Sidlesham Ferry Pool and Church Norton

I headed off to Pagham late afternoon aiming for 2 hours before low tide, and with the news of an Osprey, although not going for that purpose or for any species in particular; it’s just one of my favourite places to be.

I arrived at the Ferry Pool hide and as soon as I started scanning I noticed 2 or 3 waders I couldn’t identify. They had decurved bills and appeared quite slender. I carried on scanning and noticed a few Dunlin, and carelessly wrote the other birds off as, perhaps, long-billed Dunlin. I found a Wheatear and 2 Whinchats along the fence line to the right, and pointed them out to a couple who were in the hide with me. The lady thanked me, and said she had seen the Curlew Sandpipers previously pointed out to her by someone else. Of course, they were Curlew Sandpipers! I had seen the species a couple of weeks ago at Church Norton, but they were adult birds in part breeding plumage and much more distant than today’s birds, which were juveniles and looked bigger to me, perhaps because they were back-lit. I settled down for another good look after consulting the Collins guide, and was able to see them well alongside the Dunlin, their longed decurved bills standing out quite considerably. Longer, I thought, than the birds I’d seen before. Their peachy-washed breasts were also distinguishable.

After noting the Black-tailed Godwits, Lapwing and a couple of Ringed Plover (the exact species of which I couldn’t identify because of the sun position, later told to be Little Ringer Plover), I headed for a walk around the reserve, with a hope I might see the Osprey fishing in the harbour. A Buzzard came over initially getting me excited, but, alas, no Osprey. I did see what I’m sure was a Lesser Whitethroat, it ticking like a Blackcap as it went, a Whitethroat, distant Curlew, Redshank and Grey Plover, a few Swallows, and, high amongst some House Martins, 2 Swifts. 

Down to Church Norton where along the path by the church I spotted a Willow Warbler and a single Spotted Flycatcher. There was nothing behind the hide, and scanning the harbour which was still in relatively high water there was little around bar a few Great Crested Grebes, so I headed to the beach to see if, perhaps, I may still get the Osprey. Alas, again, no Osprey, but distant out to sea I spotted a Gannet, and perched on the barbed wire along the spit were 4 Wheatear and 1 Whinchat.
Spotted Flycatcher

Once the tide had gone out, I walked back and to the benches, stepping over a scuttling crab along the way. There, I saw Oystercatcher, Redshank, Curlew, many Ringed Plover, some Knot, a couple of Grey Plover, and a single Turnstone. Chatting to a regular I was told the Swallows nesting in the hide successfully fledged the four chicks I saw there a few weeks back, and it could have been their third brood. Excellent news, and I was delighted to later see 6 Swallows around the hide.
Redshank and Knot

One long-billed bird caused me a bit of an identification headache. The bird pictured below has, according to the guides, some of the features of a Whimbrel, but I still struggle splitting these from Curlew without either seeing them side by side or hearing them call.
Curlew or Whimbrel?


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