Following extensive consultation, including with the RSPB Crime Monitoring Unit, the Rare Breeding Birds Panel, neighbouring ornithological societies and our membership, the Sussex Ornithological Society (SOS) decided in 2022 that the time had come to be more open about some of the sites in the county where there is a chance of seeing Honey-buzzards and Goshawks in areas where they may breed.

For Goshawk, the decision was reasonably straightforward as the species is now doing well in Sussex, with 50-60 pairs breeding annually and the population probably still increasing. Honey-buzzards are much less numerous, but Sussex has perhaps the largest population of any county in the UK, with 20 pairs found in 2023. Three viewpoints for the species have been made public in counties with many fewer pairs and an assessment of risk concluded that some sites and viewpoints in Sussex could also be made public, subject to meeting certain criteria.

The just published ‘Where to Watch birds in Surrey and Sussex’ by Matt Phelps and Ed Stubbs includes a number of sites and viewpoints for both species in Sussex. Those for Honey-buzzard in particular do not provide guaranteed sightings, in part because of the species’ often cryptic behaviour, but also because sites are not necessarily occupied every year. The sites chosen are a mix of more reliable ones and those for which more records are needed: something that the SOS hopes that the new book will encourage.

The SOS has asked the Bird News Services only to publish inland sightings of Honey-buzzards where these are from the sites and viewpoints mentioned in the book.


Mark Mallalieu
Chair, Scientific Committee, Sussex Ornithological Society
16 February 2024