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U3A special outing

Six members of a local U3A birding group joined me on a guided walk around The Burgh, on the Norfolk Estate in the South Downs above Arundel.

Wildstarts guide Nick leading a private birding tour on the South Downs near Burpham, Sussex.

Having collected everyone from Hove, we transported to Arundel in really good time giving us some bonus time out in the field. A quick stop in Arundel allowed us to check out the nearby water meadows which proved fruitful, with a lovely young male Marsh Harrier quartering the fields in front of us, with some Gadwall nearby.

Up in the mistletoe tree, you’ve guessed it...a nice Mistle Thrush perched briefly out in the open. Delighted with our bonus birding time, we headed up to the Burgh.

We started our walk from the cricket pitch, where we had barely left the minibus before we were treated to lovely fly-by Red Kites and a pair of circling Kestrels. A Buzzard joined a Red Kite enabling the group to make identification comparison. We managed to find a group of around 20 Cattle Egrets split into two groups distantly from Burpham church, giving everyone nice telescope views.

We enjoyed a lovely hour birdwatching at the water treatment works, taking the track down ‘midge alley’ as one group member aptly named it, there were soon plenty of birds here to sort through. Chiffchaffs were very busy feeding all around us and a couple of these birds were warming up for spring giving brief bursts of their song. A stunning pair of Grey Wagtails posed nicely on the settling tanks, and a beautiful Goldcrest put on a show for the group, as did a small party of Long-tailed Tits.

Grey Wagtail near The Burgh, Burpham. Sussex guided bird tours with Wildstarts.
Male Grey Wagtail at the treatment works

Heading up to ‘the triangle’, we were treated to stunning views of Red Kite and a male Kestrel, plus our first Red-legged Partridge and Brown Hare of the day. From the gate we enjoyed distant views of some more Brown Hares with one pair briefly boxing. A pair of Lapwing was observed and we had scope views of perched Red Kite and Buzzard. The nearby seed feeder produced a female Reed Bunting which sat out nicely before melting away into the brambles. The song of the Skylark greeted us on our continued walk and nice views of Greenfinch, Chaffinch and Goldfinch were had up by the farm buildings.

Female Reed Bunting near The Burgh, Burpham. Sussex guided bird tours with Wildstarts.
Female Reed Bunting

A domestic delight came in the form of a small party of guineafowl! It was the turn of a female to steal the limelight, perching nicely on a weather station. We managed to find more hares and a distant pair of Grey Partridge, which hunkered down in reacton to a nearby perched Buzzard. It was time to head back. There were plenty of signs of the spring season ahead on our walk with a couple of bees on the wing and primroses, snowdrops and violets and many more all in flower. Birdsong filled our walk around too, making it a pleasant day to be out at this fabulous location. The group returned to Hove a tired but happy bunch!

Female Kestrel near The Burgh, Burpham. Sussex guided bird tours with Wildstarts.
Female Kestrel


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