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Saturday 10th February 2007
Pulborough Brooks

With still no bike, and a very wet, dull morning before us, Saturday looked like it would be a bit of a washout. Even so we thought that we would get the train to Pulborough and try and see the Firecrest (Regulus ignicapillus) that has been visiting there recently. These very small birds are quite rare in this country and visit us in the winter from Eastern Europe. We had never seen one properly before. Once at Rye someone pointed one out to us, but we only saw a tiny glimpse of it amongst heavy cover. This time we were determined to do the job properly.
Things did not go well from the off. The trains were all messed up because of a fatality in Thornton heath, so we ended up going via Arundel !?! After two and a half hours travel we finally made the 20 minute journey to Pulborough. So then we tramped through the mud (good fun that was), along the river, through the marshy bits, and into the RSPB reserve. We arrived at the spot that the Firecrest had been seen in, just as the Firecrest and 20 screaming kids on a guided tour turned up. The result was that we saw a tiny glimpse of the bird as it flew away from all of the noise. What can you do eh? So we plodded off with the huff around the site and had tea and cake(s) at the Barn to cheer ourselves up.
On the way to the Barn we came across a small pond that had floating Fairy Moss (Azolla caroliniana) all over the surface. We joked that it looked so solid that you could walk across it. When we got to the Barn, Gill found a 10 year old girl in the toilets drying off, after apparently walking straight into the pond thinking it was a solid surface. That cheered us up no end!

Ok, so we got to walking back the way we had come and got to the Firecrest spot again. This time we were enthralled by a private viewing of the star attraction. It came to within 6 feet of us, and through the binoculars we could see every tiny feather. Amazing!
In all we saw 39 species today. We had hoped to see the Barn owl on the way back along the river, but it was raining a bit and they don't fly in the rain. Not bad for a washout of a day!


Fairy Moss (Azolla caroliniana).
Lesson 1. This plant will not support the weight of a human.

Gill is very happy walking about in wet mud. Although white trousers could possibly be a mistake.

The marshy bit.


The Primroses (Primula vulgaris) and Lords and Ladies (Arum italicum) are nearly ready for Spring.

I take a picture of this view every time we are here. There are huge changes in the water levels over the course of the year. During the summer this was entirely dried up.