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Saturday 14th June 2008
Balcombe - Staplefield - Slough Green - Cuckfield - Wivelsfield Station
15 miles
GSI (Gill's sneeze index) 6/10

Getting to Staplefield early to do our BBS survey was problematic today and we finally got started at 9am. Not bad seeing as we had to get a train and then walk 3 miles to get there, but we had hoped to arrive much earlier. We recorded a lot of adult nuthatches along our two transects, and most of these were accompanied by 2 or 3 young ones all begging for food. In previous years we have only recorded one or two Bullfinches during our survey. This year we only found one and that was only evidenced by its melancholy song. Unfortunately we also found a dead female in the road.
After our survey was complete we wandered southwards with the intent of getting to Cuckfield for a tea flavoured beverage and another look at the view of the Downs from the churchyard. On the way, at Sidnye Farm, we had to make a bit of a detour due to a group of over-inquisitive bulls in a field. Gill was not at all happy about walking through them and so we had to find a new route around the field. Maybe Gill was right, as they seemed to be a group of teenage males and they were getting a bit excited. If in doubt, steer clear of 5 tonnes of charging, angry beef, that's what I say! Besides, if we hadn't gone that way, we wouldn't have found a group of Penny Buns growing under an oak.
The walk from Cuckfield to Wivelsfield takes in wide field boundaries and woods all of which are deep in lush, green, grasses, flowers, dog roses and ferns. The collaboration of recent night-time rains with hot sunny days has brought about ideal growing conditions, which must be appreciated by all of the local farmers, most of whom seem to be growing wheat. The European Commission has reduced the amount of set-aside land in England by half, from 500,000 hectares to 250,000 hectares. At the same time, wheat prices are at an all-time high. It is not surprising then to find that many of our walks in Sussex are now taking us through many fields of this crop. The obvious bad side to this change of land use is that native flowers and animals will suffer from loss of habitat.

A freshly killed but uneaten Common Shrew (Sorex araneus).
Perhaps we disturbed the assassin.

The end of our BBS survey is marked by this lake.
Today it produced buzzard, kestrel and green and great spotted woodpeckers.

A group of about 8 Boletus edulus, aka Penny Buns, Ceps or Porcini mushrooms.
Edible and delicious but we didn't disturb them.

Red-legged partridge

A Kestrel looking for shrews perhaps

Cuckfield Church