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  • Writer's pictureSim Elliott

Fishbourne Channel (Chichester Harbour) & RSPB Medmerry. Winter geese, ducks & waders. 09.11.21

Updated: Mar 19, 2022

Fishbourne Channel (Chichester Harbour)

Chichester Harbour, of which Fishbourne Channel is a part, is famous for its large number of overwintering geese, ducks and waders. Birds choose to spend all or part of the year here because the conditions suit them - there is abundant food and little pollution or disturbance.

Mud uncovered between the tides is the richest source of food. Waders, such as Curlew, Godwits, Redshank and Dunlin, probe with their long beaks in the mud for small marine animals like worms, small shellfish and crabs. The plover family of waders pick their food from the mud surface and Turnstones find theirs under seaweed and pebbles. Shelduck sift the surface of the mud for tiny snails (Hydrobia).

Other birds feed on plants growing on the mud; Brent geese and Wigeon eat green algae (Enteromorpha) and Eel grass (Zostera); Coot and Mute Swans are also vegetarians. Others are fish-eaters; they may dive from a height (terns) or from the water surface (grebes, Cormorants and sea ducks like Red-breasted Merganser and Goldeneye) or stand and fish in the shallows (Heron).

When the high tide covers the mud flats all mud-feeding birds need somewhere quiet to rest and preen. Waders fly to nearby fields, saltmarsh or high shingle (high tide roosts) while ducks and geese rest on the water surface or ashore.

Very few estuarine birds are here all year round. Most are travellers and are either winter visitors (they nest elsewhere and winter here), Passage Migrants (they spend some time here in spring and again in late summer and autumn between their breeding and wintering places) or summer visitors (nesting here, then leaving for their wintering places when their young can fly).

Waders. Geese and Ducks that are present in winter (according to Chichester Harbour conservancy):

Waders: Curlew; Whimbrel; Black-tailed Godwits; Bar-Tailed Godwits; Oystercatchers; Redshanks; Turnstones; Dunlin; Sanderling; Snipe; Lapwing; Ringer Plovers; Grey Plovers and less regularly: Knots; Greenshanks; Spotted Redshanks; Common Sandpipers; and Golden Plovers

Geese: Brent Geese; Canada Geese

Ducks: Shelducks; Mallards; Wigeon, Teal, Pintails, Goldeneyes and Red-Breasted Mergansers

I took the train from Brighton Station to Fishbourne. I then walked from Fishbourne, through Fishbourne Meadow, down the east side of Fishbourne Creek to Dell Quay. I then walk up to the main Chichester to the Witterings Road and caught the bus from Apuldram to Bracklesham; timetable: Chichester Routes 52-53_16_08_2021_V1.pdf ( . I walked along the beach to the bottom of the west side of RSPB Medmerry. I walk past the Stilt Pool, back to Earnley and caught the bus back to Chichester Station (same timetable).

Google maps: Google Maps

The Woolpack harks back to the importance of sheep farming to the Manhood Peninsular in the Mediaeval period.

Fishbourne Creek in Fishbourne Meadows

Fishbourne meadows

The top of Fishbourne Channel

Dunlin at the top of the channel

Black headed Gulls and Moorhens

Dunlin (?)

Black Headed Gulls and a Moorhen

Blacked Headed Gulls; a Grey Plover (?) and Dunlin (?)

Two Little Egrets

Black Tailed Godwits

Dunlin (?) / Plovers (?)

Ringed Plovers (?)

Black Tailed Godwit

Grey Plovers (?)

Black Headed Gull

Grey Plovers (?)

Mute Swans

Grey Heron

Black Headed Gulls

Grey Herron and Black Headed Gull

Black Tailed Godwits

Mute Swans and Black Tailed Godwits

Little Egret

Brent Geese

See my post Langstone Harbour & Hayling Island: Brent Geese 23.10.21 for information about Brent Geese

Little Egret

Mute Swans and Wigeon

Wigeon and Mute Swans

Black Tailed Godwit

Godwits behind Wigeon

A Curlew (and a Wigeons behind)

The sound of Brent Geese and Black Tailed Godwits

Brent Geese

The scenery around Dell Quay


Black Tailed Godwits

Little Egret

The scenery around Dell Quay

A Robin on the way to the bus stop

RSPB Medmerry

For more information about the history and landscape of Medmerry see my post RSPB Medmerry 12.05.21: A Cattle Egret, a Yellowhammer and a Cuckoo

Approaching the beach entrance to Medmerry (from Bracklesham, looking toward Selsey)

A Grey Heron seen on the way

The Stilt Pool

Tufted Ducks

A Coot

Wigeon and Teal

Wigeon, Teal, a Herring Gull and a Lapwing

Wigeon and a Coot

A Grey Heron, Herring Gulls, a Coot and Teal

Wigeon, Herring Gulls, Starlings and Teal

Grey Herron, Herring Gulls and Wigeon

Broad Rife

A Little Egret


Canada Geese



Lapwings with other birds

Broad Rife

Lapwing, Grey Herron, Herring Gull

Grey Herron and Little Egret


Grey Heron (same bird as above)

Little Egret (same bird as above)

On the oath to Earnley

Green Woodpecker

(close up)

Green Woodpecker (same bird as above)




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