RSPB e-update June 2015

Pagham Harbour E-update: Summer 2015

Next Pagham Harbour Community Forum: Monday 20 July The Pagham Harbour Local Community Forum, chaired by a County Councillor, is your chance to ask questions, raise issues and make suggestions concerning the RSPB’s management of the areas of Pagham Harbour it looks after. The meetings are friendly and constructive and open to all, so if you would like to come along to the next meeting, it is on Monday 20 July at Hunston Community Hall, 6.30-8.30pm, chaired by Cllr Tony Sutcliffe. We ask for agenda items to be sent in advance, please.

Birds on the Beach Jan Atkinson resumed her role as People Engagement Officer in April. She has been visiting schools and local groups, engaging with over 450 children in a variety of Little Tern- and nature-based activities, and leading school site visits for a total of 78 pupils and a university group of 60 students. Out in the community, Jan has been working with everyone from toddlers to grandparents, local holiday parks and family centres, and attending events such as those at Brent Lodge and Chalder Farm Open day. Her two well-received library displays included artwork from local artists. Jan and her volunteers are now running regular ‘Birds on the Beach’ sessions at Pagham Harbour, meeting with birdwatchers, general walkers and families. A cup of tea and a chat seems to be popular with all! Jan will be out and about throughout the summer, inspiring everyone about the Harbour, at events such the Church Farm Gala day, the Sea and Salad Fair and the Green Fair, and working with West Sussex libraries on their summer reading challenge. Do say ‘Hi!’ when you see her.

Church Norton car park: resurfacing and temporary closure Work to resurface Church Norton car park started on 24 June and should take no more than three days to complete. The work has been supported by a £2,000 donation from Friends of Pagham Harbour (our thanks for that). For safety reasons and to aid the contractors completing the work in a timely fashion, the car park will be closed from the evening of 23 June until late afternoon on 26 June. We apologise for any inconvenience and urge visitors to respect the needs and access of local residents during the works by not parking along the verge and to use the car parks at the Visitor Centre, where the overspill car park will not shut at the usual 4pm during this period.

Join us on our new events programme We ran a successful Whitsun half-term events programme at the Visitor Centre at Sidlesham, with about 150 attendees taking part in activities including pond-dipping, bug hunting and arts and crafts. A full events programme has been organised for July-September to provide something for all tastes and ages, including pond dipping, quiz trails, bird guiding, historical and archaeological walks, arts and crafts and moth trapping. The event listing will also feature The Friends of Pagham Harbour’s ‘Salthouse Sundown’ and beach clean. For information on what is coming up, visit the reserve’s web pages.

Field teaching at Pagham Harbour Lucy Tozer (RSPB Learning Officer) and her Learning Team is now in post. They are based at RSPB Pulborough Brooks but have responsibility together with the reserve volunteers for delivering a busy schools’ programme at Pagham Harbour. Since April, they have hosted five very successful on-site school visits involving around 170 pupils.

Friends of Pagham Harbour (FoPH) news and funding We are delighted that the recent meeting of the Friends of Pagham Harbour to discuss their future direction ended with new volunteers coming forward to take up new Committee positions and an agreement to go to the Charities Commission to seek to review the terms of the group which currently place limits on the length of time the Chair can stand. This opens the way for the Friends to continue its good work, and we look forward to continuing to working closely with them.

Breeding shorebirds and waders Electric fencing has been erected around Tern Island in the middle of the Harbour to protect breeding shorebirds from fox predation. We also have Little Tern ‘call lures’, which are tape recordings of their calls designed to attract them to the island. By the middle of June, 12 pairs of Common Tern, 25 pairs of Blackheaded Gull and three pairs of Little Tern had nested and there was possibly a pair of Sandwich Tern. Out on the spit a further 11 pairs of Little Tern have started to nest. Ten pairs of Lapwing and five pairs of Redshank have bred on Ferry Field.

Rare visitor from North America Pagham Harbour is nationally famed for turning up unusual birds, way off course, which are a source of excitement for birdwatchers. This happened again when a Hudsonian Whimbrel from North America turned up at Church Norton on the mudflats. It is a wading bird with a curved bill, similar to a Curlew but smaller and with a stripy head and dark rump. Being only the ninth ever in the UK, it caused quite a stir with people coming from across the UK to see it. The car parks soon filled up as hundreds of people descended on to the reserve for a glimpse. As of 24 June, it was still present, moving around the harbour with the tide. We have been asking visitors to park at the Visitor Centre and walk down the West Side.

Master songster arrives, and other wildlife news The weather has continued to show its unpredictable side, with bird migration being somewhat stop/go this year, and many summer visitors arriving a little later than expected. However, along with the songs of all our regular summer visitors, a new addition to the reserve’s repertoire was a glorious Nightingale near Sidlesham, which appears to have bred. Up to three Spoonbills, which are like white herons with a giant spatula bill, continued their extended stay with as they moved between Pagham Harbour and Medmerry. Meanwhile, Grey Herons and Little Egrets are having one of their best years ever, with 14 pairs and 17 pairs respectively. It means that the pure white Little Egrets in particular are very visible around the Harbour. Our love affair with Black-winged Stilts was revived with the arrival of a bird which may have been one of the young reared at Medmerry last year. Then a day later a summer plumage Red-necked Phalarope was found at Ferry Pool, a tiny wader that breeds in the Arctic which spins on the water like a little clockwork toy. Avocets returned in good numbers to the Earnley Flood Storage pool at Medmerry and by mid June Great Crested and Little Grebe were feeding their young and Ringed Plovers were breeding on the shingle. Now in summer, the grasslands and pools are the territories of dragonflies and butterflies. Emperor and Hairy Dragonflies can be seen patrolling the pools near the Visitor Centre, while on the shingle beaches you may get the first glimpses of Clouded Yellows and Painted Ladies coming from the continent

Your team at Pagham Harbour: who and how to contact The new team structure at Pagham Harbour is now in place, bringing it into line with RSPB reserves around the country. Tim Callaway will continue as Site Manager along with his Area Manager role for Hampshire and the Isle of Wight until at least the end of 2015, when we will then review the situation. Ivan Lang and Pete Hughes now have shared responsibilities as Pagham Harbour & Medmerry Wardens. We welcome Roy Newnham, the new Pagham Harbour & Medmerry Visitor Experience Officer. Roy has considerable experience in organising events, youth engagement and working with volunteers through his work with the Prince’s Trust and in the hospitality industry. He is supported by Anna Allum, the Visitor Experience Manager based at Pulborough Brooks. The other core members of the team are Jan Atkinson in her People Engagement role, Liz Tozer and her education team, and Roger Johnson, Volunteer Coordinator (Roger himself being a volunteer). Of course, the team is ably supported by over 100 volunteers. To contact the team, or to book your place on events, please call 01243 641508, or email

Breach Pool Breach Pool, the reed-fringed pool behind the North Wall, has become increasingly empty this spring. The pool is not on land that the RSPB controls (the Local Nature Reserve agreement there was not renewed by the owner), but nevertheless the pool is still designated as part of the Site of Special Scientific Interest and Special Protection Area. We are liaising with Natural England to find out if anything can be improved there.

If you find this e-update helpful, do forward it to anyone with an interest in the Harbour. If they want to be included on the e-update list, they should email to be included. If you would like to be removed from this e-update list, please email us at the same address.

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The Future of The Friends?

The future of the Friends has been an agenda item at recent meetings of the committee. Many of you will know that the Friends of Pagham Harbour was established nearly forty years ago to provide physical and financial support to the management of the reserve. The number of Friends actively engaged in volunteer activities has declined in recent years and since the transfer of management from West Sussex County Council responsibility for the organisation and administration of volunteers has been assumed by the RSPB.

However, the Friends have continued to raise funds and offer financial support. But, for various reasons involving, for example, complications over landfill, insurance, and, most recently, Environment Agency flood prevention plans, the RSPB are unable to identify specific short-term projects for funding. Exceptions this year have been a grant of £300 in the form of a bursary to a university student and £2000 towards the resurfacing of the Church Norton car park. The question arises: What are we achieving as Trustees? The departure, without immediate replacement, of a ‘site manager’ only adds to the uncertainty.

These issues remain a constant source of frustration for the Trustees and matters will come to a head after the next AGM in October when the Trustees will have to elect a new Chair and a Treasurer. These will need to be new appointments as none of the present committee members are able to assume these roles. (The Chair is debarred by the constitution from holding office for more than three years and the Treasurer is merely acting in that post).  So far, there is no sign of a single candidate to serve as a Trustee.

Harbour Flyer attempts to keep you updated on developments at the reserve and invites you to take part in various events. We now seek your views on ‘The Future of the Friends’ and invite you to join the committee for an open discussion on Thursday 21 May at 6.30pm at the Visitors Centre. Further details will be published in the next edition of this newsletter. In the meantime, it would be helpful to hear whether you would be willing to attend the meeting and/or your views on the way forward.

The Trustees believe we should approach matters with an open mind.  Obvious options include to find sufficient new trustees to bring the total up to seven as required by the constitution, to ‘mothball’ the organisation until such time as it re-finds its role, to merge with a similar charity and/or wind the organisation up.

Many thanks,

Peter Driscoll (Chair, Friends of Pagham Harbour)    01243 641317

or via The Visitor Centre, Pagham Harbour Nature Reserve, Selsey Road, Sidlesham, Chichester  PO20 7NE

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Memorandum of Understanding

Peter Driscoll, Chair of The Friends of Pagham Harbour, recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the RSPB. A copy of the document can be viewed using the link below.

MOU – Jan 2015

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Happy New Year

The next Friends’ Walk will take place on Saturday 7th February. Meet at the RSPB Visitor Centre at 10.00am for a stroll to the Salthouse on the north wall of Pagham Harbour, about 3.5 miles in total. Make sure you have good waterproof footwear as the fields by Halsey Farm could be very wet!

About 75% of our membership have access to email and will have received the January edition of our e-newsletter. Other Friends receive copies of ‘Harbour Flyer’ four times each year in the post.

The Friends have made a contribution to the resurfacing of the car park at Church Norton.

Sightings at Pagham Harbour, updated each week, can be viewed on the RSPB/Pagham Harbour website.

The next committee meeting of The Friends of Pagham Harbour will take place on Thursday 26th February – please let me know if there are any issues you would like to be raised.

Bill Martin, Membership Secretary.

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Annual Report 2015

The Annual Report of The Friends of Pagham Harbour for 2015 was presented by the Chair, Peter Driscoll, at the AGM which was held on 25th October. A copy can be accessed using the link below.

AGM 2014 Annual Report 2014

The November edition of the e-newsletter has just been sent out. Friends without email will receive a paper version of Harbour Flyer at the beginning of December.

Bill Martin, Membership Secretary.



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The AGM of the Friends of Pagham Harbour will take place at North Mundham Village Hall on Saturday 25th October, starting at 2.30pm. An agenda, minutes of last year’s meeting and a financial statement are available using the links below. If you require further clarification or additional information please send me a comment. Thanks.

AGM 2014

Final Accounts March 2014

Bill Martin, Membership Secretary.

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50th Birthday Party

Pagham Harbour got its designation as a local nature reserve 50th years ago and celebrated with a party on Sunday 24th August. The Friends constructed a timeline showing the significant events that have occurred between 1964 and 2014. The next important date will be 2016 – 40 years since the Friends of Pagham Harbour were first established.

Bill Martin,
Membership Secretary.

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