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Sussex Scrapbook ~ Nature walks throughout the year
Green Man
Saturday 4th April 2009
Thorney Island
8 miles

Although Crawley was murky and wet, we knew full well that it would be clearer weather westwards. Sure enough, even by the time we'd got to nearby Horsham the skies were clearing and when we arrived at Prinsted at noon for our anti-clockwise walk around Thorney Island the skies were blue with small white puffy clouds. By the time we got walking it was 12:15 which was the exact time for low tide and the air smelt sweetly of a mixture of salty seaweed, coconut-perfumed Gorse and sweet Blackthorn.
Lots of insects on the wing (trust us, we're motorcyclists!) including several species of butterfly: we saw Peacocks, Red Admirals and thought we saw a couple of Comma's, but they were moving very fast and could quite possibly have been another type of Fritillary.
Out on the water and mudflats birds were everywhere of course.  As well as all of the usual species such as Curlew, Oystercatcher, Redshank, Lapwing and Little Egret we also saw 10 female and 2 male Red-breasted Mergansers. These are small, fish-eating sawbills and they like to go around in small groups.
There were small, scuttly (did I make that word up?) things in the hedgerows all day long but we never got to see anything furry. They're obviously abundant though as feathered predators seem to be doing well on Thorney. We had quite a bit of raptor action today with great views of several Kestrels hovering and swooping for prey, four Buzzards high up in the blue calling and dog fighting, a male Sparrowhawk that flew alongside us in the hedgerow before perching on an MOD sign and glaring at us menacingly. He then shot off down a small lane at about 6 inches off the ground before swooping up and over a garden hedge. This birds middle name is Stealth! Later on in the day, about an hour before sunset Gill spotted a Short-eared Owl flying just ahead of us over a meadow near Prinsted Point. It quartered the field for a short while before flying off across the water towards Nutbourne. No Ospreys today, although we heard from someone that there is at least one in the vicinity.
Thorney Island is a great place for a walk and an amazing place to watch wildlife, as long as you don't mind the feeling of being under observation yourself!

Checkpoint Charlie! You have to give the MOD your personal details before they let you in.
Don't panic though, they're very friendly.

Scary notices everywhere, but you never see any security or dogs.
Just make sure you stick to the footpath!

What other type is there?

St Nicholas' at West Thorney (which is on the East of the island?)
 is in the middle of having some major renovations done.

A Short-eared Owl that we saw just before sunset

Back to Prinsted at 7:15, the exact time of high tide and 15 minutes before sunset.