by Mya Bambrick
Pagham Harbour has to be one of my favourite nature reserves in my local area due to its variety of bird species which visit every year, including thousands of waders, ducks, and geese in the Winter. On Sunday, I awoke to blue skies and was excited to be spending the day birding at Pagham with fellow Leica Sport Optics ambassador, David Lindo, AKA the Urban Birder!
After an hour drive, my Mum and I arrived at the reserve and after having met David, we all walked onto the reserve. We stopped off at the Ferry Pool Hide, which offers a great viewpoint overseeing the water. After setting our scopes up, we spotted a flock of black-tailed godwit, a relatively long-legged wader which is always a pleasure to see. There were also a couple of shelduck, common sandpiper along the edges of the water, and some teal too. We then carried on along the path, until we reached the start of the mudflats, with the sea in the distance. Even though it wasn’t yet low tide and the water was still quite high, we spotted quite a few birds. There were some more teal and dotted on the islands were a couple of redshank. The bubbling call of a curlew echoed out as it burst out of the grasses, flying around in front of us and giving us a good view of a magnificent species. In the distance, we were glad to spot a kestrel hovering, on the hunt for it’s next meal. It was now surprisingly quite warm, but despite the heat haze we continued scanning the mudflats for any more waders and ducks.
David found a greenshank, grey plover, and ringed plover perched on the edge of the water together which I was pleased to see. On the horizon we could just make out two white dots, and after looking through our scopes we could see they were little egrets, not the cattle egrets we had hoped for but nice, nonetheless. Then we walked back to the visitor centre and after having some refreshments, we headed to Church Norton.
Firstly, we had a look in the churchyard, in the hope of seeing perhaps a redstart or spotted flycatcher. We didn’t see either of those, however in the vegetation I did spot a male blackcap, looking like it was feasting on some blackberries. Walking out to the harbour, overhead was lots of late swallows and swifts, acrobatically flying around in the sky. Out on the island’s birds were staying dry from the water, mostly looking quite sleepy! There were around 30 curlew, oystercatchers, more dunlin and grey plover, a couple of great crested grebe, and a group of cormorants. High in the sky we were lucky to see a peregrine falcon, the fastest bird in the world! It soared around for a bit before flying off into the distance.
After David spotted a wheatear in his scope on the other side of the harbour, we walked along to the beach. As we did so, we watched two kestrels glide over our heads. We sat down and scanned the sea for a while and although there wasn’t too much around, we did see a sandwich tern way out in the distance. Along the coastline, oystercatchers and curlews were flying by. Next, we moved onto another part of Pagham Harbour Nature Reserve, the North Wall.
To get to the harbour, we walked along a path through a field and were treated to a great view of a juvenile green woodpecker, sat on the ground, probably searching for ants. Moving onto the side of the harbour, there were a flock of gulls. David gave me lots of tips on identifying the different species of gull, including differentiating between black-headed gull and Mediterranean gull, which there were a few of. It was now surprisingly sunny, and the light was shimmering beautifully on the water. A lapwing was looking for any tasty morsels on offer, the light showing off the beautiful iridescence of its plumage.
After hearing about lots of cattle egrets around the area, I scanned the horizon, hoping to see one or two. And there they were: 3 cattle egret, distant, but still viewable through the scope. They were a lifer for me (a bird I have never seen before!) and a first in the UK for David. Like little egrets, they are quite large, white birds. However, cattle egrets have a yellow beak and yellow or greyish legs. It was a great way to end the day. It was brilliant to meet David for the first time and chat about all things birding!
Watch the Vlog by Mya Bambrick on YouTube: https://youtu.be/5-wO77XGcFk