When the wind is brisk across the Manhood Peninsula it can be a bit forbidding on our reserves of Pagham Harbour and Medmerry in particular. Nevertheless, there are rewards for those that make the effort. Our sheltered inlets, saltmarsh and mudflats are a magnet for wintering wildfowl and waders, which come and go with the ebb and flow of the tides.

Brent geese, teal and wigeon can be found in the harbour and pools across both reserves and of course the geese and wigeon also graze in the surrounding fields. Pintail mainly frequent the harbour, whereas Pagham Lagoon is a good place to find goldeneye and pochard as well as little grebes. Search the edges of Ferry and Breech Pools for those masters of camouflage, the snipe.

  

Brent geese - Ivan lang

Pintail - Ben Hall (rspb-images.com)

Scanning across the mudflats should reveal a multitude of waders including, lapwing, grey, golden and ringed plover, dunlin and knot. The sight of swirling flocks, startled by the local peregrines may not rival the great starling murmurations but are mesmerising as the same. It is worth taking time to look over the groups of black-tailed godwits for their bar-tailed cousins, while spotted redshank and green sandpiper can also be discovered around the reserves.

Dunlin - Andy Hay (rspb-images.com)

Along the beach you will find turnstone doing what they do best. Offshore you have a chance of Slavonian grebe, great northern divers, scoter and even the occasional eider or long-tailed duck. Slavonian, little and great crested grebes also frequent the harbour when the tide comes in along with red-breasted mergansers.

Common scoter - Andy Hay (rspb-images.com)

However, it is not all about waterfowl. Dartford warblers overwinter, hiding amongst the gorse on Medmerry and siskin are often seen around the alders by the Visitor Centre. Our smallest raptor the merlin chases flocks of finches on Medmerry and short-eared owls turn up on both reserves.

Short-eared owl - Ben Andrew (rspb-images.com)

So grab your hat, scarf and gloves, pull your boots on, wrap your coat tight and spend some time in our wild winter wonderland.

Anonymous