Category: News

Upcoming SOS webinars

Two engaging online sessions are now open for bookings, speeding us towards lighter, brighter days.

Join rising star in the birding world and SOS Council member Mya Bambrick, who takes us on a journey sharing her birding highlights from her recent ‘21 Walks before 21‘. This session takes place at 7.30pm on Tuesday 27th February.

This will be an engaging and informative look at birding through Mya’s lens as a young naturalist. Register here to reserve your place.


Are you concerned by the impact of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) on our local bird populations? Join us on Tuesday 2nd April 2024 at 7.30pm led by expert, Claire Smith, RSPB Senior Policy Officer and lead on HPAI.

Entitled ‘Population Impacts of Avian Influenza‘. Claire will be talking about her HPAI work and the steps being taken by the RSPB to mitigate the risks. Sign up here to register.


Q&A sessions will follow the 40 minute talks and all are most welcome.




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 Records Committee

The time is sadly up for three of our SOSRC members: great thanks to Bola Akinola, Chris Ball and Derek Barber who have just finished their five-year terms and are stepping down – their input and expertise shall be solely missed!

Joining the Committee from 1st January are Andrew House and Jamie Partridge

Andrew has already served on the Committee and is a well-known figure at Selsey where he is a dedicated seawatcher and editor of the ‘Selseybirder’ blog.

Jamie has a great track record at finding BBRC rarities and is passionate about bird identification, having published papers for Birdguides and Dutch Birding. Welcome both!

David Thorns.


BTO Winter Gull Survey (WinGS)

The BTO will be running a Winter Gull Survey (WinGS) over this winter and next winter (2023-24 and 2024-25) with the primary aim of obtaining new population estimates for the principal species that winter in the UK and assessing how populations have changed since the last survey in 2003/04–2005/06. The results of this survey will also help to assess the impact of the ongoing outbreak of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) on gull populations. The survey will involve coordinated visits to key roost sites and additional visits to sample stretches of coastline and sample squares inland, with visits to key sites prioritised for January 2024. Visits to sample sites and outstanding key sites will then be prioritised for January 2025, with supplementary counts also proposed for the autumn in 2024. Further information about taking part can be found at

The date for surveys this winter is 21 January 2024 with surveys acceptable a few days either side of this date.

Key sites in Sussex for which volunteers are needed are listed below (updated 11/1/2024); please contact the organisers listed below for more information. Sites can also be selected online after registering at

Chichester Harbour: please contact Peter Hughes at

Coastal Sussex: please contact Dave Boddington at
Pagham Harbour
Littlehampton ALLOCATED
East Preston
West Worthing
East Worthing
Shoreham Beach ALLOCATED
Southwick Beach ALLOCATED
Brighton Marina ALLOCATED
Newhaven Harbour ALLOCATED
Newhaven Tidemills ALLOCATED
Seven Sisters/Birling Gap
Pevensey Bay ALLOCATED
St. Leonards

Inland Sussex: please contact Helen Crabtree at
Ardingly Reservoir ALLOCATED
Weirwood Reservoir ALLOCATED
Barcombe Reservoir ALLOCATED
Arlington Reservoir ALLOCATED
Darwell Reservoir ALLOCATED

Annual breeding woodcock monitoring 2024

New volunteers in Sussex are being sought to help to monitor national breeding woodcock numbers. Annual monitoring of roding woodcocks has taken place at a number of sites across the UK each year since 2003; a summary of the results can be found at

Three visits to a site are required between 1st May and 30th June, commencing 15 minutes before sunset and lasting a total of 75 minutes. For each visit a volunteer remains at a designated point and counts the number of times that roding birds are seen or heard. Full details, including survey methods, can be found at

Listed below (updated 18/3/2024) are sites that have been surveyed previously and where roding woodcocks are likely to be encountered; if you are interested in conducting surveys at one of these sites please contact Helen Crabtree at Also listed are sites that are already being monitored by existing volunteers. Sites not listed below can also be monitored if they are thought to hold breeding woodcocks; please contact Helen Crabtree with a grid reference and a site name if you are interested in conducting surveys at another site. Although the surveys are conducted at designated points, the sites are 1-km squares, and counting points should be separated by at least 1 km to avoid double-counting of roding birds.

SU8128 Chapel Common
SU8211 Bow Hill
SU8516 Westdean Woods
SU8525 Woolbeding Common ALLOCATED
SU8529 Stanley Common
SU8626 Woolbeding Common
SU9119 Ambersham Common ALLOCATED
SU9129 Blackdown ALLOCATED
SU9418 Lavington Common ALLOCATED
SU9518 Duncton Common ALLOCATED
SU9523 Upperton Common ALLOCATED
SU9727 Ebernoe Common ALLOCATED
SU9807 Rewell Wood
SU9906 Tortington Common
TQ0523 Adversane ALLOCATED
TQ0615 Northpark Wood ALLOCATED
TQ1229 Itchingfield ALLOCATED
TQ2130 St Leonard’s Forest ALLOCATED
TQ2233 Holmbush Forest ALLOCATED
TQ2429 Warren Wood
TQ3034 Worthlodge Forest ALLOCATED
TQ3327 River’s Wood (Balcombe) ALLOCATED
TQ4230 Chelwood
TQ4233 Broadstone Warren ALLOCATED
TQ4332 Ashdown Park ALLOCATED
TQ4432 Ashdown Ridge ALLOCATED
TQ4528 Marlpits ALLOCATED
TQ4530 Pippingford Park
TQ4626 Fairwarp ALLOCATED
TQ4627 Duddleswell ALLOCATED
TQ4630 Old Lodge ALLOCATED
TQ4732 Wrens Warren ALLOCATED
TQ4828 Poundgate ALLOCATED
TQ5223 Waste Wood (Hadlow Down) ALLOCATED
TQ5431 Hornshurst Wood (Rotherfield) ALLOCATED
TQ5526 Walsted Wood ALLOCATED
TQ5536 Broadwater Warren
TQ5732 Saxonbury Hill
TQ5736 Hargate Forest
TQ6217 Rushlake Green ALLOCATED
TQ7920 Brede High Wood ALLOCATED
TQ8020 Brede High Wood ALLOCATED
TQ8121 Chitcombe ALLOCATED
TQ8521 Beckley Woods ALLOCATED

Please contact Helen Crabtree at if you have questions about this survey or would like more information.

Arun to Adur farmland bird monitoring event

An event is being planned for Saturday 3 February 2024 that will bring together volunteer birdwatchers and farmers within the Arun to Adur Farmers Group. The intention is that volunteers will go out in small groups with farmers at a central location (to be confirmed but within the Arun to Adur area) and help to increase the confidence of the farmers in identifying and counting the farmland birds present. After a morning spent looking for birds the plan will be to then meet back with other volunteers and farmers for some networking and food. Hopefully some useful connections will be made and volunteers will optionally be able to make arrangements to meet farmers at other farms on later dates to help them to complete the GWCT Big Farmland Bird Count.

If you would be interested in meeting some farmers and sharing your bird knowledge with them then please come along!  Please contact Helen Crabtree at if you would like to attend and you will be sent details of the meeting time and place.

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

SOS Council member Mya Bambrick wins award

SOS Council member Mya Bambrick was presented with the Marsh Charitable Trust Young Ornithologist of the Year award at a ceremony on 2nd November.

Announcing the award, Marsh praised her work as a British Trust for Ornithology Youth Representative, which has seen her organise and lead events ranging from guided walks to beach clean-ups.

Marsh singled out Mya’s work at BTO’s Bird Camps, sharing her expert knowledge of birds and the natural world, her contribution to BTO surveys, and her photography and flm making, as well as her fundraising for BTO.

“Her passion for the natural world, combined with her supreme people and communication skills, makes her a shining example for young ornithologists to follow,” Marsh said.


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!

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