07 June 2010


A weekend down in Pagham promised much, and delivered a satisfactory amount. Arrived on Friday evening, and in the gloom clocked my first ever Little Terns feeding along the shore.

I came back on Saturday morning to get views of the Terns in good light (tens of them), and was pleased to spot more than a few Sandwich Terns about too. The Little Terns, even smaller than I'd expected them to be, were busy catching food. They really were hovering and diving more frequently than other Terns I've seen. The most interesting behaviour, though, was when two adult birds landed together on the shingle and one offered a caught fish to the other. Felt like some sort of mating ritual.

Anyway, over the weekend we took some very long distance shots of the Little Terns with the telephoto. The photographs are not mine, but belong to a member of my party. Given control of the camera equipment I would've had more patience than them and waited for the birds to come in closer. Still... to me they still represent a valuable record.

From the hide at the harbour mouth (next to the car park with board walks down onto the beach) there were tens of Greenfinch, Skylark, Linnets... some Swallows and Swifts... the occasional House Martin. On the mud were many Ringed Plovers, Dunlin in breeding plumage, a sole Grey Plover, many Little Egrets, Great Crested Grebes, Curlew, Cormorants nesting, Greater Black-backed Gulls nesting (also Herring Gulls), a pale phase Brent Goose, Oystercatchers, and one first summer Mediterranean Gull.

Plus the ubiquitous hordes of Shelduck.

It was great to see the breeding Gull colonies. For waders you have to catch the tide right as the harbour is a big area from whichever side you happen to be standing on!

Late on Saturday afternoon (to coincide with the high tide), I went to the Nature Reserve visitor centre and walked down to Church Norton.

The first stop was the Ferry Pool hide. Here were (aside from tons of desperately cute Shelduck and Lapwing youngsters), Avocets, Black-tailed Godwits, a Cuckoo singing, Redshank, Lapwing, Tufted Duck, Gadwall, Grebes and a Mute Swan family.

As I walked down to Church Norton - huge numbers of Reed and Sedge Warblers, a Cetti's heard, Little Egrets, Grey Herons, Meadow Pipits, Linnets, Whitethroats, Bar-tailed Godwits, Dunlin, etc... Pick of the bunch were the large number of Grey Plover... with one male in breeding plumage. A stonking bird.

The Meadow Pipit:

Finally, on Sunday morning I gorged some more on the Tern-fest and observed a second first summer Mediterranean Gull which - bizarrely - was being followed about by a Sandwich Tern:

Everywhere the Gull went - so followed the Tern! The Goose in the foreground is of course the Brent Goose. I thought that - despite the lousy camera I'm stuck with for telescope work - it was rather novel to have a Mediterranean Gull, a Sandwich Tern and a Brent Goose in the same frame!

The only tragedy was that Sunday afternoon was off-limits for birding (went swimming!) - and a male Ruff in breeding plumage showed up on Ferry Pool!

So no real rarities, but a good few days and something I'd like to repeat now I've got a better lie of the land. Would be good to go back in the Autumn, as I read it's great for passage migrants at that time of year.

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