Trip reports

Coach trip to Pagham Harbour, 11th October

Coach trip to Pagham Harbour, 11th October
Red-legged partridge by Andy Hay

Saturday, 11 October 2014

A brilliant day at Pagham yesterday. The weather forecast was not inspiring but apart from one short sharp shower early on we had a day of little wind and warm sunshine. The Pagham landscape looked at its spectacular best and the birds didn't disappoint either. We had 78 species in total which has to be a good day's birding by any standard; what was most surprising for me was to see brent geese and swallows in the same scope view! I thought the swallows would be long gone but there were plenty around and house martins too; skylarks were another unexpected sight in mid-October. More predictable were large numbers of red-legged partridge and some grey partridge too.

On the Ferry Pool were a large flock of lapwing, some avocets, a smattering of ducks and both common and green sandpiper; there were also a few gulls, mostly herring gulls but a closer look revealed a yellow-legged gull as well. Out on the saltmarsh most people had excellent views of a spoonbill looking for all the world like a queen with the parts of ladies-in-waiting played by a pair of little egrets (other little egrets were available around the harbour!) A few folk found a kingfisher looking for lunch in one of the channels and the group I was with benefitted from Jeremy Aldred's sharp eyes to get a really good view of a sedge warbler. As to raptors, some were lucky enough to find a Peregrine; the rest of us had to be content with buzzards, a marsh harrier or two, and one or more kestrels.

Predictably the most species were seen by a group that pushed on at the front, determined to get along the beach at Church Norton before the rising tide shut the door and prevented them from getting all the way round. I originally started with this group, but the very narrow paths at Pagham mean that if others in front of you slow down it can be very difficult to get past and so one tends to fall back into a slower group; so a more leisurely day for me, lunch taken at Church Norton and a wander back the way I came, looking all the while at the wide expanse of water where the saltmarsh had been exposed just a few hours earlier.

Another brief stop at Ferry Pool added a snipe to the day's bird tally and then a selection of finches on the feeders to finish off. Other non-avians seen by me were red admiral, peacock and clouded yellow butterflies, migrant hawker, southern hawker dragonflies and a hummingbird hawkmoth; some saw roe deer too. I arrived back at the Visitor Centre looking forward to one of their excellent locally-produced tubs of ice cream and found there were only three left in the fridge cabinet! The stock was being run down after the summer season, so if you are thinking of going to Pagham, go soon - there are now only two!

Derik Palmer