Last May during a weekend of garden watches and organised walks Henfield residents found 62 species of birds in the village. Some were locals and some were long distance travellers from Africa and southern Europe. This year the Henfield Birdwatch group would love people to join in again by doing a one hour garden survey or joining one of our walks detailed below. We will be asking members to sponsor the number of species seen to raise money for The Haven.
Birdwatching is about having fun and no-one has to be an expert to join in. For garden watchers there is a great identification guide on our website (details below) and the walks will be led by an experienced birder. Just to show the leaders are not a scary bunch the top bird man of the village, Mike Russell, once pointed out a Buzzard on a post to his bird I.D. class and then realised, since it had barbed wire going through its neck, that it was an odd shaped bit of wood. So don’t be put off if you think you would be joining stuffy and pompous know-it-alls. It’s certainly not like that!
The walks cover a wide range of locations and generally take about 3 hours. There should be lots to see and, of course, Spring time is also full of birdsong which adds to the experience of tramping through the countryside. You should be well serenaded on the morning walks although unfortunately the closest hotspot to the village for hearing Nightingale and Cuckoo in previous years, along Furners Lane, has been cleared of scrub so we may have to listen out for these iconic songsters a bit further out this time round.
My idea of doing a garden survey is to start the hour early in the morning with a cup of tea and a bacon sandwich. There are usually more birds about early and it’s a good excuse to indulge yourself. The method is to record the total number of each species by jotting down the most you see at any one point in time. The hour whizzes past so if something else turns up later over the weekend please cheat and add it on! You can complete the recording sheet on line or we can get you a hard copy.
The Big Bird Bash is just one of many things the HBW group does. We were recently praised as a great advert for Citizen Science by no less than Chris Packham on his YouTube Self-Isolating Bird Club. He brandished a copy of our latest glossy survey book (the selling of which we are very grateful for to R & H Pet Supplies and recently Fritz outside Budgens) and was astonished that we have 200 members actively supporting the wildlife of our village. If you add to this the large number of people now following the Facebook page it becomes clear that for many, many people the countryside and its wildlife has such a positive impact on their quality of life.
The enjoyment and relaxation we all have doing the May Big Bird Bash will add to our knowledge of what birds we have in the village. We know there are pressures locally and elsewhere with the need for new housing which inevitably impinges on the environment. What the collection of data does is to potentially enable a sensible dialogue to take place so that conservationists and developers can work in partnership to find solutions that benefit both the green and built-on areas of the land. A good example is where builders agree to incorporate Swift bricks in new builds.
HBW has been collecting this data regularly since 1999 but the story goes much further back than this. Paul Cole, one of our newest members, has been researching historical records which include the book The Birds of Sussex by erstwhile Henfield resident William Borrer written back in the early to mid-19th Century. From this diligent detective work Paul is producing an all-time Henfield list (yes! Birdwatchers love a good list). To date the total has reached a staggering 178 species. So let’s see if we can add something new and amazing on the Big Bird Bash weekend, but you can’t count Peacocks!
Arrangements for the walks including booking instructions (booking essential) are:
Friday 28TH May 8.00 a.m. with Nigel Colgate (phone 01273 493037)
Furners Lane and fields to north of village
Meet Village Hall Car Park 8.00 a.m.
Saturday 29th May 6.30 a.m. with Paul Cole (e mail at email@example.com or phone 01273 494860)
Early Bird Walk! Downslink north to Betley and along river
Meet Downslink Car Park by Railway Pub 6.30 a.m.
Sunday 30th May 8.30 a.m. with Will Green (text on 07710289638)
Along the Lydds and fields to Woodmancote and back to Henfield Common
Meet Village Hall Car Park 8.30 a.m.
Sunday 30th May 6.30 p.m. with Mike Russell (e mail at firstname.lastname@example.org)
Woods Mill and Mill Stream to Downslink at Stretham Bridge. Bring torch in case delayed by Owls!
Meet Woods Mill Car Park 6.30 p.m.
Wednesday 2nd April 8.30 a.m. with Val Bentley (e mail at email@example.com or phone 01273 494723)
Downslink south to Stretham Bridge and by river west back to Hollands Lane
Meet by Downslink near the Steam Mill in Hollands Lane 8.30 a.m.