2019 Garden Birdwatch finishes!

We have reached the end of our year of concentrated garden birdwatching.  The final week  finishes on Saturday 28th December.  You may now be breathing a sigh of relief, or maybe one of disappointment!  Thank you so much for being a part of it – even if you haven’t managed to keep watch every week!

I’m not really up to speed with the data recording system, but it does look as though you can continue to record your sightings during 2020 if you would like to carry on, and we will still be able to pick up from the website what you may see in your gardens in the future.

In the New Year we will start to look at the totals of the different species recorded, compare with past surveys we have done, and with national statistics too, to see how things have been changing in the last 20 years.

I’m not sure that many villages will have quite so many records of peacocks as we seem to have!

We do hope that you have enjoyed watching your garden birds, and will continue do so in 2020.

A very Happy New Year from Henfield Birdwatch!!

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.

Big Bird Bash Weekend – Result


(Many thanks to Paul for  keeping the list, and for writing up the report)

Val and Paul  got the Bash underway, covering the West End. Starting from the Downslink car park we headed up towards Betley bridge quickly ticking off the more common species including a singing Goldcrest. At the Bridge a Yellowhammer appeared, the first of five along the river bank. Reed Warblers were also in good numbers with singing males seemingly in almost every patch of reeds. Just before New Inn farm a Cetti’s Warbler obligingly sang out – of course heard and not seen. On the way back to the car park  Swift and Great Spotted Woodpecker were added, and after a tot up there were 40 species on the list. A solid start to the Bash .

Simultaneously Nigel, joined by two members, went out on his Wantley patch. He too soon racked up the common stuff and added some birds that Paul & Val missed. With Kestrel, Green Woodpecker, House Martin, Nuthatch and Jay all seen, the running total was then up to 46.

Will was the next to go out on the Sunday morning, but unfortunately the half-decent weather of the previous day was  replaced by rain. Despite this Will, who was also joined by Nigel, Val, Dave and Terry, managed to find 32 species including those that can often be tricky to find on these events: Stock Dove, Mistle Thrush and Bullfinch. This moved the overall total on to 50, the half-century had been reached by Sunday lunchtime! A decent tally now looked on the cards.

The weather had improved somewhat by the time Mike, Lesley, the Colgates and three other members ventured up the mill stream and back on Sunday evening. Quality was the hallmark here with Nightingale heard and both Barn Owl and Turtle Dove seen. Also on the list of 41 species were Grey Heron, Sparrowhawk, Lapwing and Long-tailed Tit. The running total was now up to 57; could we now make it to sixty by the end of the Bash?

That would have been Val’s intention as she headed on Monday, joined by no fewer than nine companions (and that was after two people dropped out!). Going out last was always going to make it tricky to find species that hadn’t yet been seen by others so two was a good return from the overall total of 41. A heard Coal Tit and a family of Coots would mean that the final total would be 59, just one short of the magic 60….

But with the “rules” (that we’d just invented!) saying that any bird seen by anyone over the weekend could be included, the Hobby seen by Debbie and Nigel over their garden could be included: the 60th species! And then both Val and Mike both reported that they had heard Tawny Owl which gave us our last species and therefore a final Big Bash total of 61. An excellent score and congratulations to all that took part.

Mike found the most species. He had 41 from his walk and added a further 9 from his garden making 50 in total. He also had the most unique species, five, which were Lapwing, Turtle Dove, Barn Owl, Nightingale and Long-tailed Tit. Will had Mistle Thrush and Bullfinch whilst Val also had two with Coot and Coal Tit. Sadly Nigel and me had none!

Seen by all were the following: Buzzard, Herring Gull, Wood Pigeon, Skylark, Wren, Dunnock, Robin, Blackbird, Song Thrush, Chiffchaff, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Magpie, Jackdaw, Crow and Goldfinch. Interesting that Buzzard is there, that wouldn’t have happened 20 years ago, and it also shows the rise of the Goldfinch recently. And good to see that we all still manage to see Skylark and Song Thrush despite their recent declines.

Missing species were perhaps Cormorant (despite Val’s best efforts), Red Kite (there’s normally one around somewhere these days), Treecreeper, Cuckoo and Lesser Whitethroat. We were possibly rather late in the season for the last two though.

Big Bird Bash Weekend

As part of our Survey Year members of the Committee will be leading walks around Henfield over the weekend of 15th and 16th June.
We want to see just how many species of bird can be found in the village over one weekend.
Come and join us to help us find MORE THAN 50!

Saturday 15th June Paul Cole will be walking up the Downslink to Betley, along the river and back via Stonepit Lane. There is an option to extend the walk back via Catsfold Farm and West End Lane
Saturday 15th June Nigel will be walking in the field to the north and east of Henfield, over Chess Stream, past Park Farm and back via Woolfly Wood.
Sunday 16th June Will will (!) be walking from Oreham Common to Henfield Hall.
For these walks meet at the Henfield Hall at 8.30am

Sunday 16th June Mike will be walking from the Mill Stream to Streatham Bridge and back past West Mill.
For this walk meet at Woods Mill at 7.30pm
Monday 17th June Val will walk to Stretham Bridge, along the river to New Inn then back past Frogshole and Rye farm.
For this walk meet at The Steam Mill at 8.30am

If you want to join the walks please let Debbie know by phoning 01273 493037 or email debbie.colgate037@btinternet.com