What a wonderful day! Even while we waited at the viewing platform by the Visitor Centre for a short talk from an RSPB warden there was lots to see! Not sure what everyone else was looking at but I was watching a peregrine being mobbed by a group of crows. Fallow deer were running across the field and a marsh harrier was quartering the marsh. The warden explained that Pulborough Brooks was a flood plain on the River Arun with woodland and heathland on the higher ground. Surrounded by the South Downs, it is a very beautiful location. As we would find out for ourselves during the day, it is full of wildlife.
This bank vole popped up from under a log that was being used as a feeding station for great tits and coal tits. The sloping forehead and blunt nose makes it a vole and the rich brown fur makes it a bank vole. They are usually difficult to see let alone photograph!
Many of the viewing platforms and hides at Pulborough are positioned on the edge of the woodland overlooking the water meadows and floods. Here we saw several species of wildfowl and wading birds – wigeon, teal, shoveler and pintail with a few black tailed godwits and just two snipe. But as the warden had told us, no rain means no floods which means less birds.
However, a kingfisher performed well in front of the hides as did two whinchats. These are like miniature wheatears, sitting on posts and flying out to catch passing insects. Whinchats are summer visitors and are a declining red listed species. The two that we saw must have been on migration southwards – for me, at least, they were the star turn of the day.
Some of our group followed the new “fungi trail” that had just been set up through the main woodland and heath. Apparently, this was very good with a wide range of fungi on view. Those that did not take the fungi trail did see this magnificent specimen of (I think) a Parasol mushroom. It was the size of a dinner plate. Sally took the photograph because she thought she could see fairies sitting around the ring on the stem – with their legs dangling over the edge. Needless to say you can’t see them in the picture.
At the last hide we had an excellent view of a young stag fallow deer but then the raptor action went a bit crazy. We saw sparrowhawk, kestrel and marsh harrier in quick succession. Someone picked out a red kite, which then flew over our heads. A hobby (?2) went through and buzzards seemed to be everywhere. No wonder the raven was honking loudly!
But, despite my best efforts to turn every buzzard into a white-tailed eagle (seen a number of times the previous week), this species remained elusive. If we had seen it, we would have all been living in fairyland.
Thanks to Sally, Steve, Terry and Bruce for all of the wonderful pictures (more than I could use). Special thanks to Hazel for making all of the arrangements with the coach company and the reserve. A really, really good day Hazel – Thanks!
The only disappointment was that we had spaces for a few more people on the coach. You would have enjoyed it. Our next coach trip is already booked to Minsmere RSPB reserve for May 2023. Hope to see you all there.