Pulborough Brooks 7 September 2023

On the hottest day of the year so far fifteen members enjoyed a bird-filled walk at Pulborough Brooks. While late season warblers were thin on the ground we had some fine raptor displays and good wader sightings.

We started with a Willow Warbler at the Visitor Centre viewing platform followed by a Wren and a Stonechat with White Stork, Little Egret and Mute Swan visible on the mid-brooks. From West Mead we had close up views of a Wood Sandpiper and Lapwing while a Hobby entertained us with its aerial prowess. Buzzard and Marsh Harrier were also present. Greylag and Canada Geese were added to the list together with Grey Heron. At Winpenny Hide we saw a very distant Kestrel and had flight views of the White Stork and closer views of a juvenile/female Marsh Harrier. A Red Kite was also spotted. We moved on to the Hangar View and from there to the shade of Nettly’s where we added Teal, Mallard, Shoveler, Moorhen and Black-tailed Godwit to the list. Two Ruffs were also present as were Starlings. In the course of the morning a Chiffchaff was heard but not seen while Robins put in an appearance. Additionally Dunnocks, Jackdaws, Magpies, Wood Pigeons were seen while a Blackbird and Stock Dove became the final sightings.

Pulborough Brooks 29 April 2023

A lovely Spring morning attracted no less than 28 members to the jewel of the Arun Valley. A scan from the visitor centre revealed some of the usual species but a Mistle Thrush was unexpected. Already one of the target birds was piping from the zigzag path and a rapid walk there gave a view of the first Nightingale of the day. In total nine were identified around the reserve but only one more was seen. By now warblers were in fine voice and both Blackcaps and Chiffchaffs were readily spotted among incomplete foliage. Whitethroats too were singing their scratchy songs atop brambles. The scrape at West Mead increased the excitement. Initially just two Avocets, two Redshanks and a few Lapwings kept company with small numbers of waterfowl. Then panic even among the Shelducks and Canada Geese portended the arrival of a formidable predator. Quartering the pools was a White-tailed Eagle. After a careful survey of the buffet it pounced on its selected prey, probably a goose to judge from the struggle that ensued before it was dragged onto dry land and feasted upon. Wimpenny hide maintained the excellence of the walk. In a sunny corner two Adders, a male and a female, were sunning themselves. From the hide itself several waders were on view, a Greenshank, four Little Ringed Plovers, a Dunlin and delightfully three Wood Sandpipers. The walk towards the Little Hanger was again accompanied by song and among the tunes a Cetti’s Warbler and a Garden Warbler could be heard – a second of the latter was later seen at Jupps View. The Hanger added to the species count with Teal, a Wigeon and some Linnets. Sedge Warblers were also typically noisy while a circling Sparrowhawk was spotted. The final stop at Nettley’s hide produced new sightings of Stonechat and Reed Bunting plus a real cherry on the cake, a second view of the White-tailed Eagle circling high over the brooks, this time in the company of at least seven Buzzards that looked sparrow-sized in comparison. It was a truly memorable morning with a species list of 63. 

Pulborough Brooks 11 September 2022

Nine members began the walk on the heathland side of the reserve in rather unpromising mist and gloom.  A Sparrowhawk flying over in the car park and Stonechat out in the meadow at the viewpoint were seen but the woods and heathland were otherwise quiet.  The pond and fields by the Visitors Centre yielded a Buzzard perched in a dead tree and some Linnets flying around. The emergence of a warming sun soon increased activity and the feeders in the picnic area were quite busy with Blue Tit, Great Tit, Coal Tit, Greenfinch and Chaffinch.

The Zig Zag path held a flock of Goldfinch while a Bullfinch called but unfortunately did not show.  In Fattengates Courtyard a very confiding Chiffchaff was picking flies off the lily pads in the pond.  Nuthatches, House Sparrows, Dunnocks and a Bank Vole came to feed on the sunflower seeds left out on a couple of logs.

A clockwise walk round the wetland trail to West Mead hide provided good views of a Spotted Flycatcher perched on a dead tree making sorties out to pick off passing insects.  A Blackcap was also seen briefly.  A group of chats at a distance in the haze presented an identification challenge to distinguish a Winchat from Stonechats.  West Mead hide was very quiet probably due to the lack of water in the scrapes.

The main draw at Redstart Corner was the Dragonflies and Damselflies around the pond.  Through the day Brown Hawker, Common Darter, numerous Migrant Hawker and a couple of Willow Emerald Damselfly were seen.  From Winpenny hide a very restless group of Teal was flying around along with a flock of Lapwing and, grazing in a more settled manner, were flocks of Canada and Greylag Geese.

Initially Little Hanger hide was quiet, but then a Marsh Harrier appeared and proceeded to fly close by giving great views.  And then the alert was given to a large raptor that proved to be a White-Tailed Eagle. It flew around in a leisurely manner for several minutes creating panic amongst all the other birds, a treat for all.

From Hanger View Black Tailed Godwits and two Ruff could be picked out.  A few Grey Herons stood like statues.  Ducks were quite tricky to identify as they were in non-breeding plumage but seemed to be mainly Teal and Mallard with a few Shovelers, Pintails and Wigeon amongst them.  A falcon shot by and then appeared overhead leading to the probable identification of a Hobby. Birds added to the day’s list subsequently were a Kingfisher and Reed Bunting.

In all 49 bird species were identified, while numerous butterflies including Small Heaths, Brown Hairstreaks, Clouded Yellows, Speckled Woods, and Green Veined Whites added to a packed day.

Pulborough Brooks 29 April 2022

Sixteen members assembled in the car park to the song of chiffchaffs, blackcaps and a willow warbler but had only one thought in mind, a quest for nightingales. So we headed immediately for the hotspots. We heard the first at the top of the zigzag path but characteristically it stayed buried deep in the thickets; the same was true of a lesser whitethroat rattling in adjacent brambles. The next three nightingales were singing around the Fattengates courtyard but only one gave the merest glimpse as it flew between perches. The fifth near Little Hangar proved far more cooperative and and perched fully in the open. The sixth near the Hangar viewpoint remained out of sight as it sang briefly while the seventh showed itself in scrub near the junction down to Jupp’s View. Despite a single species being the centre of attention there was an impressive supporting cast. A garden warbler sang near Fattengates. From the West Mead hide we had the endearing view of six Canada gosling and three tiny lapwing chicks plus a little ringed plover and two avocets on nests. For the few who paused at the Winpenny hide the reward was excellent views of a hobby. The offerings on the North Brooks were typical, plenty of wildfowl including teal and wigeon, another avocet and a few black-tailed godwits. A sedge warbler sang raucously near the Hangar and eventually perched in view. A bonus was a bank vole on a rotting stump in Fattengates. The morning was well spent with a species list of 46.

Pulborough Brooks 4 September 2021

Sixteen members met a cool and overcast morning.  It was initially quiet birdwise around the visitors centre and the zig zag path.  The new feeding station provided some interest with Blue Tit, Great Tit, Robin, Dunnock, Greenfinch and Nuthatch.  In Fattengates Courtyard a Blackcap was seen along with Chiffchaffs calling while a small flock of Long-tailed Tits flew over.

Making our way around to West Mead Hide we disturbed a Redshank from one of the new ponds and it flew around making its distinctive alarm call.  Two Green Woodpeckers were displaying to each other on a fence post, which was interesting to watch.

Once in West Mead hide we were entertained by a couple of Snipe out in the open and around six Winchats in all actively flying around foraging.  A couple of Greenshank appeared and there were quite a few Teal and some Mallard on the water.  A Marsh Harrier took to the air as did a couple of Grey Heron.  Moving to Winpenny Hide we saw a Green Sandpiper and had some closer views of a Greenshank.  A couple of Chiffchaffs and a Whitethroat showed well close by in some blackberry bushes and a distant Wheatear was seen.

We saw a Great Spotted Woodpecker and some Goldfinches as we walked further round the trail.  Moving round to Little Hanger and Nettley’s Hides and the viewpoints, the group had good views of Black Tailed Godwits, Avocets, Lapwings, Teal, Mallard, and Greylag and Canada geese out on the Brooks.  At times small numbers of Swallows and House Martins were in the air.  Kestrel were seen hovering from time to time and three Buzzards were evident, two perched on fence posts and one circling around high up in the air. Treecreepers and Goldcrests were spotted in the woodland.

On the return two Stoats were seen on the path by some of the group.  The sun had finally come out and there were more butterflies out on the wing.  By the end of the walk a total of fifty species of birds had been counted.

Pulborough Brooks 24 April 2021

The morning walk in separate groups took place in Spring sun that really enhanced the view from the visitor centre over the lovely Arun valley. The first sighting from that point was a real surprise, a fieldfare that had not realised that it had overstayed its welcome. At the top of the zigzag path came the unmistakeable notes of the first nightingale of the day though it remained well concealed. In the courtyard two more males were having a singing duel that began we were told at dawn and then one of them perched close to us in the open. With the sun behind making its tail seem ablaze the view was stunning. At the Hangar there was an unusually good variety of waders on the brooks. There we saw a spotted redshank, several redshanks and black-tailed godwits and four each of dunlins and little ringed plovers on the muddy edges. Most pleasing were two avocets giving rise to the hope that they would follow their first ever breeding success on the reserve last year. Over the water a few sand martins hawked for insects. The trees and brambles around the viewpoint were alive with birdsong especially from warblers, blackcap and chiffchaffs were prominent with an occasional common whitethroat putting in an appearance. A few members picked up phrases from a lesser whitethroat while along the path a garden warbler was in full voice. Other passerine sightings included a treecreeper, linnets, skylarks, a goldcrest and back at the visitors centre a wheatear. Finally reports filtered through that a great white egret was showing back at the Hangar seen by a couple of members who had lingered there. It was a thoroughly enjoyable morning with 63 species identified including no less than five nightingales.The morning walk in separate groups took place in Spring sun that really enhanced the view from the visitor centre over the lovely Arun valley. The first sighting from that point was a real surprise, a fieldfare that had not realised that it had overstayed its welcome. At the top of the zigzag path came the unmistakeable notes of the first nightingale of the day though it remained well concealed. In the courtyard two more males were having a singing duel that began we were told at dawn and then one of them perched close to us in the open. With the sun behind making its tail seem ablaze the view was stunning. At the Hangar there was an unusually good variety of waders on the brooks. There we saw a spotted redshank, several redshanks and black-tailed godwits and four each of dunlins and little ringed plovers on the muddy edges. Most pleasing were two avocets giving rise to the hope that they would follow their first ever breeding success on the reserve last year. Over the water a few sand martins hawked for insects. The trees and brambles around the viewpoint were alive with birdsong especially from warblers, blackcap and chiffchaffs were prominent with an occasional common whitethroat putting in an appearance. A few members picked up phrases from a lesser whitethroat while along the path a garden warbler was in full voice. Other passerine sightings included a treecreeper, linnets, skylarks, a goldcrest and back at the visitors centre a wheatear. Finally reports filtered through that a great white egret was showing back at the Hangar seen by a couple of members who had lingered there. It was a thoroughly enjoyable morning with 63 species identified including no less than five nightingales.The morning walk in separate groups took place in Spring sun that really enhanced the view from the visitor centre over the lovely Arun valley. The first sighting from that point was a real surprise, a fieldfare that had not realised that it had overstayed its welcome. At the top of the zigzag path came the unmistakeable notes of the first nightingale of the day though it remained well concealed. In the courtyard two more males were having a singing duel that began we were told at dawn and then one of them perched close to us in the open. With the sun behind making its tail seem ablaze the view was stunning. At the Hangar there was an unusually good variety of waders on the brooks. There we saw a spotted redshank, several redshanks and black-tailed godwits and four each of dunlins and little ringed plovers on the muddy edges. Most pleasing were two avocets giving rise to the hope that they would follow their first ever breeding success on the reserve last year. Over the water a few sand martins hawked for insects. The trees and brambles around the viewpoint were alive with birdsong especially from warblers, blackcap and chiffchaffs were prominent with an occasional common whitethroat putting in an appearance. A few members picked up phrases from a lesser whitethroat while along the path a garden warbler was in full voice. Other passerine sightings included a treecreeper, linnets, skylarks, a goldcrest and back at the visitors centre a wheatear. Finally reports filtered through that a great white egret was showing back at the Hangar seen by a couple of members who had lingered there. It was a thoroughly enjoyable morning with 63 species identified including no less than five nightingales.