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Important notice

See project paperwork regarding Pagham Harbour and Medmerry, such as minutes and dates of the local community forum, and management plan drafts.

Male and female wigeon swimming

Image: Andy Hay

Pagham Harbour is a glorious and peaceful nature reserve, one of the few undeveloped stretches of the Sussex coast, and an internationally important wetland site for wildlife.

It's a big, sheltered inlet that fills and empties with each tide, with wild ducks, geese and wading birds flighting to and fro. With a wealth of wildlife, beautiful landscapes, and a rich historical heritage, it is a great place to get away from it all.

There is something of interest all year round. Resident species include little egrets, ringed plovers and lapwings. In spring and autumn, all sorts of migrant birds pass through. In the summer, lapwings and little terns breed, and butterflies flit along the hedgerows, dragonflies patrol the ponds, and lizards bask in the sun.

Autumn and winter brings a waterbird spectacle, with up to 20,000 ducks, geese and waders feeding and roosting across the reserve, including large numbers of brent geese and pintails. There is a small Visitor Centre with car park and toilets, and long walks around the harbour edge to the sea.

In January 2012, the RSPB took over the day-to-day management of the site from West Sussex County Council, who remain a very important partner, helping to fund this large and complex site. As you can imagine, we have much to do to help the team that we are inheriting from the Council settle in to RSPB ways of working, and to begin to seek ways to gently improve some of the facilities and service, but the reserve is very much open for 'business as usual'. We hope to see you soon!

Opening times

Sidlesham Ferry and Church Norton car parks are open at all times. The Visitor Centre is open from 10 am to 4 pm.

Entrance charges

It's free but we'd love it if you made a donation.

If you are new to birdwatching...

With its variety of habitats, many charismatic species, and regular birdwatching workshops as part of the events programme, Pagham Harbour is great for those new to birdwatching.

Information for families

Pagham Harbour offers a wide range of events and activities suitable for families all year round, including pond dipping, bug hunts, art and craft activities, beach beastie hunts, nature trails, seasonal themed events, and our popular family event Marine Madness held in August, celebrating our marine environment. There are also regular drop-in events held during the school holidays.

Information for dog owners

Dogs are welcome; however, under local bylaws they must be kept on leads in most areas. Areas are provided where dogs are allowed to be off lead if under control. Please follow advice on information discs around the site.


Pagham Harbour is a fantastic home for nature, helped by the tremendous support of many individuals, groups and organisations. In addition to RSPB members and supporters, local community members and a tireless team of volunteers, we would particularly like to thank the following organisations for their financial support:

  • Friends of Pagham Harbour
  • LIFE financial instrument of the European Union, specifically its Little Tern Recovery Project
  • Natural England through Defra
  • Sussex Ornithological Society
  • West Sussex County Council
Friends of Pagham Harbour
Sussex Ornithological Soc
West Sussex County Council

For more information

Contact us

Contact us

Where is it?

  • Lat/lng: 50.763115,-0.785525
  • Postcode: PO20 7NE
  • Grid reference: SZ857966
  • Nearest town: Chichester, West Sussex
  • County: West Sussex
  • Country: England

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School visits