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Farlington Marshes - November 2018

A variety of common waders feeding, a kestrel hovering in the distance and then a sparrowhawk flying low over the mud preceded our sightings of a flock of at least  ten long tailed and three blue tits working through the hawthorn hedge adjacent to the cycleway.  The kestrel seen earlier was now settled on a lamppost adjacent to the A27.   On the sea wall, the light was excellent on two grey plovers a few yards out.  A greenshank landed in the main tidal channel and another was fed near a bend in a deep gulley a little closer.

A group of pintail and teal were on the sea close in, and once again the light on these wildfowl was superb.  The tide rose fast and the avocets seen way in the distance earlier soon flew on to the lagoon.  Having begun fanning out and feeding , a count of 56 was confirmed.  Redshank and black tailed godwits were the most numerous of the waders roosting, but more of the former as well as lapwings and dunlins were flying in continually.  A water rail was near the signed viewpoint  creeping around the edges of some reeds close to some teal and other species seen included both moorhen and shelduck.

Proceeding around the sea wall to the point, the only small birds seen were robin and dunnock.  A heron kept company with a little egret near the rabbit mounds close to the point field, but there was to be no owls this year to entertain us.   Out on the sea, a small party of first five eider and then two red breasted mergansers were spotted.  A few great crested grebes and wigeon were also present.

Returning along the lane to towards the information hut, 19 curlews were seen in the field to our left before taking flight. A little egret was feeding near a small patch of reeds away to our right and a wader present soon ventured out into a little shallow water, allowing its identity to be confirmed as a very smart spotted redshank.  Another little egret was feeding in the small wetland area behind the information hut.

We elected to walk out to the lagoon again after lunch in the hope of perhaps seeing a short eared owl.  Although that didn’t materialise, we did see seven greenshanks, two herring gulls and 41 common gulls on the lagoon.  A male stonechat flew to one of the fence posts and its mate was nearby.  A single snipe was also spotted sitting at the edge of the reeds at the back of the lagoon.   Our visit ended after enjoying some great views of a female marsh harrier quartering the fields and reed bed scattering many of the birds from the water in search of her prey.

Pagham Harbour - December 2018

At Church Norton, sightings began with a redshank feeding on the saltings at the end of the lane from the church car park. A peregrine was perched at distance on Tern Island but initial scans of the harbour failed to reveal many waders. A Mediterranean gull walked across the mud, but when it soon vanished we decided to check the birds present from the shingle ridge by the seats. Surprising for the time of year, a few bar tailed godwits still looked immaculate in breeding plumage. Two little grebes were seen on the water, and it soon became apparent that there were two peregrines out on the island. Common waders present included curlew, oystercatcher, grey plover and dunlin and as the tide flowed in, a group of approximately 40 of the latter moved closer to feed and small parties. Both wigeon and teal were seen on the water along with six red breasted mergansers, including a single drake and in the main harbour channel. Cormorants were lined up in the harbour and close to these were three Mediterranean gulls.  Turnstones had requisitioned the breakwaters some time before the mud was all covered, but a large group of waders made one last attempt to resist the rising water, moving closer to allow scrutiny. Although the group largely comprised dunlin and grey plovers, several knot accompanied them.

 On the walk to the beach we added a goldcrest, but there was nothing on the sea.  Most of us walked on to the harbour entrance, where a goldeneye had been reported, but we failed to see it or much else either with the exception of a few shelduck. At Sidlesham Ferry, the feeders attracted four blue tits, great tit, blackbird, a female pheasant and some house sparrows. 

 Checking the Ferry Pool from the hide, we managed to see 35 teal, lapwing, shoveler, wigeon and two herring gulls .Taking the path adjacent to Long Pool, enabled us to see a large flock of Brent geese in one of the fields, along with quite a few  lapwings.  Amongst these a few starlings searched for food.  A peregrine was seen well in flight low across the water in the harbour, but the tide failed to drop sufficiently to see much in the way of wader activity.  

Titchfield Haven - January 2019

 The first field trip of the New Year attracted just eight members.  A flight of Brent geese flew west and ten gadwall were counted on the sea offshore from the sailing club before going on to the reserve. With these ducks were nine herring gulls whilst three or four great crested grebes were seen on the sea further out. On one of the breakwaters in front of the sailing club, 31 turnstones had assembled. Nearby on a small shingle mound, two ringed plovers were keeping company with seven dunlins. A marsh harrier was then seen flying over the reserve twice, and a little grebe dived in the Meon outlet.  

 On the reserve, two redshank and six lapwings were seen on one of the nesting islands from the viewpoint along the coast road. Further along, a check of the gulls on the water and perched on wooden posts in the river proved worthwhile for the two common gulls present.

 The water level was high on Meon Shore scrape with no muddy margins and all the waders seen were somewhat inactive. Two snipe were seen on Island ‘ A ‘ and  there was a large group of oystercatchers huddled tightly together on Island ‘ I ‘ and the one immediately beyond it. One hundred and twenty were counted but there must have been more. Three redshanks were on Island ‘ J ‘ whilst both shoveler and wigeon were also seen.  Scanning with the telescope, both a grey heron and a little egret were noticed fishing on Pumfrett Scrape. Ten shelduck were also further away from the hide. 

  Some  twitching reed stems betrayed the whereabouts of a Cetti’s warbler just before Pumfrett Hide. Very brief glimpses certainly, but a welcome addition to the day list.  From the hide, 13 black tailed godwits were seen feeding.  A male stonechat was then spotted on a fence post, but no sooner had it been seen, it flew down in to the grass before perching up again for a short period. Two little egrets were in attendance and a group of 12 Canada geese flew on to the scrape. A further 16 followed shortly afterwards.

 From Spurgin Hide, a moorhen amused us as it grabbed a beak full of bullrush having climbed the stems of the plant to reach it, but there were no other birds on view bar a grey heron that flew in and then almost straight out again.

 The second half of the reserve was less productive.  Blackbird, jay and robin were added on the way to Knight’s Bank hide, but checking the ‘ frying pan ‘ area on the river, we were able to see 13 cormorants perched on posts, three lesser black backed gulls on the water, at least a dozen herring gulls nearby and then a single curlew in a field.  The highlight was a flock of 16 pintail that settled on the water. The visit ended with a look from Suffern Hide. Three drake and a female pochard were seen on the river and two little grebes were busy diving close to the reeds.