The birding has been a bit slow this past week but I was eventually tempted down to Pagham Harbour to look for the Hooded Crow. It, or another one like it, had been reported regularly from the Medmerry site over the past couple of months but locating it there was pure luck.
With reports of a Hooded Crow on Pagham Spit the chances of success looked a bit more favourable and with a Sussex tick on offer it was worth making the trip.
Arriving early morning with the sun shining, the tide out, and no dog walkers in sight the prospects looked promising, although the area of beach to search did surprise me. Last time I was there it had mostly been washed away and the beach houses were under threat of disappearing into the sea.
After inspecting a few Carrion Crows I eventually found the Hoodie foraging by itself by the edge of a tidal pool. It let me approach to a reasonable distance but then when I tried to get closer started walking away to maintain a safe distance. Not too bad though, particularly as I had the light behind me.
I thought it would eventually get comfortable with me being there and I would get a better shot but just as it seemed to be gaing confidence the inevitable dog appeared over the top of the beach and the bird took flight landing on the Church Norton Spit on the other side of the harbour breach. Fifty yards for the bird, a twelve mile drive and half an hours walk for me.
There were other birds about but all a bit distant. The Peregrines were sitting on their island. Worth recording but it's just a bit too distant for a good shot.
Fortunately I had another target. When I parked the car I had flushed a single Golden Plover from the shingle at the side of the Pagham Lagoon. It seemed reluctant to fly, or perhaps unable to fly and after a couple of record shots I left it in peace. Returning to the car two hours later it was still there so using the car as a hide I was able to get a few better shots.
It seemed healthy enough and was moving around without difficulty but this is a flock bird. I am not sure why it was by itself and or why it was reluctant to fly. It's not usually a good sign.
A few other shots - the long staying and very reliable Church Norton Whimbrel.
And a couple from a disappointing trip down to Dungeness. Ruff at Scotney Pit and male Smew on Burrows Pit
The Smew was very mobile and in windy conditions I couldn't get a decent shot even though I tracked it around the various pits for most of the morning.
I also managed to see Tree Sparrows, Cattle Egret, a Great White Egret and probably the Whooper Swans. The later were in the right place, just north of Cockles Bridge feeding with the Mutes. I could see yellow on the bill but they were just too distant to be certain particularly as there were a number of Bewicks in the area.