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Nightjar Walk   June

A small group of twelve met for our nightjar walk. Though rather cool and cloudy for a late June evening, it didn’t really matter bird wise. Although failing to see redstart, we were fortunate to see quite a few of the heathland species.  A tree pipit at the top of a silver birch began sightings and was quickly followed by several stonechats and linnets.  A woodlark then obliged by perching in a pine.  Whilst watching the stonechats making short forays across the heather and perching on low scrub, at least two Dartford warblers were spotted, the male a rich plum down its breast pausing for a few seconds only in a small silver birch growing amongst the heather.

The evening ended with a few sightings of a male nightjar.  First it was seen flying beyond some pine trees before perching momentarily on a bent silver birch branch.  It was soon off in flight again showing its white wing markings well before the light deteriorated.  This time it perched on a small branch at the side of a large pine. Distant, but there was no mistaking the silhouette.




Pagham Harbour August

Eighteen members met at Sidlesham Ferry for the first of our two annual visits to Pagham Harbour.  Relocating to Church Norton quickly before the car park filled we found the tide coming in fast and large areas of mud already under water.  There was a noticeable lack of waders with absentees including dunlin, grey plover, godwits and knot.  A couple of ringed plovers on the edge of the incoming water, some oystercatchers, curlew, little egrets and black headed gulls had to suffice.  Six great crested grebes were in the main harbour channel and a familiar line of cormorants though a lot less that normal stood out on the higher mud banks.  A few redshanks were noticed in a small tidal gulley to the right of the bench on the shingle spit and a single whimbrel was found in the long grass of the saltmarsh close by.  Scans out in to the harbour failed to reveal any terns bar the single Sandwich Tern that flew out into the harbour soon after we had arrived.
Although there seemed every possibility of migrants foraging in the scrub behind the hide, it proved very quiet.  Swallows were active overhead and around the hide, some even entering.  A lesser whitethroat appeared a few times in an elder showing its liking for the berries, but proved to be the only warbler seen in this area.
Shortly after we had begun to move on, a peregrine appeared overhead and circled a couple of times before swinging round towards the harbour. Both male and female blackcaps were then seen searching for insects in a clump of hemp agrimony, but there were no birds in the horse field or on the beach.
 Walking out towards the harbour entrance, several wheatears were ushered along the shingle path in front of us before either perching on fence posts or low strands of wire.  A few linnets and a single skylark were also seen before half a dozen summer plumage turnstones and a ringed plover on a breakwater.  Just to the right of a smaller piece of breakwater, on a small area of pebbles, another turnstone, a juvenile ringed plover and a common sandpiper were noticed feeding contently.
After lunch at Sidlesham Ferry, we checked Ferry Pool.  Two avocets were busy feeding in the water and quite a few black tailed godwits were split in to three groups.  Forty four were counted and that included a summer plumaged individual that was feeding alone close to the road.  Another avocet was on the spit and a single shelduck on the water.  A few lapwing were in the fields and a kestrel was seen in flight. Just before leaving a buzzard was spotted perched at distance on a fence post at the back of the pool.
 A large flock of moulting juvenile starlings had assembled in a hawthorn across the water of Long Pool and another similar sized flock were seen flying around low over the saltmarsh nearby. The water seemed to take its time to run out of the channel so hindered our chances of wader watching.  A greenshank appeared hugging the near bank, but it all too quickly walked around a slight bend in the channel and was obscured by weed.  Two whimbrel in a salt marsh creek were some compensation though, before both single female teal and gadwall were seen on the Long Pool on the walk back.
Our visit ended with a particularly enjoyable few minutes spent watching the birds feeding in the tidal gulley from near the wooden seat.  Seventeen redshank were in the channel and amongst them a single spotted redshank.  A greenshank was witnessed chasing something in the shallow water in typical crazed fashion, and it and the spotted redshank remained on show sufficiently long enough for everyone to get good views.  A flight of eight ringed plovers flew low up the channel towards us and a single dunlin and a second more distant greenshank were both seen before moving on.  Great tit, dunnock and several chaffinches at the feeding station were the last birds of the day.


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