Tuesday 21 March
|The Mixed Black-headed Larus ridibunus and Mediterranean Gull Larus melancocephalus breeding colony|
The forecast suggested very early morning shower followed by more showers later in the morning. Therefore, awake early and out of the house just after 7 to visit Hayling Island and catch the incoming tide. Dull and cloudy for my time at Hayling Island but starting in the car park with scores of Black-tailed Godwits, Redshank, Dunlin and Black-headed Gulls I made my way to the "Billy Line" and on down to the neighbouring old oysterbeds.
|Black-tailed Godwit Limosa limosa|
The initial walk provided me with a number of Woodpigeon, Carrion Crows and Magpie plus a male Blackbird on the bank of the first pond to my left. On the oysterbeds themselves I soon noted numerous Brent Geese along with few Shelduck, Curlew and Dunlin. As I left the old railway track to take the narrow path a couple of Chiffchaff, Greenfinch and Blue Tit were observed. Ere long I also added both Oystercatcher and a couple of Grey Plover.
|Black-headed Gulls Larus ridibundus|
The loud noise of the hundreds of Black-headed and Mediterranean Gulls on the breeding colony was heard well before reaching the site where, I estimate, there must have been at least 300 of the former and certainly more than 50 of the latter, albeit it was too cold to stop and make a more definitive count. Whereas the Black-headed birds seemed to be spread far and wide, the group of Mediterranean Gulls concentrated on one particular area at the north of the breeding site.
|Mediterranean Gulls Larus melancocephalus|
But not just the gulls. A Cormorant had overflown me and was now fishing in the waters to the left of the colony and within a few metres a pair of Red-breasted Mergansers were drifting along. Shame not better weather to throw more light on the birds. And on the opposite side of the colony I was also to find a pair of Little Grebe. meanwhile, immediately behind me, I turned to find a Song Thrush perched on the top of one of the bramble bushes. Leaving the colony behind me I ventured out to the sea wall to scan the main harbour and eventually found the long-staying Long-tailed Duck amidst the choppy, dull water with a mixture of resting and diving for food.
|Male Red-breasted Merganser Mergus serrator|
back at the car and changing out of my walking boots a short, sharp shower arrived but I was already sitting in he car so no problem. However, with it being only 9.15 and looking a little brighter, I mad the decision to stop at nearby Farlington Marshes (on the other side of the harbour) on the way home and a very profitable 90 minutes it turned out to be in the ever improving weather and much brighter then forecast.
The tide was now almost in but a few Brent Geese, Carrion Crows and an Oystercatcher were below me as I parked the car to walk straight to the closed Visitors Centre. Woodpigeons, Magpie and Black-headed Gulls were added to the new list of species seen on the day. Once at the Visitors Centre I was able to check the river on the opposite side having first recorded a number of Moorhen, Little Egret and a cock Pheasant of the motorway side of the track.
|Cock Pheasant Phasianus colchicus|
The lagoon in front of me held a pair of Mute Swans along with a number of both Mallard and Teal.
|Mute Swans Cygnus olor with Black-tailed Godwits Limosa limosa|
Eight Black-tailed Godwits and a single Redshank were resting at the right-hand side and a Pied Wagtail seemed to demand attention as it flitted around the area. Also present a number of Coot plus more Moorhens along with a pair of Little Grebe before I found the quartet of Gadwall. But more noticeable was the quintet of Avocet.
|Avocets Recurvirostra avosetta|
With the main track not looking too bad I decided to continue up to the sea wall before returning to the car. Reaching the first bend having noted the Blackbird in the way, I stopped to admire the Meadow Pipit that landed close to me on the field to my right and then, on the opposite side, not only many more Brent but also a score of Canada Geese. Flying around to my right a number of Lapwing and many more Canada Geese were noted.
|Brent Geese Branta bernicla|
At the back of the next field I found a very large number of resting Shelduck whist to my left the field held many resting/feeding Black-headed but with also at least a score of Mediterranean Gulls. With more time to check these gulls I also noted the few Lapwing and Curlew that were feeding amongst them. Overhead a male Kestrel hovered and lone Heron flew across the field to the back.
|Meadow Pipit Anthus pratensis|
So back to the car park but then decided to walk along the sea wall to the mirador so checking both the bushes and the fields and rivers to my right. A Robin and a pair of Greenfinches were quickly added and many more Brent Geese recorded. On the river I then counted a further 25 Avocets plus more Teal, a second Little Egret and more Carrion Crows and Woodpigeon. Before turning for the return walk to the car park, a pair of Meadow Pipits flew out to the harbour and back with one alighting on the bush below me to give a good photo opportunity. And so this last minute additional walk added a total of 31 species with Avocets the special bird at this site. Home just after 11 in time for a shower before lunch and the afternoon's dance and a final total of 40 species for the morning. Most enjoyable.
|Distant Greenfinch Carduelis chloris|
Canada Goose, Brent Goose, Mute Swan, Shelduck, Gadwall, Mallard, Teal, Red-breasted Merganser, Long-tailed Duck, Pheasant, Little Grebe, Cormorant, Little Egret, Heron, Kestrel, Moorhen, Coot, Oystercatcher, Avocet, Lapwing, Grey Plover, Dunlin, Black-tailed Godwit, Curlew, Redshank, Black-headed Gull, Mediterranean Gull, Herring Gull, Woodpigeon, Meadow Pipit, Pied Wagtail, Robin, Blackbird, Song Thrush, Chiffchaff, Blue Tit, Magpie, Carrion Crow, Starling, Greenfinch.
|Moorhen Gallinula chloropus|
|Song Thrush Turdus philomelos|
|Gull colony with Mediterranean Gulls Larus melancocephalus at the very far end|