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Saturday 29 March 2008

Pagham harbour, spectacular circular walk starring turnstones

On the day of the Universities' boat race the weather forecast was for light showers and strong winds. What better conditions could one wish for to walk out the Mid Sussex Ramblers' (MSR) walk scheduled for two weeks hence?

On the day of the MSR walk on Saturday 19th April the weather may be brighter.

On this cloudy day, on 29th March 2008, we had a great walk - especially if you like birds.

Sussexrambler is naturally attracted to pretty birds. So I was very happy.

The weather was pretty foul though. I never took my telescope and tripod out of my large rucksack as it was so windy and cold. There was a great desire to get the walk done asap before the heavens opened and soaked us. The wind was so strong though that squalls whistled past, dumping most of their rain on the Downs rather than at sea level, where we were.

In the pictures following, you can see shots of Curlew, redshanks, &/or godwits, oyster catchers, and turnstones.

There were hundreds of turnstones on the beach on this day. Whether it was because the weather was so breezy or not, I don't know, but they almost seemed to ignore us as we all battled against the Atlantic depression, sweeping across on this day.

You could get within a few meters of these pretty birds before they flew away.

Cormorants are shown below on an island and in flight. We also saw, but did not photograph, a heron, black headed gulls of some description. In strong winds and rain there is limited motivation to remove rucksack, remove bird book from bin liner and see the book turn to wood pulp as you thumb the pages.

The grainy shot of geese are a pair of Brent Geese. They will soon be making their way back to the Arctic to breed. You can imagine the conversation. "Don't you think we

should be heading off soon Dear for the Arctic? You know what the traffic is like round Heathrow!"

They may be gone by the 19th April. But there may be other arrivals. We spotted no terns on this day. Perhaps it will be their turn to show off to us on April 19th. Details of that walk can be seen at

You are welcome to join us then. There will be opportunity to see the site of the Norman castle at Church Norton and ponder on this area's role in D-day and the Mulberry harbours.

Above, out of sequence, you can see sea kale growing in the shingle bank.

And below a couple of mute swans sat serenely in a field of winter wheat(?). The walk then goes through Selsey and its accretion of caravans, before heading across farmland and a whole different range of birds. The length is 9.8 miles but felt like 12 in the gales! I just love Pagham. It is great. There are no hills on this walk!

Click on any of these pictures to expand them. They were taken with a Panasonic DMC-FZ8 camera. See also for superb pictures of recent sitings at Pagham and elsewhere in Sussex. is also an informative site to view.

Monday 24 March 2008

It's an ill wind....

It is an ill wind that blows no one any good. The strong NW winds on March 19th were biting for walking.

They were great for gliding though. If you click to expand these pictures you can get a sense of the fun that a couple of glider pilots must have been enjoying riding the updraughts from such winds above Plumpton. What a joy as they whistled past overhead.

Sunday 16 March 2008

Surrey Day Out, Saturday 15th March 2008

With a forecast of light rain, William lead a fascinating 10 miles walk from Nutfield station over the M23 motorway and then south to the National Trust areas shown below.

He showed us Britain's oldest working windmill, Outwood Windmill, built in 1665. It is a Post Mill weighing around 25 tons.

After a good lunch in Bletchingley, we rejoined the Greensands Way and went under the M23 through a tunnel back to the train station car park.

Here is the Mid Sussex Ramblers' website manager taking a shot for the group's website at

It was a splendid walk.

Many thanks William.

Thursday 13 March 2008

Spring & the High Weald Landscape Trail.

In the entry last December under "More path clearing.." I jokingly wrote, "This once hopelessly overgrown path, used to be difficult to walk. Now it is getting like a municipal park. I'll be planting wild flower beds next....... now there's an idea!"

Well, many a true word spoken in jest! In the foreground you can see the foxgloves that I planted some months ago. They are from wild plant seeds that were collected last year from my garden and grown on in a seed tray. Don't be surprised if you see cowslips too from the identical source, where last year were bracken and brambles!

In a small pond in my garden, frog spawn is developing external gills very nicely. Decades ago, a larger pond that I dug contained 46 pairs of mating frogs -- that's 92 frogs that I counted. The noise was like a motorbike exhaust! This year and the year before, the larger pond had none! So I am pleased to see this spawn doing well. A mild winter last year caused early spawning and later frosts killed off such developing tadpoles. This pond is small enough to cover with fleece, if such a threat returns this year.

The ugly lump in the middle is a water lily that got overgrown, was hauled out last Autumn, chopped in half and flopped back. Native marsh marigolds are doing well. Parrot's feather has been removed and composted years ago.

Click on any picture to enlarge it.

In the woods, wood anemones, wood sorrel and other plants are emerging.

Circular walk from Chailey Common, Saturday 8th March 2008

Did the rainy weather forecast influence the turnout for this walk? Or was it the Rugby on TV this afternoon? In any case, John lead a splendid, shortened walk of 7.4 miles as a bridge was collapsed on the originally planned route.
Occasional drizzle served to keep just four of us, pleasantly cool.

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