20th April – West Sussex to Derby   Leave a comment

One bird that has been around all year is the Rough-legged Buzzard wintering at Burpham, near Arundal, West Sussex. Although I have been to West Sussex several times this year, I have always run out of time or hit bad weather and have never made it to Burpham, indeed I thought it had gone, until two friends of mine twitched it a few days ago.

My mother’s health continues to deteriorate so I decided to head for Derby, however my brother and family wouldn’t be in until late afternoon so there was time to detour via West Sussex.

My first stop was at the village of Apuldram near Chichester. Here a potential Iberian Chiffchaff has taken up territory. I say potential, as opinions is divided as to whether it is one. This species which breeds in northern Spain and south-west France can only be safely identified on song. This bird sings Iberian Chiff phases but also give the familiar ‘chiff chaff, chiff chaff’.  It is more likely that these ‘mixed singers’ are Iberians that have learnt Common Chiff song than that they are hybrids.

It looks like a Chiffchaff, it sometimes sounds like a Chiffchaff but is it an Iberian Chiffchaff?

I continued onto Burpham and the area known as the Burgh. This is the same area that I visited last autumn to see a Pallid Harrier, however unlike the harrier which could be seen from the road, seeing this buzzard took a bit of a hike. I soon saw the bird flying over a distant hillside but wishing better views I continued on. Rough-legs are the larger and more robust version of our Common Buzzard. This is the ninth I have seen in the UK, it is a scarce but regular visitor to eastern England, indeed I should have seen one in January but the car break down thwarted our plans.

Rough-legged Buzzard, Burpham, photo from the Internet. Closer photos of this bird are on the net but this illustrates nicely the sort of views I obtained.

The Burgh is an area that is farmed sympathetically for wildlife, this might largely be due to shooting interests as there are feed bins everywhere. I don’t like the shooting of bird for recreation but agree that if it leads to a landscape as full of wildlife as this then it can only be beneficial. Skylarks, Corn Buntings and Linnets were everywhere, a Red Kite flew by and hares and both partridges were seen.

Notice the wide conservation margins to the fields, ideal for partridges and ground nesting passerines.

Singing Skylarks were abundant.

Many Corn Bunting were singing, this one flew in....

... and perched in the midst of the oil seed rape.

It was sunny when I arrived but soon black clouds rolled in. The first storm passed to the north and only resulted in ten minutes of heavy rain but the second an hour later was a torrential downpour mixed with hail that got me soaked.


The first storm passed to the north and largely missed the area.

... but soon the clouds were back....

Lets hope this helps with the drought situation in the south-east!


It’s as far from Arundal to Derby as from Poole to Derby, so I expected the journey would take the usual 3.5 hours. How wrong I was. Driving on the M25 and M1 on a Friday afternoon took five hours. It was too late to visit Mum’s nursing home, but I went to see my sister-in-laws parent’s Dennis and Ida whilst Simon and Viv helped Miriam prepare for her Duke of Edinburg award expedition this weekend.

My niece Miriam has to walk 16km with all this camping gear, set camp and walk back the next day for her Duke of Edinburgh bronze award.

In spite of recent major abdominal surgery and continued treatment, Dennis remains cheerful and full of beans - as usual.

Posted April 22, 2012 by gryllosblog in Uncategorized

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