I’VE SEEN few holly berries this year but I found these in a wood at Chithurst. However, there are scores of goodies and here are just a few ‘must-sees’ for you.
Three of the best views of our incredible county are the ones from the top of Kingley Vale on Bow Hill, Amberley Mount, and Chanctonbury Ring.
From these you have that ‘one grey glimpse of sea’ made famous by Tennyson.
At your feet stretch the brightly-coloured Wealden woods and the Chichester plain.
There are also those lovely blue-remembered hills as the downs fade into deepest distance.
East Sussex Downs are almost clean-shaven compared with West Sussex and the fusion of curves far more dramatic and intense and far less intimate, giving that sense of earth to sky that so fascinated the Pharaohs of Ancient Egypt with their pyramids.
Downs are where you might well see that aerial wanderer, the hen harrier.
A cock bird is about this year, somewhere in the upper Arundel Park down-land above the River Arun from North stoke. He is the one to see, with his pale blue mantle that mimics the shadow of a snowdrift.
Go to Goodwood’s Trundle Hill above the horse racing course, to see a red kite.
One or two often circle over that Iron Age fort with half-a-dozen buzzards in the thermals created there by air currents rushing up the valleys and continuing upwards into the heavens.
Woodland walks of the Weald often turn up a large flock of fieldfares, who have escaped the winters of Norway and Sweden.
They like a few meadows nearby on which to feed if berries have already gone, and I generally see them north of South Harting.
A walk over the heather moors of Iping, Ambersham and Woolbeding may well give you a briefest peek at one of the rarest birds of all, the Dartford Warbler, as several of these now stay in this country throughout the winter due to global warming – though they will be feeling a bit cold if the forecast winter snows arrive!
Now for the wetlands.
A thousand brent geese can often be seen easily from West Wittering carpark, where they graze on the grassy meadows .
A walk around East Head nearby, or Bracklesham Bay, might show you one of our rarest Sussex waders, the sanderling: if you notice a white clockwork mouse running along the tide-line – then that is it.
Stand either end of the Great Deep on Thorney Island’s seawall path to see a stream of wading birds and wild duck going into the nature reserve as the tide rises and falls. Fishbourne creek will show you a score of different wetland bird species too: curlew, grey plover, redshank, wigeon, teal, pintail ... make sure you have a bird book in your pocket.