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New Year's Bird Race

23 December 2014 | Posted in Author , Birds , , Nature Reserves

great grey shrike / Paul Marten great grey shrike / Paul Marten
Author Mike Russell

Senior Conservation Advisor

Every new year the Sussex Ornithological Society organise an annual bird race in Sussex where teams aim to record as many species as possible within the County in one day between the 1st - 14th January. This year I have assembled a crack team of Russell Bird Course graduates to take up the challenge, so on 2nd January, Jan Jupp, Lesley Milward, Mike English, and myself, under the name of Mike's Mergansers, are going to set out to record what we can.

We shall be recording on Sussex Wildlife Trust nature reserves, well we might just count anything that passes over our vehicle between reserves! Many teams take part in this with some travelling all over the County while others confine themselves to either a single reserve or parish, some use public transport or what they can record from their bikes. I anticipate that, with reasonable weather and not too many New Year hangovers, that we might record something like 75-80 species. We haven't yet decided on our route but it is likely that we will gravitate towards the west, so reserves visited are likely to include Ferry Pool, Levin Down, Stedham and Iping Commons, Burton Pond, Waltham Brooks and even Woods Mill!

In a totally heroic effort on my part, I will attempt to tweet my way around the reserves during the day, so you can follow our progress and share in our delight and despair at any one given time! (Follow Mike on Twitter here)

This is a fundraising event for the SOS who use these funds to support conservation projects across the County and the Sussex Wildlife Trust has been a beneficiary of many donations for land purchase or projects, the latest being ฃ15,000 towards the heathland management at Graffham Common, as well as ฃ17,000 for a little tern recovery project for the RSPB at Pagham Harbour. If you would like to sponsor us on our quest, please contact me at, any donation will be very welcome or you might like to sponsor us per species.

Let's then hope that the great grey shrike at Iping hangs around until January, there's an influx of short-eared owls at Waltham, that woodpeckers don't decide to hideaway for a day, and will we find a house sparrow? I'll let you know how we get on in the New Year.


  • Cliff Dean:

    26 Dec 2014 18:31:25

    Mike, you forgot feet! “Slow But Sure” will compete as pedestrians over in the Far East between Fairlight & Rye Harbour. Our total score might not be the highest but our sp/km ratio will beat all the car-bound teams.
    On the other hand, they may be warmer.

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