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  • Writer's pictureJane & Hamish

A bird walk to Bosham Quay

Updated: Jan 15

Happy New Year from us at The Bosham Boathouse Bed & Breakfast. We hope you had a great Christmas and New Year break and are excited about the year ahead.

Birds at Chichester Harbour

We began our New Year with a crisp, sunny Sunday morning in early January - the perfect weather for a walk down to Bosham Quay to see the huge variety of birdlife that can be found there. Only a few of the waders and waterbirds are resident all year round, most are either overwintering in the area or are passage migrants - stopping on their way through using the harbour to stock up on food and regain their strength for their onward journey.

We strolled down Chequer Lane from the Bosham Boathouse and then on to the western end of Shore Road where, as ever there were a large number of Mute Swans feeding at the head of the Creek. The cygnets born in the Spring are now almost full size and losing the last of their juvenile feathers but still, rather sweetly, following their mothers in an orderly line. We also met Danni the Swan Ranger who had driven his Veterinary Ambulance down from London responding to a call about a swan with a broken wing. He managed to get the uncharacteristically docile female into the ambulance to be taken to the Swan Sanctuary for rehabilitation.

Swans at Chichester Harbour

In amongst the Swans, as well as the ubiquitous Black-Headed Gulls, was a Little Egret stalking through the reeds in search of a snack and a large group of ducks. There were the usual resident Mallard as well as twenty or thirty visiting Wigeon and a few Teal dabbling in the shallows.

We walked further around the harbour towards the village past several Redshank strutting across the mud as well as an Oystercatcher and, unusually close to the shore, a lone Curlew.

Just past the Anchor Bleu pub, we came across the first of the Dark-Bellied Brent Geese. About ten thousand of these small, sturdy geese with their distinctive white tails spend the Winter months in Chichester Harbour and can gather in huge flocks either on the water or, at hightide, in the fields around. The Geese are very vocal, constantly chattering to each other as the feed on the grass at the shore’s edge. There were about fifty or sixty birds on the mud in front of the Yacht club as well as hundreds more on the water all across the creek to Chidham. As we watched them, a small boat came too close and, as one, they took to the air and flew off upstream to find a more peaceful spot.

Birds at Chichester Harbour

We carried on to Quay meadow from where we had a great view across the channel to a long line of Dunlin feeding right at the water’s edge alongside yet more Brent Geese; a little further back was a group of about fifteen Curlew and a similar number of Shelduck. In the foreground were more Wigeon and a lonely Pintail Duck as well as more Redshank, Oystercatchers and a single Grey Plover.

As we walked up the shore I was delighted to see a Turnstone, scuttling about, flipping over piles of kelp; then I noticed a second, then a third. In all there were about ten of the little birds but they are so well camouflaged that even when they are only a few metres away they are not immediately obvious.

Birds at Chichester Harbour

As we turned away from the estuary, a Cormorant beat along flying low to the surface of the water on its way to some urgent appointment.

We cut across the fields to the excellent Crate Cafe for a warming coffee before heading back to The Boathouse.

The Crate Cafe, Bosham

Almost exactly four years into our Bosham adventure, it was fantastic to remind ourselves of what a beautiful and special place we live in and to see close up the remarkable habitat that the Harbour provides.

Thanks for reading about our January adventures. We hope to welcome you to the south coast and The Bosham Boathouse B&B in 2024.

Hamish and Jane

All images Copyright Jane Young 2024

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