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14th July 2007
Eastbourne - Birling Gap - Long Down

As usual Crawley was covered in dark clouds, but as soon as we left the town conditions started to improve. By the time we got to Eastbourne we had beautiful summer weather and perfect conditions for a walk. On the way, we had good views of a weasel by the side of the road. What a great start!
The downland flowers on the downs are out in force now and we spent ages seeing how many kinds we could recognise. At the Belle Tout  lighthouse (which is up for sale if you're interested) we had 3 peregrine falcons playing directly above our heads. They were shrieking and dog fighting for ages just above us, but not one of the many tourists there even noticed them!
Just before Birling Gap we came across a short-tailed vole sitting in the middle of the path seemingly in some kind of distress. It had it's eyes closed and was breathing very hard and was just sitting still. In order to prevent it from being trodden on we picked it up and moved it to the grass verge. It immediately ran back down onto the path again! There was nothing we could do for the poor creature so we eventually left it there. We found a bank vole in a very similar condition in
Cornwall once, and it may be that they were both being attacked by some predator just as we happened along. We don't know for sure, but they are very sensitive animals who's main function in life is to be food for predatory birds and mammals.
Just after Birling gap we headed inland over Went Hill to East Dean and then back via Long Down. On Long Down (which is very beautiful by the way) we were lucky enough to see a Little Owl, a Sparrowhawk and a Cuckoo as well as a flock of starlings getting ready to roost.
This was a fantastic 8 mile walk with outstanding views and a multitude of wildlife along the whole way. Why not give it
a go!

A white, Greater Knapweed (Centaurea scabiosa)

Marbled White butterfly (Melannargia galathea)

Short-tailed vole (Microtus agrestis). See the video.

Birling gap on the right with Belle tout lighthouse to the left, seen from Went hill.

Eyebright (Euphrasia rostkoviana)

Here is the Tiger inn at East Dean. A pub that welcomes hikers!

An unusual swing gate at East Dean church.

East Dean church door

Long Down covered in field poppies.