Trip reports

RSPB Pagham Harbour

Curlew standing on weed, County Cork, Ireland

Sunday, 15 December 2019

Starting at Church Norton, it was necessary to shelter in the hide for the best part of two hours to avoid a soaking. Birds in the harbour to enjoy included an avocet feeding in the nearest channel of water and nearby a curlew entertaining as it frequently withdrew large worms from the mud. Further out in the harbour, common waders such as redshank, dunlin, oystercatcher, grey and ringed plovers were present, whilst a single great black-backed gull caught the eye.

An over wintering whimbrel was then watched bathing in the nearest channel of water, allowing a nice size comparison with the nearby curlew. Amongst other species noted was a little egret, two little grebes, two shelduck, ten cormorants, four pintail and a pair of wigeon. A flight of six avocets were seen heading further in to the harbour just before we left the hide.

The sea was quite choppy and seemed devoid of birds. A small flight of turnstones flew along the tideline leaving just one or two individuals on the beach. A single Mediterranean gull was also seen first on the water and then in flight past us in the direction of Selsey.

The feeders at Sidlesham Ferry were busy with both blue and great tits and four female pheasants waited to scoop up any seed falling to the ground. Meanwhile a male great spotted woodpecker tucked in to the fat balls.

The water level was high on Ferry Pool so most of the 16 avocets present were huddled together on the submerged sandbar. Teal, shelduck and shovelers occupied the water whilst a buzzard was harassed by a crow. The undoubted highlight here though were a flock of golden plovers that performed some fine aerial manoeuvres. Just four black-tailed godwits stood at the edge of the pool whilst the walk around the back of the landfill was quiet. A high tide had left few roosting places, but two snipe were noticed along with a single Brent goose, the only one seen all day!