Thursday, 14 April 2011

Pagham Harbour on a moving tide.

A visit at the end of last week to Pagham Harbour in the sunshine ... what could be better and what would the day hold in store for me?

I started at the Sidlesham Visitor Centre and took a stroll to the Ferry Pool  [Point 1 on the map below]where there was very little action; Avocet and Coot both asleep plus Shelduck, Mallard, Teal, Gadwall and Black-headed Gulls were the main occupants on the still waters. Heading onwards the view at the head of the harbour was one of low water levels and acres of intertidal mudflats with open farmland to the west. 

Whilst there appeared to be only a few Redshank busily feeding I followed the elevated pathway [towards Point 2] as this passes the reed fringed Long Pool where I listened to my first Sedge Warblers and a couple of Little Grebe squabbling over something or nothing followed by a pair of Coot mating. 

A male Tufted Duck was also enjoying a 'bubble' bath.
Both sides of the pathway were bordered by the massed colourful blooms of the Blackthorn and Gorse, a haven for many insects and ....

  ... a Small Tortoiseshell who stopped briefly on the Blackthorn for a quick pollen fix followed by my photo call with a male Chaffinch (see previous post).

With little else to view I drove around to Church Norton [Point 3 on the map] and wandered around the churchyard just in case any new migrants might be lingering. Nothing unusual, just Chiffchaff and Blackcaps.

A Mistle Thrush (Turdus viscivorus) didn't want to show off its spotty chest and promptly flew away! A search across the estuary produced a resting Peregrine plus the usual loafing gulls, Cormorants, Shelduck, Great Crested Grebe, lots of Little Egrets, Mute Swan plus Dunlin, Grey Plover, Common Ringed Plover, Black-tailed Godwit, Curlew and a few Knot. Very high overhead I watched a kettle of at least 12 Common Buzzards slowly migrating northwards.

After some refreshments I switched direction and headed out along the shingle shoreline towards The Severals [more reed fringed pools at Point 4] where a Greenfinch (Chloris chloris) monitored the sky overhead for a possible predator.

 A single Common Buzzard starts to climb and soar on the very warm afternoon thermals.

A lonely Lapwing surveys the incoming tide.

Searching the shingle ridges along the beach I eventually located a Northern Wheatear (Oenanthe oenanthe) recently returned from somewhere in Africa and trying to stay unnoticed before continuing its journey northwards. (Sorry this pic is a bit grainy but I had to crop a very distant image).

As the tide encroaches into the harbour the previously muddy gullies become a patchwork of water and most of the wildfowl and waders move to shallower locations leaving just the gulls and Cormorants to sit it out on the slowly diminishing shingle islands. I also have to remember that on a very high tide the shoreline pathway no longer becomes viable unless you want to wade knee deep through or around the nearly impenetrable overhanging branches. Fortunately on this visit the alternative route was still accessible. 

Finally a [Common] Linnet (Carduelis cannabina) enjoys a spot of afternoon sunbathing. So I have once again experienced the changing mood of this important tidal estuary habitat and although many of the wildfowl and waders have been distant observations I did still log 60 species and my spirit is suitably refreshed by the experience.
Now I only had to make the two hour drive home .... if only the coast was a bit closer!!     FAB.


  1. No wonder the wheatear are still not around here ;-) You did a beautiful walk Frank and got very nice sighting and pics.... I love when you say just chiffchaff ;-) I'd love to see them around ;-)

  2. It looks like a very relaxing, peaceful walk. Nice image catches.

  3. That was a lovely trip with lots of interesting things to see Frank.

  4. what a great place to go - even if it takes 2 hours to get there. that greenfinch is GORGEOUS! beautiful!

  5. An excellent and very interesting blog Frank! Lovely pics too, wow I wish I could see half of what you saw on that day out!!

  6. Sounds like a great trip Frank. I've yet to hear my first Sedge Warbler but it can only be a matter of tome.

  7. Oh that looks like such a beautiful place to spend some time!

  8. Hi Frank...nice set of photos...there is nothing like being at the sea shore...the smells, sounds,so enjoyable.
    The flowers and bird, and scenery is great!!

  9. Lovely post, and a great series of photos to document it! We have winter here again....32 this morning, strong East wind, and snowing. Where oh where is spring? LOL

  10. Hi Chris. I think the first wave of Wheatears are moving slowly northwards but you may have to wait a while. Well there are so many Chiffys around at the moment that it seems as if they are common .. lol.

    Hi Lois. It sure was very relaxing.

    Thanks Roy.

    Hi texwisgirl. There are plenty of Greenfinch in the garden but they rarely offer such a decent pose.

    Hi IOW Birder. Dave, I can remember when I first started .. but you'll be surprised how quickly the ID and recognition will produce bigger daily list AND the location always plays its part.

    Hi Adam. I did actually catch a glimpse of one Sedge. I'm sure it won't be long before they turn up for you.

    Hi Jen. Has to be one of my favourite coastal locations especially in the depths of winter.

    Hi Grammie. Couldn't agree more AND guess what Anita got me to take her there a few days later.

    Hi Mona. I really feel for you. The sun has disappeared here and the temps are down but nothing compared to what you are experiencing.

  11. Hi Frank,
    Some great photo`s there of a great trip! Particularly like the Greenfinch! It`s good to see that we are now getting our summer migrants back, They might be having second thoughts with the drop in temperatures! ;)
    Follow me at HEDGELAND TALES

  12. 60 Species, a feat that has only been acheived once on my patch Frank, and one that is difficult at most places, well done :-)

  13. Hi Frank Super selection of images which illistrate the walk superbly and a fine selection of species seen.There certainly are a lot of migrating species coming through so it looks good for a great Spring.

  14. Hi John. Yes, activity is definitely hotting up but I agree the cooler weather will probably slow some species down.

    Hi Warren. I have to admit that Pagham Harbour has come up trumps on a no of trips over the years inc. 69 on 1.1.2009 but the best was 78 on 2.9.2001.

    Hi Monty. Thanks. I'm just hoping (like Warren) that a few more turn up on the local patch to save on the fuel costs!!

  15. Frank, my spirit would also be refreshed after a glorious outing like you describe and share with such beautiful images. You bring your world so much closer to my own when I view the sights that you post, lovely set as always~

  16. A bit of a trek, but well worth the effort. I so enjoyed viewing your beautiful photograph collages and and single images. Many lovely sights! Sounds and looks like you spent a glorious day along the coast. Fantastic post!

  17. Hi Mary and Julie G.
    Always a pleasure to know you both enjoy following my footsteps. Have a good weekend. FAB.


I hope you enjoyed your visit and I always appreciate your comments and feedback.


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