Kithurst to The Burgh

Cowslip at Medley Bottom

I did my annual May trip from Kithurst to The Burgh and back via Downs Farm this afternoon, my 3rd year doing this route. I'm not sure whether it's owed to my better experience or a better year for birds, but I recorded much higher counts of most species, particularly Skylark and Whitethroat of which there were no less than 30 of each. This year I opted to record a count for all species, something I can do more now that I'm getting more experienced. I still haven't seen the numbers of singing Corn Bunting that I did in 2019 when I had 9. Last year it was just 2 and this year 4, mostly heard around Peppering. Weather this year was similar to last with a brisk wind at times. I recall the 2019 trip was calm, so perhaps the wind is affecting my hearing the birds. 5 Yellowhammers were noted of which 4 were singing males, a similar number to previous years. I had higher counts of both Grey Partridge and Lapwing this year. My report from last year is here and counts are included below. Species in highest number, excluding Woodpigeon, was Blackbird, which were everywhere. I noted 50 as a minimum estimate, but I stopped counting every bird after I got to 30 half way around. A minimum 30 Red-legged Partridges were noted. 

Grey Partridge

Species Counts

There was a remarkable lack of Crows along the way, perhaps owed to the predator controls in place around Pepppering and The Burgh. A lot of visible conservation effort has been put in around this area with a new dew pond and lots of nest boxes put up, all with "BASC" very prominently emblazoned on the side. The dew pond was attended by a few Linnets and Goldfinches, and 4 Lapwings were busy in this area seeing off predators.

Lapwing

Linnet

New Dew Pond

I rested where I normally do, at an area I recently learnt is called Medley Bottom; a steep valley north of The Burgh and east of Stoke Hazel Wood. This stunning hidden beauty spot is enhanced by a dew pond at the bottom of the valley and a carpet of Cowslip covering the south bank. Goldfinches were darting about and a Raven was quarrelling with a Buzzard. At least 4 Red Kites were patrolling the area. On the north bank a herd of "oreo cookie" Belted Galloway cattle were grazing. I noted at least 6 Hares in this area and, perhaps coincidentally or maybe not, they all appeared to be paired up with a Pheasant! Whenever I saw a Hare there was a Pheasant next to or nearby it, although there is generally a Pheasant nearby most things around here. 

Medley Bottom

Medley Bottom Dew Pond

Hare

Pheasant

Raven

I walked through the Downs Farm Vinyard where there were a few Ravens around (one of which appearing to be conversing with a sheep!) and up to Rackham Hill. This area is interesting for the prehistoric site of Rackham Banks which comprises a crossdyke, Itford Hill settlement and Field System (this is worth a read on this fascinating subject). 

Tired now after 3 hours in the field, I dragged myself along the ridge of Springhead Hill to Kithurst. A few Painted Ladies were seen holding territory whilst the sounds of Skylark and Whitethroat continued to ring in my ears. A classic downland walk. 

Painted Lady

Red Kite



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