• Sim Elliott

RSPB Medmerry 24.05.21: Avocet Chicks

Updated: May 28, 2021

This post, like most of my other bird posts, includes photographs and names of most of the species I saw on my visit, but the text concentrates on sightings that were new species to me, or on particularly interesting behaviours, viz, in this post, the parenting behaviour of Avocets .


The photographs in this post are in chronological order of sighting.


I saw and photographed: Herring Gulls, Canada Geese, Avocets, Skylarks, Cormorants, Coots, Shelducks, a Kestrel, Stonechats, Starlings, Woodpigeons and Black-Headed Gulls


I also saw: Moorhens; Feral Pigeons; Blackbirds, Carrion Crows and Robins


I heard bit did not see: Reed Warblers; Sedge Warblers and Cetti's Warblers


I had made a previous trip to RSPB Medmerry with a friend.


I had visited Medmerry with a friend previously, on 12.05.21, see https://www.simelliott.net/post/rspb-medmerry-12-05-21-a-cattle-egret-a-yellowhammer-and-a-cuckoo


(I made a second trip to RSPB Medmerry with a friend, as I had enjoyed this trip so much, on Wednesday of third week see: https://www.simelliott.net/post/rspb-medmerry-26-05-21-little-ringed-plovers)


I travelled to RSPB Medmerry by public transport. The last time I went to Medmerry I went to the east side, and I got the 51 bus to Selsey and got off at the RSPB Pagham Harbour Visitors centre and walked from there. This time I took the 52 bus from Chichester to The Witterings and got off at the end of Clappers Lane. I made a quick detour to Brackelsham Bay beach to look at the views of the Isle of White, and then walked back to the Clappers Land Bus stop, and from there I walked along Clappers Lane to Earnley Church. At Earlney church I took the signposted the road path to the RSPB Medmerry (west) carpark where the (west) entrance to the reserve is There is no charge for admission to RSPB Medmerry or RSPB Pagham Harbour. Medmerry Nature Reserve, West Sussex - The RSPB


51 Bus Route & Timetable: Selsey - Chichester | Stagecoach (stagecoachbus.com)


52 Bus Route & Timetable: Chichester - East and West Wittering | Stagecoach (stagecoachbus.com)


All text in italics are quotes, their sources are given.


Two Herring Gulls Larus argentatus on Brackelsham Bay beach, looking out to the east coast of the Isle of White.


The Church at Earnley, from where, to the left, a road leads to the RSPB Medmerry west carpark and entrance to the reserve.


In the RSPB carpark is this plaque. Earnley was a landing ground opened late on in World War One for aircraft of the School of Aerial Co-operation with Coastal Defence Batteries, initially based at Gosport and then from September 1918 Wight, as Cowes (Somerton) was originally known. This airfield is not particularly well documented but Home Defence fighters also had the airfield available to them in wartime. Earnley - Airfields of Britain Conservation Trust UK (abct.org.uk)


As I walked down the path to the Stilt Pool I was these Canada Geese and Goslings Branta canadensis. Thee were two sets of parents, and they appeared to be co-parenting their two broods of chicks.


A little further on I saw a Skylark Alauda arvensis high in his sing-flight. He sang for a very long time in the rambling but beautiful way that Skylarks sing. I had the privilege to hear many Skylarks at Medmerry; but Skylark numbers are in steep decline due to loss of habitat; they are on the conservation status red list

Skylark song from Wildlife World - YouTube


When I reached the Stilt Pool I saw what I had come to see! Avocet Chicks Recurvirostra avosetta!

Watching parent birds gather their young and protect them under their feathers is a heart-warming vision if parental care. It appeared as if the parents gathered their chicks either in response to rain and potential threats from other birds.



Next to the Avocets there were Cormorants Phalacrocorax carbo


And some more Canadian Geese with their Goslings.


Here you can see an Avocet parent sheltering three of its chicks.



And here's a Coot Fulica atra; ubiquitous birds, along with their cousins, Moorhens, in rivers, streams, ponds, lakes and wetland habitats


Then a saw a Kestrel Falco tinnunculus

And it caught a small rodent

and took it to ground.


And then I went back to look at the Avocets!


On the fence near the Stilt Pool I saw a male Stonechat Saxicola rubicola, who like perching in fences and fence posts.


I looked around me and noted the huge horizons east and west, to the west there were many Cormorants and Canada Geese, too the East in Broad Rife there were many adult Avocets.


And you always see Woodpigeons Columba palumbus. The RSPB estimates there are 5,400,000 pairs of Woodpigeons in the UK


Avocets and Shelducks Tadorna tadorna shelducks are very common in wetland environments; they are a beautifully coloured duck,


There were many juvenile Starlings Sturnus vulgaris flying in flocks in the late afternoon, these Starlings had baths in puddles in the main walkway. Whilst there were many Starlings at Medmerry it is important to remember that Starling numbers are in sharp decline and they are on the red list for conservation status.



A Roe deer Capreolus capreolus


Black-headed Gulls Chroicocephalus ridibundus were numerous at Medmerry; although their heads are actually a dark chocolate colour.


The areas that were submerged when DEFA created the salt marshes and reedbeds by moving the Medberry seawall inland and breached the old Medmerry seawall.


and the final birds I saw were this Male Stonechat and a Stonechat fledgling


23 views