Thursday 7 December 2023

Warsash and Solent Shores

 Wednesday 6 December

Having had my thirty minute rest, I once more exited the house and headed down to the shore at Warsash to walk out to the Spit and along the Solent to the Meandering Pool before returning home.  A most enjoyable two-hour exercise and a good selection of birds as the water approached low tide.  Still a pale Sun but also the hint of a cold breeze even though the temperature had now climbed up to a magnificent 5 or 6C!

Once beyond the slipway a couple of Black-headed Gulls, Redshank and a small flock of about twenty Brent Geese. Passing the Strawberry Fields I noted the distant Carrion Crow in the trees at the top of the field whilst on the shore now many Redshank and a few Curlew and Oystercatchers.  Yet more Brent Geese.  Also noted the first of three Herring Gulls, a single Canada Goose and a couple of Grey Plovers.

Brent Geese Branta bernicla

Moving on beyond the School of Navigation pier, this exposed mud flat produced many more Brent Geese along with a very large flock of Dunlin.  A Kingfisher dashed across the shore in front of me and more scoping revealed Ringed Plover, a score of Turnstone, many Redshank, Oystercatchers and Grey Plover plus Curlew and Little Egret.  Even three Greenshank.

Continuing on towards the Spit a Moorhen crossed the narrow path in front of me and once out at the lee of the Spit even more Brent Geese and the main party of Wigeon, mainly resting on the banks and water's edge. As well as a couple or more Ringed Plovers, amongst the dozen or so Black-headed were three Common Gulls.  Looking out onto the Solent very many Carrion Crows and Oystercatchers on the exposed gravel along with a single Cormorant and on the water itself a couple of Great Crested Grebes.

Common Gull Larus canus

So on down to the Scrape recording both Robin and Blackbird as I passed through the small spinney, and then a pair of Stonechat on a bush approaching my destination . On the water forty Canada Geese along with a small number of both Mallard and Teal along with eight Pintail, and seven Shelduck.  Concealed at the back a couple of Snipe.

Pintail Anas acuta

Very little to see until I passed by the birdless gorse patch, albeit a couple of distant Magpies. Reaching the Meandering Pool more Snipe and a handful of Gadwall plus another Little Egret.  In the trees at the back a very small flock of resting Starlings atop a large tree and so to the return journey where a revisit to the Scrape produced both Little Grebe and a pair of Shoveler.  Continuing on back to the house with the tide now well out, most of the Dunlin had moved closer to the above mentioned pier but a Dunnock noted as I approached the School of Navigation and once back on the path between Strawberry Fields and the shore a trio of Robins and another couple of Stonechat.  Strange that no Black-tailed Godwits noted on either walk this morning.  Nevermind, "Where have all the flowers gone," where have all the godwits gone?

Birds seen:

Canada Goose, Brent Goose, Shelduck, Gadwall, Wigeon, Mallard, Shoveler, Teal, Pintail, Little Grebe, Great Crested Grebe, Cormorant, Little Egret, Moorhen, Oystercatcher, Ringed Plover, Grey Plover, Dunlin, Snipe, Curlew, Redshank, Greenshank, Turnstone, Black-headed Gull, Common Gull, Herring Gull, Great Black-backed Gull, Kingfisher, Dunnock, Robin, Stonechat, Blackbird, Magpie, Carrion Crow, Starling.

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Wednesday 6 December 2023

Lower Hamble River, Warsash

Curlew Numenius arquata

 Wednesday 6 December

A calm start with a little broken cloud with hazy sunshine and the forecast suggesting that this might be the only dry day of the week.  No surprise, therefore, that I was out of the house by 9 to take a walk up the Hamble River to the conservation area and back before returning home for a coffee and, all being well, setting off on the second walk of the morning in the opposite direction, as will be told later. With low tide at 11.30 it was perfect birding as the birds were still relatively close and the wonder of the double tide in Southampton water is that whilst it only takes three hours to fall, it takes double the time to return to the high water mark.

Ringed Plover Charadrius hiaticula

No sooner on the riverside path than both a Black-headed Gull and Little Egret feeding together which led to me finding both Redshank and Ringed Plover with a lone Heron watching over the proceedings before reaching the ferry access. Just beyond the first of the Turnstones along with the first of the Wigeon of the morning.  Even more Wigeon at the first bay along with  Herring Gull, Curlews and Grey Plovers. A shame that the low, bright sun prevented better photographs.

Wigeon Anas penelope

Moving round the bend I came across the feeding flock of approximately 120 Dunlin accompanied by another Curlew and a few more Grey Plovers.  On the water itself a trio of Little Grebe and on the far bank a dozen resting Teal.  Meanwhile, on the meadows on the other side of the path, a pair of Greenshank, a few more Redshank and yet more Grey Plovers.

Dunlin Calidris alpina
Hundred plus Dunlin Calidris alpina and the lone Curlew Numenius arquata

Having come across another large flock of Dunlin I also found a couple of Oystercatchers on the inland side of the path and at the water's edge the fist of the two score Brent Geese I was to see during the walk.

Brent Geese Branta bernicla

Once I reached the conservation area I found a very large flock of resting Wigeon along with another Little Egret and Greenshank plus a few Black-headed Gulls.  A Cormorant was resting atop a post as I arrived.

Little Egret Egretta garzetta

It was as I made my back along the path that I first saw the Carrion Crows and almost immediately a single Magpie and eighteen Woodpigeons in the trees at the back of the meadow.  On the large muddy waste of the meadow a trio of Shelduck seemed to be sleeping as they awaited the returning tide.

Teal Anas crecca with Grey Plover Pluvialis squatarola behind

Birds seen:

Brent Goose, Shelduck, Wigeon, Teal, Little Grebe, Cormorant, Little Egret, Heron, Oystercatcher, Ringed Plover, Grey Plover, Dunlin, Curlew, Redshank, Greenshank, Turnstone, Black-headed Gull, Herring Gull, Woodpigeon, Magpie, Carrion Crow.

Grey Plover Pluvialis squatarola

Heron Ardea cinerea

Turnstone Arenaria interpres

Little Grebe Tachybaptus ruficollis

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Rambla de Almanzora & Vera Playa

 Wednesday 6 December

What a fabulous morning's birding was achieved by Dave and his Arboleas Birding Group.  His 50 species was far more then my 37 species this morning when out birding along the nearby river and coast - albeit we both saw many of the same birds.  Lots of "Spanish" birds to bring back happy memories such as the White-headed Duck and Iberian Grey Shrike but then, of course even the Black Redstart is somewhat of a scarcity over here in the UK.  Maybe made up with the hundreds of Brent Geese and all those Oystercatchers seen by me this morning, nevermind feeding flocks of Carrion Crows totalling over three score!   Interesting that we should both record Kingfisher, Grey Plover, Greenshank and, both, just the single pair of Shoveler.  Great birding one and all.

Rambla de Almanzora & Vera Playa: Wednesday 6th December

The ground was damp as I left home after an overnight shower.  With the new dual carriageway from Arboleas to the Bellabona service station on the A7/E15, it didn't take me long to get to the Desert Springs golf complex end of the Rambla de Almanzora.  On the power lines I saw some Woodpigeons and a Magpie.  There was water in the first weir which provided a temporary home for some Mallard, a pair of Black-winged Stilts and a Moorhen.  Further along there were a series of shallow pools.  The first contained some more Mallard and 14 Teal.  A Chiffchaff flitted in the shrubs.  The next pool had another 10 Teal.  On the waters edge were a pair of White Wagtail and a Meadow Pipit.  The star bird was a solitary Lapwing as well as a Green Sandpiper. 

Lapwing (PHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)

On the power line was a pair of Iberian Grey Shrikes.  Also seen were a Blackbird, Jackdaw, and House Sparrow.  As I approached the ford I spotted a female Marsh Harrier not 10 metres from me, perched on the reeds.  I managed to stop before it flew off.  Unsurprisingly there was nothing on the pool.

Iberian Grey Shrike (PHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)

I parked at the meeting point and waited for the others to arrive.  I saw about half a dozen Woodpigeons on the power line near the bridge.  A Cormorant flew past along the distant beach.  Richard and Peter arrived.  They had seen a Stonechat and a Song Thrush.  A Collared Dove and a Grey Heron flew by. After Alan arrived we did a slow walk towards the sewage works.  There was a Spotless Starling on the factory roof.  After Richard had about turned we reached the small pools.  There were two Common Sandpipers on the waters edge.  A Grey Wagtail flew off.  On the large pool we had Common Pochard, a pair of Shoveler and more Mallard.  We returned to the vehicles where Richard had added a Robin and a Carrion Crow.

We made our way to the beach where 6 Cormorants were on the harbour rocks.  Out to sea Richard found some Yellow-legged Gulls.  Alan saw some Greenfinch and a Black Redstart (not out to sea!).
We adjourned to the village for a coffee.  I spotted some egrets coming into land beyond a stone wall. Having finished our coffees, we checked it out.  Beyond the wall was a small area of reeds in a depression.  Eventually I spotted some Cattle Egrets there.

We drove to the far side of the estuary.  A Grey Heron was on sentry duty below us.  There were numerous Coot swimming around.  A Little Egret was on the far bank.  Alan found a large wader.  There were dreams of Marsh Sandpiper, but we eventually concluded it was a first winter Greenshank.  I found a Grey Plover as well as a small feeding group of little waders...Dunlin, Ringed and Kentish Plover.  Alan added a Turnstone and a Sanderling.  Alan spotted a perched Kingfisher as another one flew past, seen by Richard.  He also saw a Goldfinch.

Grey Heron (PHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)

En route to the dual carriageway behind Vera Playa, Alan added a Black Wheatear.  There, we were joined by Jacky.  Scanning the shallow waters and mudflats below us we saw numerous Greater Flamingos, Moorhen, Coots, Shovelers and Mallards.  There were a few Teal as well.  We added Avocet and numerous Crag Martins.  I saw a Redshank fly in.  Alan had Little Grebe and Shelduck.  A flock of gulls arrived which contained both Black-headed and Mediterranean Gulls.  Peter and Richard saw a Great Crested Grebe.  I unexpectedly discovered a single Spoonbill.  Richard and Peter made for the far elevated viewing hide as Jacky, Alan and I went to the first.  We saw our first White-headed Duck of the day.  We heard a Cetti's Warbler.  A low flying wader turned out to be a Snipe, but the biggest surprise was seeing 5 Barn Swallows perched on a shrub just below us.  As we could only just see them through the vegetation there was no chance of a record shot!

Spoonbill (PHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)

Well, what a mornings birding.  We ended up with an incredible 58 total.  Amazing!  Thanks for the enjoyable company.  Best wishes to the Greens, Peter 2 and Kath.

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Saturday 2 December 2023

Oxley Marsh and Normandy Lagoon circuit

Distant Spoonbills Platalea leucorodia through the mist 

Saturday 2 December

Very cold at -2C when I set off for the Hampshire Ornithological Trust (HOS) meet at Oxey Marsh and Normandy Lagoon but still and dry albeit much fog which was to last the full four hours of our circuit from the The Salterns siling Club, around Oxey Marsh and on to a circuit of Normandy Lagoon.  Needless to say, the camera stayed firmly in my rucksack for most of the walk and those few photographs taken reflected the low lying fog.  Indeed, looking out over the Solent towards the Isle of Wight it was difficult to see more then fifty metres never mind the relatively close island!  Arriving by ten o'clock I joined up with the other ten members present and we set off on our four mile circuit under the leadership, once again, of that ever cheerful, enthusiastic and knowledgeable member, Ian packer.

The distant flock of Avocet Recurvirostra avosetta on Normandy Lagoon

I had already noted both Pied Wagtail and a Redwing as I approached the site followed by a foraging Robin on the opposite side of the road as I changed my footwear but little else, other than a Magpie and a Great Tit until we reached the far end of the pool holding the Salterns Sailing Club.  Here, a couple of Mallard and a small number of Wigeon before we took the path on our left and followed the creek to the Solent shore. A Little Egret flew over and in the creek both a Redshank and a pair of Teal. Stopping on the main path towards the shore we recorded a selection of small birds including Greenfinch, Dunlin, Blackbird and Wren before paying closer attention tote very large mixed flock of geese, probably in excess of 100 Brent plus twenty Canada and a couple of Greylags. feeding amongst the Brent Geese at least forty Black-tailed Godwits and a little further away a couple of Curlew.  In addition to a pair of Stonechats, this path also produced at least four of the dozen Robins that we to see during the early part of the walk. A Pintail flew over and in the pools to either side more Wigeon and a pair of Mute Swans to our right.

Pintail Anas acuta

Once on the coastal path and heading eastwards, a couple of Turnstone then more Redshank, Wigeon, Teal and Mallards along with regular sightings of Little Egret.  A pair of Greenshank below us was a great sighting along with a Kingfisher which spent much time dashing up and down the creek below us.  And no sooner than the Great Black-backed Gull had flown over we were rewarded with the first sighting of our Spotted Redshank. Even better views later on and the added bonus of having it accompanied by a close Common Redshank so giving excellent views to compare size, bills, plumage, etc. Also present were a few Black-headed Gulls, Cormorant and Oystercatchers.

Spotted Redshank Tringa erythropus

Crossing the creek and on to Eight Acre Pond we added more Turnstone and then a number of Dunlin plus more Redshanks and Wigeon. On the pond itself we noted ten Little Grebe, Coot, a Heron, Carrion Crow and a calling Cetti's Warbler.  Even a lone Woodpigeon put in an appearance.

Common Redshank Tringa totanus

And so to Normandy Lagoon where we found the water well stocked with a great variety of birdlife.  Lots of Wigeons and Pintails along with Mallard, a large flock of Shoveler, Little Egrets and Redshanks.  But then the specials.  First a trio of Red-breasted Mergansers along with half  dozen Shelduck and a score or more distant Avocets.  Having found the pair of Spoonbill a couple of the group managed to find the reported female Goosander and at the far end not only a return of our Spotted Redshank but more Kingfishers and a couple of Snipe.  We also saw a couple of Herring Gulls and a few Cormorant and as we made our start to return to the cars the female Goldeneye was once more seen at closer quarters along with an overflying Lapwing to take of day's total species up to 49.  Now id I hear right that one of the group also noted a Long-tailed Tit near the start of the walk to make a round fifty?

Views of our Red-breasted Merganser Mergus serrator

An excellent morning's birding in great company  with excellent recordings and just a shame that the fog did not lift to give clearer views.

Mute Swan Cygnus olor with Wigeon Anas penelope

Birds seen:

Greylag Goose, Canada Goose, Brent Goose, Mute Swan, Shelduck, Wigeon, Mallard, Shoveler, Teal. Pintail, Goldeneye, Red-breasted Merganser, Little Grebe, Great Crested Grebe, Cormorant, Little Egret, Heron, Spoonbill, Coot, Oystercatcher, Avocet, Lapwing, Dunlin, Snipe, Back-tailed Godwit, Curlew, Spotted Redshank, Common Redshank, Greenshank, Turnstone, Black-headed Gull, Herring Gull, Great Black-backed Gull, Woodpigeon, Kingfisher, Pied Wagtail, Wren, Dunnock, Robin, Stonechat, Blackbird, Redwing, Cetti's Warbler, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Magpie, Carrion Crow, Greenfinch.

Black-headed Gull Larus ridibundus

Shelduck Tarorna tadorna

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Friday 1 December 2023

Lower Hamble River

Greenshank Tringa nebularia

Friday 1 December

Should have been in bed as not feeling too well but the sun was shining and early morning coincided with an incoming tide on the Hamble River. So, what you might call stupid birding as I put on extra layers from top to bottom and ventured out of the house just after ten. (Good job nobody else was at home!) Extremely cold and still at -2C following a severe overnight frost and biting cold on the fingers but, as I crossed the road outside a "honking" Canada Goose flew over the road looking for the rest of its flock.  Reaching the nearby riverside walk than I was greeted by an incoming handful of Turnstone plus Redshank and Black-tailed Godwit. Ere long I added resting Wigeon, Teal and Cormorant along with feeding Curlew and both Grey and Ringed Plovers. Naturally there was a feeding Little Egret and, probably best of all, as I walked up the path a Rock Pipit took off from almost below my feet.

Curlew Numenius arquata (Left) and Grey Plover Pluvialis squatarola

Lovely to see the large feeding flock of Dunlin and out on the open water a Great Crested Grebe. A Carrion Crow flew across the water close to the shore and behind me, in the neighbouring trees, the only Magpie of the morning.

A few of the Dunlin Calidris alpina

A pair of Oystercatchers and a lone, immature Herring Gull were at the edge of the flat flood plain but realising how cold my hands were and still not safe on my feet, I decided I ought to be sensible and turned back for home rather than carry on up to the conservation area.  The return journey saw me notice the small group of Teal sheltering under the back awaiting the incoming tide and a second Grey Plover recorded on a mudflat to the left of the path.
The resting Teal Anas crecca
As I approached the car park and hoe my one and only Woodpigeon of the morning.  One consolation of the cold weather was, would you believe it, not a singe dog walker seen and less than a handful of brave walkers out in the still frosty conditions!
Wigeon Anas penelope

Birds seen:

Brent Goose, Canada Goose, Wigeon, Teal, Great Crested Grebe, Cormorant, Little Egret, Oystercatcher, Ringed Plover, Grey Plover, Dunlin, Black-tailed Godwit, Curlew, Redshank, Greenshank, Turnstone, Black-headed Gull, Herring Gull, Woodpigeon, Magpie, Carrion Crow, Rock Pipit.

Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo with a number of Wigeon Anas penelope

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Wednesday 29 November 2023

Warsash and Solent Shore

Wednesday 29 November

Jobs sorted and the sun actually shining albeit cold and cloudy outside, I decide to take a walk along the Warsash shore and on down to Southampton Water and the Solent.  The water was barely thirty minutes away from high tide so some very close Brent Geese, Redshanks and Turnstones as I made my way to the path alongside Strawberry Fields.  An as soon as I reached the first bushes a small number of feeding House Sparrows and a male Blackbird on the footpath ahead.  Overhead the first of very many Carrion Crows and a lone Greenfinch atop a distant tree.

Brent Geese Branta bernicla

Continuing on down to the School of Navigation a Robin or two in the nearby shrubs and bushes and a foraging Magpie whilst on the water itself the first Little Egret and a couple of Black-headed Gulls. Looking across to the Spit I could see a lone heron and many more Brent Geese as a dozen Canada Geese flew over me.  Once nearer the spit and with the sun behind me, I counted ninety resting Oystercatchers along with a few Wigeon and Teal plus a dozen Redshank.  However, it was the resting half-dozen Curlew that caught e attention.  On the open water out in the Solent a single feeding Black-throated Diver.

A few of the Wigeon Anas penelope

Reaching the Scrape I was surprised to see so few birds taking their rest during the high tide period.  Just a few Black-headed and a single Herring Gull along with six Shelduck, a Little Grebe, a trio of Mallard and hardly more than a handful of Teal.  A Moorhen made landfall on the larger island in front. Off the far left I found a few Gadwall but these were very much dwarfed by the twenty Canada Geese accompanied by a single Greylag Goose.  Then, right at the back of the water, I was able to pick out a half-dozen Snipe.

Distant Snipe Gallinago gallinago with a lone Teal Anas crecca

Moving on down to the Meandering Pool only produced a single Little Egret but in the trees to the back not only a single Woodpigeon and half a dozen roosting Starling but a score of sleeping Curlew in the back field.   But then, hidden away in the distant grass, a resting Roe Deer. Turning and making my way back home I came across a Kingfisher in the reeds to my right as I reached the Spit and then another Wren on the path as I approached Strawberry Fields.  Just the thirty species in almost three miles but good to be outside as the dry weather persisted with increasing cloud and a disappearing sun.

Record shot of the distant Roe Deer Capreolus capreolus

Birds seen:

Greylag Goose, Canada Goose, Brent Goose, Shelduck, Gadwall, Wigeon, Mallard, Teal, Little Grebe, Great Crested Grebe, Little Egret, Heron, Moorhen, Oystercatcher, Curlew, Snipe, Redshank, Turnstone, Black-headed Gull, Herring Gull, Woodpigeon, Kingfisher, Wren, Robin, Blackbird, Magpie, Carrion Crow, Starling, House Sparrow, Greenfinch.

Very distant Black-throated Diver Gavia arctica

Sleeping Curlew Numenius arquata

A few on the 90 Oystercatchers Haematopus ostralegus

Brent Geese and Wigeon in the lee of the Spit

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Cabo de Gata and Rambla Morales

 Wednesday 29 November

I note that Dave and his Arboleas Birding Group are back in my favourite Almeria birding site, Cabo de Gata; lucky people as I walk along the Solent shore at Warsash on Southampton Water in cold, cloudy weather, albeit the sun shining on the outward walk. A good selection of species seen and especially envious that I no longer see such birds as Iberian Grey Shrike and White-headed Duck.  You certainly need to enjoy these birds whilst they are around to be actually seen.

Cabo de Gata & Rambla Morales: Wednesday 29th November

Gilly and I set off early and headed south towards Cabo de Gata.  Our list began as we came off the motorway.  By the time we'd passed through Pujaire we'd logged Collared Dove, House Sparrow, Jackdaw, Magpie and both Spotless and Northern Starlings.

Kevin had already arrived at the first hide having spent the night in the campervan.  He'd seen a pair of Hoopoes near the tower.  From the hide he'd added Greater Flamingo, Redshank, Mallard, Dunlin, Black-winged Stilt, Avocet, Yellow-legged and Slender Billed Gulls.  He kindly made us a cup of man! 

Greater Flamingos with a few Slender-billed Gulls (PHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)

He spotted an Iberian Grey Shrike.  We scanned the water in front of us and saw what Kevin had seen. Gilly added a Kentish Plover.  We saw the first of many Stonechats.  I saw a Sardinian Warbler.  We were joined by Peter, Trevor and Val. Gilly found a distant raptor perched on a shrub.  We ummed and ah'd for a long time.  I thought it was a male Kestrel.  Unfortunately no one saw it fly off to confirm the identity. Whatever it was. it put 6 Eurasian Curlew to flight from the savannah.  Gilly logged a Chiffchaff.  A Grey Heron flew over.

Iberian Grey Shrike (PHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)

We had a coffee in the village then made our way to the beach opposite the second hide, checking for dotterel on the way without success.  Out to sea I spotted three adult Gannets.  As we walked over to the hide we saw Thekla Larks and some Greenfinch.  A flight of 4 Golden Plover flew over.  We didn't see any Stone Curlews on the savannah.  I did spot a single Barn Swallow.

We moved along to the public hide.  Kevin scanned the rocky causeway on the right and saw Shelduck, Lesser Black-backed and Black-headed Gulls.  I spotted a flock of flying Shoveler and a raft of Black-necked Grebes. Kevin found a Sanderling.  Gilly saw a Cormorant and Ringed Plover.  We departed via the church track seeing more Stonechats, Thekla Larks and Greenfinch.

The raft of Black-necked Grebes (PHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)

Peter headed off to Nijar whilst we made our way along the beachside track towards the Rambla Morales. 

We saw more Greenfinches and Stonechats.  At the estuary I spotted 5 Little Grebes and a Coot.  We walked towards the hump.  We saw a number of Greater Flamingos.  Near to them was a mixed raft of Common Pochard, Shoveler and White-headed Ducks.  From the hump I added a Moorhen and a Black-tailed Godwit. Trevor found some Dunlin.  We then departed, seeing a White Wagtail going through the short cut.

(From the top) Shoveler, Pochard and White-headed Ducks (PHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)

We saw 43 species in total.  A good days birding in good company.  Weather was hot & sunny, but was a bit chilly to start with.

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