5th February – Pagham Harbour   Leave a comment

On the first of the month news was released of a Paddyfield Warbler overwintering at Pagham Harbour in West Sussex. I have never seen this rare warbler in the UK and only a couple of times abroad (it breeds from the Black Sea eastwards into central Asia and winters in India). I wanted to go immediately but news of its elusive behaviour made me delay. It was not seen on the 3rd and I wondered if it had succumbed to the big freeze, however it was seen again on Saturday, so I opted go on Sunday. After last night’s dinner dance it was a struggle to get up at 0500, but as the warbler had only ever been seen soon after dawn I had little choice. Ewan was able to come, but he was even sleepier than I was!

The south coast missed the heavy snow that had blanketed most of the UK and the heavy rain had passed, so the journey went OK except for some localised flooding. Although above freezing, the breeze and light drizzle made today’s 2 degrees feel much colder than the -6 of yesterday morning. There was no sign of the warbler along Pagham Harbour’s seawall, but a few of the fifty or so birders present saw it at 0820. By 1015 Ewan and I were feeling pretty cold and had resigned ourself to the dip. We decided to leave and were just about to turn out of sight of the crowd when an approaching dog walker said ‘I don’t know if it matters to you, but they are all running’. We turned round to see the crowd legging it along the seawall. We went after them as fast as we could and soon were getting cracking views of the Paddyfield.

Over a thousand Brent Geese left the estuary and headed inland to feed during the first hour or so.

Several waders such as this Grey Plover fed close to the seawall

I didn't get a sharp photo of the Paddyfield Warbler, but here is one that I took in Armenia in May 2010.

We had hoped to go to the South Downs to look for a Parrot Crossbill that had been there all week but were advised that given the recent snowfall that the roads would be treacherous. Instead we headed for Thorney Island and searched for a Great White Egret in the shadow of the military base. Having failed there we headed to Warblington where the Cattle Egret I saw back in January was still in the same field, before driving to Southampton where we had another attempt at the Glaucous Gull, which apparently turned up soon after we left.

This Cattle Egret has remained faithful to the same small area all winter.

Daily from 2005 - 2006 Margaret used to catch the ferry to Hythe from here. She didn't see any Glaucous Gulls either.

The Glaucous chooses the decrepid Royal Pier as a roost site.

Posted February 6, 2012 by gryllosblog in Uncategorized

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