Author: Val Bentley

SOS New Year Bird Race – Results now in!

All teams have now submitted their lists and congratulations are due to the Hot Shot Harriers (Matt Eade & Tim Squire) on finding 115 species on 1st January.  Not quite a record – that still stands with The Splash Pointers’ 123 back in 2018 – Matt was part of that team too!

In 2nd place were The Dynamic Duo (Elliot Chandler & John Thorogood) with 96 and Mike’s Mergansers (Mike Russell, Lesley Milward, Mike English & Charles Waters) were 3rd with 91.  Joint 4th with 90 were The Martlets and Whelpley Waders.

Many thanks to all teams who took part – the highest ever number of teams and participants.

There will be a more detailed report in the Spring newsletter.

Conference Presentations now on YouTube

At the Annual Conference on 27th January there were four inspiring talks highlighting the efforts being undertaken to restore vital habitat and protect and help many different species.  For members and others who missed them on the day you can now catch up with all the presentations:

Rye Harbour

Barry Yates talk on his 30 years at Rye Harbour Nature reserve detailed the ups (and downs) of species, land acquisition and conservation efforts during that time – though his personal highlight must still be the discovery of “Squeaker” the only British Least Tern which returned every year from 1983-1992!

Lewes Swifts

The difficulties faced by Swifts are well known, and Mike Ramsey showed how local initiatives undertaken in Lewes by forming a Swift Group, raising awareness and taking practical action to monitor nest sites and install boxes, can really benefit the breeding population of this iconic summer visitor.

Perching Manor Farm

During the afternoon session David Ellin explained how a working commercial farm is improving habitat for farmland birds by sensitive farming, reducing pesticide use, using no drill methods and taking advantage of agri-environment schemes. The farm has seen numbers of farmland birds increase – including the return of breeding Lapwings. This family-owned farm won the FWAG National Silver Lapwing award in 2015 for its efforts.

Broadwater Warren

Finally one of the RSPB’s newest reserves, Broadwater Warren, has received much support from SOS, and Alan Loweth showed that the transformation of this previous conifer forest into a mosaic of heathland and wet woodland has led to breeding success for species such as Nightjars, Woodlark and Dartford Warbler. Many thanks to our Conference Organiser David Porter for arranging the event, and to all those who helped both before and during the day.

Many thanks to Jonathan (Jonno) Cook for recording and uploading these. Enjoy !




SOS Conference 27th January

There are still places available at the Conference at Oathall Community College, Haywards Heath, on Saturday 27th January.  It’s a great chance to meet together with other members, enjoy the four very varied presentations arranged by Conference Organiser David, browse the natural history bookstall plus many other displays.  If you have mislaid your booking form, please contact Val on or ring 01273 494723


You should soon be receiving your winter newsletter, with a reminder about getting your team together for a 2024 SOS New Year Bird Race.  If you’re old hats at this, or if you want to give it a try for the first time, please contact Val Bentley on or ring 01273 494723 for further information and the Race Pack. That reminds me – must get the Fab Four team sorted!

2022 Bird Report published – join SOS now to get your copy!

Membership is only £14 p.a. (£17 joint). If you join from 1 November your membership will run to the end of December 2024, and you will get THREE Sussex Bird Reports for your year’s subscription – the 2021 edition, the 2022 Report, just published , PLUS the 2023 report which will be published  in autumn 2024.

In addition, we are planning a full programme of walks in 2024, an in person Conference in January, and you will receive 4 newsletters a year, by post or email as preferred.

Life membership is a bargain £200 (Joint Life £250), and if you are a full-time student or Under 21, the rate is just £4.50.

Too good an offer to miss?  Click on “Join us” on the toolbar.

Mainly for “eastern” members

The SOS is holding a special meeting in Hailsham on the evening of 27th October, for all volunteers, and potential volunteers. If you are already involved in undertaking surveys or other work on behalf of the SOS, or would like to find out more, do come along to meet other members, and our President, Chris Corrigan. Terry Hallahan of the Sussex Barn Owl Study Group has also kindly agreed to give a presentation about the work of the SBOSG. If you are interested, please email me on by 13th October and I will send you further details.

Adur River Recovery Project

This will be of particular interest to our members and others who live in or near the Adur Valley.

The Adur River Recovery Project aims to improve the overall health of this important and historic Sussex river. This project is one of only 22 landscape recovery projects in the country.

It’s vital that the project hears from local people who visit and live near the Adur.  So, the project’s partners (Knepp Wildland Foundation, Adur District Council, Horsham District Council, Ouse & Adur Rivers Trust, Sussex Wildlife Trust and Wilder Horsham District) have developed a survey to find out how people use it, and what they think and feel about it.

The survey (link below) has 26 questions and should take no more than 10 minutes to complete.

SOS Conference 28th January 2023

Still plenty of spaces left!

No doubt members are being a little cautious still, but if you are planning to come and have mislaid the details and booking form which came with the autumn newsletter, then please contact me on or 01273 494723

The four speakers are:

Henri Brocklebank:  Director of Conservation Policy and Evidence at the Sussex Wildlife Trust (Conservation successes of SOS & SWT over the past 60 years)

Peter Hughes: Ecologist at Chichester Harbour Conservancy (conservation work in the Harbour to help the  breeding terns )

Greg Conway:  Senior Research Ecologist at the BTO (Nightjar migration and tracking studies)

Ryan Burrell: Game & Wildlife Conservancy Trust (status and conservation of waders on the South Downs, with a focus on the Norfolk estate)

SOS New Year Bird Race 2023

Hope that many of you will soon be organising your teams for the SOS New Year Bird Race!  Last year there 16 different teams which took part; they saw 139 species and raised over £1500! The winning Team, on 102 species, were The Dynamic Duo (Elliot Chandler & John Thorogood).

Regular racers will know the Rules, and there will be further details in the winter newsletter, but the main ones are

  • it must be carried out on a single day in the first two weeks of January
  • you must confine yourself to within the county boundary
  • teams should consist of at least 2 people
  • all members of the team should see or hear the species claimed (though doesn’t have to be the same individual bird), unless the team consists of 4 or more, in which case 3 must record the species

Very good luck to all those planning to Race, which should include myself!

Contact me on or ring 01273 494723 for the Race Pack





Sussex Bird Report 2021 – just published

The 2021 Sussex Bird Report is now out, full of fascinating information derived from your observations and survey work. There are papers describing a remarkable upward revision of the Marsh Tit population estimate, the exciting results of the Honey-buzzard survey, as well as on Dartford Warblers in Ashdown Forest, urban gulls, and Nightingales and Turtle Doves in Chiddingfold Forest. Plus lots of beautiful artwork from three well-known artists, gorgeous photos and of course the systematic list and all the other regular features. Huge thanks to Editor Mark Mallalieu and his team.

SOS members receive a copy through their letterbox, non-members can purchase a copy for £13 (includes P & P) from Val Bentley, Lanacre, Blackgate Lane, Henfield BN5 9HA Cheques payable to Sussex Ornithological Society, or contact Val for bank transfer details.

BUT join the SOS now (your membership will run until 31.12.23) and get the brand new Bird Report, plus the 2022 edition when it is published this time next year  click on “Join us” for this 2 for 1 offer. Due to the amazing take up of the previous 3 for 1 offer we have now run out of 2020 Reports, but it’s still a fantastic deal!

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