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  • Writer's pictureSim Elliott

Birding close to home. Whitehawk Hill to Rottingdean, via Sheepcote Valley and Ovingdean. 23.03.22

I decided to do a walk that I did many times from January to April 20211, when the covid-19 lockdown regulations prohibited leaving your local area. My journey started with the footpath opposite my front door that leads to Craven Woods on Whitehawk Hill. From the top of the hill I crossed Manor Hill Road and walked past Whitehawk Hill Fort and Brighton Racecourse, then I crossed the top of Wilson Avenue, and walked though the top Sheepcote Valley to the beginning of the race course. From there I walked down the valley path, to the east of East Brighton Golf Club, down to the village of Ovingdean ('dean' is Old English for valley). I joined the road (Greenways) at Ovingdean, and walked a little way south to Beacon Hill Road (the only road walking of this walk), where I walked over Beacon Hill into Rottingdean (where I had lunch at my mother's house. Later in the afternoon I walked through Rottingdean, along the undercliff to Ovingdean beach, where I caught the bus back to Brighton.

These are the birds I saw:

Whitehawk to Beacon Hill: Blackbirds, House Sparrows, Dunnocks, Blue Tits, Great Tits, Robbins, Greenfinches, Starlings, a Kestrel, Carrion Crows, Magpies, Skylarks

Rottingdean Pond: Mallards, Tufted Ducks, Pintails, Wigeon, Red-Crested Pochards

Undercliff: Herring Gulls, Black-Headed Gulls, Jackdaws, Feral Pigeons, Starlings, a Fulmar, Rock Pipits

The path opposite my house, leading to Craven Wood (Whitehawk Hill)

The Jacobs Ladder steps through Craven Woods

Carrion Crows on the top of Whitehawk close to the Whitehawk Hill TV transmitter. There are always many crows in the trees here.

Brighton from the top of Whitehawk Hill

A Greenfinch; there are frequently many Greenfinches in the trees on Whitehawk Hill; the Craven Vale allotments on the hill have many seed bird feeders, which may explain the abundance of Greenfinches

The i£^) tower and Sussex Heights flats from Whitehawk Hill

Wild Celery

A Dunnock

A Greenfinch

A Magpie near the end of the Race Course

Looking toward Sheepcote Valley from Whitehawk Hill

Herdwicks grazing the scarp slope of Whitehawk Hill, with Whitehawk estate in the background.

The path southeast of the racecourse, on the left introduced pine tress

A Brimstone butterfly on the bramble hedge below the pine trees.

Another Greenfinch

More finches

A Kestrel in a tree, in front of the Swanborough Flats Whitehawk, one of which is called Kestrel Court. I often see Kestrels on this walk.

Close-ups of the Kestrel

A Greenfich with the Kestrel

The Kestrel in flight

A Blackbird

A Carrion Crow

A Hawthorne Trees, characteristic of the South Downs, and the first tree to flower in the spring. See Look again... at the legendary hawthorn tree - Sussex Bylines for Hawthorne folklore

Buff-Tailed Bumblebees on the Hawthorne

Close-up of Hawthorne blossom

Buff-tailed Bumblebee on Comfrey

Comfrey with caterpillar, possibly of the Oak Eggar Moth, see: Oak Eggar / Northern Eggar | Butterfly Conservation (

Close-up of White Dead-Nettle blossom

Another caterpillar on Comfrey, possibly of the Scarlet Tiger Moth, see: Scarlet Tiger | Butterfly Conservation (

Green Alkanet

Three Sheep!

A Skylark seemingly collecting nesting material; Sheepcote Valley.

A Starling in Sheepcote Valley


A Skylark in Songflight

A Robin in Sheepcote Valley

A Starling - I think

A Skylark in Wick Bottom, Ovingdean

Four House Sparrow; the path to Ovingdean through Wick Bottom

Another (or the same) Kestrel - Wick Bottom, East Brighton Golf Course

A Dunnock, shrub in Wick Bottom

A Woodpigeon on a fence at Ovingdean Farm

A fly on


A Buzzard

Cattle Hill, Ovingdean

High Hill from Beacon Hill

Beacon Hill Windmill

Rottingdean Pond

Male Pintail

Male Tufted Duck

Male Wigeon

Male and Female Tufted Duck

Male Pintail (as above)

Female and Male Red-Crested Pochards

Male and Female Wigeon

Two Females and a Male Mallard

Starlings on an aerial in Rottingdean

Undercliff from Rottingdean to Ovingdean

Herring Gulls

Two Feral Pigeons

Rock Pipit

Herring Gulls

A Fulmar - I know this is a Fulmar as it was on the cliff, making the characteristic Fulmar cackle before it flew off

Black Headed Gulls and Mediterranean Gulls

A Jackdaw on the cliff top

A Starling on a light stand on the coast road.



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