It’s been a good day for migrants.  This morning Will found large numbers of small birds going through the trees catching the early morning sun.  There was a family of dramatic Spotted Flycatchers with Willow Warblers.  Les noticed 2 Redstarts near Great Betley, one probably a male.  At the bottom of Spring Hills this afternoon lots of birds were moving along a berry laden hedgerow.  Mainly Long-tailed and Blue Tits, but several Willow Warblers and I noticed at least one Lesser Whitethroat.

Four planets, three owls, two bats and a glowworm….

…. was how Mike described the Perseid walk last night!

A few drops of rain made us wonder how accurate the “clear skies” forecast had been, but apart from viewing some rather spectacular lighting to the north, we were under a cloudless sky once we reached the Adur. Fantastic views of Venus, Jupiter, Saturn and Mars – ID all confirmed by Steve’s Skymap app – followed by several sightings of Barn Owls. A “lump” sitting on a post on a distant bridge turned out to be a Little Owl. The third owl was a Tawny, having a screech from trees at Betley Bridge.

Actually there were more than two bats! Roger’s very snazzy bat detector found Pipistrelle, Soprano Pipistrelle and Noctule – may have been more.

But only one glowworm. Shining brightly just south of the bridge. It gave us hope that there would be plenty more along the track, but that was it.

As for the Perseid meteors, only a few flashes, and I’m not sure I saw one. Keep looking out, because there should be more over the weekend.

Swifts at Stokes – at last!

Noticed yesterday that Swifts were entering and staying in one of the 4 boxes at Stokes newsagents in the High Street, also that they were investigating 2 of the other boxes.  Have never noticed any activity there (other than sparrows) since the boxes were put up in 2006!

Thanks to Paula for the pic which she took a day or so later.

Swifts and “our” Barn Owls

The local Swifts briefly stayed in formation last night – managed to count 22 high over the church!

Tuesday a ringer with the appropriate schedule 1 licence, myself and a member of the Woodland Flora & Fauna Group were out ringing Barn Owls in their boxes around the Sayers Common/Albourne area.  Persuaded the others to come across to look at the Henfield Birdwatch owl box, in which we found 5 healthy chicks, 3 males, 2 females.  One had already been out and about – its feet were clean because it had been scuffling around in the grass.

Nightjars Episode 2

Angela T and myself headed over to Heyshott Common on the evening of 28th June.

We walked round the Common we heard a Linnet singing, plenty of Song Thrushes and a persistent Yellowhammer.   A Green Woodpecker called, then we found it sitting on a small tree.  In a boggy patch we found some cottongrass and bog asphodel,

and also found some white cross-leaved heath among the more usual pink.  We stopped where there was a clearing, and noticed a juvenile Stonechat close by doing a bit of “flycatching” for a considerable time in the fading light. The evening glow also illuminated a lovely roe deer stag not far away.

After some brief tuning-up  about 9.20,  churring started in earnest at 9.40, with a very vocal male in the pine trees to the west.  A female flew low across the clearing under the wires, and the male patrolled around, churring and wing clapping, at one stage churring in a tree only a few metres away. Had one excellent view of the male flying across the clearing, again pretty close, wing patches clearly visible, another couple of views of a/the female as well as several fleeting glimpses of the male as it moved from one stopping point to another.

Nightjar Outing

10 of us made the trip to Ambersham Common on the 19th June. We had a little potter around Heyshott Common, the other side of the road, where we heard Woodlark, Yellowhammers and Linnets singing, followed by a sighting of a smart male Stonechat. On the short walk back up to Ambersham we heard a Song Thrush singing beautifully just above us in a pine tree. We headed up to the top of the hill and waited until, almost on the dot at 9.30, a single Nightjar started churring …. then stopped! About ¼ hour later it started again, then stopped and started as it moved around the cleared area. There were two heard there, possibly a third, About 10.15 we started back to the cars, but churring was coming from Heyshott too, so 2/3 of the party relocated there where we heard 3 different birds, and a lot of wing clapping going on in the dark area between us and the distant trees. We probably should have stayed that side of the road instead!

Herons, Lapwings, Hirundines & Nightingales

There are 3 nests in the heronry near the Downslink, looks like at least 2 young in 1 nest, 1 in another, and could only see an adult on the 3rd.

An SOS member who lives at Steyning emailed to say that he counted 13 Lapwing with 7 young on the big field south of the mill stream yesterday morning, and saw a Barn Owl carrying rodent prey.  Excellent news!

Hazel has counted about 20 House Martins over the newest part of the Deer Park Estate and Peter says “‘Our’ Swifts are back – up to 5 circling the house at various times, hopefully checking out the nest boxes”.

And Will and Val reckon there are c33 Nightingale territories in “Greater Henfield”! i.e roughly the western 2/3 of TQ21 (and a bit of TQ22) including, Shermanbury, Wineham, Twineham, Henfield, Small Dole, Oreham, Edburton & Perching Sands.  Seems a funny year, in that some of the more regular haunts don’t have quite as many, yet they are turning up in other spots but possibly then moving somewhere else in the vicinity.


After three “nightingale drives”, plus adding in the birds heard by others the estimated total of Nightingales in our survey area was 33.  This total is from a wide sweep of Henfield/Small Dole/Edburton Sands/Twineham/Wineham/Shermanbury, roughly the western 2/3 of 10km square TQ21, approx 60 sq km.