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Sussex Scrapbook ~ Wildlife walks throughout the year
Green Man
Saturday 28th December 2013
Amberley - Burgh - Wepham Down - Amberley
9 miles

The weather men said the day would be a sunny one, a calm period between all of the destructive storms we've been having of late, so we decided to avoid cabin fever by postponing the gluttony and venturing out to see how Sussex had been coping.

The whole of the Arun valley is completely flooded, all the way from Pulborough to Littlehampton and it looks incredible. We love to see it all inundated, everyone is used to it getting deluged, it's supposed to happen, it's a good thing! If your house gets flooded out then don't complain - just remind yourself why you bought a house in a beautiful, quiet location, on a flood plain. Riding through it on a train is a wonderful experience too as you feel you're in a long speed boat in the middle of a wide, snaking river. Several trains had recently been cancelled so I suppose we were lucky to make it to Amberley at all.

The Met Office were partially correct as we had a beautiful sunny start from home, beaming sunshine at Amberley and all the way up Rackham Hill and across to the Burgh. Things started to change then and a nimbostratus ceiling meant that most of the afternoon was wet and gloomy. All indications that another cold front was passing over, whipped up by the ghastly depression that's been hanging about off the north east coast of the UK all Christmas.

We decided to have some tea & cake and watch the hunters who were ostensibly shooting Grey Partridge and Pheasants but  who were mostly hanging about in the pouring rain doing nothing for ages. We kept a good eye on the places being beaten, as sometimes owls are disturbed too. We didn't spot any, although the beaters were not as noisy as on other hunts and any roosting owls hiding from the rain may have just sat it out and ignored them. 
In all fairness we thought that we were having a much better and a far cheaper time and we hadn't had to kill anything to do so!  However, this great bird-watching area wouldn't be as good as it is without all of the hard work done by the gamekeeper and his team. Mind you, we would have seen far more birds today if the air hadn't been chock-full of plumbium shot.

Birds seen and heard included; Buzzard, Red Kite (almost guaranteed nowadays), Kestrel, a few cronks from a Raven, several charms of Goldfinch, the hoot of a Tawny, a possible Ring Ousel, Dunnock, Robin and Chiffchaff. Our target species was Short-eared Owl and we know that they're about but if they're sensible they would've kept their heads down today anyway.

From the train

The view from the garden of the house we will buy when our lotto numbers come up. If the people will sell. Which we doubt!

Amberley Castle has a moat once again.

Amberley Wildbrooks prefers to be flooded anyway as it's home to some of our rarest species of marshland plants and animals.
Before the irrigation ditches were dug and the brooks were drained people used to canoe from Pulborough to Amberley, across the fields, to get to work.
I recently canoed from Arundel to Amberley and back and although it nearly killed me it was an ambition come true.

Another favourite tea & cake spot of ours.

Back at Rackham Hill and the South Downs Way at sundown.

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