PAGHAM HAR­BOUR

Bird Watching (UK) - - Bird The World -

Un­til the 14th Cen­tury, Pagham was one of the fore­most English ports, but a huge storm in 1341 dev­as­tated it. As the har­bour silted up, Pagham’s wealth di­min­ished, but to­day, a lo­cal na­ture re­serve (LNR), in­cor­po­rat­ing 700 acres of in­ter­tidal salt­marsh with associated shin­gle banks and nearly 400 acres of farm­land, pools, ditches and hedgerows, has be­come an in­ter­na­tion­ally known refuge for mi­grant birds. In 2012, the RSPB took over day-to-day man­age­ment from West Sus­sex County Coun­cil, who re­main an im­por­tant part­ner. Al­though pri­mar­ily a win­ter­ing area for wild­fowl and waders, it is also noted for mi­grants and is an im­por­tant breeding site for sev­eral species. Eight hun­dred acres of tidal mud­flats are in­ter­sected by chan­nels. Patches of gorse and scrub oc­cur around the perime­ter along­side har­bour banks and walls, and are at­trac­tive to mi­grant passer­ines. It is sur­rounded by fields, used by waders at high tide. A path runs around the whole har­bour. The mouth is bor­dered by shin­gle spits, the beach on the south side pro­tect­ing wet grass­land and reed-fringed pools known as the Sev­er­als. Just in­land from the Sev­er­als is Church Nor­ton, with wooded ar­eas and a grave­yard at­trac­tive to mi­grants. The Ferry Pool, a short walk from the vis­i­tor cen­tre, can be out­stand­ing for pas­sage waders in au­tumn. The har­bour is at its best in win­ter when thou­sands of wild­fowl and waders may be seen. Lit­tle Egret, Shel­duck, Oys­ter­catcher, Red­shank, Barn and Lit­tle Owls may be seen all year. Spring brings pas­sage waders, terns and off­shore, divers, scot­ers, grebes, auks and skuas. Passer­ine mi­grants add in­ter­est, plus oc­ca­sional Osprey and Garganey. By July, waders and terns are re­turn­ing. Pas­sage of waders in­creases in au­tumn, along with Black Tern, Lit­tle Gull and passer­ines, in­clud­ing Redstart. Win­ter finds the har­bour at its best with wa­ter­fowl such as Brent Goose, Wi­geon, Pin­tail, Teal, Gold­en­eye, Eider and Red­breasted Mer­ganser, as well as Hen Har­rier, Mer­lin, Short-eared Owl and Wa­ter Rail. All es­tu­ar­ine waders in­clud­ing Avo­cet are pos­si­ble. Oc­ca­sional win­ter­ing Twite, Chif­fchaff, Firecrest and, off­shore, Slavo­nian Grebe, en­sure there is al­ways the pos­si­bil­ity of some­thing ex­cit­ing to see.

GREAT FOR Wild­fowl and waders in this huge re­serve

Barn Owl

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