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Out and About - East and West Sussex

[1]East and West Sussex is located predominantly on the south coast of England with around 90 miles of shoreline from Camber in the east to Chichester Harbour Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty in the west. In fact its most northerly point at Gatwick Airport is just 23 miles from the coast. It's this geographical location with south facing slopes and a warm dry climate that makes Sussex a prime slot for vineyards to produce world class sparkling wine.

Spanning 1,461 square miles, East and West Sussex shares borders with Kent, Surrey and Hampshire. The South Downs National Park meets Sussex at its Hampshire border and stretches across more than half the county to Eastbourne.

Selsey Peninsula

[1]I have put three areas in one section as they are close together , Selsey Bill, Church Norton and Pagham Harbour which is a good days birding in which you can mix up habitats and the tides.

Here is a great local blog with loads of information for the visiting birder - Birding the Selsey Peninsula.

Selsey Bill is a headland that points out into the English Channel and is a good spot to do some "Seawatching" and has a reputation for seeing good numbers of Pomarine Skua. In an average spring there is up to 200 birds passing through, with movement noted between mid-April and late June and peaking between 28th April and 22nd May. Pomarine Skuas and other seabird passage is from west to east in spring.

Pagham Harbour was until 2012 managed by the County Council until it was transferred to the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB). The site covers 1,500 acres. It's one of the few undeveloped stretches of the Sussex coast, and an internationally important wetland site for wildlife. It's a big, sheltered inlet that fills and empties with each tide, with wild ducks, geese and wading birds flying in to feed.

There is a lot to see all year; resident species include little egrets, ringed plovers and lapwings. With little terns breeding on the beach. Autumn and winter brings up to 20,000 ducks, geese and waders feeding and roosting across the reserve, including large numbers of Brent geese and Pintails. There is a small Visitor Centre with car park and toilets, and long walks around the harbour edge to the sea.

It's a good place to see Yellow-legged Gulls, a gathering of up to 300 Yellow-legged Gulls is regularly noted in Pagham Harbour between the last week of July and early September. Two good blogs are Pagham Birder and the Pagham Harbour Local Nature Reserver blog run by the RSPB.

Church Norton is between Pagham and Selsey and has a convenient car park for easy access to the beach and those interested in history there is the grade 1 listed church St Wilfrid's Chapel next to the car park.

© Simon Thurgood 2024
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