A lot of rain has fallen in Britain in January. One way I like to gauge just how much, is to visit the wetlands around Pulborough and Amberley in West Sussex.
In the winter months, roads are routinely closed as the Arun breaks its banks, doing what it used to without much issue. On the morning of Friday 13th January, the green fields of the Arun valley were a deep, oceanic blue.
It’s rare in England that you get to see nature’s raw, awesome power. When you do, it’s not always a good thing. Seeing water flooding the landscape as it should, where it won’t destroy homes, is easier to enjoy.
Towards Pulborough, the flooded fields were speckled with hundreds of ducks: mallard, shoveler, widgeon. The buildings of Pulborough town looked ready to slip down into the deep blue sea.
On the human-made islands lapwings contended with ducks for a spot on the bank. Elsewhere I overheard a man point out a snipe tucked away between rushes – ‘you can see it with the naked eye,’ he said.
Sure enough, there it was but 25ft away inside the fenced wetland. I wonder what it must have made of its small, safe spot, out there among the winter floodwaters.
A winter walk around Pulborough in West Sussex, just inside the South Downs National Park. Despite last week’s record high winter temperatures, spring was still absent, bar the odd queen bumblebee and flowering primrose.
For someone who can’t afford a massive telephoto lens (both in terms of relative biceps and cash), March is the best month to photograph birds. There are no leaves to block them and birds are busy as spring builds. This robin barely moved. The photo has been cropped.
Let’s see him or her again… I tried to frame the robin against a silvery water body and the green moss of a tree behind. As in, I moved a bit to one side and crouched down a bit.
The South Downs ridge hangs over Pulborough and gives an extra layer of interest to photographs that might, in counties like Essex and Norfolk, be a little more flat.
The river Arun runs through Pulborough, a key wetland area in southern England. The sun came out in the afternoon to lift the atmosphere. The South Downs add their irrepressible magic even in shade.
The silvery wetland areas of the Arun valley. This area was once marshland and has strong evidence of Roman activity and settlement, including a bath house.
Pulborough Brooks is managed by the RSPB and has a large area of heathland at Wiggonholt Common in addition to the wetlands. The South Downs veer into distance beyond the pines.
I love the soft palette of a winter heath.
Pulborough, South Downs National Park, West Sussex, March 2019