Trip reports

Week-end Walk at Pagham Harbour on Saturday 30th March 2019.

Week-end Walk at Pagham Harbour on Saturday 30th March 2019.
Mediterranean gull, photographed at Minsmere in 2017. (Peter Hambrook)

Sunday, 31 March 2019

Another fine warm day greeted us at the RSPB Centre. A kestrel was seen hovering over the fields on the opposite side of the road. Redpolls and Mediterranean gulls flew over the car park and house sparrows and a robin enjoyed the feeder, while a great spotted woodpecker flew into the trees above. Moving on to the splendid new Ferry Hide, the pond was occupied by shovelers, mallards, teal, coot and moorhens while lapwings, avocets and black tailed-godwit were spread around the banks and a small number of ringed plovers were on a muddy island.

The feeder behind the hide attracted great tits, goldfinches and a single greenfinch, while a large rat lurked beneath, and a green woodpecker called from not far away. Crossing the river and heading towards the harbour a male blackcap was heard and then seen in bushes above the path and these flowering bushes were also attracting several peacock butterflies. Despite reports of a sedge warbler in the reeds by the freshwater pool it appeared to have moved on, but several pairs of little grebes could be heard, and one was seen, along with a male tufted duck and a mute swan. Further along the path a wheatear and two red-legged partridge were seen in the fields to the right. Skylarks were seen and heard, while a little egret was noted beside a creek and nearer the sea a chiffchaff was heard.

Unfortunately, the tide was very low, and the muddy creeks were largely deserted as we reached the main channel which contained numbers of shelduck with a few great-crested grebes, and some curlews on the mud. On the far bank was a group of cormorants with two Brent geese which had not yet headed north and a grey heron flapped ponderously up the harbour. On a low bank an almost motionless peregrine falcon was observing its surroundings. Moving towards the sea numerous gulls, but no terns, occupied Tern Island. Apart from black-headed these included Mediterranean, herring, common, and great black-backed.

Walking on towards the sea redshank, oystercatchers and black-tailed godwits were basking in the warm sunshine. It was so warm that we enjoyed our picnic lunch on the shingle beach looking out over the hazy English Channel. The sea watch only showed oystercatchers and the Brent geese heading southwest along the shore, however one of our eagle-eyed naturalists did spot a naturist sunbathing in the distance.

A pair of pheasants was in the grounds of the large house in Church Norton and, returning through the graveyard, goldfinches and blackbirds were seen. The peregrine was still holding its position on the far side of the river and linnets were showing in the bushes to the left with redshank in the muddy creeks where the tide was still refusing to rise. As we neared the Ferry Pond once more a solitary Buzzard landed on a post in the middle of the fields south of the path

On the banks of the Ferry Pond a small group of snipe lurked in the dry grass and a few gadwalls had joined the other ducks out on the water. Under the feeder a second rat had appeared although it was soon chased off by its companion.

Once again, the weather had been kind to us, and our group of eight had enjoyed a very satisfactory day at Pagham Harbour, although we should try to adjust our future visiting times to take account of tide levels.

Legh Langston