Although I have lived in Henfield for 20 odd years, I only joined the Birdwatch in 2015 after I met Mike on the SWT Introduction to Birds and Birdwatching course.  I still feel very much a beginner compared to my fellow committee members!  My role is that of Minutes Secretary however my primary activity is to create and run the website.

I enjoy all bird watching although my particular love is for ‘garden birds’ – I’m lucky enough to have 17 species regularly visiting my garden.

Paul Cole

I have had an interest in birds and wildlife since I was a young child and love nothing more than being out in the great outdoors. My family and I moved to Henfield in the summer of 2017 and I was delighted to discover that there was a thriving birdwatching club in the village.

I have a passion for local birding and find it fascinating to build up a picture of what can be seen on your doorstep. It never fails to amaze me what you can find within just a mile of your own home. I feel lucky to live somewhere where we are surrounded by such a wealth of wildlife, and I can hopefully do my part to spread this enthusiasm to the residents of Henfield.

Lesley Milward

I’ve always been curious about birds and wildlife. I still have my Young Ornithologists badge from when I was 10, the ladybird books I frequently thumbed through as a child, and many vivid memories of spending the long summer holidays down on my grandad’s farm in North Devon. My connection with the outdoors has remained strong and I’m well aware of the therapeutic power that nature can have on our health and wellbeing. I love the idea of citizen science and try to take part in as many surveys as I can for the BTO, SOS, and RSPB. I’m also a member of the Perching Manor Survey team. We really do live in a very special village and I feel passionate about protecting the habitats and birds that also like to call our parish their home.

Val Bentley

Val describes herself as the general dogsbody, but also took on the Treasurer role in 2019.

Sussex born and bred, Val spent a few years in the West Country before returning to the county in 1986, and settling in Henfield in 1992. Seriously birdwatching since the late 70s, and bird ringing since 1983, Val has been Secretary of the Sussex Ornithological Society 3 times and is still very involved with their activities. She looks after “Area 9”, the patch including Rye Farm, and the stretch of river from Stretham to New Inn Farm, which in 2014 produced a brilliant Grey Phalarope and the village’s first Glossy Ibis in 2020!

Paula Blake

When I was eight years old, my family moved to a house on what was then the rural outskirts of Burgess Hill.  It was there in the large, wildlife friendly garden and the woodland beyond that I first developed a passion for birds and other wildlife.  Later we moved to Small Dole and I spent most of my free time in Tottington Woods and up at Woods Mill.  I joined Henfield Birdwatch in 2009 and have since become a keen amateur bird photographer.  In 2014, the Committee of HBW was brave enough to let me loose as one of its Area Surveyors and I very much enjoyed making monthly records of the birds in the area allotted to me.  At a later date, I was delighted that some of my photos were also chosen for the fourth Henfield Birdwatch book which you can find on sale in the village.  In addition to being a proud member of Henfield Birdwatch and The Sussex Wildlife Trust, I am also a member of the RSPB, the BTO, the Sussex Ornithological Society, the Shoreham & District Ornithological Society, The Barn Owl Trust, Friends of Warnham Nature Reserve and Butterfly Conservation.

I have been a member of Henfield Birdwatch since 2005. In 2007 I rang our Chairman Mike Russell and offered to assist with any general admin. Mike asked me to take over the vacant Secretary role – talk about in at the deep end! I now edit and send out the newsletters, organise events and, since 2017 when we set up the Henfield Birdwatch Swift Project, I have been the Henfield Swifts Champion. I am also one of the Perching Manor Farm Bird Survey team.

I am a member of RSPB, the Sussex Ornithological Society, the British Trust for Ornithology, Friends of Warnham Nature Reserve, Butterfly Conservation, Campaign for the Protection of Rural England and Sustainable Henfield 2030.

Nigel Colgate

I have been involved with Henfield Birdwatch since 2005 and the committee since 2013 but have been birdwatching in Henfield over 50 years. I handed over the role as Treasurer in 2019 to concentrate on survey data analysis, and am one of the Perching Sands Farmland Birds Survey team.

I am also a member of RSPB, Sussex Ornithological Society (SOS), and have done surveys for British Trust for Ornithology (BTO).

Will GreenI have now retired from the committee after 21 years, but remain very involved with the group. I also belong to RSPB, SOS and the BTO. I am a Wildlife artist and regularly contribute to the HBW newsletter, am part of the Perching Sands Farmland Birds Survey team, and produced artwork for all of the five Survey books.

Val and I have done the annual nightingale count since 1998, monitoring the numbers of these wonderful visitors . I also lead Bird walks for HBW 5 year survey as well as other walks for the group.


Brian Lang

I have been loosely associated with Henfield Birdwatch since 2000 but much more actively since 2013.  I joined the committee in 2016.

I have been interested in birds for most of my life and have been a member of the RSPB for most of that time.  I am not particularly knowledgeable, however, and I joined Henfield Birdwatch as a way to learn more from the (very patient!) other members. By accompanying others on walks and days out, I am gradually broadening my ‘repertoire’.

Mike Russell

There is a direct link between mumps, PG tips and my interest in birds. As a small boy I avidly collected the cards of British birds to be found in packets of tea and used to make my parents endless cups of tea. While lying in bed with mumps, my mum bought me ‘The Observer Book of Birds’ and there began a life-long passion for birds.  I have been fortunate to have been involved with wildlife, conservation and birds for most of my working life, having worked for 4 years at Dinton Pastures Country Park near Wokingham and then arriving at the Sussex Wildlife Trust in 1985 and enjoying over 30 years of working for this wonderful organisation before retiring in 2016.

I now work freelance and spend much of my life showing people birds, which is a very nice way to spend my retirement! I still run courses and bird trips for the Trust as well as running my own day trips and longer weekends further afield in the UK. I also lead wildlife holidays to many places across the globe for a company called Wildlife Travel who donate all their profits to wildlife conservation organisations. In 2019, for my sins, I became Chairman of the Sussex Ornithological Society.

I formed Henfield Birdwatch in 1999 and am very proud to have seen it evolve into one of the most widely recognised local community wildlife projects in the UK with a current membership of over 200. In 2011 we received the British Trust for Ornithology Marsh Award and £1,000.00 for our 2010 bird report.


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