Friday, 24 February 2012

Birding the Bill

On Sunday the RSPB group set off to West Sussex, not an area I'd visited before and I have to say I was more than impressed.
Our first stop was at the excellent RSPB reserve of Pagham Harbour.
As it happened there was a mega bird on site in the form of an overwintering Paddyfield Warbler, but the word was this was a bird that only showed itself every two or three hours and if it did it was only ever going to be very distant, so this was never going to be an option as there was so much other exciting habitat to look around.
 Starting off from the visitor centre, a look at the Ferry Pool gave us views of masses of Lapwing, Wigeon and Shelduck, with small numbers of Teal, Shoveler, a couple of Oystercatcher, a Curlew and Black-tailed Godwit. The field beyond contained a few Skylark and 4 or 5 Roe Deer.
 Raptors included Buzzard, Kestrel and a distant Red Kite.
A wander along the south of the harbour produced lots of wildfowl: Numerous Pintail and Shelduck, large flocks of Brent Geese with lesser numbers of Teal, Mallard, Shoveler and Gadwall. A flock of a dozen or so Avocet was nice, Curlew and Redshank were everywhere, a large flock of Golden Plover wheeled around in the distance as did some Knot. Dunlin and Grey plovers added to the wader tally.
 After lunch we travelled the short distance down to Selsey Bill.
Oddly there was very little going on here with the sea devoid of any birds save for a small Gull flock which comprised of Black-headed, Common and seven or eight Mediterranean Gulls including a couple in full summer plumage.
 Two Sanderling scurried along the beach and a group of Turnstone fed among the pebbles.

 We had been told to look out for a Black Redstart that had been overwintering in the area and this was eventually located on the roof of one of the beach side houses. It was very wary but did come down to feed on groynes.
Black Redstart (click on picture)
 Often accompanying the Redstart when it returned to the nearby gardens was a Chiffchaff which could have been a overwinterer or an early migrant.
 It was then back to Pagham Habour but this time at the Church Norton end.
Again there were lots of wading birds here with lots of Curlew and Redshank, Oystercatchers and a good few Dunlin, Knot and Ringed Plovers. In the distance were flocks of Black-tailed Godwits and Golden Plovers.
 Among the Herring, Greater and Lesser-black Gulls a couple of Yellow-legged Gulls were picked out.
 From the beach again there was very little on the sea save for a pair of Red-breasted Mergansers and a couple of Great-crested Grebes with some very distant white birds that may well have been Gannets.
 Further along the beach there were good numbers of Mediterranean Gulls a group of five Bar-tailed Godwits were spotted amongst the many waders.
 Unfortunately by late afternoon a viscous cold wind had set in and this encouraged an early end to the day.

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