Safari Britain, 26 July

Belated report from the last Safari Britain walk.

Six of us enjoyed the best weekend weather for ages on a 2.5 hour walk around Firle Beacon. Virtually the first birds were two distant Hobbies, streaking around in the direction of Middle Farm. As we cut down through the field of corn, the regular Chiffchaff made apologetic ‘hueeting’ noises along the woodland edge, and we disturbed a Red-legged Partridge.

Next up were plenty of crows. One dead tree along the Old Coach Road obliged with three species sat in one ‘scope view, allowing everyone to get a look at the differences between Carrion Crow, Rook and Jackdaw.

Following the track up the escarpment form Charleston to Tilton Bostal, flowers and insects outshone the birds. Marbled Whites, Cinnabar moths and a showy Chalkhill Blue kept our heads to the ground. By the time we got to the scrubby patches near the top, there were some birds again, including Meadow Pipit, Linnet, Mistle Thrush and a Yellowhammer, singing a sightly broken version of its ‘little bit of bread and no cheese’ song.

The South Downs Way itself was busy with walkers and quiet on the wildlife front – a fly-by Skylark (a species that we’ve seen surprisingly few of on Safari Britain walks) was the most notable bird.

Cutting back down one of the steepest parts of the escarpment, we came across a Peacock (butterfly, not bird), plus Meadow Brown and Gatekeeper butterflies.

Back at the campsite, hidden Treecreepers called, a Kestrel showed briefly and a Green Woodpecker laughed madly.

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