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Thursday, 3 January 2019

Arundel, Selsey Bill, Pagham Harbour, Dell Quay, Climping and The Burgh

Today was a casual-mega day out with Nick and Garry. The natural starting point was The Black Rabbit at Arundel, where we arrived before first light to the sound of two Tawny Owls behind the car park. In the gloam we clocked the 10 Bewick's Swans leaving the reserve to spent the day feeding in nearby pastures, as well as two Barn Owls, three Mandarins, a Woodcock and four Marsh Harriers. A Firecrest showed nicely, two Egyptian Geese and three Little Egrets flew over. We also heard Water Rail, Cetti's Warbler, Mistle Thrush, Snipe, Chiffchaff and Reed Bunting.

Moving round the corner to Swanbourne Lake, a donder around added three Pochards, additional Firecrest and Mistle Thrush, a couple of Treecreepers and singles of Coal Tit, Nuthatch and Great Spotted Woodpecker.

Next up was Selsey Bill, where the sea delivered two Great Northern Divers, an Eider, five Red-throated Divers, good numbers of Razorbills, a Guillemot and a few Red-breasted Mergansers. A Grey Wagtail flew over and a Mediterranean Gull was along the beach.

Church Norton rewarded with the wholly unexpected, but much appreciated, sight of a Black-throated Diver within the harbour. It was feeding actively well within the mouth but after one particular dive we lost sight of it entirely. A nice selection of common waders included Bar-tailed Godwits, Grey Plovers, Turnstones and Ringed Plovers, while seven Mediterranean Gulls formed a small group. Three Red-breasted Mergansers and three Goldeneyes were within the harbour and it was nice to see a tight flock of eight Little Grebes and a few Pintail distantly. On the sea we enjoyed 18 Slavonian Grebes and a distant pair of Velvet Scoters, as well as Red-throated Diver. A flying visit to nearby Marsh Farm added Cattle Egret - with at least 12 of the flock showing at close range but we couldn't stay long.

Black-throated Diver in Pagham Harbour at Church Norton

Slavonian Grebe off Church Norton

Cattle Egrets at Marsh Farm, Sidlesham

We flew by Drayon Pit, part of the Chichester Gravel Pits complex, adding the Great White Egret which Garry had seen there on New Year's Eve. This wonderfully undisturbed pit was full of wildfowl and looked ripe for a scarce duck or heron turning up. Worthy of regular checking... We then backtracked slightly, changing plan from a visit to Westdean Woods to instead stopping at Dell Quay. Highlights there included two Spotted Redshanks, a Greenshank, six Goldeneyes and a few Red-breasted Mergansers, nine Little Grebes and good numbers of Black-tailed Godwits, Dark-bellied Brent Geese, Grey Plovers, Pintail, Wigeon, Teal. etc.

Another short stop was made at Climping, where we hoped to bag the Red-necked Grebe reported earlier in the day. Despite the three of us scanning intently for 20 minutes, just after other observers had left, besides Great Crested Grebes we could 'only' find a Slavonian Grebe. Sanderling, however, was an addition to the day list, and several Red-breasted Mergansers were offshore.

We rounded the day off by spending the last couple of hours of light at The Burgh. Eventually we got eyes on two ringtail Hen Harriers and a Short-eared Owl quartering. Two Grey Partridges and a few Red-legged Partridges were logged, while one field held a mix of Fieldfares and Skylarks. A couple of respectable flocks of Linnets were bombing around, and two Marsh Harriers (including an adult male) and a small handful of Red Kites and Buzzards were logged.