Trip reports

Chantry Hill & Houghton Forest, West Sussex, on Saturday, 21 June 2014

Thursday, 17 July 2014

From the crest of the escarpment above Storrington during a morning walk between Springhead and Chantry Hills, the vast landscapes in view stretched from the Isle of Wight to our south-west to the chalk pits of Betchworth on the North Downs in the north-east. This is a great area to look for traditional farmland birds and we very soon found some prime examples, such as Swallow, Skylark, Meadow Pipit, Linnet, Bullfinch, Yellowhammer, Corn Bunting and calling Cuckoo. By contrast, soaring Common Buzzards and a family party of Ravens noticed browsing in a track-side field were examples of more recent colonists to this locality. In keeping with our recently-broadened RSPB brief, we found time to reacquaint ourselves with other downland wildlife including Common Lizard and Slow Worm and a host of insects, the best prize being a Golden-ringed Dragonfly that was kind enough to alight right in front of the leader and give opportunities for passable smartphone pics!
After lunch in a well-preserved wildflower meadow we drove a few miles west, to the other side of the Arun Valley, and explored a few of the trails in Houghton Forest (where the shade was much appreciated). On a hot midsummer afternoon, bird activity in the woods was quite subdued though we did find Green Woodpecker, Nuthatch, Mistle Thrush and Coal and Marsh Tits. We also discovered a few more interesting insects, including quite a number of Hornets and our year's first Silver-washed Fritillaries, the latter bringing the day's butterfly total up to 15. The bird list reached 46.
John Parish