Sunday 5 September 2010

Up the Downs and down the ups

Our second day in Burpham dawns bright and clear. By the time we've finished a leisurely breakfast, it's already rather hot.

There's plenty of walking available straight from the hotel door, so after browsing our Ordnance Survey map of the area, we set off on a steady climb to the top of the South Downs ridge at Rackham Hill. We're huge fans of big skies, and the hills of Sussex offer a plentiful supply. However, the effect is somewhat ruined by all the bloody con trails...

AONB = Area of Outstandingly Noxious Boeings
Reaching the high point of the ridge, we're met with a grand view over the Arun valley, taking in Amberley Wild Brooks, Pulborough Brooks and Wiggonholt Common. A breeze is whistling up the scarp of the hill and the bushes at the top are full of birds feeding on insects. We identify a couple of dozen Spotted Flycatchers, half a dozen Redstarts, a few Whitethroats and a Wheatear.

Flotted Spycatcher
We follow the South Downs Way west, dropping off the ridge to Amberley Station. The fields hereabouts have wide margins, planted for wildlife and full of birds. We put up a huge charm of Golfinches, getting on for a hundred individuals. We stop for a spot of lunch at the Bridge Inn and as neither of us are driving, we can both sample a pint of local ale. Leaving the pub, we follow the River Arun back towards Burpham. At North Stoke, we see a Hornet seize a wasp from a bramble flower and carry it off. Skirting South Stoke, a pair of Whinchat fly up from a Hawthorn bush and our lass spots a family of Treecreepers in a Willow on the river bank. There are Migrant Hawkers and Common Darters aplenty but we only see one damselfly, a Common Blue.

Back at the hotel, we visit the bar to "rehydrate" and sit in the garden, supping our drinks and watching the proprietor's chickens wandering amongst the flower borders. We round off the day with an evening meal in the restaurant and retire to bed, exhausted but happy.

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