Monday, 16 March 2009


Black Brant 1
Spotted Redshank 2
Wheatear 4
Raven 2
Slavonian Grebe 7
Long-tailed Duck 1
Med Gull (60+)
Common Scoter 1

Spent a great couple of days at my old teenage stomping ground of Pagham Harbour (West Sussex) on Friday and Saturday.

I started at Sidlesham Friday lunchtime. There wasn't much doing on the Ferry Pool but a pair of Ravens flew over the car park as I was about to leave. One of them, presumably the male, did a few display rolls as they went over. Not bad for West Sussex!
After that it was round to Church Norton for high tide. The sea off here has a wintering flock of Slav Grebes and today did not disappoint. There were at least 7 present and, better still, a female Long-tailed Duck, a good bird for the South coast. There was also a female Common Scoter, 4 Eider and a few Mergs here and a Spotted Redshank on the flash between the car park and the beach.
I should mention at this point the constant background at Pagham Harbour of waders, Brent Geese, wildfowl and beautiful scenery. Church Norton particularly is one of those magical places, with a migrant trap churchyard, a wader scrape, an estuary full of birds behind (with an enviable reputation for sandplovers and almost annual Kentish Plovers) and a productive patch of sea just offshore.(Let's not forget Trumpeter Finch and Collared Flycatcher as well!)

Spent the night in the campervan with just the sound of the Curlews and a glass of rum for company. Perfect.

Next morning I was up at first light and off up the shingle spit at Norton to find a Wheatear. 20 minutes later I was watching a splendid male flitting about in the sea kale. I love it when a plan comes together. A cursory scan through the Brents on the off chance of connecting with this winter's Black Brant came good almost immediately.
Over the course of the day I realised there were only about 200 Brents left in the harbour and ended up seeing the Black Brant 4 times in various places!

After this I nipped down to Selsey Bill. Not much doing on the sea but I did enjoy watching a steady trickle of Meadow Pipits coming in off the sea for half an hour or so.

After that I paid a visit to Selsey West fields. This is about become an RSPB reserve I beleive. It's a great area of flooded meadows, accessed through the hellhole that is West Sands holiday park. How such hideousness can be permitted in such a beautiful place is beyond me. Go there, have a look, tell me I'm wrong!
Anyway the West fields were chock full with displaying Lapwings, plus lots of other good stuff including Snipe, Wigeon, Teal, Skylark etc. The hedges round there look a dead cert for Ring Ouzel in the coming weeks too. I'll be back!

I finished up my day with a walk from Halsey's Farm to the North Wall. 3 male Wheatears were resting up in a grass field at Halsey's Farm. From the North Wall there were 40+ Pintail, another Spotted Redshank, 130 Curlew including one leucistic bird the colour of milky tea all over, and over 350 Grey Plover. One more thing I should mention here is the number of Med Gulls. I saw over 60 together in one gull flock which was 80% Meds! Appararently over 260 have been counted at the harbour mouth at low tide recently. It seems they're doing very well round here, with over 100 pairs at a nearby colony last year.
Headed home for Hackney at about 5pm feeling very satisfied. I'll be going back as often as possible this Spring I think!

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