RSPB Pagham Harbour – 20/08/2023

Considering the time of year, the reserve seemed quieter than expected. Beginning at Ferry Pool, 20 Black-tailed Godwits, five Shelducks and four Moorhens were quickly seen. A Common Sandpiper was feeding along the left side, quite distant from the hide. It soon flew across the pool to give better views at the other side. A single Dunlin still retaining its black belly patch looked somewhat odd on its own. Black-headed Gulls had a Herring Gull on a small sandy island for company. The odd Swallow dipped in to the water as it passed over the pool. A Cattle Egret then appeared to keep close company with some cows where the field met the margins of the water.

A Kestrel hovered in flight and then landed on a wooden fence at distance across the fields. A few minutes were then spent checking the birds visiting the feeding area behind the hide. It was particularly nice to see nine Greenfinches and a Song Thrush in addition to Dunnock, Great Tit, Chaffinches and House Sparrows.

The Ferry Channel produced a juvenile Redshank near the sluice whilst on the salt-marsh a solitary Avocet appeared to be limping slightly. It was very quiet. At Red Barn Ditch,  several young Common Whitethroats were busy flitting about in the bushes. They often flew down on to the ground near the base of a metal post and whilst watching these at least one Lesser Whitethroat was seen. A Common Buzzard was seen circling overhead and a Kingfisher in flight over the ditch before perching in a dead tree. A wren also crept along the wooden fence bordering the ditch and tramway.

After lunch a male Blackcap showed nicely whilst eating elderberries from a bush just beyond the Information Centre.  A Little Egret was then seen in the tidal channel that ran from the harbour saltings to Red Barn Ditch.

Little Egret (Mark Radbourn)

By the time we had walked around to the North Wall, the tide had come in. Near Halsey’s Farm a Cattle Egret was seen in flight and a lapwing seemed friendless at a wet patch close to the rife. Three Little Grebes were on the water but just a single Oystercatcher out in the harbour.

At Owl Point there were several young Cattle Egrets still in the rookery. Five Little Egrets, 12 Cattle Egrets and a Grey Heron were on Heron Island.

Past the sluice near White’s Creek, a single Great Crested Grebe and a pair of Mute Swans with three cygnets were the only birds seen on the water.

On the walk back, 15 Curlews were counted in a field close to the bird less Breach Pool. A large number of Egrets had also congregated in a field whose grass was being cut. A Marsh Harrier then spooked a good many birds whilst flying towards the Salt House.