Sunday, 25 January 2015

23rd January - Pagham Harbour

Its that time of year again, birthdays and the Crab and lobster.  We set off in a frosty world with the temperatures well below freezing.  We spent the morning in Chichester spending money, then after lunch headed down to Sidlesham.  It was still cold, but the sun was out, and the sky was blue.  As usual we checked in, changed with the intention of heading off to the North Wall.

As we were settling in I looked out the room window across to the field where the Sheep were being attended to by the Jackdaws.  In a scene reminiscent of the Ox-peckers in Africa, I watched one Jackdaw inspecting a sheep's back.


It found something dark in amongst the fleece, pulling it out of wool.


It took its time inspecting it before finally eating whatever it was, the sheep never stirred.


Wrapped up, we set off out of the car park.  I noticed a Jackdaw in a tree watching us as we left, and wondered if it was the same one that had just found a meal on a Sheep's back, it looks quite pleased with itself.


The footpath through Halsey's farm and across the field was very wet, but fortunately there was still some frost in the ground so while it was wet it was also firm.  In places though it was difficult to walk, and when the frost finally goes I would imagine the field would be not be passable without wellies.

When we reached the wall we were greeted with a huge expanse of water, and quite a few Shelduck, gathered in groups and calling.


The familiar call though was of the Wigeon, their whistles being heard from the fields alongside the wall, and in the creek that runs through the sluice.


The path along the wall was also quite muddy, but we were able to get by.  We made our way to the breech pools which were partially frozen.  There was a large flock of Wigeon in the grass area close to the pool, but over at the back of the field was a large flock of Canada Geese.  In with them was supposed to be a Tundra Bean Goose, but despite scanning with binoculars and the camera and reviewing the results I could not find it at all.

Along the edge of the pool a Grey Heron stalked through the vegetation.


The water was very high, and this meant there was no chance of the Kingfisher being around.  However it had brought a few Wigeon in close on what would have been White's Creek.


We decided to walk down to the lagoon taking the lane and then a footpath that ran alongside the holiday home.  At the end of the path there were some ground works that made the path difficult to walk, but we managed it after a few detours.  This brought us out on to the edge of the harbour, and we made our way towards the lagoon and beach.  A large flock of Curlew came flying over our heads, the now late afternoon sun catching them as the dropped on to one of the exposed islands.


There were several Little Grebe in the lagoon, and a pair of Tufted Ducks, there were also five pair of Pochard, and the drakes looked splendid in the sunshine.


We walked to the beach, and then along to see the damage the sea has brought.  It is severe, and you can see exactly what is happening.  The sea has extended Pagham spit all the way up to where the houses start, this has changed the location of the mouth of the harbour.  As we stood there the tide was going out, and the current was very fast, the water reaches the beach and swirls around as the tide drops, the opposite happens when the tide rises, this then means the beach is just eaten away, and the sea gets ever closer to the houses

Unfortunately I can't see what can be done to stop other than a solid sea wall, and I can't see that happening, I really feel for the home owners who have to watch their houses threatened like this.

As we headed back flocks of Wigeon flew over and out into the harbour.


We walked back through the Holiday Village and then along the road past the church.  Back at the North Wall the sun was almost set, and the sky was beginning to turn orange.


We checked the sluice, but no Kingfisher, as We walked back up to the path a flock of Golden Plover flew over, and were silhouetted against the golden sky, quite appropriate I thought.


I noticed something moving in the middle of the pool, and then watched as it came out of the water, and then scurried across the ice and into the reeds.  It was dumpy and stock in shape, unmistakably a Water Vole, the first I have seen here.  It didn't seem to upset the Teal that were sleeping by the edge of the reeds.


With the sun setting it was casting an orange light on the water.  The tide was falling and the Wigeon were starting to feed, their whistles filling the cold winter evening with an evocative sound.


I noticed a wader feeding in amongst the emerging vegetation.  At first I thought it was just a Redshank, but a closer look revealed it to be a Spotted Redshank.  It was now gloomy but the still conditions created some lovely reflections in the water.



The Canada Geese were still feeding in the far field, but I still could not see the Bean Goose.  We headed back, and made our way across the wet and muddy field.  The Wigeon were still whistling away, keeping in contact with each other.


The cloud was building up, rain was on the way, and that would just add to the wet conditions in the field.  As a result we decided we would not try to come back here tomorrow.  We arrived back at the car, and then into the pub for a welcome drink to start the weekend the right way.


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