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Pagham Harbour – December 24th 2000

Our last trip of the year. David Ireland was in the area so we met at Pagham Harbour information centre. After almost three months of rain everywhere was quite wet. The worst news was that the toilets were flooded and couldn't be used!

A quick check of the Ferry Pond showed very high water levels and almost no birds so we walked up the path to the channel and harbour.

The tide was about half in so much of the mud was covered. Islands that weren't covered held many Common Redshanks, a few Spotted Redshanks and some Common Snipe. On the water were Eurasian Wigeon, Common Teal, Northern Pintail and Dark-bellied Brent Geese. Northern Lapwings, Eurasian Curlews and Little Egrets were also seen flying around.

Walking back down the path we checked the fields to the south and found 8 male Ring-necked Pheasants and about 20 Red-legged Partridges feeding together.

Back at the Information Centre we decided to have a look at the 'what's about' board and found out there had been a Eurasian Spoonbill in the field by the Ferry Pond. David went off to answer the call of nature whilst I crossed the road and immediately found the spoonbill. A loud shout to David him running over to us and we spent a while happily watching the bird waving it's bill around and snapping at grass stems. For me, this was a new bird for Sussex.

Next stop was Church Norton. We had two Slavonian Grebes in the harbour, one quite close, and a couple of Little Grebes. Walking to the beach I almost stepped on a juvenile Black-legged Kittiwake, which looked very ill and staggered off into the water and floated away. We couldn't reach it so, feeling sad for the bird, carried on to the beach getting a Green Woodpecker on the way. The sea appeared empty so we walked back and again saw the Kittiwake back on the shore so I walked around it into the water so it couldn't swim off again. It didn't even try and allowed me to pick it up and carry it back to the car. It warmed up in Helen's hands as we drove to a nearby bird hospital and seemed a bit livlier when we left it.

We were having lunch with David and his family at West Wittering so before that we did a quick walk around the shore and marsh (around SZ771985). Here we had 3 Little Egrets, 2 female and 1 male Red-breasted Merganser, a few Common Snipe, Black-tailed Godwit, Common Redshank and Dark-bellied Brent Goose. At one point about 500 European Golden-plover flew over head.

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