Wednesday 12 October 2022

Farlington Marshes, Langstone Harbour

 Tuesday 11 October

First full day back in the UK so nothing like getting back "on the bike" and restarting birding the area.  A beautiful clear, calm and sunny start to the day so straight to Farlington Marshes at the northern end of Langstone Harbour near Portsmouth to walk a 6km anti-clockwise circuit with a low, penetrating sun.  Just over a couple of hours later back to the car having recorded 49 species without the aid of a scope and including some lovely birds, especially the Bearded Tits (Reedlings if you prefer) and noting the scores of Brent Geese, Teal and Redshanks.  Indeed, there were almost as many small birds in the large mixed flock of Goldfinches and Linnets.

Linnet Carduelis cannabina

A Magpie as I parked the car and once on the harbour wall a number of Black-headed Gulls and a couple of Carrion Crow on the mudflats. Looking out over the exposed shore I could see scores of Brent Geese and almost the same number of Redshank.  In addition, very many Teal and then individual waders such as Curlew, Dunlin and Greenshank.

Feeding Teals Anas crecca

To my left in the bushes and shrubs both Goldfinches and Linnets along with a one Greenfinch and then the sight of the large flock of Canada Geese resting on the inland grass along with a big, fat, white domestic goose, what you might call a "Christmas goose!"  On the water side a few Mallards and Wigeon.  Stopping to check out the nearby lagoon on the inland side a large flock of Black-tailed Godwit and a distant Bearded Tit skimming across the reed tops.  Also present both Little Grebe and Little Egret.  Beyond the pool a Kestrel was feeding atop a fence post.

The later Kestrel Falco tinnunculus

Moving on round the first bend I noted a number of Cormorant on the water and the little streams leading to the low water also held a few Pintail with more further away from the shore.  

Pintail Anas acuta

Moving on I picked up my first Heron of the morning and then a couple of Robin atop a bramble bush before also noting more Linnets and a number of Dunnock.  Beyond a small stream a quartet of feeding Moorhen then more Dunnocks and a Cetti's Warbler. Whilst there were more waders including Ringed Plover on the eastern side of the reserve looking towards Hayling Island there were also both Cormorants and Little Egrets feeding on the mudflats. On the muddy lagoon on the inland side of the estuary wall a Pied Wagtail before noting the low passing Marsh Harrier

Cetti's Warbler Cettia cetti (below) with a Dunnock Prunella modularis

Just beyond this point I came across a large charm of Goldfinches, probably at least fifty, plus many Linnets feeding on the thistle seeds and drinking from the puddle on the path in front of me.  Meanwhile, on the field beyond the stream, I picked up a Yellowhammer and to its right, amongst the cattle, a pair of late Yellow Wagtails.  A pair of Wood Pigeons seemed to be watching all the activities and then the first of three Meadow Pipits was recorded.

Meadow Pipit Anthus pratensis (above) but who's that below?

Moving on both Bue Tits and Stonechats in the neighbouring bushes and trees and then on to the narrow path taking me to the (closed) Visitors Centre and route back to the car.  In the field to my right amongst the cattle no less than six Cattle Egret and a further two in the adjoining field.

Once at the lagoon in front of the Visitors Centre the sight of resting Coots and Teal along with both Lapwing and a single Stock Dove.  A Blackbird was seen at the edge of the path and having been informed I look across to the reed bed and saw a number of Bearded Tits skimming the tops along with a most handsome male that rested a short while, albeit a little distance away. Amongst the Meadow Pipits also a single Tree Pipit.

Distant record shot of the male Bearded Tit Panurus biarmicus

Rather than simply follow the path back to the car I decided to take an extended loop through the fields on my left to retrace my steps back along the harbour wall.  Further upstream in addition to more Coots and Moorhens I came across a handful of Shelduck, a visiting Great Tit in the tree in front of me and then another Kestrel resting atop a large, bare bush.  A few Herring Gulls making there was to the water then the stranger in our midst.  Stopping to look once again at the resting flock of Canada Geese noted on the outward journey I found a bird with an almost white head and presumed it to be a hybrid with a domestic goose.  Strange to relate, having regained the harbour wall to walk back I took another look at the large white goose only to discover a single Barnacle Goose which appeared to have been adopted, or vice versa, with said goose.

Canada Goose Branta canadensis with hybrid (seated)
Barnacle Goose Branta leucosis

And, I thought, that was just about it until I found another trio of Stonechat and then a family of Long-tailed Tits and even more in the tree next to the exit gate.  A most enjoyable morning and the sun was still shining and the big surprise was that a single Mute Swan was seen all morning.

Long-tailed Tit Aegithalos caudatus

Birds seen:

Brent Goose, Canada Goose, Barnacle Goose, Shelduck, Wigeon, Mallard, Teal, Pintail, Litle Grebe, Cormorant, Cattle Egret, Little Egret, Heron, Marsh Harrier, Kestrel, Moorhen, Coot, Ringed Plover, Grey Plover, Lapwing, Dunlin, Black-tailed Godwit, Curlew, Redshank, Greenshank, Black-headed Gull, Herring Gull, Stock Dove, Wood Pigeon, Meadow Pipit, Tree Pipit, Yellow Wagtail, Pied Wagtail, Dunnock, Robin, Stonechat, Blackbird, Cetti's Warbler, Bearded Tit, Long-tailed Tit, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Magpie, Carrion Crow, Starling, Greenfinch, Goldfinch, Linnet, Yellowhammer.

Carrion Crow Corvus corone

Dunnock Prunella modularis with Cetti's Warbler below

A tiny fraction of the Goldfinch Carduelis carduelis charm

Robin Erithacus rubecula

Shelduck Tadorna tadorna passing the Wigeon Anas oenelope

Curlew Numenius arquata

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