Monday, 11 July 2016

8th July - Pagham Harbour North Wall and East Side, West Sussex

Middle of July, its Sidlesham time.  We left early in the afternoon for our favourite haunt the Crab and Lobster at Sidlesham.  The morning had been very wet and quite autumnal, but as we headed south the sun was out, and away out into the English Channel there was blue sky.

After sorting ourselves out we headed off towards Halsey's farm and the path across the fields to the north wall of Pagham Harbour.  As we made our way there was something in the sky above us that held our attention, but for once this was man-made, and man-made a few years ago too.  A spitfire was performing some interesting moves over the harbour.


We watched as it performed several loop the loops, almost coming to a standstill in the air as it reached the highest point, before turning over and dropping away.


The bramble in the hedgerow was just in flower, and the first Gatekeepers of the year could be found all over them.


The walk across the field was interesting, the field was full of inquisitive cows, and they had cut a path through what we expected to be a muddy field, but in fact was quite dry.  We followed the path the cows had created, the weight of them making it very firm.

The tide was high, and the whole of the saltmarsh area was under water as we climbed up onto the sea wall.  A few Black-headed Gulls were sitting on the water, and we could see a few Little Egrets on Owl island.

As we walked around the path it became clear that a few Little Egrets was actually quite a few.  I counted 37 in total, and with others flying around the count became 43 in total in this particular area.


A Sandwich Tern was flying around the actual wall, I can't recall seeing one up this far into the harbour before, it was taking advantage of the high tide, and dived to catch a fish that it hen took away, heading into the centre of the harbour.


On the Breech Pool there were 10 Black-tailed Godwits feeding at the back, and close in there were four Lapwing.


Above them a more familiar Tern for this area was fishing the pool, a Common Tern.


We walked around to the east side of the harbour, and walked down towards Pagham Lagoon.  Over the last two years this has been an area that has had quite a bit of construction work, but now this has been completed.  The are was covered in wild flowers and thistles, and everywhere there were Meadow Browns, Gatekeepers and Ringlets, and a few Small Skippers that refused to settle for photographs.  The hawthorn bushes on either side for a corridor, and Swallows were zipping around us as the used the shelter of the hedge to hunt for the many insects that were attracted to the flowers.

I had wanted to see the breech in the sand bar that seems to have saved the local houses that were facing an eroding beach over the last few years. One of last winter's storms saw the sea breach the sand bar that had been creeping evermore east, causing the erosion of the main beach.  Once the sea had come through it continued to take the shortest path into the harbour, and has created a gravel island.


Ironically this was the fix the Environment Agency had suggested, but had been disputed by English Nature.  Mother Nature herself took things into her own hands.

As we looked out to sea a Little Tern passed by stopping to hover over the water.


We decided to head back, the walk now into the quite fresh wind.  On the Lagoon an adult Great-crested Grebe was fishing, amongst the juvenile Coots.


Rather than walk back the way we had come we took the path that leads alongside the caravan park and golf course.  Movement on the path ahead caught my attention, and a Brown Rat scurried across in front of us.


I don't think the holiday makers would be too pleased to see the rat.

Again the path was sheltered from the wind, and as a result there were plenty of butterflies about.  Pick of the bunch though was this splendid Comma.  I haven't seen to many of these butterflies this year.


back at White's Creek the water was starting to drop.  Swallows and a few Sand Martins flew low over the water, one Swallow making me think it was a Kingfisher.  From the Kingfisher's spot though I did disturb a Common Sandpiper, that flew around settling on the wall in front of us as we walked along, before setting off a we got close.


A group of five Tufted Duck circled over the Breech Pool, one male coming quite close before dropping on to the pool.


The Black-tailed Godwits were closer now, and the majority of them were still in their brick red summer plumage.  These two were with two in winter plumage, and I speculated that they could be this year's young birds come over from their nearest breeding grounds in Iceland.


One of the godwits appeared quite black, mainly because it wasn't a godwit, but a Spotted Redshank, the summer plumage just beginning to disappear.  It fed quite happily among the Godwits.


A little further on and we came across a female Roe Deer in the field on the other side of the rife.  She took her time watching us, clearly not bothered by us at all.


Eventually she moved away, but paused to turn again and watch as we called to get her attention.  The ripe grass contrasting with rich reddish brown colour of her coat.


So we returned to the pub, running the gauntlet of the cows once again, where once again we enjoyed another wonderful meal, and a good night.

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