Monday, 23 January 2017

23rd - 25th January 2017

Wednesday, 25th January: Finally, after another very foggy start, the visibility improved with the onset of a chill south-easterly breeze, though there was plenty of heavy cloud....

Medmerry: Breach area - A first-winter Glaucous Gull was near the breach at 12.40pm today, before flying off eastwards shortly afterwards. (TG-P)

Selsey BillThere was a bit moving west early on, including quite a few Red-throated Divers, before things started heading back east. (AH)
Red-throated Diver - 7E, 27W
Great Northern Diver - 2E, 1W
diver sp - 4E, 6W
Gannet - 5E, 17W
Brent Goose - 8W
Wigeon - 35E
Mallard - 2E
Red-breasted Merganser - 4E, 7W
Mediterranean Gull - 1E
Kittiwake - 8E, 6W
Razorbill - 10E, 35W, 4os
auk sp - 40E, 25W

Red-throated Diver (above) & Red-breasted Merganser past the Bill (AH)

Coastguard Station: A Raven flew in from the east, settled on the fence-line, then the Coastguard tower, before heading away over the houses.
There were still 30+ Common Scoter, two Red-breasted Mergansers and a Red-throated Diver on the sea, though they were distant. (AH)

Raven & with Carrion Crow at the Coastguard Station (AH)

Chi. GPs - Drayton Pit: The Bittern was present again this morning and flew up from reeds  - viewable from the double gates (A259 Bognor Rd) -   then flew leisurely across to the opposite side of the pool. Cue a mad scramble to get the camera out of the case whilst trying for an unobscured view in the fog! Clearly this is a second bird at the Gravel Pits and not the Ivy Lake individual. Otherwise much the same as the last occasion with c.120 Shoveler and 80 Pochard, plus 10 Snipe. (OM)

Record shots of Bittern at Chi GPs Drayton pit this morning - the best I could do in the circumstances! (OM)

West Itchenor: There was a Woodcock in Westlands Copse this afternoon. (PLS)

Chi. GPs - Ivy Lake complex: Ivy Lake was largely frozen but the clear areas held the Scaup, c150 Shoveler, c75 Pochard, 18 Gadwall and the usual Great Crested Grebes. The far corner of West Lake held a pair of Egyptian Geese and there was a Treecreeper and a Goldcrest along Peckham Copse Lane. (SR)

Ferry Pool: The pool was finally unfrozen this morning, though the only birds on it were 16 Teal, though there were 100+ Wigeon in the channel opposite and a handful of Curlews and Lapwing in the adjacent arable field. (AH)

Church Norton: There were a pair of Mistle Thrushes and a flock of c50 Linnets, plus a dozen Red-legged Partridges in Rectory Lane, and a big flock (c300) of Brent Geese came up from Greenlease Farm direction and dropped down again.
There was just a Great Crested Grebe on the sea, with half a dozen distant Gannets and a couple of Mediterranean Gulls along the shore being the only other birds of note, whilst along the spit there were a dozen Skylarks and a couple of Meadow Pipits.
Near the harbour-mouth there were four female Goldeneye and ten Little Grebes, a drake Gadwall dropped in, the Whimbrel was in its usual area and there were plenty of Brent Geese and the commoner waders to be seen. (AH)

Mistle Thrush (above), Linnets, Goldeneyes, Whimbrel & Gadwall at Church Norton (AH)

East Head:  Tried my luck here hoping for the Snow Bunting but there was no sign of it this morning despite a good search. Little to report today; very few birds were in the channel, consisting of a handful of Great Crested Grebes, ten Red-breasted Mergansers and a very distant Goldeneye. Along the shore were 8 Sanderlings and a Rock Pipit and it was equally quiet in the dunes, with just a few Meadow Pipits and Skylarks. (OM)
Also, a flock of at least 80 Barnacle Geese were in the harbour between Snowhill and East Head this morning. (MR)

Barnacle Geese at East Head(MR)

Tuesday, 24th January: Less densely foggy than yesterday, with some clearer spells between the rolling banks of fog.....

Selsey Bill ( 1330-1430hrs - after fog abated) (C&ME)
Red-throated Diver - 3E
Great Northern Diver - 1os
Brent Goose - 2W
Red-breasted Merganser - 2E, 2os 
Common Scoter - 2W
Grey Plover - 1E

Selsey West: A look on the marshy area west of the village produced half a dozen Snipe, but not much else. (AH)

Ferry Pool: Nothing on the pool, but half a dozen Curlews and c150 Wigeon were in the adjacent arable field. (AH)

Wigeon at the Ferry (AH)

Church Norton: Not much to see in the increasing fog - c.50 Brent Geese, a few Wigeon and Teal, Redshanks and Grey Plovers, plus a Great Crested Grebe on the sea, was about it. (AH)
Brent Geese (above) & Teal at Church Norton (AH)

Medmerry: Porthole Farm - It was bright here, first thing before the fog rolled in, and around a dozen Chiffchaffs and a couple of Reed Buntings were in the hedges, and c200 Lapwing, c100 Pied Wagtails, 20 Meadow Pipits and c500 Starlings were on the sugar-beet field, but nothing was using the settling tanks. (AH)

Chiffchaff (above), Reed Bunting & Lapwings at Porthole Farm (AH)

West Itchenor: A Nuthatch could be heard calling today from the shoreline path. (PH)

North Wall: A fine morning after yesterdays fog out. The Breech Pool was 80% frozen and only held a few Mallard, Teal and Black-tailed Godwits. In the field behind were 330 Wigeon, whilst along Pagham Rife were another 420 Wigeon and 48 Curlew. Honer reservoir was full to the brim and partly frozen; in the clear water were 23 Coot, 4 Little Grebes, 2 Tufted Duck and 52 bathing Black-headed Gulls. There was a mixed flock of some 30 birds along Honer Lane containing Linnets, Reed Buntings and at least 9 Yellowhammers, and in Honer 3 field were 38 Curlew and 8 Black-tailed Godwits. There seems to have been a recent influx of Robins... I counted 16 today. (JDW)

 Mallards and Black-tailed Godwits on the frozen Breech Pool and single Black-tailed Godwit (JDW)

South of Runcton village: Today there were 37 Mute Swan, a Black Swan, 100 Canada Geese, a Little Egret, nine Mallard and three Teal, (CRJ)

Kipson Bank Farm, Hunston: A quick lunchtime look in the arable field just south of the farm was productive today, with at least 100 Fieldfares, half a dozen Redwing, a pair of Yellowhammers, a pair of Mistle Thrushes, c40 Meadow Pipits, c20 Skylarks, c50 Linnets and c200 Starlings on the ground and in the adjacent trees and hedges. (AH)

Fieldfares (above), Redwing, Mistle Thrush & Yellowhammer at Kipson Bank Farm, Hunston (AH)

Ivy Lake: It was still mostly frozen today, with most of the Pochard and Tufted Ducks in open water at the back, though there were at least 100 Shovelers in a huge spinning feeding flock on the edge of the ice, with another 20+ and similar of Gadwall scattered around the edges of the islands. (AH)

Gadwall (above), Shovelers & Tufted Ducks at Ivy Lake (AH)

Monday, 23rd January: A very cold and frosty start, cloudy with persistent dense fog and a light NE breeze....

Many readers will be aware of the current problems at Sidlesham Ferry Pool. Usually just known as 'The Ferry' it has had a proven track record of attracting scarce and rare waders over the years, but recently there have been difficulties with maintaining suitable water levels and waders have been comparatively few. "What's up with the Ferry?" has been a question directed at the Editors by a good number of observers - so we felt it was about time to get the official explanation. We decided to approach the RSPB Pagham Harbour management for a response and are very grateful to area manager Tim Callaway for the following......

Ferry Pool and Ferry Field Wetland restoration project
January 2016 the retaining bank of Ferry Pool along Ferry Rife was breached when a significant section of the bank collapsed. A temporary repair was attempted in February 2016, using experienced local contractors to install shuttering across the breach. Unfortunately, this interim repair repeatedly failed as soon as water levels in the pool began to rise.

Further detailed investigations indicated that much of the bank was sitting on ‘running’ sand and silts liable to further breaches along much of its length. A repair of the bank would therefore not be viable. Over the last six months, we have been looking at the feasibility of various options to create a more sustainable wetland system.

From spring 2017, we will be starting a project intended to deliver a more naturally functioning wetland, which will compliment the new viewing facilities that will replace Ferry hide. This project will move the pool away from relying on the retaining bank and work with the existing sluices and field ditch system. 

The work will need to be delivered over several phases, working with Natural England, Sussex Wildlife Trust and Environment Agency. There will be some preliminary work carried out in the next 2 months to assist in maintaining water levels in the major in field ditches to improve conditions for breeding Lapwing and Redshank this spring and summer.

The next phase of works will start in autumn 2017 and we will be submitting a planning application this spring.     (Jan 2017) "
We hope this will answer many of your queries and we look forward to the success of this venture in due course. If you feel you'd like to support this and other local RSPB initiatives please donate either to the local Visitor Centre or to us on their behalf. (Eds)

Ferry Pool/Long Pool: Nothing much to report in the dense fog - though there were three Song Thrushes and a few Long-tailed Tits around the Discovery area, and along the Long Pool/Ferry Channel (more heard than seen!) there were a couple of Snipe, a handful of Redshank and Grey Plovers, plus lots of Brent Geese. (AH)

Song Thrush by the Ferry (AH)

Lockgate Road, Sidlesham: A look along the track with all the piles of vegetable and stable waste produced a couple of Snipe flying out of a ditch, the Stonechat that has been there all winter, two Grey Wagtails, a Pied Wagtail and a Buzzard. (AH)

Stonechat at Lockgate Road, Sidlesham (AH)

Itchenor Pond: There were at least six Redwings in the trees opposite the pond, a Grey Wagtail flew over, and in the trees there were a few Goldcrests and Long-tailed Tits. (AH)

Redwing (above), Goldcrest & Long-tailed Tit at Itchenor Pond (AH)

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