Trip reports

Pagham Harbour, Saturday 14th April 2018

Adult black-tailed godwit in summer plummage, at the RSPB Snettisham nature reserve, Norfolk
RSPB images

Saturday, 14 April 2018

This was a trip where the weather produced some memorable unusual effects.
We left the M25 at junction 10 and after an excellent drive down the A3 and A3(M), although misty at times, we arrived at Sainsbury, Chichester. After breakfast we left for the 15 minute drive to the Visitor Centre at Pagham Harbour where we were met by Stuart and Sarah Harrison.

On a large tree overlooking the car park an owl box had been taken over by a pair of kestrels. The warden had previously installed a camera and earlier that day had noticed the first egg. We saw both birds near the box as we followed the Sidlesham trail and four linnet sang from the tops of the hedgerows either side of the path along with long tailed tits, chaffinch, robin, blackcap, wren and goldfinch. The sound of several chiffchaff heralded the arrival of spring as we reached the ferry channel. Visibility remained poor but we were reasonably certain that a Spotted Redshank was present. A few coot and a few ducks, were in the area just below the outlet of the pumps, which occasionally loudly burst into life transferring flood water from the ferry pool. Across the road in the Ferry Pool itself were teal, shelduck, shoveler and gadwall. In the field to the west of the Pool, 3 deer were feeding.

We walked 1 kilometre along the east of the Long Pool and Little Grebe and common redshank called from the reeds near the nest of a Mute Swan. Six Tufted Duck paddled by as a Sedge warbler and a reed bunting called from the top of some reeds and blue tit and great tit bounced along the hedgerow along the edge of the path
At the Viewpoint we saw a Little Egret on the edge of the far channel and a curlew flew past with Black headed gulls and some Canada Geese flew noisily overhead. To the west a common buzzard perched on a fence post and a pheasant called from the field. Behind, half a mile away, moved westward a 20 foot high white band of what at first appeared to be smoke but which later we found to be a fine mist of cold vapour, evaporating from a water sodden ploughed field, a land fret!!!

We returned to the Visitor Centre which had been improved along with two new hides which were due to open in the next two months. After lunch we drove to Church Norton where very cold sea frets repeatedly came rolling in reducing visibility down to 75 yards, before suddenly disappearing to reveal 40 to 50 Black Tailed Godwits feeding in the mud, Sandwich Terns and Herring Gulls called through the mist and a great crested grebe paddled by occasionally diving to fish. We walked back towards the Church and met a falconer with a 4 year old hand reared beautiful Barn Owl which he regularly flew across the beach of the Harbour. A distant green woodpecker yaffled and jackdaw called in the yews around the churchyard whilst about a dozen spring lambs gambolled and leapt in excitement in the field around the church.

We had seen 43 different species of bird. A real personal favourite reserve of mine

Michael Howard, Michael Doydge, John and Lesley Battye, Stuart and Sarah Harrison, Alan Corner

Report by Alan Corner