 a yip yip was heard from near the road, and churring started. Not long afterwards a bird flew and perched on a small bare branch low down on a nearby pine, and another joined it. We then had about 20 minutes of 3, sometimes 4, birds flying around where we were standing, with 1 or 2 birds returning to perch on the tree. Lovely close encounters. Nige didn’t even have to jump up and down waving the white patches on his jumper!

Many thanks to Grahame for the supply of sweets, and to Louise for being our chauffeur for the outing, and giving us a taster of her lovely rhubarb & blackberry gin afterwards!