Fishbourne Channel, Chichester Harbour

I arrived at Dell Quay on Fishbourne Channel, a new site for me, at low water, with the sun poking out between the clouds and a steady wind. I immediately spotted a wader on the mudflats; a Turnstone. Across the channel there was an Oystercatcher feeding. A good start, I thought. I wandered north up the eastern bank of the channel, a route recommended by Pete Hughes. There were very few people to be seen. Scanning up the channel I noted plenty more Turnstones, and good numbers of other common waders such as Redshank, Greenshank, Black-tailed Goodwit and Curlew. There was a tern perched on the bow of one of the moored boats, but I couldn’t identify it; although, from the guides, Sandwich Tern appears most likely. Distantly, there was a big white mass of birds, and scoping them out I counted 120 Mute Swans.
Sandwich Tern?

I carried on up the channel, stopping to scope the waders as I went. Another godwit I was convinced was of the bar-tailed variety was too distant for me to identify, but the patterned plumage and upturned bill were promising. A single Lapwing and 3 Wigeon were the other notable birds on the outward trek, with little of note passerine-wise, perhaps due to the wind.

Back at Dell Quay I thought I’d have a final scan of the mudflats, and on the opposite bank there was a godwit, almost Curlew-looking and similar to the godwit I struggled with earlier, but closer, allowing for better views. A Bar-tailed Godwit, I concluded, and the Collins guide confirmed it.
Bar-tailed Godwit

Just as I was making my way back to the car I noticed a gull, which, for some reason, just stood out to me, and putting my bins up I noticed it had yellow legs. I quickly got my camera and scope ready and took a few shots. I’ve been struggling with juvenile larus gulls recently (see here) so an adult Yellow-legged Gull would be quite satisfying. I quickly pinged a picture over to Matt who confirmed my suspicions, and I happily logged my 174th year tick into BirdTrack.
Yellow-legged Gull
Yellow-legged Gull (same bird)

Looking closer at this gull, the species of which occurs less commonly in the UK, it does have yellow legs, but Herring Gulls can, uncommonly, have yellow legs, according to my research. However, this bird has, although subtle, a red orbital ring around the eye, and the red spot on the bill extends to the upper mandible, both distinguishing features of Yellow-legged Gulls. Some resources, however, cite the most critical identification feature as being “the extent of black in the outer primaries of the upper wing”. I didn’t get the views, or am I advanced enough in my understanding, to confirm this, but Twitter hasn’t corrected it, so it must be the right ID!



Popular Posts