Trip reports

RSPB Medmerry - 07/04/2019

Avocet wading in water

Thursday, 11 April 2019

Our visit to Medmerry will be remembered for the almost continuous skylark song and 'yeow' calls from Mediterranean gulls that frustratingly remained out of sight until later in the day. The first of several skylarks was soon seen in flight before a smart male reed bunting perched obligingly in a small willow growing in a ditch beside the footpath. Little did we know that we were going to see at least another three males well on the walk out to the pools. A male yellowhammer was then noticed perched in a large hawthorn, but soon took flight.

Soon after encountering our first wet area at the path intersection, a snipe was unfortunately flushed by our advance. A little grebe whinnied from the small lake before a willow warbler and a wren were heard singing nearby. Two male reed buntings appeared in hawthorn before flying off, and the willow warbler, a yellowish individual showed nicely searching for insects amongst blackthorn blossom. The first of several peacock butterflies seen during the day showed nearby.

Several avocets were present at the pools, some spread around a long grassy island, others feeding in the shallow water. Wildfowl included tufted ducks, teal, shelducks, gadwall, mallard and shovelers. A little ringed plover first noticed quite distantly near some roosting gulls, flew closer enabling a better view before becoming agitated and taking flight around the pools. The six Mediterranean gulls present looked stunning in summer plumage.

A male stonechat perched nicely on the top of a flowering gorse bordering the path and several linnets were seen in the fields as we walked back to Earnley. The real bonus sighting was two grey partridges skirting the edge of a ploughed field.

Having moved on to Sidlesham Ferry for mid afternoon, a chiffchaff called from the top of a thin tree bordering the Discovery Zone. Avocets, lapwings, redshanks, colourful black-tailed godwits and a little ringed plover were seen at Ferry Pool. Wildfowl were represented by shovelers and teal. Most notable however was a mother rat and her nine young eagerly hoovering up seed that had fallen to the ground from feeders placed in a wooded clearing.

With the tide still high in the harbour, a great crested grebe was an unusual sighting in Ferry Channel, but the numerous black-headed gulls in flight over the saltings were expected. A pair of wigeon remained, a few black-tailed godwits were seen in flight, and three curlews had sought higher ground on the salt marsh whilst waiting for the water to recede.