Tuesday 24 January 2023

Meon Shore, Hill Head

 Tuesday 24 January

Eider Ducks Somateria mollissima with a lone Great Black-backed Gull Larus marinus

After all the recent frost and bitterly cold weather this morning was frost free but still cold and requiring a number of layers as, although no wind, the temperature felt like at least 1C and with a "murky" look the light was somewhat poor after the recent bright days.  Arriving on the cliff top overlooking the Solent at Hill Head just after 9.30 I was greeted by both Robin and Blackbird, quickly followed by Woodpigeon and Dunnock.  I then spent some time scoping the water and eventually found a yet-to-be flooded gravel island awaiting the incoming tide which was playing host to over twenty Eiders, mainly drakes, plus a Great Black-backed Gull and a few other species.  Also in the area a number of gulls and on this occasion more Herring than Black-headed Gulls

Ringed Plovers Charadrius hiaticula with a trio of Black-headed Gulls Larus ridibundus

Moving down the steps the coastal path I found more Black-headed Gulls but also very many waders.  The initial sighting of Oystercatchers and Redshank quickly gave way to over fifty Turnstone along with thirty Ringed Plovers, a number of Dunlin and a couple of Sanderling.

Sanderling Calidris alba (centre)

Then it was on to the Meon harbour itself where I found another forty plus Turnstone along with more than a score of Mallard plus the five Gadwall in the approach channel. Up on the pavement where a few Turnstones were foraging for dropped food a single, male Pied Wagtail was going about its business.

Pied Wagtail Motacilla alba

Across the road to check the Titchfield Haven Nature Reserve from the bridge I found the resident Kingfisher once again resting in the bushes below me.

Kingfisher Alcedo atthis

Away to the far right within the reserve a lone Marsh Harrier was quartering the site and nearer to me a couple of Shoveler. A better sighting from the the nearby viewing point confirmed more Canada Geese along with very many Teal and a handful of Lapwing.  A pair of both Moorhen and Coot ventured across the water in front of me whist the lone Heron remained posed on the opposite in front of the reeds.  Overhead with the tide approaching its summit a flock of forty plus Brent Geese flew in from the sea and headed up river into the reserve, no doubt making their way towards the upper Titchfield canal where I find so many.

Canada Geese Branta canadensis with (mainly) Teal Anas crecca and a few Lapwing Vanellus vanellus

Making my way back to the car I stopped to check the small area at the back of the Visitors Centre and found a number of both Blue and Great Tits along with Robin, Dunnock, MagpiesHouse Sparrow and a single female Greenfinch.  As I departed the area I cam across a flock of twenty Starlings.

Dunnock Prunella modularis

Time to spare so took the few hundred yards detour to check the area behind Titchfield canal car park.  No Yellow-browed Warbler or Chiffchaffs on this occasion but a number of Blue and Great Tits plus Robin and Blackbirds were seen.  Also present many of the ducks, waders and corvids already recorded plus a trio of Mute Swans, a handful of Cormorant and four Jackdaws.  Even the resident Barn Owl was still guarding its roost/nest site.  Finally, as I made my way from the village a Collared Dove.  The last is most strange as so very few are seen in the area compared to many towns and villages.  So a most eventful morning producing 40 species in about two hours.

Barn Owl Tyto alba

Birds seen:

Canada Goose, Brent Goose, Mute Swan, Wigeon, Gadwall, Mallard, Shoveler, Teal, Cormorant, Heron, Marsh Harrier, Moorhen, Coot, Oystercatcher, Ringed Plover, Lapwing, Sanderling, Dunlin, Redshank, Turnstone, Black-headed Gull, Great Black-backed Gull, Herring Gull, Rock Dove, Woodpigeon, Collared Dove, Barn Owl, Kingfisher, Pied Wagtail, Dunnock, Robin, Blackbird, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Magpie, Jackdaw, Carrion Crow, Starling, House Sparrow, Greenfinch.

Eider Ducks Somateria mollissima

Eider Ducks Somateria mollissima

Grey Heron Ardea cinerea

Black-headed Gulls with Turnstones Arenaria interpres and Ringed Plover
Black-headed Gull Larus ridibundus

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