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Sussex Scrapbook ~ Wildlife walks throughout the year
Green Man
Saturday 6th July 2013
Billingshurst - Pulborough on the Wey South Path
9 miles

Bikey is still unwell in the braking department and requires an MOT but new parts will arrive next week and all will be well and the continuous gnashing of teeth and the screaming in the night will be things of the past.

Looking at my records reveals that this is the 11th time we've walked this very simple route. That must mean we like it I suppose. We don't like the first bit though; walking though Billingshurst housing estates and over a major road (A29) but once you get out to Mouse Meadow Cottage at Guildenhurst Manor all becomes well. Fantastic in fact.
The hottest day of the year so far (28oC) and we were glad we made the wise decision to start well after midday. The long-awaited heat had finally got all of the insects moving though (even if it immediately slowed us down) and we were surrounded by damselflies, dragonflies, bees, wasps, flies and butterflies all day long. 
Many of the meadows had been cut for straw so we'd just missed out on the huge flower displays that we had hoped to see (dam).
The Wey Canal though, which was so very artificial-looking after being newly (re)dug out just a matter of a few years ago is now looking very natural indeed. Reedy, flower-strewn banks and flowering aquatic plants are combined with peace and quiet and just the sound of birds, insects and things plopping into the water. The wildlife here is just astounding and we watched lilac-coloured Broad-bodied Chasers sunbathing while bright blue Banded Demoiselles mated everywhere. Our gobs were smacked (not literally though, as you hear so many people say) by the quantity of fish we could see along the canal, with tiny fry right up to monsters on plain view in the clear water.  We saw one medium-sized Pike lurking with intent under a lily pad but we missed out on one that shot off as we got close to the bank (the one that got away). By the splash it caused it must have been huge.
A Kingfisher made a small detour around us as it raced down the waterway and Buzzards, Yellowhammers, Chiffchaff, Whitethroat, Blackcap supplied the background music. We spotted a Little Owl perched up on a post at Lee Place, unfortunately it spotted us too and took off to a nearby oak. Try as we might (we didn't approach) we couldn't relocate it.
We were hoping for a bit of serpent action today, particularly sleepy Grass Snakes along the canal but the only sign we saw was a newly-killed young Adder on a farm track that had succumbed to a new-fangled, four-wheeled, dammed horseless carriage.

This is a beautiful watery walk and although largely landscaped by human hands it still looks very hands off, wild and relatively quiet. We saw only a couple of people all day and we never see many here and that's possibly due to the lack of any parking nearby - you need to start from Billingshurst really. If you do go please try to keep dear Rover out of the water - it's like a long, thread-like nature reserve passing through some of our loveliest countryside and needs our help to keep it remaining so. The old Wey & Arun Canal is undergoing continuous restoration and the magnificent team that are doing the work are always looking for volunteers to help.
One last surprise - we thought we were going to be strafed by a German Fokker! That's an old biplane before you start. Video at the bottom of the page.

Almost completely natural looking. It's in danger of becoming overgrown again!

Amphibious Bistort and copulating Banded Demoiselles.

Fry - everywhere!

We think these are Rudd.

Pike! Gill says they have a friendly looking face. Not if you're a Stickleback they don't.

We found all of the straw at Lee Place.

Common Spotted Orchid amongst Foxgloves and about 20 other species.

Red Admiral. We also saw; Brimstone, Painted Lady, Comma, Meadow Brown, Skipper but no Peacocks.

Marsh Woundwort growing on the canal bank.

Pulborough church at golden hour.


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