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Pagham Harbour – August 27th 2000

I thought a trip to Pagham towards the end of August would add a couple of wader species to the year list. Expectations of what would be seen at the Ferry Pond were quite high - at least a Little Stint.

We arrived at about 8.20am. The weather was good although the breeze made it feel quite cold and we had to wear jackets. The fields and marshes to the north of the Pond were quite, holding only Carrion Crow, Wood Pigeon, Common Moorhen and a single Stock Dove. A few eclipse Mallards were seen on a small pool. In the distance there were interesting-looking groups of birds could be seen at the Pond's edge. However, as we got close it became clear that almost every bird on the Ferry Pond today was a Common Teal. Admittedly, at the back, there were a few Black-headed Gulls and Common Shelduck, but not a single wader was to be seen. In over 20 years birding here I don't remember ever viewing the Ferry Pond without seeing a wader of some kind.

Feeling slightly dispirited we moved on to the main harbour. The tide was coming in and the channel quite full. A lone Common Redshank was found soon followed by another seven and a single Whimbrel. The reedbeds added a single Eurasian Reed-warbler and a couple of Sedge Warblers, one singing quietly for a few seconds,plus the usual Mallards, Common Coot and Mute Swans (two adults and four juveniles) In the distance a flock of about 50 Grey Plover and 30 Dunlin flew around for a few moments. Behind us a Green Wodopecker called loudly and flew across the Channel a couple of minutes later.

A bird landed on a bramble about 5 metres in front of us. This turned out to be my first Whinchat of the year. It flew to the fields to the right of the path and we soon saw another, and another, and another... in total nine Whinchats were seen to be moving through as a group. A few minutes after the Whinchats had passed by a Yellow Wagtail flew overhead.

At the end of the reedbed and the Long Pool we got the usual Eurasian Reed-buntings; a female seen and another individual heard. In the distance Little Egrets flew, appearing and disappearing from and into the various channels of the harbour. As we walked back towards the Ferry Pond a group of about five Sand Martins and four Barn Swallows came past.

As we approached the carpark we expected to see European Goldfinch feeding on the teazels. These birds duly turned up, a mixture of worn-plumage adults and fresh-plumaged (although no red on the head) juveniles. Also here were two juvenile Common Whitethroats and a Hedge Accentor.

After a quick snack in Pagham Village we went to the Lagoon area. Nothing on the Lagoon itself due to windsurfers and boats so we walked to the hide. Eurasian Linnets we abundant as were small flocks of Common Starlings. Scanning the harbour we saw three Little Egrets feeding in the shallows, then another three roosting and a further 16 roosting - 22 Little Egrets. Also here were four Grey Herons (three with the group of 16 Little Egrets), 80 Eurasian Curlew, five very nice-looking summer-plumaged Grey Plover, two small flocks of Ruddy Turnstone (28 and 29 individuals respectively), showing plumages ranging from juvenile to full winter, moulting and full summer. Twenty or so Eurasian Oystercatchers were roosting on an island, along with about 20 Dunlin, eight Sandwich Terns, two Common Terns and two Common Gulls. Also on that island were three feeding Common Ringed Plovers. In the distance were flocks of Great Black-backed Gulls and two or three Great Crested Grebes were seen on the water. A distant Eurasian Kestrel was seen and a male Northern Wheatear showed well in the scope only a few metres in front of us.

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