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Sussex Scrapbook - Nature walks throughout the year

Saturday 15th November 2008
Pagham Harbour
6.5 miles

Although it was a cloudy, overcast day with a small amount of drizzle, it was still very mild, so we had a great 50 mile ride down to Pagham Harbour Nature Reserve to see what we could see.
To get to the reserve's visitor centre, head for Selsey when you leave the A27 and NOT for Pagham. Go through Hunston and into Sidlesham.
From the visitors centre we headed clockwise around the harbour all the way out to the hide on Pagham Spit. Usually we go anti-clockwise down to Church Norton, so this was our first foray this way and we thought it was great. Why hadn't we come this way before? The path around the shoreline is easy to follow for most of the way, although a few diversions onto public footpaths are necessary when the tide is high.
Through the binoculars we could see that high up there were thousands of duck, geese and waders travelling in long ribbon-like skeins across the sky. Large flying flocks of knot were making shapes low over the water where hundreds of Brent Geese and thousands of curlew and lapwing were feeding. Everywhere we looked there were birds, so our walking pace slowed to almost a dead stop.
Our target birds of the day were Bearded Tits and we had hoped to see some in amongst the extensive reed beds at the Breech Pool, but it was not to be. However, on the Splice Field nearby, Gill spotted two Short-eared Owls hunting. We watched them for several minutes as they floated around the field about 6 feet off the ground, repeatedly swooping down and disappearing into the dead grasses to grab some poor, small prey item. Fantastic! These were the first of these winter visitors we have seen for quite a while and it was the highlight of our day.
Sunset came soon after we left the hide and our walk back was in twilight and finally in darkness. It was very atmospheric, especially with the eerie calls of curlew and lapwing coming from the now exposed mudflats.

Taken from: Best Birdwatching Sites in Sussex. Adrian Thomas & Peter Francis (2003).
14.50 from Buckingham Press. ISBN: 0953384063

The tide was in when we arrived at noon

The sluice gates at the Breech Pool where we looked in vain for Bearded Tits

As well as the sea, there are lagoons, ponds and rills. Increasing the chance of seeing something special around every corner.

We came across this kestrel tearing apart a small bird. It seemed almost
oblivious to us.


When we left six hours later the tide was out and it was dark and seemed like a very different place.