Steve Gale (of North Downs and beyond fame) took me off for a day's birding in West Sussex. The first port of call was Church Norton and we were soon watching an immature Spoonbill and a Little Egret in Pagham Harbour. Four Whooper Swans were seen flying off in the distance and there were plenty of Grey Plovers, Oystercatchers, Redshanks, Dunlin, Brent Geese and Shelducks present.
SPOONBILL immature (Graham)
Deciding that it would be better to return towards high tide, we walked to Selsey Bill. On the way we picked out 5 Mediterranean Gulls and at the Bill we noted a Red-throated Diver, a few Common Scoters and 2 Red-breasted Mergansers, but not much else was passing over the sea.
We then headed back towards Pagham Harbour. There were large numbers of Turnstones along the beach on the way back.
Taking the footpath through the farmland we noted 2 Common Buzzards and heard a Water Rail squealing from a ditch and back at the harbour the Spoonbill and Little Egret were still present and, as the tide was now pretty high, we set off along the spit to the harbour mouth. Small flocks of Grey Plovers settled near the mouth and a pair of Red-breasted Mergansers flew close by heading towards the sea where another small raft of Common Scoters were bobbing about.
The number of wildfowl in the harbour was impressive with many hundreds of Wigeon, Teal, Shelduck and Pintail present.
The tide was now very high so we made the decision to head for the visitors centre and watch from that end of the harbour. This is when things started to go downhill a bit.
The tide was now so high that the water had covered virtually all of the footpath back to the car park. There was nothing for it but to wade through.
Steve emerged relatively unscathed, but my boots decided to fill with water! Not as waterproof as they should be and the water was pretty cold.
Back at the car park at Church Norton, it was a matter of ringing out my socks and donning my shoes for the rest of the day. A Common Buzzard flew low overhead just as it was time for a coffee and a bite to eat before driving back to the visitors centre.
The Ferry Pool was frozen over and there was just a few Shelducks and Shovelers and a lone Common Snipe present.
At that end of the harbour we noted a few Black-tailed Godwits and 14 Avocets and yet more huge numbers of wildfowl.
As the sun was getting low, we headed off for the picturesque village of Bosham, a place I hadn't visited before. Lots of Mute Swans, Redshanks and Grey Plovers present, but not much else but it is a stunning location. We stayed until sunset before heading off home.
GREY PLOVER (Graham)
SUNSET AT BOSHAM
A very enjoyable day's birding, despite the wet socks.