Church Norton 14 January 2024

Just six members joined this usually popular walk and enjoyed a dry and not too chilly amble along the shore of Pagham Harbour on a rising tide.  At times, the sun shone brightly from a clear blue sky and gave wonderful views of a profusion of waders and ducks with large skeins of Brent Geese frequently passing overhead. The first port of call was the salt marsh, where the usual Curlews, Redshanks, Little Egrets and Moorhens were present. Then to the Ferry Pool hide with its numerous ducks, Teal, Wigeon, Shovelers, Shelduck and Gadwall sharing the facilities with Lapwings and gulls (Black-headed and Herring).  The feeders in the woodland area held tits (Great, Blue, Long-tailed), House Sparrows and Chaffinches, while Robins, Dunnocks and a Wren searched the surrounding bushes for food. At the start of the harbour-side walk came the thrilling squeal of a Water Rail in the reeds.  A Marsh Harrier flew up the channel while plenty of new wader species began to appear including Grey Plovers, Dunlin, 20+ Avocets and a single Snipe. Three perched Reed Buntings added to the enjoyment.  On the approach to Church Norton the tide was reaching its highest forcing the waders into tight flocks especially the Dunlins, Knot and Grey Plovers.  A few Bar-tailed Godwits were noted settling down to sleep among the roosting Cormorants and Oystercatchers.

On the beach was a group of keen birders from SOS (Sussex Ornithological Society).  Using their powerful telescopes and a wealth of sea-watching experience, they had identified lots of distant specks on and above the water notably a Slavonian Grebe, a Common Scoter, a Great Northern Diver, Gannets, and a Razorbill.  They did their best to assist by pointing out the rough location of the birds, a tricky task on a sea free of landmarks. With this help some were able to pick out some of these birds. On the return from the beach one member spotted and photographed a Sparrowhawk in a tree, while in the harbour Great Crested and Little Grebes and some Turnstones were now showing well. The walk back to the visitor centre added a few more species to the day list including Starling, Stonechat, Yellowhammer and Mute Swan. The final species list reached an impressive total of 61, a just reward for a cracking day’s birdwatching.

Church Norton 7 October 2023

Sunny weather with a slight breeze greeted the eleven members assembled in the car park at the visitors centre of RSBP Pagham Harbour. The feeders there were well populated with their usual customers, Blue and Great Tits, Chaffinches, a Greenfinch and numerous House Sparrows. A flock of some thirty Goldfinches also flew by. The path to the Ferry Pool was populated by Chiffchaffs and Robins though they were more heard than seen while the sight of a Sparrowhawk passing overhead was a treat. The Pool itself held good numbers of Teal, Shovelers, Lapwings and Black-tailed Godwits but no surprises. Scanning of the fields beyond disclosed a handful of Rooks and a perched Buzzard. The muddy banks at the head of the Long Pool produced an early highlight; on the left bank a Whimbrel was wandering out of the water while perched on the right was a Kingfisher that dived into the stream several times. The walk down the Long Pool was quiet. Two pairs of Stonechats were encountered, a small small flock of Linnets appeared over the ploughed meadow while a couple of Yellowhammers came up the channel and perched for viewing. A group of Red-legged Partridges caused some initial excitement until later sight of the large number of birds around a release pen made clear that their presence was not natural. At the end of the Long Pool the sole Wigeon of the day flew inland while a few new waders could be viewed, some distantly. They included Oystercatchers, Grey Plovers, Curlews and the first of many Redshanks to be seen. Around the bend a noisy Raven appeared while three more Buzzards circled and a Kestrel was glimpsed. Toward Church Norton further scanning disclosed a Shelduck and three Pintails while in close attendance were some Dunlin, a flock of over 150 Golden Plovers and seven Curlew Sandpipers identified after considerable thought and debate. The meadow behind the Church Norton hide produced a few warblers, Chiffchaffs and a beautifully yellow Willow Warbler that considerately perched on the fence wire. A few Long-tailed Tits also passed by. The harbour mud at low tide hosted a smallish number but a broad variety of waders. Besides species already seen there were a couple of Ringed Plovers, a Bar-tailed Godwit and a Greenshank. Distantly seen were also a Great-crested Grebe and a Great Black-backed Gull. Following unproductive visits to the sea and the churchyard the return journey was consistently quiet with new sightings limited to a Little Grebe and two Grey Herons in flight. An excellent day’s birding concluded with a sightings list of an impressive 67.

Church Norton 12 September 2021

The weather for our walk from the visitor centre at RSPB Pagham Harbour to Church Norton and back was superb.

Ten attended and saw at least 44 species.

Top sightings were:

  • ·         Spotted Redshanks in the channel opposite the Ferry Pool (with common redshanks for comparison)
  • ·         Cattle Egrets (x2)
  • ·         Clouds of Swallows and House Martins swooping low over the reeds
  • ·         Stonechats, Wheatears and a Whinchat atop scrub
  • ·         Roosting young Sandwich Terns among the loafing BH Gulls
  • ·         Kestrels, Buzzards and a hunting Peregrine (that gave a great fly-past)
  •         a hungry Osprey over the harbour allowing excellent, lengthy views.

Interestingly, we also saw quite a range of butterfly species today: Small White, Red Admiral, Peacock, Comma, Holly Blue, Small Copper, Speckled Wood and three Painted Ladies.

After a splendid walk some had sufficient energy to head off to the North Wall to look for the the Red-backed Shrike that had been residing there for the past week. Their quest was rewarded by splendid views evidenced by some superb photographs circulated subsequently on Chat.