This is a seawall walk of 2.5 miles (4kms) for the birdwatcher who wants to get close to our harbour waterfowl.
Park SU766051 southern tip of Prinsted at end of minor road running south from A259. Walk south onto seawall with the mudflats of Nutbourne nature reserve to your left.
This walk is straightforward: down to the Great Deeps, and back again. The path is narrow, but quite well-made, and there is a footbridge and a reasonably-easy stile. The weather can be cold in westerly winds.
The main attraction for this walk is on a rising tide, so you will have to consult the tide table which is published in this newspaper every week on the first Lifestyle page.
Let me explain. At low water geese, ducks, and waders are feeding on the mudflats. As the tide comes up, their feeding grounds are covered and they have to go somewhere else. They leave it to the last minute and then most of them funnel over the seawall into the east end of the Great Deep.
If you sit sheltered on the seawall with the Deep in front of you, the birds will fly over your head and you can watch them fairly close to. However, if you go on this walk at low tide, you can see them scattered far and wide across the mudflats, as they stand almost still.
The most obvious bird from October to March will be the brent geese. They will make a lovely wild chorus and patterns across the sky like a page of musical notation, or they might just sit tight and let the tide float them up and down.
The main attraction will be the wading birds. Five hundred redshanks will hurtle over your head, close to the top of the seawall to roost on the edges of the Deep. As the tide drops again they will fly out over the west end into Emsworth channel.
Two hundred curlews may fly over your head, one by one or in small groups.
Look out especially for a small number of greenshank and the occasional spotted redshank. A small number of dunlin, almost the smallest wader in the harbour, come into the Deeps to rest.
Sometimes the Deep here is home to a dozen little grebes, also a kingfisher. Reed buntings, moorhens, coots and an occasional short-eared owl hunting the long grass meadows may be seen.
Up to 700 wigeon use the Deeps for resting but they may flight at dusk though I’ve often seen spectacular flights at midday in and out over this seawall. You should see 20 species of waterfowl easily here on a three-hour visit.
Even ospreys use the Deeps in September. Take a thermos and warm clothes and expect to stay for an hour or more sat tight, and keep your bottom dry because the seats of a Morris Minor, even a Eurobox, won’t forgive you if you don’t.