Friday, 17 November 2017

Warsash Wader Welcome

Black-headed Gull Larus ridibundus uninterested in Turnstones [*]
Friday 17 November

Yesterday mid-morning I was departing Malaga airport at a temperature approaching 25C.  This morning I looked out of the window at 9.30 local time to see clear blue skies and a lovely sun shine down on Warsash, situated at the mouth of Hamble river in Hampshire where it meets Southampton Water.  Then I looked at the white rental car and remembered that I had driven a grey Volvo 40 from Bournemouth airport so had o resort to scraping off the ice before I could undertake, what I thought, would be less than an hour's birding at nearby Titchfield Haven, about fifteen minutes away and overlooking Southampton near its site on the mouth off the River Meon where it, too, meets Southampton water.  The tide was just about full in so a case of checking out the pools on the other side of the road and a walk along to the reserve where I was able to spend about fifteen of the allotted minutes in the free hide before setting off to visit my parents' grave in West End and undertake the necessary shopping.

Male Mallard Anas platyrhynchos.  [*]
A pair of Magpies as I neared my parking spot on the road overlooking sea and the reserve pools on the opposite side of the road.  Nothing on the seaward side but a number of Black-headed Gull easily picked out on the main pool adjacent to the road.  Taking advantage of the viewing point I soon added both Coot and Moorhen along with a single Little Grebe and a few Mallards.  A trio of Shelduck drifted into sight with a quartet of Gadwall whilst both Common Starlings and Cormorants passed overhead.  As I looked down at the low bushes in front of me a Wren was scurrying about in the vegetation.  From here I walked along the road to the Visitors Centre noting the adult and juvenile Mute Swans in the small harbour.  Similarly, there were a couple Little Egrets moving between this pool and the larger pools on the reserve itself.

Entering the Cottage Hide I was welcomed by a fellow birder who stated that the previous visitors had seen a Reed Bunting.  After a short talk he left to have his breakfast and within a minute a female Marsh Harrier moved along the far reeds in front of the hide and back quartering for her breakfast.  And to add insult to injury, a female Reed Bunting came to visit on the feeders where she was shortly joined by the local House Sparrows and a couple of Blue Tits.  Next a female Pheasant wandered out from the bushes to feed on the dropped seed from the feeders above.  Numerous Woodpigeons were moving about in and above the nearby woods before I also managed to record both Robin and Dunnock before departing.

The walk back to the car produced a single Pochard in the harbour feeding alongside the Mallards whilst a total of 37 Turnstone were resting up on the fence above the harbour wall with a couple of Black-headed Gulls.  A Ringed Plover was working the beach and a final observation from the roadside viewing point found a couple of Sandwich Terns resting on the island below me as a Heron was seen in the distance.

A few of the 37 Turnstones Arenaria interpret on the harbour wall. [*]
And that was it as I concluded my, less than an hour, visit to undertake the necessary visits and jobs.  But all was not lost, as returning back to Warsash at 2.30 Chris and Jenny were preparing the a walk along the embankment track at the nearby Hamble River.  What a change.  Still a beautiful day but the temperature gradually dropping as we arrived and immediate recorded our first Greenshank closely followed by both Curlew and Whimbrel.  No shortage of either Black-headed Gulls or Redshanks as we slowly made our way up river.

There was now a considerable mud bank to the river and the tide having receded there were some lovely mud flats on the opposite side of he path.  Lots and lots of waders and ducks to be seen as we moved along plus Little Egret and Cormorant.  Just the occasional Ringed Plover and one Oystercatcher but then a score or more of Black-tailed Godwits.  Then we found the ducks, Gadwall at first followed by numerous Wigeon and Teal.  A path side might of a couple of female Stonechats was rather lovely.  On the mudflats two dozen feeding Shelduck and yet more Teal and Wigeon.

Regular sightings of individual Curlew and a few more Greenshank along with the ever-present Black-tailed Godwits before we found our special flock, a resting 25 Golden Plover.  And we even had a couple of Grey Plover to add to the mix along with a pair of Lapwing.  At this latter site we were pleased to welcome both a handful of Sanderling and a couple Dunlin.  A closer look at some of the pools on the river side revealed a handful of Herring Gull and even a single Common Gull.

Having watched the movement of the large number of Woodpigeons above the trees beyond the mudflats we found a couple of Heron and then, with the sun setting and nearly down to roof tops, we continued our return journey home.  Now it was away from the "water birds" as a lone Jackdaw headed back to the woods from the riverside and drew our attention to the gathering Starlings and a pair of Carrion Crow.  On a grassy bank on the muddy a beach a pair of Meadow Pipits landed and showed very well whilst in a bush to our left our final bird revealed itself as a Dunnock.

The attentive reader by now will have noted that there has been no mention of Greylag Goose, Blackbird, Collared Dove and Pied Wagtail, obviously birds saving themselves for a new day.  But a final count of 43 species for what was, in theory, just going to be an hour's birding was most rewarding.

[*]  No big camera on this occasion, just the little pocket Nikon.

Birds seen:
Mute Swan, Shelduck, Wigeon, Gadwall, Mallard, Teal, Pochard, Little Grebe, Cormorant, Little Egret, Heron, Marsh Harrier, Moorhen, Coot, Oystercatcher, Ringed Plover, Golden Plover, Grey Plover, Lapwing, Sanderling, Dunlin, Curlew, Whimbrel, Black-tailed Godwit, Greenshank, Redshank, Turnstone, Black-headed Gull, Common Gull, Herring Gull, Sandwich Tern, Woodpigeon, Meadow Pipit, Wren, Dunnock, Robin, Stonechat, Blue Tit, Jackdaw, Crow, Common Starling, House Sparrow, Reed Bunting.


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