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Pagham Harbour – March 29th 1998

Mid to late March is the beginning of the spring migration. On this particular today it was sunny and there was a light SE wind. It 'felt' good.

The day started at the Ferry Pond where it was clear that migration was indeed underway. Feeding in the shallow waters of the Pond where four Black-tailed Godwits, two in summer plumage. Around the water's edges were three Common Redshank, one Spotted Redshank, a Ruff and a Green Sandpiper. Northern Lapwings' were displaying over the fields, loudly crying peewit, a sound that's always great to hear.

The remains of the winter could be seen in the form of Northern Shoveler and Common Teal. The usual Common Coot, Mallard and Common Shelduck could be seen on the water or asleep on the banks, and Eurasian Skylark and European Greenfinch called overhead. A Green Woodpecker was heard 'yaffling' in the distance. In the bushes by the side of the road Common Chiffchaff's and Blackcaps could be seen.

Leaving the Ferry I walked up the path that runs along side the southern side of the harbour. In the Ferry Channel where at least 18 Common Redshank, and lots of Eurasian Oystercatchers. The reeds and bushes bordering the Long Pool which is immediately south of the channel held a male Yellowhammer and three pairs of Common Reed-Buntings. On the pool were Little Grebe, Mute Swan and Common Coot. Rooks, a Common Curlew and a Grey Heron flew overhead.

About five hundred metres up the path, where it changes direction from north-east to west south-west I saw Skylarks, two Northern Wheatears, Meadow Pipits and a Willow Warbler. In the channel and on the mudflats were Northern Pintails, Bar-tailed Godwits, and more Eurasian Oystercatchers and Common Redshanks. In a ditch to the south of the path was a Little Egret. Heading back towards the Ferry, more Willow Warblers could be seen and heard in the pathside bushes, plus Dunnocks and a male Tufted Duck on the Long Pool.

Back at the Ferry Pond there were now two Spotted Redshanks and a few Dunlin, plus Common and Black-headed Gulls.

Next I drove around to Church Norton and parked in the carpark by the church. Common birds were much in evidence in the trees and bushes around the carpark and by the side of the path down to the harbour: Common Chaffinch, Great Tit, Winter Wren, Mistle Thrush and European Greenfinch seen. The walk towards the sea added Eurasian Oystercatcher, Eurasian Curlew and Common Shelduck, a male Great Spotted Woodpecker and numerous Eurasian Linnets, plus three more Little Egrets and a Lesser Black-backed Gull. The sea itself held three male and three female Red-breasted Mergansers, the shoreline had 27 Ruddy Turnstone and two Grey (Black-bellied) Plovers.

The scrubby bushes near the Severals are always worth a check at migration time; they held Eurasian Linnets and a female Black Redstart. On the southernmost Several pool were two Common Shelduck, a pair of Common Teal, two Common Coot and two Pied Avocets. A Eurasian Sparrowhawk hunted over the nearby trees.

Back towards the carpark I 'scoped the harbour for waders and saw Eurasian Curlew, Dunlin, Greater Ringed Plover, Ruddy Turnstone, Eurasian Oystercatcher, Great Cormorant, Herring Gull, Common Teal and another Pied Avocet. Looking towards the church I added Stock Dove and a pair of beautiful Ring Ouzels.

Next stop was Pagham Lagoon and the north side of the harbour. I drove to the carpark by the Lagoon and checked the lagoon itself. It held a few Common Coot and a Red-necked Grebe. In the bushes at it's south-western tip I found one of my favourite birds – a Firecrest – which showed very well.

The harbour was again scanned by 'scope and added many Eurasian Wigeon, a pair of Gadwall, Bar- and Black-tailed Godwits, Dunlin, Common Redshank, two Sandwich Terns, Great Black-backed, Common (Mew) and Herring Gulls, and the very common Common Shelduck.

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