There aren’t too many firms that give you St Georges Day off, but luckily for us, Chris’s does. So as the weather looked like it was going to be the best this year so far, we decided to use the day wisely and get out to a nature reserve.
So we headed off to Arundel WWT, which I have to say is one of my favourite reserves, set in the dramatic rolling hills of West Sussex and tucked below Arundel Castle , which is spectacular anyway.
On arrival, we were surprised to see that the wetland is going through some extensive changes, with the wetland area directly behind the visitors centre, being reprofiled and extended. It looks a bit of a mess at the moment with mud in place of water but what is being done is to benefit the birds and people alike, as another hide has been erected and looks like it will take in the best views over the wetland area. I shall be interested to see how it develops this year.
Onto the reserve and it’s always good to see the natural wildlife making itself firmly at home with the resident birds in the collection. The cacophony of different squeaks, whistles, quacks and chirrups going on around, gave us plenty to hear and find. The ducks, ever eager for the contents contained inside the little brown bags of grain that visitors carried, jostled for position along the walkways. It’s such a pleasing sight to see children enjoying the birds at close quarters. There seems to be a sort of gravitation between children and ducks and as we went around, we saw several watching in wonderment as a female mallard proudly lead her ducklings out of the water and across the pathway to another body of water, seeing them all off, bobbing along on the surface in a line; definitely a scene to put a smile on your face.
Around the reedbed, we have views of Sedge Warblers and Reed Warblers, and although difficult to find at first, we used our peripheral vision to catch them moving amongst the reeds before homing in on these delightful birds, giving it their all in repetitive songs.
What did please us was the sudden appearance of a Cetti’s Warbler, which perched just long enough for Chris to get a reasonably decent shot . A first for Chris and a bird pretty hard to see anyway.
The reserve was heaving with birdlife and at the scrapes near the outer hides, the sound of Black-headed Gulls, Oystercatchers and a spectacular flotilla of ducks of varying species kept us watching for half an hour.
We watched no less than eight Common Buzzards, riding the thermals, higher and higher above the reserve, against the backdrop of a perfectly blue sky. It was quite breath-taking!
After most of the morning and part of the afternoon here, we decided to take the scenic coastal drive home, dropping in at Peacehaven, where we caught up with Common Scoter and Water Pipit.
We rounded off our day with the obligatory fish and chips by the seaside having had a brilliant day out with nature on a very sunny and special St Georges Day treat.
I would recommend Arundel and if you’re ok with little boat rides, there are trips in almost silent dive boats which drift slowly through the reeds, sometimes giving very close-up views of water voles.