This evening I was looking at potential sites for watching diurnal migration. The map suggests that Amberley is probably a good bet for finding a productive spot nearby, as this where the River Arun passes through the South Downs. It therefore has two features which could make it productive for seeing migration. The first is the river, which, according to bird migration theory, is the type of feature that birds follow on migration, and given the River Arun runs north-south, logic would suggest this makes it even more suitable as a migration route. The second feature is the valley in the South Downs through which the river runs, and in which Amberley sits. There is evidence that birds 'funnel' through features like this, saving energy on ascending to go over the top, and the South Downs is nearly 200 metres above sea level here.

Arun Valley

So the plan was to find the best spot in Amberley to overlook the Arun Valley. It appears that the narrowest point is roughly Houghton Bridge, with steep chalk cliffs to the east, creating an eastern headland to the valley, and to the west is the gradual incline of Houghton Hill. The first, and least suitable (at least as far as access will allow), of two spots I visited today was the eastern chalk cliff, which can be seen above Amberley Train Station. There is a public footpath running from High Titton through a line of trees to a dead end at the edge of the cliff. However, frustratingly it doesn't bring you out right at the top and there is a lot of tree cover. I noticed there was a way to climb higher but this would be on private land and potentially dangerous. Despite this setback it wasn't a wasted trip as I found a small passerine flock containing a few Chiffchaffs and a couple of Marsh Tits.

The second spot was Amberley Mount. The downside of this spot is that it's further east and therefore further from the river, and the views are quite restricted, from where I stood anyway, providing little more than 45 degrees of outlook encompassing north and west.

View from Amberley Mount

Notwithstanding, the views are excellent, giving an uninterrupted vista across the River Arun from Pulborough in the north and around to Houghton Hill and Arundel Park in the west. I have no doubt this would be a decent spot to set up early one morning, and a Whinchat spotted on the way up is clear evidence that migrants come through here, but it just doesn't feel optimal given the distance from the river combined with the restricted views.


Scrape on Amberley Wildbrooks 

Ducks on the River Arun

Winpenny hide at Pulborough Brooks


Red-legged Partridge

The search continues, but in the meantime there is a decent walk from Houghton Bridge following the river and I'm curious if this could be fruitfull, so that will be my trip tomorrow.


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