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Sussex Scrapbook ~ Wildlife walks throughout the year
Green Man
Saturday 20th August 2011
Thorney Island - Anti-clockwise

If you want to see an Osprey in Sussex, then right now is the time to be out looking for them as they are on migration down from the increasingly cold north of the UK back down to sunny Africa. One of the best places in Sussex to look for them is Chichester Harbour, one of a number of Osprey service stations where they stop to refuel and fatten up before the next leg of their journey. They can turn up at many different locations over the expanse of this huge bird reserve but we like to direct our searches from Thorney Island, on the Sussex side of the harbour.
As we approached Prinsted on the bike the overcast sky was starting to drop some rain on us but we could already see blue sky above the island. Sure enough, the further south we walked along the sea wall the hotter it became and around us spectacular clouds became curtained with virga. We'd made it off the stormy mainland and out onto the sun-kissed tropical island safe and dry. With such an omen we knew we would find our target of the day eventually and 5 hours of bliss around the circumference of the MOD land later, we caught up with our prey at the Great Deeps on the eastern side. It was perched for a while atop one of the many wooden posts that the Army has erected over the years, casting it's predatory eye all about whilst shimmering in a heat haze. We got an excellent view through a fellow birder's telescope (many thanks). Finally it took to the air on extremely long wings and set off south back towards Pilsey Island nature reserve. The very fact that most of the island is inaccessible makes this a great habitat for wildlife, but the flatness of the terrain and the often raised position of the footpath means you also have an excellent chance of seeing it.
The sandy area at the south of the island known as Pilsey Island is a nature reserve and is a very fragile ecosystem of importance. It is best left alone entirely and we advocate the option of seeing what you can from the main footpath and not visiting the site at all. Sometimes there are seals there but these are easily viewed from the main path too.

Not the first thing you expect to see, is it?

But things soon start to become more natural and lush.

The Great Deeps on the western side.

It seems to have been a good year for berries and drupes. We've seen sloes the size of grapes.

Bar-tailed Godwits.

A field of Wild Carrot with the South Downs in the background.

The interior of the island is bewitching but the backdrop is always the sea.

Lords & Ladies - like all of the other plants it's looking very fruitful.

Not sure what this butterfly was that we found part opened. It may have been a Gatekeeper.

An identification shot through the heat haze of our 'target of the day' - The Osprey.

Take the time to read the countryside code for yourself and please stick to it at all times.