Trip reports

Pagham Harbour - Sunday 18th May 2014

Thursday, 22 May 2014

Coach Trip to Pagham Harbour 18 May 2014.

Birds seen on the way to Pagham included red kite, common buzzard, red legged partridge and house martin. Wall to wall sunshine was the order of the day and chiffchaff sang in the car park.

The hedgerows to the Ferry Pool gave us good views of the first of many scratchy calls of a whitethroat which we had today. This one also performed its calling in flight routine and gave good views atop a bush. A small group of long tailed tits were also seen.

The Ferry Pool was quiet with around 25 black tailed godwits in various plumages loafing on the mud, while a few lapwing performed their flight manoeuvres over the fields and the pool. Throughout the day little egrets were commonplace both in flight and feeding on the deck.

In the reed beds besides the harbour path excellent views were had of several, smart, perching reed buntings with their monotonous "zip- zip'' call. Both reed and sedge warblers were initially heard and also seen amongst the reed beds. It was good to get the comparison between their calls. Several powerful calling Cetti's warblers were also heard.

Up to four common buzzards were seen perched in trees and in flight as we walked along the footpath. The tide was initially out with vast mudflats exposed but this changed as we progressed towards Church Norton. The tide rose fairly quickly.

A small group of linnets posed well showing their blood red markings on their head and bodies. An underrated good looking bird! Several skylarks were serenading us together with a couple of parachuting and calling meadow pipits. A calling cuckoo was heard by everyone and luckily seen in the churchyard by one group member.

A short discussion ensued on whether some of the group had seen a whimbrel as opposed to just a curlew. Photographic evidence was also brought out in defence of a whimbrel but the jury was still out as we went to press! However on the return journey both curlew and whimbrel played ball as they posed next to each other on a muddy ridge. The shorter bill, the head stripes and smaller body size of the whimbrel could be compared with the curlew.

A summer plumage brown chested knot was amongst some oystercatchers on the mud feeding and a summer plumage dunlin was seen together with scurrying ringed plovers. Grey plovers were in various stages of plumage including a couple with their black chests.

All three tern species performed here as well. The little terns were the most attractive with their small, yellow bills, fast moving wings and their fast accelerating dive bombs into the water for food. A common tern with its red bill posed on one of the iron breakwaters alongside many tortoiseshell- plumaged turnstones. Several much larger screeching Sandwich terns, with their punk shaped black hairdos flew around and also perched alongside little terns on one of the islands. This was good to compare the huge size difference between little and Sandwich terns.

The short sea watch failed to produce any new bird sightings.

A singing blackcap was heard as the return walk took us through the quiet Churchyard. A songthrush was also feeding on the ground and a very green male greenfinch was wheezing as it perched here. A couple of swallows flew over the fields on our way back as well as a hovering kestrel. A few redshanks were also seen.

Quality comparison views of little, Sandwich and common tern together were the main highlights with multiple buzzard viewings, a cuckoo calling and a curlew and a whimbrel together being the other highlights on this sunny day in a superb unspoilt landscape. A total of 74 species were seen.

George Kalli