Tuesday 18 January 2022

All change

 As I said in my 2021 Pulborough review, last year was a record breaking and memorable year in so many ways. I'd decided by the autumn though, once I reached my 150 target, that 2022 would be a year for change. Not least, in part, due to becoming a father in October, my priorities changed somewhat. It seemed rather a fruitless exercise to go through the same routine as last year and try to beat my own record Pulborough year list.

Instead, I decided this year would be about exploring, adventures and enjoying birding for its own sake. Indeed, I have made it my goal, within reason to visit as many new places as possible, and try to go somewhere different every day. Discovering new places and species right on my doorstep. Coincidentally, Birdwatch/BirdGuides then announced their #LocalBigYear challenge, which fitted perfectly with what I'd already been planning for the new year.

So, I set about studying maps and decided a rough 10km radius around Pulborough would offer plenty of interesting and diverse habitat to get stuck into. Some of it, like Pulborough Brooks, Waltham Brooks and Amberley Wildbrooks, I know very well or reasonably well, other areas I have been to far less, if at all. I also tweaked the radius slightly to include the Knepp Estate where I'll be spending a lot of time this year, as I start leading safaris there in the spring.

The new 'uber patch'

There are some good stretches of woodland, particularly to the northwest and southwest of Pulborough, and also various intriguing flooded patches along the various rivers that crisscross the recording area. The South Downs offer plenty of opportunities for sky-watching as well as some enticing patches of farmland. 

As of the time of writing I've already notched up 100 species within the recording area. Highlights have included a Little Gull on the flood behind the house on the 4th, a Hen Harrier at Waltham Brooks on the 1st, Cattle Egret and 3 Great White Egrets at Burton Mill & Chingford Ponds on the 10th, the eleven Bewick's Swans at Amberley also on the 10th, Merlin and Corn Buntings galore up Chantry Hill on the 15th and my first ever local Dartford Warblers at Lavington Common on the 17th.

After just under three weeks I already feel as though I have a greater understanding of the mosaic of habitats within this corner of West Sussex, and I'm excited to see what else I discover in the months to come.

Grey Wagtail



Corn Buntings

Little Gull

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