Seven members (me + Maggie, Tony, Hilary, Sharon & Brody and  Celia) plus guest Richard headed off to Heyshott Common yesterday.  It was a lovely still evening, and we had a short walk before the 9.30 etc (estimated time of churring).  In that time we had seen a Yellowhammer singing on top of a tree, had brief snatches of Woodlark and Tree Pipit and listened to a Dartford Warbler singing for at least 10 minutes.  Good views of a Roe Deer in the evening light too.

Bang on time the objects of the outing started churring, and we all managed to get at least two views of a female in flight – whether two females or one female twice we couldn’t be sure.

First encounter with this special place and magical birds for some of the group, and the first in their natural habitat for Richard, who had only previously seen one resting in his conservatory gutter last August!

However the highlight for me was the roding Woodcock, the first I’ve seen there in the past few years.

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!

The end of May saw Henfield Birdwatch run another Big Bird Bash, in aid of The Haven, consisting of a series of walks throughout the parish to see how many different species of birds can be found in one weekend – albeit one which just spilled over into June!  To maximize the chances of seeing as many as possible, one of the walks started at 6.30 am, and others didn’t leave until 6.30 in the evening.

The early walk, led by Paul, started at the Downslink car park, and headed north. Fortunately not too many speeding bikes and noisy dogs around at that time of the morning, and the group was treated to some wonderful experiences.  Two Nightingales were singing and flying around in the scrub bordering the track – maybe ones that established territory there last year, or possibly their offspring?  By Betley Bridge a male Yellowhammer was singing that “littlebitofbreadandnocheeeese” song in a nearby bush, and a female was seen diving into another bush with nesting material, or possibly food, in her beak.

The 30 or so folk who joined Mike’s evening walks not only enjoyed the wonderful songs of up to five different Nightingales and caught a glimpse of the Kestrel family in their Woods Mill nest box, but also saw and heard a Turtle Dove, and spotted some Lapwing chicks – these are yet more species on the Red List, due to an alarming decline in numbers in recent years.  Mike’s walks proved so popular he ended up running two more!



The final walk took in the area along the Downslink and the river to the south of the village.  Grey Heron youngsters were still hanging around the couple of nests which had been occupied this year, and several Little Egrets were noticed, including one perched in a tree, showing off its main distinguishing feature – yellow feet! (Photo by Graham Speed)



A pair of Mute Swans which were seen building a nest a couple of months ago, were proudly showing off their family of 6 cygnets.  And some more Red-list birds put in an appearance, with several Skylarks heard singing, and chattering Linnets flying around by the river.




All in all an extremely successful Bash with lots of people joining the walks and recording birds in their gardens.  Number of species seen was a superb 69.  We asked for donations – which stood at £493 at the time of writing – all of which will go to our wonderful Henfield Haven.


This year’s Henfield Birdwatch Big Bash took place between September 25th to 29th, with the objective of recording as many species of birds as possible in the village over the five days. The previous record stood at 62 species and the aim was to see if this could be beaten, and it was to be Mike Russell that got the event underway on Friday evening, leading a group from Woods Mill and along the Mill Stream. Highlights of this first walk were a small flock of Yellow Wagtails, a Sparrowhawk and Tawny Owls calling from Woods Mill. The end result was 30 birds recorded; a solid if not spectacular start to proceedings.
The following day saw a three pronged attack, with Paul Cole leading a group up the Downslink and back down the river, Nigel Colgate covering Wantley, both in the morning, whilst Mike went out again in the evening covering the same area as the night before. More new species were added to the list: a Hobby over the river, a Little Egret at New Inn Farm, a Treecreeper on Nigel’s patch, Grey Wagtail at Woods Mill and a Snipe further along the Mill Stream. With new birds being added to the list all the time, things were starting to look promising. Indeed, at the end of the first two days the running total now stood at 57 birds seen or heard.
Next up was Will Green, who undertook to see what he could see on Henfield Common and in Woodmancote. He found two species that hadn’t been ticked yet, Pheasant and Mistle Thrush on his way to a solid 36. We were now on 59, just four short of a new record.
The final expedition, led by Val Bentley, had been pushed back to Tuesday, but in the meantime Mike and Lesley Milward had been busy checking out their garden every morning. Proving that you don’t have to look much further than your own doorstep, they amassed 42 species. This included some exciting Finch action  with Siskin, Greenfinch and Crossbill passing overhead, and joining them was a passing Raven. And there they were, the four we needed and the record was broken!
So Val Bentley headed off on the Tuesday morning walk with the pressure off and a chance to put some icing on the cake. This she certainly did, not only adding several birds that hadn’t been seen so far, but also recording the highest total of any of the groups – 45. This included Whinchat (a scarce migrant in these parts) and a dashing Kingfisher.

With the total at the end of the five days at 67 the record was beaten by five, with some excellent birds seen or heard in the process and a good time had by all. As ever, it’s the taking part that counts and a big thank you to all those who did come out and brave the at times blustery conditions. After such a long enforced lay-off it was brilliant to get the members out on organised walks once more, and hopefully it won’t be too long before we can do it all over again!