Thursday, 16 April 2015

Titchfield Haven on the Solent, UK

Monday 13 April

Jay Garrulus glandarius
My one "free" day whilst on the family rounds and before attending my graduation ceremony at Winchester cathedral so took myself off for a few hours at relatively nearby Titchfield Haven Reserve at the mouth of the river Meon at Hill Head on Southampton Water.  The day started calm and bright with a light cloud cover which gradually dispersed to become very warm, sunny  and most pleasant.  Parking the car on the sea front to make my way back to the public entrance I could already see, never mind hear, the screams of the hundreds of Black-headed Gulls on the reserve.  A number of Mallard were paddling on the beach side in the small "harbour" along with at least dozen Turnstone and a single Common Sandpiper.  This area also held a handful of Mute Swans.  Similarly, as I approached the entrance gate with a closer view of the nearby water I was able to see a pair of Black Swans gliding their way past the reeds.
Turnstone  Arianria interpres

Given that the tide was out and still at least a coupe of hours before the turn, I paid my entry fee and took the warden's advice setting off along the eastern pathway with an initial stop at the free hide Cottage Hide.
Hundreds of breeding Black-headed Gulls Larus ridibundus present

My first Robin merely sat in a nearby bush almost within hands reach and once settle in the hide another kept me company for the next twenty minutes or so.  No shortage of feeding Reed Buntings, House Sparrows and Dunnocks along with regular visits from the feeding resident Wood Pigeons and the arrival of a hen Pheasant.  After the Greenfinch dispersed I left the hide to enter the reserve proper but not before finding one, followed by a second then third small Brown (or Common) Rat Rattus norvegicus taking the opportunity to pick up scraps dropping from the seed hoppers.

Greenfinch Carduelis chloris
Hen Pheasant Phasinanus colchicus
Common Rat Rattus norvegicus
A stop to locate a Wren and then on towards the Suffern Hide where I picked up Shelduck, Coot, Mallard and Gadwall.  The boggy area just after I rejoined the main path was obviously popular as a drinking hole and I was far from disappointed when a Jay hove into sight and proceeded to take on water.  Blackbirds flitted in and out of the bushes along with more Wrens and Robins and so to the Meadow Hide where I was able to watch the local Canada Geese and a small number of lapwing.  A single Little Egret was located along with a handful of Teal and a group of a dozen Cormorant sunning themselves on a fence post.  I could hear the continuous waffle of at least one Green Woodpecker and a another Jay flew in front of me as I let the hide along with a pair of Crows.

Having taken water on board time for the Jay Garrulus glandarius to rest a while
The Knights Bank Hide, the last on the east side, produced more Lapwings and Magpies along with Common Starlings and distant Cormorants and over-flying Back-headed Gulls.  So started the return journey to the road where a stop gave clear views of a male Blackcap working the tree canopy.  I called in once more at the Suffern Hide and obtained close views of a pair of Great Crested Grebes and a couple of Redshank on the far side.  A single Shoveler worked its way downstream and a pair of Shelduck were also present.

Preening Shoveler Anas clypeata
Similarly, whilst the Rats might have disappeared at the Cottage Hide all the other species were still present along  with a couple of Blue Tits.  What also impressed me along this pathway was the number of beautiful male Brimstone butterflies on the wing.

Common Starling Sturnus vulgaris

Male Reed Bunting Emberiza schoeniclus

Walking back to the car the same birds were also still in the tiny harbour and so into the western side of the reserve. The Meon Shore Hide is immediately in front of the main breeding area overlooking a shallow pool and was inundated with Black-headed Gulls.  Also present were a few Teal and Mallards along with a small number of feeding Black-tailed Godwits.  On my left a couple of Oystercatchers added to the individual seen on the sea-shore with the herring Gull and a first Moorhen of the day.

Black-tailed Godwit  Limosa limosa
A stop at the West Hide confirmed that Moorhen were present but little else so I continued to the Pumfrett Hide overlooking the many Black-headed Gulls and more.  First, a handful of Black-tailed Godwits then a small number of Avocets.  Having seen a couple of Herring Gulls on the shingle beach before entering this side of the reserve, I now had views of a trio of Yellow-legged Gulls.  With time pressing on I decided to head back to my brother-in-law's bungalow and as I left the hide a female Kestrel took off from the nearby tree.
One of a small number of Avocets Recurvirostra avosetta

All in all, a most successful and pleasant morning's birding and a total 39 species recorded.

Male Blackbird Turdus merula showing the odd white feather

Birds seen:
Canada Goose, Mute Swan, Black Swan, Shelduck, Gadwall, Mallard, Shoveler, Teal, Pheasant, Great Crested Grebe, Cormorant, Little Egret, Kestrel, Moorhen, Coot, Avocet, Oystercatcher, Lapwing, Black-tailed Godwit, Redshank, Common Sandpiper, Turnstone, Black-headed Gull, Herring Gull, Yellow-legged Gull, Wood Pigeon, Green Woodpecker, Dunnock, Wren, Robin, Blackbird, Blackcap, Jay, Magpie, Crow, Common Starling, House Sparrow, Greenfinch, Reed Bunting.

Dunnock  Prunella modularis

Lapwing  Vanellus vanellus

Check out the accompanying website at for the latest sightings, photographs and additional information.

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