Trip reports

Pagham and Medmerry

Pagham and Medmerry
Tony Bates

Saturday, 2 December 2017

Five of us met at the visitor centre at RSPB Pagham Harbour. The weather started drizzling, but soon brightened into a pleasant if cool still day. Pheasant foraged under the feeders to which a variety of its and finches was visiting. The Ferry Pool hide was closed for reconstruction and so we piled into a couple of cars and set of to start our visit at Medmerry. Stopping at a bend in the track we heard the alarm calls of a green woodpecker, which we found has been prompted by the presence of a male sparrowhawk that settled in a tree in the garden of a cottage.

Further along the track we started seeing yellowhammers in the brambles and bushes surrounding the agricultural fields ... and we kept seeing them, more yellowhammers than any of us had seen before in one place. Other birds with them included reed bunting a probable corn bunting, redwing, stonechat and house sparrows. A couple of grey partridges were spotted in a stubble field, one facing us clearing showing the chestnut horseshoe mark on its breast. A large flock of probably 100 or more linnets settled in the tops of some small trees hen disturbed from their feeding. Alongside them was a flock of over 30 stock dove and a small group of song thrush foraged along a field border. Roe deer were seen in fields on both sides of the track.

A variety of waterfowl were found on the lagoons and lakes closer to the sea including wigeon, teal, pintail, shoveler, mallard, tufted duck, shelduck, Canada and Brent geese. Several grey herons and little egrets stood on the banks and coot and moorhen were present. Waders included lapwing, redshank and greenshank. Feeling peckish we headed back towards the cars, seeing yet more yellowhammer and a kestrel on the way back.

We had lunch in the visitor centre before heading down to the coast at Church Norton. Although at first sight it look as though there was little there on the very low tide, we soon picked up a small group of bar-tailed godwit on the mud, with larger numbers of black-tailed godwits closer to the main channel. Other waders included dunlin, redshank and ringed plaover. In the channel was a solitary velvet scoter and a group of four black-necked grebes.

We walked across the old boardwalk towards the sea where a large mixed flock of gulls, including Mediterranean gull foraged on shore. A single great crested grebe was all that was seen on the sea. A good visit to the RSPB reserves with a count of 70 species seen in the day. The rain started again soon after we started our return trip, so even the weather gods had been kind to us.

Species list:
Mute Swan, Canada Goose, Brent Goose, Shelduck, Wigeon, Teal, Mallard, Pintail, Shoveler, Tufted Duck, Velvet Scoter, Red-breasted Merganser, Grey Partridge, Pheasant, Cormorant, Little Egret, Grey Heron. Great Crested Grebe, Black-necked Grebe, Sparrowhawk, Buzzard, Kestrel, Moorhen, Coot, Oystercatcher, Ringed Plover, Grey Plover, Lapwing, Dunlin, Black-tailed Godwit, Bar-tailed Godwit, Curlew, Greenshank, Redshank, Turnstone, Black-headed Gull, Mediterranean Gull, Herring Gull, Great Black-backed Gull, Feral Pigeon, Stock Dove, Wood Pigeon, Collared Dove, Kingfisher, Magpie, Jackdaw, Carrion Crow, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Long-tailed Tit, Wren, Starling, Blackbird, Song Thrush, Redwing, Mistle Thrush, Robin, Stonechat, Dunnock, House Sparrow, Pied Wagtail, Meadow Pipit, Chaffinch, Greenfinch, Goldfinch, Linnet, Yellowhammer, Reed Bunting, Corn Bunting