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Sussex Scrapbook ~ Wildlife walks throughout the year
Green Man
Saturday 13th November 2010
Washington - Chanctonbury Ring - No Man's land - North End - Washington
9 miles

We'd given ourselves three main objectives for this walk - the first one was going to be easy, to relax and unwind in this fabulous area between Chanctonbury and Cissbury Ring no matter what the weather threw at us. The second and third were going to be a lot harder: to try to find a Hen Harrier and a Short-eared Owl, both of which spend the winter in this area and have recently been spotted by Sussex birders. That didn't mean however that they'd be easy to find. As it turned out though, IT DID! The weather stayed dry and warm and the Harrier turned up while we were drinking tea and stuffing ourselves with cake! Just before the light started to fade the owl turned up too, giving us great close-up views for a while until the local gang of corvids saw it off. Several pursued it higher and higher into the air until it resembled a small, fluttering bat.
The Downs are alive with birds now, with large, mixed flocks of smaller species darting from tree to tree and shrub to shrub. There are thousands of pigeons too and these are helping to draw in even more birds of prey: as well as our two target birds we also saw Sparrowhawk, Buzzard and Kestrel.
So don't let the colder weather put you off from walking in the Sussex countryside, get out there and enjoy all of the action.

From Washington to Chanctonbury you're surrounded by inquisitive sheep.

Although decimated by the '87 storm, Chanctonbury Ring is still an important landmark on the Downs and has a special, magical atmosphere of it's own.
The original ring of beech trees was planted in 1760 by a sixteen year old boy called Charles Goring who had incredible foresight for one so young.
In his old age he wrote a poem that expressed this.

Oh! Could I live to see thy top
In all its beauty dress'd
That time's arrived; I've had my wish,
and lived to eighty-five.
I'll thank my God who gave such grace,
as long as e'er I live.

Old Man's beard (Clematis vitalba)

White Dead Nettle (Lamium album)

A small dip in the downs called No Man's land.
We (well, me actually: Gill missed it) got a short glimpse of a ringtail Hen Harrier as it tried to escape being mobbed by crows.
In fact I would have missed it too if it hadn't been for all of the crow activity.

Short-eared Owl. A beautiful, striking and very graceful bird.