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Bird walk diaries -- Cissbury Ring

We'd been looking forward to our Autumn Migration at Cissbury Ring walk for a long time, so we were gutted when the weather forecast for 2nd October was just too grim to go ahead. We rescheduled for three weeks down the line and this turned out to have a gleaming silver lining in that it far more migrant birds had been coming in. Large numbers of thrushes and finches, typical late autumn migrants, had just arrived in the country so the timing was spot on.

The group walked up through the meadows from the Storrington Rise car park, where promising early sightings included Reed Bunting, Stonechat and Skylark. We were eager to get to the main site, though, so made a bee line for the Ring itself.

Our first stop was a big yew tree often popular with autumn thrushes. A Mistle Thrush offered a fantastic view through the telescope but we worried this boisterous bird may have seen our target species off, or at least make it keep an extra-low profile. Then, a loud 'tuck tuck' some way off alerted us to the bird we were after - a Ring Ouzel - flying to the crown of a distant oak. There was just enough time to get it in the telescope before it vanished.

Meanwhile, three House Martins and a Swallow flew around us at eye-level - perhaps our final farewell to these species for 2021 as they head south to central and southern Africa for the winter. Goldfinches were enjoying the autumn seedheads, along with a few Linnets and Greenfinches.

As we continued our walk, it was clear that Chaffinches were migrating overhead, joined by at least one Brambling which gave its distinctive call as it headed west, and a few Siskins. Redwings, fresh from Fennoscandia, passed overhead in small flocks. A number of Song Thrushes, Blackbirds and Robins were around, and we got a sense that come of these were likely migrants from northern Europe too.

We heard the distinctive calls of Green Woodpecker and Great Spotted Woodpecker, while a young Buzzard called plaintively in the distance. A busy flock of Long-tailed Tits had a Chiffchaff tagging along. A few Yellowhammers were more easily seen than heard, but everybody got a good look at one in the end.

As we began to make our way back to the car park, we paused by the yew tree again. The Mistle Thrush was still standing guard but two Ring Ouzels escaped its attention by diving deep into the lower section to sneakily gorge on some berries.

We were entertained on the final leg back down the slope by a flock of Meadow Pipits pottering around by the path and close fly-by from a Kestrel.

We were all delighted with the variety of migrating and resident birds we encountered - 43 species in total during our two-and-a-half hours of birdwatching. Here's the list:

  1. Pheasant

  2. Feral Pigeon

  3. Stock Dove

  4. Woodpigeon

  5. Black-headed Gull

  6. Herring Gull

  7. Buzzard

  8. Great Spotted Woodpecker

  9. Green Woodpecker

  10. Kestrel

  11. Jay

  12. Magpie

  13. Jackdaw

  14. Rook

  15. Carrion Crow

  16. Blue Tit

  17. Great Tit

  18. Skylark

  19. Barn Swallow

  20. House Martin

  21. Chiffchaff

  22. Long-tailed Tit

  23. Goldcrest

  24. Wren

  25. Starling

  26. Mistle Thrush

  27. Song Thrush

  28. Redwing

  29. Blackbird

  30. Ring Ouzel

  31. Robin

  32. Stonechat

  33. Dunnock

  34. Pied/White Wagtail

  35. Meadow Pipit

  36. Chaffinch

  37. Brambling

  38. Greenfinch

  39. Linnet

  40. Goldfinch

  41. Siskin

  42. Yellowhammer

  43. Reed Bunting


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