The Witterings are wonderful for bird watching – if you’re lucky you may even see an avocet, the emblem of the RSPB. There are many birds of prey too, and take a look across the fields and you’re bound to see some deer.


If you’re really lucky, you may see a seal during your visit to the Witterings.
the witterings common seal

There are several Common Seals that live in the Solent but come up in the Harbour, (hence also called Harbour Seals), where there are lots of sandy and rocky spots for them to rest. There are also plenty of crustaceans and fish for them to eat.

Chichester Harbour Conservancy offer boat trips, and whilst they certainly don’t promise a seal sighting, you just never know!


If you walk through the fields near the Witterings, you are very likely to see deer. Sometimes you have to look carefully – they may be lying down in long grass and you can just see their ears poking over the top.

In the summer months they may be standing in tall maize, and, again, the ears may be the only thing you spot.

They are lovely to see, but many of our neighbours with vegetable plots can find them a bit frustrating when they go out in the morning to find their crops have been munched!

deer roe deer meadow

The majority of deer that you see here are Roe deer, easily distinguishable by their while bottoms. They are rusty red in summer, but turn a bit duller in colour in the winter, almost a grey colour.

Rutting season is during mid-July to mid-August, when the stags can become a aggressive and territorial. They usually won’t approach you but just keep an eye on your dogs and don’t let them approach or chase the deer.


What’s amazing about the Roe Deer is that even though mating takes place in July and August, the fertilised egg remains almost dormant in the female until January, when it starts to grow. Perhaps it’s to avoid the prospect of a harsh winter for babies, who then arrive in May and June.

deer roe deer cornfield


During the winter months, please try not to disturb flocks of birds who may be feeding and storing reserves for their onward journey. The days are shorter, so they need all the time they can get, so, as fun as it might be for your dogs, please don’t let them interfere with the birds.

Winter Birds

bird red breasted merganser

Red-breasted merganser

Seen mainly on the coast in winter (November to March), these salmon and trout eaters are at home both on fresh and salt water. You often see them in huge flocks on the shallower waters of the creek.


Seen from September to February, the Dunlin is the bird you will see most on the coasts.

In winter, their plumage is greyer than the summer plumage shown here, and you may even see two thousand together, often on the shallow waters or the marshy land by the Chichester channel.

bird dunlin
bird red knot in winter


Shown here with its winter plumage, the red knot has a brick red breast and face in the summer months.

They form huge flocks in winter, visiting the UK from the Arctic.


This is the largest duck seen in Chichester Harbour. Mainly here in November to March, though a few breed in the Harbour. They small shellfish and aquatic snails.

bird shelduck
bird bar tailed godwit

Bar-tailed Godwit

In winter this bird can look whiter than shown here, and they have long brown legs and a black and red beak. They breed in the Artic and Scandinavia, and many spend the winter here on the way further south, so we see them from July until March here.

You’ll see them feeding on shellfish, shrimps and marine snails.

Brent Goose

Up to 10,000 Brent geese visit the harbour area from November to March, the brent goose is small – more the size of a duck.

It is black with a grey back, and feeds on vegetation.

They return to Siberia to breed during the summer months.

brent goose

Summer Birds

bird sandwich tern

Sandwich Tern

The Sandwich Tern is white in collar, but has a black beak with a yellow tip, rather than the red of the Common Tern.

They feed on small fish, such as whitebait.

Common Tern

Sometimes called the “sea swallow” because of their long tails, the tern is medium sized with a black head and red bill with a black tip.

You may see them hovering over the water, waiting to dive down for a fish.

bird common tern

Throughout the Year

bird curlew


The curlew has a long curving bill, and is the largest wading bird in Britain, with a wingspan of 80-100cm.

It lives off shrimps, worms and shellfish.


You might see these sitting on top of posts or rocks, often with wings outstretched to dry them out, and they can be so still that you’re not sure they’re real!

They are large black birds, known as greedy, which can make them unpopular with fishermen!

bird cormorant
bird redshank


As the name would suggest, redshanks are distinctive by their bright orange-red legs and their beaks are similar coloured.

They use their long beaks to poke into the mud to feed on worms, insects and crustaceans.

They are here all year round, but we see less of them in the peak of summer.


These black and white birds have orangey-red beaks and pinky-red legs.

Despite their name, they don’t eat oysters, but feed on mussels, cockles and limpets.

bird oystercatcher