Author Mike Russell
Senior Conservation Advisor
Blessed with a beautiful sunny, but chilly, start the first Bird Safari of the year to Medmerry got off to a flying start where (for some people) the best sighting of the day… was a mammal! Two mammals to be precise as a there were a couple of brown hares boxing each other; this was the first time many of the party had actually seen this occurrence.
Medmerry is this wonderful new reserve at Selsey, created out of the flood defence alleviation project and is now managed by the RSPB. On the bird front, stand out moments were the skeins of up to 2,000 Brent geese moving around the fields, their evocative calls filling the skies, with 100 curlews hidden amongst them. Also large numbers of lapwing in flight were a lovely sight, their alternating dark and light wings glinting in the sun.
A lone green sandpiper probing in the mud and a superb fly-past by a female red-breasted merganser were also memorable and it was wonderful surprise to pick out three spoonbill on some of the newly-flooded meadows. The light enabled us to see the colourful males of wigeon, teal and shoveler, while close-up views of gadwall enabled me to convince some doubting sceptics that they too have a wonderfully subtle plumage.
At the end of the day, a number of reed buntings coming into roost into nearby hawthorn thickets was a real treat, but the best was saved until last when we were all able to admire a stunning kingfisher sitting patiently close-by.
Not a bad end to a fabulous day, made even better by some excellent cake contributed by our ever-expanding group of bakers!
An additional day at Medmerry has been added to the programme, Thursday 19th February, details on the course page of the Trust website.