Saturday, 26 January 2013

inland West Sussex (26 January 2013)

26 January 2013: Taking advantage of a nice sunny day John King and I decided to head for the Arun Valley to look for the Bewick's Swans.  A Barn Owl just north of the Adur flyover as it was getting light was an excellent start.  The herd of Bewicks, now 30 adults and 9 juveniles, were by the road before Warningcamp.  It seemed worth going on to Burpham to see if there were any geese further up the valley and a quick stop at the 'triangle' first produced two red Kites and 8 Grey Partridges.  Looking back from just down the road located some distant grey geese in front of Arundel Castle and at least two had white fronts.  From near Burpham Church we were close enough to identify eleven White-fronted Geese with a few Grey Lags while another Barn Owl was flying around opposite us.  Next stop was Arundel where Water Rail, Firecrest and two Bullfinches showed well along the Mill Stream.  The White-fronts couldn't be seen from the riverbank but over 600 Fieldfares were some compensation.  Having seen all we'd hoped to in the Arun valley and feeling on a bit of a roll we decided to push our luck a bit and head over to West Dean Woods.  Here the Little Owl eventually showed itself (well spotted John) while two Hawfinches showed briefly above us as we started up the track to Monkton Farm (I only saw them in flight which took the edge of it somewhat).  Few finches were in evidence although a Woodcock flew by almost at ground level.  Little was seen from the clearing at the top of the track until we were leaving when four Hawfinches flew over and landed in the top of a tree opposite.  They were on view for 10 minutes or so and when the last one flew off away down the valley it picked up four others on its way.  A few minutes later, just as I had put my scope down again, two more flew in and landed in tree tops opposite.  Finally after these flew off in the same direction as the others another, probably our tenth, flew over and kept on going.  We called in at Greatham Bridge on the way back seeing three Barn Owls hunting over Coldwaltham Brooks and another distantly out on Amberley Wildbrooks.  Six Barn Owls in a day, that is more than I usually see all year!

Bewick's Swans at Warningcamp
a family group?
very nice views although the early morning light was poor
distant Barn Owl from Burpham Church

Little Owl in its usual tree at Staple Ash Farm
it was enjoying the mid-day sun although ducked back in its hollow at one stage and was probably out of view when we arrived
Hawfinch from Monkton Farm clearing
distant, but nice scope views

Barn Owl perched by the railway line at Greatham Bridge
where are my wire-cutters when I need them

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