Wednesday, 14 January 2009

West Sussex

Tuesday 13th January - A walk with the dogs before it got light produced an urban Fox in Phoenix Way and the Song Thrush and a Robin in full song in Cross Road. Fortunately the dogs didn't see the fox (though they must have smelt it), otherwise the whole of Phoenix Way would have been woken up at 6.30am by their barking!

Another very successful guided walk at Fishbourne Creek where some 60 species on a rising and very big tide included 650 Wigeon, a handful of Pintail and Shoveler, 10 Goldeneye (including 3 adult males), 4 Red-breasted Mergansers, 8 Little Grebes, 6+ Little Egrets, Sparrowhawk, Grey Plover, several Snipe, Black-tailed Godwits, Whimbrel (heard), Spotted Redshank, adult Med Gull, ca. 6 Rock Pipits, Grey Wagtail, Stonechat, Goldcrest, Siskin, 3 Yellowhammers and 2 Reed Buntings. Also a single Roe Deer on the edge of the reedbed. After a drink in the Crown & Anchor at Dell Quay, we headed for West Dean Woods parking, just up the hill from Stapleash Farm. A small covey of Red-legged Partridge was along Houlter's Lane and also a completely albino Pheasant that I missed. We couldn't find the Little Owl in the usual tree at Stapleash Farm nor any Bramblings with the Chaffinches though a Grey Wagtail showed nicely on the roof of one of the farm buildings - an unusual downland location. Two Hawfinches flew high overhead but were only recognisable as such by their distinctive silhouette. Fortunately however I quickly found two more in a bush in the horse field opposite the farm which showed very well before being joined by a third. We then walked a little way up the track from Yew Tree Cottage towards Monkton Farm where we saw a couple of Buzzards and a Great Spotted Woodpecker. The 3 Hawfinches flew over on the way back and perched in the top of one of tall trees by the sharp bend, allowing good scope views before they flew off. A quick stop at an undisclosed site produced fairly brief views of 2 Red Kites before they dropped below the treeline out of sight. We just had time to make it to Burton Mill Pond where, after a short wait, a Bittern appeared at the edge of the reeds in the SE corner giving good scope views in the fading light - a great finish to an excellent day. Also several Gadwall, and a Water Rail heard squealing.


  1. Paul,

    Are you able to give any more details on where to find and the best time to see the little owl at Stapleash Farm?

    Many thanks.


  2. Hi Liam

    The dead pine that the Little Owl roosts in is at Stapleash Farm (SU840152). Stand in the road with your back to farm amd look left. The tree is in the field by the road junction between the two forks. This is also a good area for Hawfinches. We saw them in the bushes in the horse field opposite the farm.