Monday, 11 July 2016

9th July - Sidelsham, Church Norton, Selsey, and Medmerry, West Sussex

It was another breezy day with cloud but also some sunshine.  The forecast was for it to be warm, but mostly overcast.  As we set out heading around Sidlesham Quay the breeze was quite fresh.  The harbour was in complete contrast to how we had left it yesterday afternoon, it was now low tide and all the salt marsh and mud was exposed.

Once in the shelter of the hedges along the footpath the butterflies were everywhere, the bramble flowers once again the big attraction.  Large Red Admirals flashed their red and white wings as they lifted off the flowers.


There were plenty of Gatekeepers too, they would fly at about knee level, the orange in their wings flicking on and off as they searched out a suitable flower to settle on.


There were at least half a dozen Red Admirals, while the upper wing is wonderfully marked with solid colours the underwing is a pattern of many different hues.


At the visitor centre Helen pointed out a Jay that was searching beneath one of the feeders hanging in the tree.


There were plenty of Teasels with wonderful flower heads that were yet to blossom with the beautiful purple flowers.  They look very frightening, with what seem spikes and thorns, but if you touch them you will find that they are quite soft.


One interesting fact about the teasel is that they are a semi carnivorous plant.  Where the leaves grown large towards the base of the plant water can collect, and when small insects fall into the water they are absorbed by the plant, and supplement its food source.


The teasels were everywhere, and later in the autumn will provide plenty of seeds for the large Goldfinch flocks that gather here.

We stopped to look at the Ferry Pool.  Unfortunately the water level has fallen a lot due to a breach in the bank and the water draining out into Broad Rife.  The only birds on the pool were five Teal at the back, and a Shelduck close to the road.


We made our way around to the Long Pool, passing another fine Comma specimen as we left the road and headed back onto the reserve.


A female Tufted Duck was taking what looked like newly hatched ducklings out for a swim, she kept them close to the reeds, watching carefully as they weaved in amongst the stalks.  I counted at least eight, but it may very well have been more.


The other family on the pool was that of the Great crested Grebes, there were two young birds, one that followed the parent continually begging, and this one which seemed quite content to copy its parent by sleeping.


At Church Norton a check of the mud in the harbour saw at least two very distant Whimbrel and good numbers of Curlew.  A Little Tern was fishing in one of the channels and the islands were covered with Cormorants, but overall it was very quiet.

We stopped to check the trees and hedges and found one Holly Blue that would not stop, more Red Admirals and Gatekeepers and what was possibly a Skimmer dragonfly but I could never quite get on it.

As we headed to the beach several Chiffchaffs were in the hedge, moving away in front of us.


We walked on now in some lovely sunshine, and the sea looked a picture.  Unfortunately we missed the female Whinchat that was on the first several, and found this out when we stopped to watch the cygnets on the second.

From there to the East Beach it was mostly just a pleasant walk in the sunshine, the strength of which was dulled by the fresh breeze.  The results of that experience were later seen in the bathroom in the evening!

As we approached the Lifeboat station the fishing boats were bobbing about in the now sparkling water.


We stopped at the Lifeboat Pub for a couple of drinks, and were joined by an ever aware Herring Gull that was eagerly checking the tables for any spare chips.


Back on the path again, we rounded the Bill where there were one or two Sandwich Terns off shore, and then walked through the Holiday park, where all of the grass seemed to be covered in foraging Starlings, both young and old.


We reached the south side of the Medmerry reserve at the breech.  Walking up to the view point a Meadow Pipit called from the fence alongside the path.


The tide was coming back in filling the channels and creating large lagoons.  The are here is so vast it is difficult to view well.  There was very little about as you would expect at this time of year, so we resumed our walk heading now towards Chainbridge.

As we approached the gate, one of the many Skylarks that were singing above us decided to sing from one of the fence posts.  I was able to get quite close as it sang a much quieter sort of sub song.


The banks of the wall  were covered in Ox Eye Daisies that were now very past their best, but must have been an amazing sight when they were all in bloom.  In amongst the fading daisies were thistles and some Knapweed.  On the purple flowers Six Spot Burnet Moths were gathered, the flower heads blowing in the wind, and sending them back an forth amongst the grass.


I decided to wade through the grass and daisies, and this resulted in flushing many butterflies.  There were mostly Gatekeepers and Meadow Browns, but Helen found a few skippers, that on close look had black antenna clubs, not Small Skippers but Essex Skippers.


leaving the sea wall we headed in land, and once we left the bridleway, and onto a footpath we were treated to a wonderful display of wild flowers, there were all colours of clover, trefoil, cornflowers and knapweed stretching for quite a way.


Unfortunately it was now overcast, and very windy, and there were very few insects to be seen.  I am sure that if it had been stiller, and with some sunshine these clover would have been covered.


I did though mange to find a day flying moth, a Silver Y settled down away from the wind in amongst the clover.


the path then went through the middle of a newly built solar farm, and we discussed the possible merits of this over and above the energy provision.  Flowers were already growing with Scabius and a form of Verbena.

We then passed an old barn that we both agreed should have a Little Owl in it, but we couldn't see one, so Helen went for a closer look, and turned up a Barn Owl, that unfortunately took flight, and headed away from me across the field.


It was a shame, and we both felt bad about disturbing it from its roost, but we both had no idea it was there.and were just looking around the old building.

The Ferry Pool had only the five Teal when we passed it heading back to wards Sidlesham Quay.  At the sluice there was a single Oystercatcher probing the mud.


While in the reeds a pair of Reed Warblers were moving about, giving some good views as they chased each other.  


We then made our way back through the hedge, past the many Gatekeepers and Red Admirals once again before reaching the pub, a chair and a table and a well earned drink.  A typical July walk, but with enough to keep us interested as always here.  Then of course there was dinner to come!

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