Things to do

Birdwatching

British woodland birds – species you may spot at our campsites

There are lots of woodland birds at our three off-grid campsites and in the areas surrounding, so birdwatching is another great camping activities you can do at our sites, whether you are a seasoned watcher or a novice with an eye for nature.

Woodland birds in Sussex are usually easier to hear than to see but with a little patience, most birdwatchers will be rewarded. East and West Sussex offer rich habitats for birds from the heathland of the Ashdown Forest to rolling countryside and, of course, woodlands like the ones at Beech Estate, Wild Boar Wood and Lewes where The Secret Campsites are located.

A young Great Tit

All our sites have an abundance of woodland birds. Species you are likely to see around the campsite and in the woods include great tits, blue tits, long-tailed tits and marsh tits, chaffinches, blackbirds, robins and dunnock. More difficult to spot, but common in the woodlands, are blackcaps and wrens. One of the smallest birds found in this country, wrens are usually found on or close to the ground. At the other end of the scale, pheasants are probably the largest birds commonly seen in both Wild Boar Wood and Beech Estate Woodland. Other game birds can also sometimes be seen and a breeding bird survey carried out in 2013 at Wild Boar Wood identified part of the wood as a suitable habitat for breeding woodcock. A follow-up survey in 2016 found an estimated 55 pairs of breeding birds – an increase from our first survey.

The cooing sound of another of the larger woodland birds, the wood pigeon, is very familiar in the woodland and often followed by a loud flutter of wings as, despite their size, these birds are easily scared. The noise of woodpeckers tap-tap-tapping on the trees can also add to the chorus of natural sounds in Sussex woodlands. You can look out for woodpecker holes in dead trees and tree trunks at both of our woodland campsites. Green and great spotted woodpeckers are seen in both woodlands and, in 2015, at least one pair of great spotted woodpeckers nested in Wild Boar Wood and was caught on camera by our warden Pete.

A young Great Spotted Woodpecker.

A young Great Spotted Woodpecker at Wild Boar Wood campsite in Sussex.

A young tawny owl is also believed to have been born in the woodland with many of our campers hearing its squeaks – though far fewer managed to spot it. Adult tawny owls calling to each other result in the distinctive twit-twoo that is often associated with owls. In the fields around Wild Boar Wood, so not strictly a member of the group: woodland birds in Sussex, you can sometimes spot a barn owl. These heart-faced pale owls love to hunt in open countryside and often swoop silently past the woodland on their rounds as dusk falls.

Baby Tawny Owl.

A Barn Owl at dusk.

A nocturnal visitor to some Sussex woodlands for a few months in the summer is the nightjar. These kestrel-like birds have a very distinctive call and prefer open areas in woodlands and conifers. Nightjars have been heard and their silhouettes seen swooping through the glades at Beech Estate Woodland Campsite by a lucky few. Read more about them in one of warden Theresa’s blog posts from 2015.

The RSPB has an A-Z bird identifier including some sound clips of bird songs and the Sussex Ornithological Society has more detailed information on Sussex birds.

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