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Farlington November 2017

The tide was on its way in when we arrived and early scans over the exposed mud revealed small parties of dunlin and ringed plovers as well as a few other species in lesser numbers.  Viewing from the sea wall, two black tailed godwits and a curlew drilled into the mud for worms and several redshank flew in to take advantage of the last feeding opportunity for a few hours.  A small group of grey plovers awaited a rise in water level and a group of avocets were seen in the distance. Several pintail were upending and later drifted closer to the sea wall as did as similar number of teal.

There were many birds present on the lagoon and others continued to arrive.  A large assembly of dunlin and redshanks stood huddled in the shallows whilst on the water were numerous Brent geese.  Forty eight black tailed godwits were feeding and many of the avocets had flown across the water to the lagoon in the time it had taken us to walk along the seawall . Some bearded tits were active in a patch of sunlit reeds at the rear of the lagoon and a pair of ravens were a surprise sighting.  A very obliging water rail wandered around on the mud before any loud sound sent it scuttling in to the reeds. 

Three little egrets were close to the small quarry and a female kestrel was seen perched on the top of a small bush.  Across the fields were many Canada geese and starlings.  A few small groups of wigeon grazed and three red breasted mergansers were seen on the sea.  Excited cries alerted many to a short eared owl in flight across the point field.   Soon pouncing on some unfortunate rodent it was watched feeding delicately whilst constantly keeping watch for any prey scavengers.  On taking flight again, it was joined by another before both seemed to drift towards the sea.  One of the birds was relocated on Baker's Island, sat on a post preening.  We watched it quarter low over the island before gliding back low over the water to the reserve.   We were entertained for some time as it flew low around the large bramble patches close to the point field.  On two occasions it settled on one of the white wooden footpath marker posts in the grass, constantly scanning the surroundings.    

Along the Eastern side of the reserve, several shoveler were huddled in the grass around small pools and two snipe were feeding in a small reedy patch.  Five  goldeneye were seen at distance out in the harbour whilst a cormorant dived quite close to the sea wall.  At least a dozen great crested grebes were on the sea, two close in, the others fairly distant.  A lone drake gadwall kept company with eight moorhen in a partly flooded field and a pair of stonechats were working along the fence at the side of bramble bushes.  A large gathering of Brent and Canada geese occupied the field to the left of the return path, whilst at the small area of water behind the information hut, three black tailed godwits were feeding with a small party of teal.

Ending the day at Broadmarsh Country Park, quite a few herring and black headed gulls had gathered on the water near the slipway.  A flotilla of five little grebes swam towards the inlet channel and several oystercatchers arrived as the tide began to fall.   Red breasted merganser, goldeneye, shelduck, great crested grebe, wigeon, little egret and buzzard were also seen.  

Just as we were thinking of leaving, the great northern diver reported over the previous two days was located sitting low in the water leant forward with its bill just above the ripples. As it frequently dived between and close to two marker posts, we were all able to watch it perform effortlessly


   Photo by Peter Bennett

Pagham Harbour  December 2017

Species seen at the feeders at Sidlesham Ferry included a cock pheasant with a broken foot escorting three females and a small flock of lapwing flying out into the harbour.

With work started on the new hide, the saltmarsh was checked before reaching Ferry Pool.  Two curlew and the odd redshank seemed annoyed by our presence and flew off calling before scanning way out into the harbour several shelduck and a few pintails were seen.  Drake teals and a few mallard were on the water close to the path and a little egret was seen in flight.   Teal were actually huddled all along the bank of the tidal channel, but no other duck species were present.  A small group of long tailed tits flew from seeding grasses to the scrub and a goldcrest accompanied them.  On Ferry Pool, eight shoveler were resting in the shallow water.  A single redshank, twenty teal and at least 150 wigeon were present.  The only birds seen in the field were a few lapwings.

At Church Norton, the tide was high.  The hedgerows were quiet, but on checking the sea, a Slavonian grebe was quickly found and not too distant.  A diver  spending most of the time under the water challenged our identification skills but we settled for great northern.   Further along the shingle beach, two Slavonian grebes showed very nicely for us a little offshore.

Birds took advantage of any roosting spots in the harbour, and sixteen knot were noted amongst the grey plovers and dunlin huddled on one of the  breakwaters.  A large assembly of cormorants, two grey herons, four little egrets and several oystercatchers were on Tern Island, and a lone common gull sat on the water nearby.  Single skylark and stonechat were added en route to the harbour entrance, but birds on the water including three goldeneye and a female red breasted merganser were distant.  A flotilla of eight little grebes were closer and a large flock of Brent geese were both heard and seen in flight over the West side of the harbour.  A diving duck spotted at great distance in the main harbour channel, was likely the velvet scoter that had been present since mid- November. 

 Retracing our steps, two divers were noticed on the sea reasonably close in.  One bird displayed a white side patch, but the other didn’t.  Failing to check all the features of the second bird as they dived in close company, a premature note of two black throated divers was added to the day list.  It became clear later on that the second bird was a great northern, with a further bird of this species seen at greater distance.  A group of four Slavonian grebes were located a little further out taking our total to six for the day.

 Ending back at Sidlesham Ferry, a  male great spotted woodpecker was seen near the Visitor Centre and a distant avocet out on the mud in the harbour.  A chiffchaff appeared in some willow, and three black tailed godwits were feeding along the edge of the tidal channel.  Ten avocets were counted in the harbour before a large flock of Brent geese in flight brought our visit to a close.