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Pagham Harbour – July 18th 1999

July is the beginning of the southward wader migration at Pagham. As ever, the Ferry Pond can hold interesting birds and concentrate them into an area where it is hard to miss seeing anything that might be present. On this particular day we started with the usual species: Carrion Crow, Rook, Sky Lark, Hedge Accentor, European Greenfinch, Winter Wren and Eurasian Blackbird, seen in the bushes around the carpark and the bushes around the Pond.

On the Ferry Pond itself where nine Dunlin, mostly in summer plumage, 21 Black-tailed Godwits, again in most in bright summer plumage, four Common Sandpipers, two Northern Lapwings and three Pied Avocets. A pair of Eurasian Reed-warblers were seen flying back and forth, with food in their beaks, between areas of reeds. This usually hard-to-see bird showed well this time as they stopped to check who and what was around before descending to their nest.

At the back of the Ferry Pond, amongst the Black-headed Gulls, was an adult Yellow-legged Gull and three Common Teal. Mallard, Common Shelduck and Common Moorhen were, as usual, present. Wood Pigeons and Stock Doves fed by the water's edge and in the surrounding fields, and Barn Swallows flew low over the pool.

Heading up along the path by the channel we added Common Whitethroat, Yellowhammer, Eurasian Linnet and Reed Bunting, all adults with immatures. The Long Pool held 30+ Mallard, females and males in eclipse plumage. The Channel has our first Common Redshanks of the day plus a Grey Heron and a few scattered Eurasian Curlews. A Common Sandpiper flew past and a European Turtle-dove was heard 'purring' in nearby trees.

At the place where the path veers right to join a parallel path we checked the fields and added nemerous Meadow Pipits and heard Sky Larks. A look at where the channel joins the main channel of the estuary added another Pied Avocet and three Little Egrets. A single Common Tern flew past.

Back at the Ferry Pond Helen spotted something rufous on the island at the far end of the pond. It turned out to be a Ruddy Shelduck: wild or not it was a nice bird to see, even it it was asleep.

Rather than go to Church Norton we drove round to Pagham Lagoon, stopping off on the way for breakfast at the cafe in Pagham Village. The Lagoon itself was very quiet with only Mallard and Black-headed Gull present. Waderwise, the harbour held three more Little Egrets, 30+ Black-tailed Godwits, five Grey Plovers and a Whimbrel. Barn Swallows and House Martins caught flies over the saltmarsh, Sandwich Terns plunge-dived into the nearby channel, diving past adult and immature Great Crested Grebes. Another Yellow-legged Gull was found in the distance as was a lost-looking Dark-bellied Brent Goose, left over from last winter's regular influx.

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