14 January 2018: Winter Lecture – Birds of Chichester Harbour, with Kerry Jackson

On a very ordinary, greyish Sunday morning in January – CYC members were treated to a wonderful virtual tour of Chichester Harbour, to take in all of the amazing bird life (and a few seals as well) to be seen at this time of year. We didn’t need warm clothes, binoculars, or a field guide – excellent!

This all happened in the warmth & comfort of the Upper Deck, courtesy of long-time CYC member – Kerry Jackson. As well as her boating activities in Sounio with John Barfoot, many of us know Kerry as a keen bridge-player & teacher, but Kerry is a self-confessed bird fanatic and keen member of the local RSPB, of which she is a past chairman.

The first part of Kerry’s talk was to outline the history and some of the activities of the RSPB, both locally & nationally, where the RSPB has grown to be one of the nation’s foremost wildlife & ecological activist groups. More information about the RSPB can be found on their website. Particularly, the next big participatory event is the Big Garden Bird Watch on the 27th to 29th January 2018, so not long now. We were all encouraged to take part, by spending an hour to list the birds spotted in each of our locations.

But then, Kerry asked us to imagine leaving the Chichester Marina lock, and with the aid of excellent photos, videos & recorded sound, Kerry pointed out the individual species that we would see as we travelled down the harbour towards the beaches at East Head and the Witterings.

Rather than a straightforward listing of the birds of the harbour, we were treated to a melange of bird species, as we would encounter them on our way down the harbour.

Each variety of duck; goose; swan; wader; raptor; more waders; gulls (NOT “sea” gulls – we were told) & cormorant was illustrated with these excellent photographs and short pieces of video.

A highlight was the recordings of the various bird calls: the quacks, coos, crys, honks, chirps, clucks, rasps, croaks, hoots, shrieks, trills and whistles that (hopefully) would assist us in identifying these birds in future.

Radio 4’s “Tweet of the Day” has nothing on the variety of noises that Kerry had recorded for us! A small mention here is needed: John Barfoot provided an excellent supporting role as sound engineer & IT expert. It all worked this time!

To round off her lecture, Kerry gave us a couple of things to take away: firstly, the importance of giving the small colony of common seals in Emsworth Reach a bit of elbow room (do seals have elbows?) to ensure they are not unduly disturbed; and secondly – Kerry offered to lead a “real” birding trip around the harbour, an offer which was fully subscribed soon after the lecture! Those select few might even get to know how to tell a Godwit from a Knot!

Finally, a thank you to the audience of the first CYC winter lecture of 2018. The turn out was amazing, with between 80 and 100 people present! See you all next time? If you would like to see the faces of at least some of this huge audience, rather than just the back-of-heads, there are a couple of photos on the Club’s Yogile site.

– by John Lake