Thursday, 11 October 2018

RSPB Pagham Harbour/Medmerry w Calum, 16th August 2018

After meeting Calum at the end of August, we organised a trip to Selsey Bill to do a seawatch. As I'd never done a seawatch, and summer seabirds were well on the move, we were both excited at the prospect of seeing something exciting. 
So on the 16th he kindly picked me up at Cobham, and his dad drove us down. 
Unfortunately, we had typically chosen a horrendous day to go to Selsey - heavy was  rain forecast from 10am to 3pm, and we had to leave by 1530. We arrived at Pagham Harbour at precisely 10am, and had a quick look at Ferry Pool, which was quiet. Then the rains started to come down, just as we went for a walk around the visitor centre in the hope of grounded migrants. Visibility was poor but among the Linnet we picked up some Sparrows, which reminded me of Tree Sparrow. The group then flew up and there seemed to be about 3 of them, and they then dropped back down into the scrub. Our attempts at record shots/sound  recording was in vain, as it started to dip it down.
We headed back towards the visitor centre, with a few waders and whitethroats stopping us. 
At the visitor centre, Calum asked if there were any Tree Sparrow locally and though it was a no, we were pretty sure of what they were. We were also gutted to be told that a seawatch was probably a bad idea, with the bill being a bit too dangerous to wait along, so we cancelled our seawatch sadly. 
However, with Calum being as crazy as he is, he was determined to find the Hooded Crow - his biggest lifer - at Medmerry nearby. So with the rain smashing down on us we went to Medmerry, and were dropped off in the car park. We spent about 45 minutes walking, 3miles or so into the rain, with only a few Whitethroat, a Wheatear and Skylark for company. Every crow was inspected, and the rain got heavier and heavier and we got more and more soaked.
When we eventually approached the Ham Viewpoint, we walked towards a path and were stopped by several warblers. First an interesting acro Warbler that looked like a Marsh, and then by an unusual 'drrr,' which was raspy coming from a deep bush. This alarm call, quite similar to a Reed, made it easy for me to identify it as Dartford Warbler. It did briefly appear but it was very shy and about as happy as I was with the rain. Either way it was a decent bird to find.
Though impossible to see from the viewpoint, Calum was still determined to find his Hooded Crow (which was not showy in good weather let alone stormy!) Eventually I persuaded him to head back, and we got picked up after not only getting lost but after Calum checked every garden for his corvid!
With time still left, we went back to Pagham Harbour to try and find some refuge and waders. In the hide there were 2 very friendly birders, who looked at us as if we were crazy, when we entered dripping. They kindly showed us a few bits and pieces, with showy Redshank, Wheatear, Whimbrel, Grey Plover, Brent Geese and a possible Little Stint (would've been another british lifer) some of the main birds. I also managed a British lifer of Sandwich Tern, which were feeding all over the place.
It was a much more pleasant hour or so, and I was pleased to see something good. 
We returned to Ferry Pool one last time, and around 10 Common Sand had dropped in. 
Redshank and Dunlin
Sarnie Terns - phonescope
Sarnie Tern and oiks
Thanks to Calum and his dad for the day out, despite the weather. I liked Pagham and I'll be back there very soon. And a day birding with me wouldn't be complete without losing something (my lunchbag was probably in Ferry Pool hide...)

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