Walk report -- Cissbury Ring

We'd been looking forward to our Autumn Migration at Cissbury Ring walk for a long time, so we were gutted when the weather forecast for 2nd October was just too grim to go ahead. We rescheduled for three weeks down the line and this turned out to have a gleaming silver lining in that it far more migrant birds had been coming in. Large numbers of thrushes and finches, typical late autumn migrants, had just arrived in the country so the timing was spot on.

The group walked up through the meadows from the Storrington Rise car park, where promising early sightings included Common Reed Bunting, European Stonechat and Eurasian Skylark. We were eager to get to the main site, though, so made a bee line for the Ring itself.

Our first stop was a big yew tree often popular with autumn thrushes. A Mistle Thrush offered a fantastic view through the telescope but we worried this boisterous bird may have seen our target species off, or at least make it keep an extra-low profile. Then, a loud 'tuck tuck' some way off alerted us to the bird we were after - a Ring Ouzel - flying to the crown of a distant oak. There was just enough time to get it in the telescope before it vanished.

Meanwhile, three Common House Martins and a Barn Swallow flew around us at eye-level - perhaps our final farewell to these species for 2021 as they head south to central and southern Africa for the winter. European Goldfinches were enjoying the autumn seedheads, along with a few Common Linnets and European Greenfinches.

As we continued our walk, it was clear that Common Chaffinches were migrating overhead, joined by at least one Brambling which gave its distinctive call as it headed west, and a few Eurasian Siskins. Redwings, fresh from Fennoscandia, passed overhead in small flocks. A number of Song Thrushes, Eurasian Blackbirds and European Robins were around, and we got a sense that come of these were likely migrants from northern Europe too.

We heard the distinctive calls of Eurasian Green Woodpecker and Great Spotted Woodpecker, while a young Common Buzzard called plaintively in the distance. A busy flock of Long-tailed Tits had a Common Chiffchaff tagging along. A few Yellowhammers were more easily seen than heard, but everybody got a good look at one in the end.

As we began to make our way back to the car park, we paused by the yew tree again. The Mistle Thrush was still standing guard but two Ring Ouzels escaped its attention by diving deep into the lower section to sneakily gorge on some berries.

We were entertained on the final leg back down the slope by a flock of Meadow Pipits pottering around by the path and close fly-by from a Common Kestrel.

We were all delighted with the variety of migrating and resident birds we encountered - 43 species in total during our two-and-a-half hours of birdwatching. Here's the list:

  1. Ring-necked Pheasant

  2. Feral Pigeon

  3. Stock Dove

  4. Common Woodpigeon

  5. Black-headed Gull

  6. Herring Gull

  7. Common Buzzard

  8. Great Spotted Woodpecker

  9. Eurasian Green Woodpecker

  10. Common Kestrel

  11. Eurasian Jay

  12. Common Magpie

  13. Eurasian Jackdaw

  14. Rook

  15. Carrion Crow

  16. Eurasian Blue Tit

  17. Great Tit

  18. Eurasian Skylark

  19. Barn Swallow

  20. Common House Martin

  21. Common Chiffchaff

  22. Long-tailed Tit

  23. Goldcrest

  24. Eurasian Wren

  25. Common Starling

  26. Mistle Thrush

  27. Song Thrush

  28. Redwing

  29. Eurasian Blackbird

  30. Ring Ouzel

  31. European Robin

  32. European Stonechat

  33. Dunnock

  34. Pied/White Wagtail

  35. Meadow Pipit

  36. Common Chaffinch

  37. Brambling

  38. European Greenfinch

  39. Eurasian Linnet

  40. European Goldfinch

  41. Eurasian Siskin

  42. Yellowhammer

  43. Common Reed Bunting