Friday 11 August 2023

Farlington Marshes

 Friday 11 August

With friend Richard Osman to Farlington Marshes for the morning arriving in time for a 9.50 clockwise circuit of the reserve. Somewhat dull and cloudy with just a gentle breeze as we set of towards the disused Visitors Centre with no shortage of Woodpigeons in the neighbouring trees and ere we arrived Robin, Goldfinch and Greenfinches.  Once at the viewing point a Moorhen on the water behind the building and on the pool in front many more including juveniles plus both Coot and Mallards.  The first Little Egret a the back of the water and, looking up, a Cormorant passed over plus the first Herring Gull of the morning.

Curlew Numenius arquata

Moving on along the path and up to the sea wall the tide was now well on its outward journey and both another Little Egret, Black-headed Gulls and a Curlew were noted. Between here and the Deeps a very active area with not just a couple of Oystercatchers at the water's edge but large flocks of moving Starlings above us and in the thick bramble bushes Willow Warbler, Blue and Great Tits.  On the dam wall a dozen of more Meadow Pipits were seen and then the first of a quintet of Wheatears in the immediate area. A couple of Whitethroats put in a brief appearances.  However, it was whilst looking across the outgoing stream to the water beyond that I spied the brief appearance of a Whimbrel as it lifted its head to give an excellent view of its beak and head pattern.

Meadow Pipit Anthus pratensis

meanwhile, looking inland across the meadow we picked up  couple of both Little Egrets and Grey Herons along with many more feeding Starlings.  Then it was on the Deeps itself to confirm the two Dunlin feeding alongside a quartet of Black-headed Gulls.  Some time was spent here as we enjoyed a coffee and snacks, kindly supplied by Richard, and also had a closer look at the single Lapwing before finding a pair of Common Sandpipers and pair of Pied Wagtails.  It was whilst discussing the morning's sightings with local birder John Morton who happened to be birding n the opposite direction around the site, that I noticed the pair of Cattle Egrets alight in front of the relatively nearby herd of cattle, so giving a good view to all three of us.  It was also in this area that we noticed the few Carrion Crows of the morning.

Dunlin Calidris alpina

Time to move on and pass the hundreds of Starlings in the area and the sight of a pair of Linnets resting atop a nearby bush.  Meanwhile, out on the now extensive mudflats, both Oystercatchers at the water's edge and another Whimbrel, as well as more Curlews, which led directly to being able to identify a trio of Ringed Plovers working the area.

Once round the corner and heading east along the sea wall we had more Oystercatchers below us and on the inland stream a lone Mute Swan cygnet but no sign of an adult; most strange. It was as turn right of the final stretch back towards the car park that we fist came across the main Canada Geese flocks. But, away to the far left of the most southerly flock. three smaller geese.  It took some studying, especially as we had not carried the scope, to actually identify the birds as early returning Brent Geese.

Oystercatchers Haematopus ostralegus

This final walk produced more Canada Geese and Little Egrets before finding the main flock of Redshank and then at the open inland water to our right a resting flock of a score or more Mallards.  Perched on a fence post not ten metres away a Buzzard that, minutes later, we were to find standing on a horizontal bar busy feeding on its early lunch.  Could it have been one of the above Mallards?  Also on the water a trio of Shelduck and a diving Little Grebe.  In addition, as we looked at the sunning Cormorant on the water's edge we also noticed the pair of resting Avocets.  Our final sighting came with twenty metres when we found the lone white goose near a small number of Canada Geese and this led directly to finding its ever-present pal, the lonely Barnacle Goose.  Very strange to see the body of the former and then the Barnacle Goose put its head giving the appearance of a very different bird altogether! Despite the occasion light drizzle a most enjoyable morning that produced a total of 39 Species.

Barnacle Goose Branta leucopsis with its "white friend"

Making our way home Richard directed me to Baffins Pond on the western outskirts of Portsmouth where I was informed that the Barnacle Goose and its white-feathered friend often retreated,  Lovely large water in the middle of the houses.  On and around the water scores of Feral Pigeons/Rock Doves along with many Herring and, mainly, Black-headed Gulls.  Also present a couple of Coots, a Magpie and and adult pair of Mute Swans.  However, for me, the best sighting was the single Lesser Black-backed Gull which gave a final morning's tally of 42 species.

Buzzard Buteo buteo watching over the resting Mallards Anas platyrhynchos
 and then a distant view as it enyoyed a morning snack!

Birds seen:

Brent Goose, Canada Goose, Barnacle Goose, Mute Swan, Shelduck, Mallard, Little Grebe, Cormorant, Cattle Egret, Little Egret, Heron, Buzzard, Moorhen, Coot, Oystercatcher, Avocet, Ringed Plover, Lapwing, Dunlin, Whimbrel, Curlew, Redshank, Common Sandpiper, Black-headed Gull, lesser Black-backed Gull, Herring Gull, Rock Dove, Woodpigeon, Meadow Pipit, Pied Wagtail, Robin, Wheatear, Whitethroat, Willow Warbler, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Magpie, Carrion Crow, Starling, Greenfinch, Goldfinch, Linnet.

Barnacle Goose Branta leucopsis

Meadow Pipit Anthus pratensis

Juvenile Starlings Sturnus vulgaris

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