Saturday 5 March 2016

Pagham Harbour Tour

A full day tour at Pagham Harbour.

A very cold and windy day greeted us at the car park today but the day produced some fantastic sights.

First stop the small ferry pool which is a very easy place to view. From the well placed hide two avocet were seen at close range, also a green sandpiper, shoveler and teal with a large group of brent geese out in the field.

Moving on to explore the marsh path down to the estuary hide we soon found a kingfisher given a brief but close view as it sat on the mud bank just in front of us also in the fields were woodpigeons and a few stock doves.

As we rounded a bend we could see two roe deer which gave very close views as they walk across the field.

Moving on towards the hide which overlooks the vast expanse of mud at low tide we could see several large flocks of waders wheeling about in the air obviously disturbed by something!

From the hide you have a wonderful view over the whole estuary and we soon found the culprits for all the disturbance the two local peregrine falcons were seen sat on one of the islands out in the middle, on closer inspection you could see that they had just made a kill and the larger bird the female was eating its prey. With the two birds sat so close together you could see the obvious size difference with the male bird being almost half the size of the larger female. We watched the falcons for the next couple of hours as they flew around a bit often as a result of a couple of crows trying to get at their food.

By now the tide was coming in over the mud pushing the waders closer to us so a scan through produced several species knot, dunlin, turnstone, grey plover, golden plover, ringed plover, curlew, oystercatcher, snipe, little egret, redshank, lapwing, black-tailed godwit and around 50 avocet along with pintail, shelduck, great crested grebe, and a red breasted merganser.

A wonderful few hours watching the movement of the birds but we were now starting to get a bit cold so we decided to head back to the centre for a warm drink.

On the route back we found a few tufted duck along with two little grebes in one of the smaller pools and out on the marsh a large flock of wigeon could be seen with a couple of grey herons and three snipe flying around.

On one of the grassy areas a green woodpecker was feeding.

After lunch we walked along the opposite bank which has a few more trees and hedges and soon found greenfich, goldfinch, chaffinch, robin and a wren.

There were a lot less birds at this end so with time running out we heading back towards the car park, stopping at the bend we noticed a mixed group of gulls feeding on the tiny flies on the waters surfaces these included black headed gulls, common gulls, lesser black backed gulls and a couple of Mediterranean gulls, with herring and great black backed gulls seen earlier in the day a total of six gull species seen.

The last bird of the day turned out to be one of the peregrine falcon flying straight towards us, as it banked above our heads you could see that it was looking at getting some speed up to launch an attack and as we watched it fly back out over the estuary it stooped down at great speed and sent all the birds up into the air it was then lost from view, maybe it had made another kill?

A very cold and windy day but some great views of some of the wonderful sights the estuary has to offer.

Total species seen 60. DT

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