Saturday 22nd October 2016.
A male Green Woodpecker which Andy spotted up in the trees near the harbour.
Andy Fisher and myself went birding over Pagham Harbour today and a thoroughly well spent morning in the sunshine of West Sussex. I have to admit, I didn’t check today forecast but visiting here paid off as we visited both the North Wall and Church Norton area of this fantastic place. There was always a chance of something rare turning up and we gave the area a good bashing in finding that elusive rare too.
Little Egret in White’s Creek.
Grey Heron fishing in White’s Creek.
Wigeon also within the Creek.
No-one was parked up at the end of Church Lane as we slowly made our way to the harbour wall in the bright sunshine. It was cold at first and judging by the frost on the lawn of a nearby house, it must have been damn cold here last night. Almost immediately after we arrived, I picked out my first Brambling of the season flying over, which was a very good start to the day. Though they disappeared, they did show themselves again flying off east over the fields.
Andy checking out the harbour.
The Spotted Redshank wading within the Creek.
A Grey Wagtail was searching for food on the Breach Pool.
At the end of the small track, by the paddocks, birds suddenly came pouring out. A flock of 8 Long-tailed Tits contained at least one Goldcrest and maybe up to three Chiffchaffs. A Green Woodpecker flew into nearby trees and showed well, while both Chaffinch and Greenfinch were seen in the same tree. Up to 6 Pied Wagtails were searching for insects within the small pony field and one bird was most certainly a male White Wagtail. Stonechats were heard in the distance but it wasn’t till we were making our way back to the car that we spotted them.
Common Teal on the Breach Pool. Sadly, the corpse of a Herring Gull is on the right of the photo.
Grey Plover seen from the harbour wall.
The tide was out within the harbour and within White’s Creek, a winter-plumaged Spotted Redshank showed well wading in the shallow water. Both Wigeon and Teal were present along the waters edge and waders included Curlew, Grey Plover, Redshank and Lapwing resting on the mudflats. A Kingfisher, or possibly two, were seen flying up and down the Creek but too fast to grab a photo. Both a Grey Heron and a Little Egret fished the creek close to the harbour wall.
Curlew flying overhead.
Upon the Breach Pool, good numbers of Teal were resting by the edge of the reedbed and intermingled with these were at least 5 Common Snipe. A small flock of 10 Black-tailed Godwit also were feeding upon the shallow water. A Grey Wagtail was searching for insects on the mud by the reedbed and a Water Rail also showed well, flying out of the reedbed and then having a bath at the back of the Pool. Reed Buntings were simply everywhere and gave some quite stunning views. A guestimate of at least 20 individuals were counted. The local Bearded Tits showed well too, with a flock of around 6 birds flying round and round over the Pool until eventually disappearing back into the reedbeds.
Female Reed Bunting.
A rear view of the female Reed Bunting close to the footpath.
A couple of Swallows dropped in to have a quick drink then flew off east over the fields. Checking the harbour, we noticed all the waders had been flushed from the saltmarsh. It had to be a falcon or hawk that had put them up but we found neither. However, I did clock my first Golden Plovers of the year among the many Lapwings. More Common Snipe and a few Dunlin flew over and into the fields. There was plenty moving overhead and though heard, I couldn’t locate the Redpolls flying over, however, the many Skylarks flying over were much easier to locate. The beautiful weather encouraged a showy Cetti’s Warbler to sing from a bramble. Shame my photos of the bird didn’t do it justice, but the Reed Bunting shots do.
This Water Rail was bathing at the back of the Pool beside a pair of Teal.
Among the Reed Buntings, we saw at least three Yellowhammers, around four Song Thrushes and another couple of Chiffchaffs. While walking back to the car, I caught a Caddis Fly in mid flight, thinking it might have been a moth. Nevertheless, a couple of passing birders were interested in seeing it for themselves as the insect rested on my sleeve.
Enough said! Andy larking about!
Our next stop before Church Norton was to be Siddlesham Ferry Pool. After getting a refreshing cup of coffee from the local Garage, we took a quick look upon the Ferry Pool. Of note, was the single Green Sandpiper at the back of the Pool, behind a small flock of Lapwing. The water level here was probably at its lowest this year, but it didn’t produce many waders. Several Wigeon and Teal were present as was a pair of Shelduck but after 15 minutes or so, we headed off south to Church Norton.
The lone Green Sandpiper behind the Lapwing on the Ferry Pool.
With these easterlies of late, surely there must be a rare warbler or Bunting lurking about down one of the country lanes? As we drove down the small lane to the Church, I stopped sharply to observe a female Stonechat close to the roadside (see photo). On reaching the Church car park, we walked through the Churchyard but the only birds of note were another flock of Swallows and at least 11 Red-legged Partridges in the fields north of the Churchyard. The Churchyard itself was near bird-less! A few waders were on show within the harbour, but I couldn’t pick out anything unusual. I did find a female Common Darter dragonfly perched on some reeds, but little else.
The female Stonechat by the road leading to the Church. The photo was taken through the car window.
Red-legged Partridge behind the Churchyard.
We took a walk back down the road and along the old road by the farm buildings in search of our rarity. A Mediterranean Gull flew high overhead and good numbers of Pheasants were feeding within the fields. A pair of female Sparrowhawks jostled with one another over our heads then flew into a tree nearby. However, I have to say it, it was near bird-less yet again! I think we might have been better bringing a couple of deck-chairs, four cans of Stella and have a good kip in the warm sunshine! Never mind, it was still a stunning beautiful day, with enough birds seen to reflect on a pleasant mornings birding.
The female Common Darter.