West Sussex

Little Owls Athene noctua ©George McCarthy
Birding West Sussex

West Sussex is a county in the south of England, bordering East Sussex (with Brighton and Hove) to the east, Hampshire to the west and Surrey to the north, and to the south the English Channel. Chichester in the southwest is the county town and only city in West Sussex, with the largest towns being Crawley, Worthing and Horsham.West Sussex has a range of scenery, including weald, downs and coast. The highest point of the county is Blackdown, at 280 metres (919 ft). Over half the county is protected countryside.West Sussex, being blessed with numerous different habitats, from chalky downland to the great woodland of the Weald; and from the rare sandy heathland of the Greensand Belt through to the bird-friendly harbours and river valleys nearer the coast, has many reserves. They range in habitat from estuarine (Rye Harbour), wetlands & woods (Woods Mill), scrub (Ebernoe Common), grassland (Ditchling Beacon), chalk grassland of the south downs (Malling Down) to lowland heath (Old Lodge).

This page is sponsored by Exploring the Wild with Simon Ginnaw

Top Sites
  • Chichester Harbour

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    Chichester Harbour over 3,700 ha of saltmarsh, mudflats and open water, is of critical importance to migrating and wintering wildfowl and waders. These include up to 4% of the world population of Dark-bellied Brent Geese Branta b. bernicla. Nearly a third of the site is in Hampshire.
  • Pagham Harbour

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    Pagham Harbour although only a sixth of the area of Chichester Harbour, is deservedly one of the top birdwatching sites in England.
  • Pulborough Brooks

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    Pulborough Brooks attracts hordes of humans, but also thousands of wintering wildfowl.
County Recorder
  • Mark Mallalieu

    29 Cobbetts Mead, Haywards Heath, West Sussex RH16 3TQ


    01444 441425 or 07736 788077

Number of Species
  • Number of bird species: 384

    (Old Vice-County - both East & West Sussex)
Useful Reading

  • Bird Watching in Sussex

    | By Rob Yarham | Snake River Press | 2009 | Hardback | 96 pages, B/w illustrations | ISBN: 9781906022129 Buy this book from NHBS.com
  • Birds of Sussex

    | By Sussex Ornithological Society Edited by Adrian L R Thomas | British Trust for Ornithology | 2014 | Hardback | 608 pages, colour photos, colour illustrations, colour distribution maps, colour tables | ISBN: 9781908581310 Buy this book from NHBS.com
  • Birdwatching at Pulborough Brooks Through the Seasons

    | (A Guide to the West Sussex RSPB Nature Reserve) | by David Golds | SB Publications | 2010 | Paperback | 132 pages, colour photos throughout | ISBN: 9781857703542 Buy this book from NHBS.com
  • Where to Watch Birds in Kent, Surrey and Sussex

    | By Don Taylor, Jeffrey Wheatley & Paul James | Christopher Helm | 2009 | Paperback | 432 pages, 35 line illustrations, 54 maps | ISBN: 9781408105856 Buy this book from NHBS.com
Useful Information
  • County Bird: Stonechat Saxicola torquata?

Museums & Universities
  • The Booth Museum

    The Booth Museum is all about birds, butterflies, fossils, and bones. Founded as a Victorian collector's private museum, the Booth Museum now brings natural history to life with interactive displays and hands on activities.
  • Henfield Birdwatch

    Welcome to the Henfield Birdwatch website. We are a group with an interest in birds and wildlife in general. We welcome people whatever their birding knowledge. We have group walks, talks, meet regularly for lunch and some people like to share their sightings online.
  • RSPB Chichester Local Group

    This is the website of the Chichester Local Group. RSPB local groups are a great way to meet friendly, like-minded people in your area while learning more about birds and wildlife.
  • RSPB Crawley & Horsham Local Group

    This is the website of the Crawley & Horsham Local Group. RSPB local groups are a great way to meet friendly, like-minded people in your area while learning more about birds and wildlife.
  • RSPB East Grinstead RSPB Wildlife Explorers

    This is the website of the East Grinstead RSPB Wildlife Explorers. RSPB local groups are a great way to meet friendly, like-minded people in your area while learning more about birds and wildlife
  • Shoreham District Ornithological Society

    Welcome to SDOS - for everyone interested in birds in and around Shoreham-By-Sea, West Sussex.
  • Sussex Ornithological Society

    Formed in 1962 by a small group of young people, the Sussex Ornithological Society has grown to become one of the largest county bird clubs in Great Britain with a current membership of around 2000.
  • Sussex Wildlife Trust

    Sussex Wildlife Trust was formed in 1961 and now has more than 10,000 members. They manage some of the finest sites in Sussex as nature reserves and have 38 reserves covering some of the finest ancient woodlands in Western Europe, spectacular chalk downland, heathlands, grazing marsh and wild flower meadows.

Abbreviations Key

  • Chichester Harbour Conservancy

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    Chichester Harbour Conservancy is in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty comprising 11 square miles of water and 11 square miles of land with 17 miles of well marked and lighted channels which, with its easy access to the Solent, makes it an ideal water recreation centre. There are many inter-related activities such as sailing, fishing, walking and wildfowling as well as nearly 9,000 vessels over 3 metres in length, 3,200 moorings, 2,000 berths in four marinas and 14 sailing clubs…
  • RSPB Pulborough Brooks

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    Pulborough Brooks is set in the sheltered Arun Valley within the South Downs National Park. The Visitor Centre and reserve is open all year and boasts a great variety of habitats including wetlands, woodland, and heathland. Pulborough Brooks is a haven for a wide range of wildlife, and a fantastic day out for people of all ages.
  • SWT Nature Reserves

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    Across Sussex, the Trust owns a number of wonderful but tiny nature reserves that for a number of reasons are difficult to access. Some are also home to species that are particularly sensitive to disturbance.
  • WWT Arundel Wetland Centre

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    Spot water voles from the boat safari, hand feed rare geese at World Wetlands and stroll gentle pathways to quiet spots to watch Sussex wildlife. Stunning views from the café make it perfect for relaxing, and kids will love the play areas and pond dipping.
Forums & Mailing Lists
  • Adur Valley eForum

    Forum for discussion about the Adur Valley, Sussex, England. In the lower valley the geographical area includes all of the Adur District, including Shoreham-by-Sea, Sompting, Lancing, Coombes, and also towns not covered by Adur Council including Botolphs, Upper Beeding, Bramber, Steyning, Small Dole, Shermanbury etc.
  • Sussex Birding

    @SussexBirding This is the place to share all your news,sightings and photos of birds in and around the sussex area.
Guides & Tour Operators
  • Chichester Harbour Water Tours

    Boat Trips
    2 hours bird watching trips. Visit this area of outstanding beauty on the Sussex coast. A boat trip with Chichester Harbour Water Tours enables you to see much of this unspoilt area from the water, from the narrow harbour mouth between Sandy Point Hayling Island and East Head to the Dell Quay, Bosham, Thorny Island and Emsworth channels. once afloat you will be able to appreciate that the indented harbour shoreline of which there is 48 miles, includes a wide variety of habitats these are sand dunes, mudflats, shingle banks and woods all valuable refuges for seabirds and other interesting wildlife
Other Links
  • Adur Valley Wildlife

    From the turn of the century the creeping permanent development and re-development of the natural fringing beach at Shoreham has gradually covered the main shingle bank, leaving a narrow strip, squeezed between houses and sea. This flat strip of seemingly lifeless pebbles that has once more held out against a winter sea, is set to surprise and delight us, as seeds and roots of last years flowering respond to longer days, and find nourishment and moisture. In April and early May they burst upon us with a brilliant flowering border adapted to the harsh conditions
  • Brent Lodge Bird & Wildlife Trust

    Brent Lodge Bird & Wildlife Trust is a wildlife hospital based in West Sussex. We are a voluntary organisation that has been treating and rehabilitating injured, sick and orphaned wildlife for over 40 years. We receive over 3,000 patients each year.
  • Garry Bagnell's Birding World

    Diary, trip reports, photographs & my birding stats
  • Loder Valley Reserve

    Wakehurst Place Gardens and the Loder Valley Reserve occupy nearly 200 hectares (500 acres) and offer a wide range of habitats to breeding and visiting birds…
  • The Birds of Sussex

  • West Sussex Birding

  • Whitby's Imaging Centre

    Photographic supplier and processor in Chichester West Sussex.
  • Birding the Selsey Peninsula

    Current birding news from Selsey Bill and other important Peninsula sites including Pagham Harbour and Medmerry nature reserves. Visiting birders are always welcome
  • Bola Akinola - The Birds of Climping Gap & Lower Arun Valley

    The Climping Gap remains one of the last undeveloped sites along the coast in West Sussex. This site is dedicated to Birds seen in and around the Climping Gap area by myself and a few die hard friends, that live in the area and have been birding the local patch for decades. (Please email your sighting's to lobas@btinternet.com or Tweet to @BirdsofClimping).
  • Martin Peacock - Martin's Sussex Birding

    Welcome to my blog. I am a keen birder and nature photographer from Worthing in West Sussex. This is an online diary of my sightings, both the interesting and the not so interesting, hopefully supported by a few decent photographs. I am not a twitcher or competitive lister but, if the bird is still around once the crowds have gone away, I might go and have a look. Comments are always welcome.
  • Tricia Ryder - Tricia's Tales

    A lover of wildlife and birds in particular and a keen photographer who's learning all the time! For me there's nothing better than the great outdoors and escaping into it as often as I can; even if it's only a walk very locally. I love the sea and water in any form. There's something magical about reflections in very still water.

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