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Pagham Birder: The Blog

A regular account of the birds seen mainly on and around Pagham Spit, the Lagoon and the North Wall plus other birding exploits from time to time.
Any news of interest regarding the ongoing erosion problems on Pagham Beach will, from now on, be shown on my other blog together with general beach photos.. Click on the link... Pagham Beach Blog on this page.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

RSPB Garden Birdwatch Weekend

We don't often see Great Tits on the beach but today we had two visiting the feeders and 24 House Sparrows, 2 Greenfinches, 2 Magpies, 3 Dunnocks,1 Wren, 1 Carrion Crow, 3 Wood Pigeons, 2 Robins and 1 Song Thrush during the hour of the count as my grandaughter and I monitored the garden!

....and for once the Scaup woke up on the Lagoon and showed its head for a short while!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

SMEW !!!

A cold miserable start to the day was suddenly transformed by the surprise appearance of 4 Smew! One superb drake accompanied by 3 females. A quick return to the bungalow for the camera and a few record shots. I've seen females on the Lagoon before but can't recall a drake. Wow....nice bird!
Red Breasted Mergansers, Goldeneye and the long stay Scaup all still present.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Spring can't be far away!

What a fantastic morning....sunny, warm and windless. The sea was like a millpond and the Lagoon likewise. The Scaup had awoken and was preening.


A Green Woodpecker watched from a bush

Shelducks were displaying along the North Wall and it certainly had a feeling of 'spring in the air'

In the harbour an enormous flock (c1000) of Black Tailed Godwits were chattering

and perhaps, best of all a Black Brant showed really well.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

A Splendid Arctic Visitor!

During the past few days a Smew had been reported on nearby Chichester gravels Pits and as the sun shone yesterday afternoon I ventured out. It wasn't long before I met a couple of birders who told me that the bird was still present but a bit tricky to see at the far side of the pit. Once I had got past the breakers yard at Peckhams Copse I located it quite quickly amongst the many Gadwall, Shovelers and Pochard. It was a superb drake bird and although it was far too far away to get a decent image without a digiscoping outfit I got a (very!) distant record shot. You can just about make it out in the accompanying image.(Click on it to see large)
Lots of Redwings still about but apart from the Scaup on Pagham Lagoon...still asleep..not anything very different to report.
I understand Scaup feed at night...can anyone confirm this?

Sunday, January 17, 2010

High tide Wader disturbance.

Following a little mishap earlier last week I have been restricted in my birding activities and hence no blog during past few days.
However I am fortunate in being able to see the shingle spit which now extends from the Church Norton side of Pagham harbour to in front of the bungalow and have good views of the wader roosting site at the far end of the spit.
Today there were Dunlins,GreyPlovers,Oysatercatchers,Redshanks and a good 800 Knot...that is until they were disturbed by a person trying to photograph them with a digital compact camera. By the time I got the camera out the Knot were long gone but still the 'photographer' continued to 'chase' her quarry. It saddens me to see such thoughtless behaviour.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

More snow...but it missed Pagham!

More snow reported in the West country and the South east but we seemed to have missed it! Still plenty of Redwings and Song Thrushes about and a Lapwing paid us a visit alighting on the beach just in front of the pateo window.

Lapwing with fancy hair do.

Song Thrush

On the Lagoon the Red Crested Pochard has gone but the Scaup remains along with Ruddy Ducks and more Goldeneye.

Goldeneye dislaying on the Lagoon

A few Fieldfares flying West and still Meadow Pipits and Skylarks feeding along the tideline.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

More duck news and a Gull special!

Having lunch in front of a warm open log fire did not tempt me to go out but a call from local birder Tim Edwards alerted me to a Red Crested Pochard on Pagham Lagoon.... all change!!
It didn't take me long to locate it as it slept with head under wing alongside a group of Tufted Ducks and Pochard. The light was poor but as a group of dog walkers passed by the bird awoke long enough to get a shot of it .

Also within this group of ducks was the drake Scaup seen earlier but he was reluctant to look up!

In addition there was a drake Goldeneye and the usual Little grebes.
Moving up to the Spit Hide I met Tim and Peter Callis looking at a first winter Caspian Gull along with Greater Black Backs, Herring (including a Scandinavian) and all the usual waders .
A few redwings were still searching for food under the gorse but I didn't note any Fieldfares.
It might have warmed up as little +2c...but the wind chill was a crippler. It was soon time to return to my log fire!!

How many species in one group? to see large image

Monday, January 11, 2010


5 Avocets were feeding in front of the Spit hide this morning and a Peregrine put up all the waders. However, duck numbers seemed low except for a few Tufted Duck on the Lagoon accompanied by 6 Pochard, I Goldeneye and a Scaup. A few Redwings and Fieldfares flying over but not as many as recently.
A seal was in the harbour yesterday and again today.
There is a slow thaw starting as temperatures creep up to 1c .

Saturday, January 9, 2010

A new garden 'tick' !

After another bitter night I ventured out in bright sun but before I reached the hide a snow storm blew up and the Norherly wind cut right through me!

On returning home more quickly than planned I was rewarded by finding a Fieldfare outside the window...

..and a splendid Song Thrush..

...but best of all a Mediterranen Gull!

Although all 3 of the above were photographed through the double glazing I was pleased to obtain the Med Gull which clearly shows the key ID pointers i. e. heavy blood red bill, distinctive head markings etc. A nice garden tick although we do have plenty flying over and the Lagoon can hold 200+ at times.
The high tide line in the harbour held very few birds as the frost has bitten harder and has made any feeding impossible...I am very concerned about the survival rate of the many birds feeding here during the past few days.

Friday, January 8, 2010

A good birding day!!

Today was truly amazing for not only the variety of birds but also for the sheer numbers of birds. Redwings and Fieldfares were dropping in from all directions with good numbers of Blackbirds and Song Thrushes all along the tideline of the harbour. Skylark were in huge flocks and a few Woodlarks could be heard joining them. Snipe were in the frozen fields surrounding the harbour and I saw at least 3 Woodcock plummet into the long grass. Finches and Buntings in their hundreds were constantly on the move in Slipe Field which is being used as a giant feeding station.On the Lagoon the Tufted duck had been joined by the 4 Ruddy Duck seen earlier but only 1 drake Goldeneye appeared to be present. In the harbour huge numbers of Wigeon and Teal and the wintering flock of Brent Geese were on the move as the tide went out.
Once I had returned home on the beach I found Redwings and Fieldfares feeding on the little Cotoeaster bushes in front of our pateo doors and then, much to my surprise and delight a Black Redstart suddenly alighted on the frozen birdbath but just as quickly disappeard!The light was good for photography and here are few of the many images I took during 3 memorable hours.


One of many Redwings

One of dozens of Yellowhammers

Thursday, January 7, 2010

An interesting day!

Meadow Pipit foraging for food

The very cold night resulted in some new species arriving with flocks of Redwings and Fieldfares arriving on the beach. On the Lagoon a drake Scaup had arrived, 4 Pochards and at least 2 Ruddy Ducks. Slipe field was spectacular with hundreds of Skylarks, a few Woodlarks, Linnets,Greenfinches,Chaffinches and large numbers of Yellowhammers present. Meadow Pipits were desperately searching for food in the snow and ignoring my presence. Snipe were constantly on the move in the frozen long grass and small flocks of Lapwing were over flying. With a forecast of an even colder night tonight I am fearful for the wildlife as conditions are not likely to ease soon.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Cold weather birds

We awoke this morning to a light covering of snow....unlike many areas in West Sussex and nearby Hampshire where people had been trapped in their cars overnight in nearly a foot of snow! After a slow journey into Worthing and back I managed to get out in the afternoon for a short walk around the harbour. The mix of birds was extraordinary with Ringed Plovers and Turnstone feeding alongside dozens of Redwings, Skylarks and Meadow Pipits...and a single personal highlight of the day. Several flocks of Fieldfares were flying along the beach eastwards and Lapwings and Snipe were foraging for food in the saltings that remained unfrozen. Song Thrushes and Blackbirds, Linnets and Greenfinches..all were present in good numbers feeding along the shoreline of the inner harbour. Hopefully with better lighting conditions tomorrow I may get a few images of some of these birds but today it was well nigh impossible.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

A Freezing Cold Morning

A Sylark feeding along the high tide line.

Walking along the beach this morning was like walking on lumpy concrete...totally frozen! The birds are becoming a bit disorientated with ducks searching for unfrozen water. The main Lagoon is 9/10 frozen and a couple of dozen Tufted Ducks, the resident Mallards and a few Coot were all hudled in 2 small areas of remaining water. The Little Grebes,Great Crested Grebes and Goldeneye had all disappeared. The Little Lagoon was 1/10 frozen and held unusually high numbers of Teal,Wigeon and Mallard. Skylarks were still present in good numbers (40+) and mostly feeding along the high tide mark...still unfrozen due to the recently receded high tide.
The harbour was a mass of birds....Black Tailed Godwits, Dunlin, Ringed Plover ,Grey Plover, Oystercatchers , duck (mainly Wigeon,Teal and Pintail) and Brent Geese (probably 1000/1500).

Tonight it is snowing so tomorrow morning will be interesting.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Whoopers !

A very cold morning with a hard frost. A walk from the beach through Slipe Field to the north Wall produced large numbers of Linnets, Reed Buntings and Yellowhammers. Duck numbers were considerable with Wigeon and Teal predominating but Pintail and Goldeneye also present.
Best of all however were 4 Whooper Swans flying in over the fields ( presumably from Ivy Lake wher they were seen earlier) and landing in the harbour.

Friday, January 1, 2010

2010...The first three birds of the year.

Happy New Year...and what a beautiful morning to awake to...cold, frosty, still and sunny. As I strolled out for my early morning recce I wondered what my first birds of the year would be.It didn't take long to find a pair of Goldeneye on the Lagoon, a Kingfisher at the harbour mouth and a Turnstone sunning itself on the beach!

How fortunate for some of us to live on the beach despite the threat of rising sea levels and eroding coastlines...

A Happy Birding Year to all my birding birders!