Pagham Harbour, West Sussex

Church Norton sits at the southern end and must provide the best viewing of passage waders. Leastways my year list gained one yesterday – knot – and the county list, four more – dunlin, turnstone, ringed plover and whimbrel. All that was without counting unverifiable glimpses of spotted redshank and curlew sandpipers. We even had a leucistic curlew (or was it whimbrel?)

Better still, an obvious Mediterranean gull flew in, and also on to the 2011 and Sussex lists; and Sandwich terns were new for the county. Sandwich – that must be capital S for the place, or person, not lowercase for the food. Are any birds named for food? Bananaquit? Chicken? It’s not called chicken, is it. It’s red junglefowl.

Anyway, reports of my second most bogey bird, that is to say, wryneck, took me to the Hampshire side of West Sussex. I didn’t expect to connect with it, and I didn’t. It wouldn’t be a bogey bird otherwise. I did connect with a bunch of nice folk: birders abounded. Pagham is one of those places where we may even swamp the abusers of the countryside (you know who I mean, right?)

One couple was down from Peterborough for their defeat at Brighton on Saturday. We commiserated as the Saints had lost their winning ways, going down 3-2 at Leicester. If the run had to end, and they all do, then there was no shame in that result. Another chap had nipped over from Adelaide. It was fun to reminisce with him about Goolwa, the Flinders, wild budgerigars, apostlebirds, fairy-wrens and the like.

The Sussex excursion has arisen from cat-sitting for my brother across the other side of the county. I’m in the Steyning rain while he soaks up the Mallorca sun. My God, this south-eastern corner of the country is busy. Too full of people but this little neck has its compensations and fascinations. And if the birding is flat the next few days, I’ll fill you in.

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