Wednesday, 13 November 2019

A Great Bustard and a Saxon church

This morning I visited the Newhaven / Seaford area to see the Great Bustard that has been reported in a kale field the past few days. I had some indications of where to go from the Sussex Ornithological Society’s sightings page and found a parking place where I thought the right track led up the hill. I found the kale field but couldn’t see anyone else around and had walked the length of the field and back before I saw other birders arrive. I met someone who had seen it the past 2 days so knew what he was looking for. Then he spotted it at the bottom of the hill. In spite of its large size as the heaviest flying bird (males 8-16Kg, females 3.5-5kg), it was small in the distance and looked like a female (height 75-85cm).  A knowledgeable birder advised its ring number had been seen and that it was imported as an egg from Spain for the Great Bustard Group breeding program on Salisbury Plain and was 6 months old. I was able to see a close up of it through the same person’s scope. It spent some time preening itself in one spot.
  As I had parked on Bishopstone Road and had a good view of the church from the hill I decided to visit it. St. Andrew’s Church is a wonderful Saxon church whose origin is thought to be between the early 8th century to late 10th century. The informative booklet advises that Bishopstone is probably derived from old English ‘Biscop’ + ‘tun’ (Bishop’s estate), owned by the Bishops of Chichester. There is a Saxon sundial over the door with +EADRIC carved on it. The Bell Tower is Norman 12th C. built in Saxon style with 4 receding stages. The Nave is Saxon, the  north aisle and chancel added in the 12th C. The  font is 12th C. square bowl type. A fabulous church, open Wednesday and Saturday mornings so I was lucky to see the inside.
Great Bustard, Otis tarda, female
kale field

Rabbit, Oryctolagus cuniculus

Reed Bunting, Emberiza schoeniclus

view of St. Andrew's Church
St. Andrew's Church

Norman Tower

Saxon sundial +EADRIC

Tower window

entrance to chancel



12th C. coffin slab


Saxon grave marker

1675 Tower window

12th C. font

1897 pulpit - St. Michael slaying the poor old dragon

Nave roof restored 1885

12th C. North Aisle


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