Thursday 28 July 2016

Zapata, Malaga with the Early risers"

Thursday 28 July

A little rain yesterday and the first few drops have just started to fall so receiving the following report from my friend Derek Etherton reminds me how much I am missing both the area and my many birding friends.  What a way to start the day and still look forward to more sunshine and a swim in the pool.  But, I suspect, no Dunnocks or Egyptian Geese and probably very few tits - but it is hardly a fulfilling compensation on my part.

Zapata, Malaga:

Being founder members of the IBC [Insomniac Birders Club] (you must remember to invite Marieke in Belgium to join the group) Barbara and I decided yesterday to check our local patch whilst the coolness of the dark prevailed.  Arriving at Zapata at 0600hrs. and went straight away to check on the Red-necked Nightjars as they had been noticeable by their absence the last visit.  No need to worry 3 of them were in their favourite position on the track, and one allowed us to drive within 6 metres, fully illuminated by the headlights, before suddenly taking flight.  Now it was down to the ford where in the headlights Little Ringed Plovers were busy feeding [they seem to have had an excellent breeding season here this year] and a juvenile Night Heron was on the rocks!  Little else was visible here mainly because of the very low water flow, so still dark we drove round the back track to check the upper reaches  some 100metres up.  Positioning for a water view in the early gloom, Grey Heron, Little Egrets, Moorhens and 15 Black-winged Stilts were in the shallows busy feeding.  On the rock bar both Green and Common Sandpipers were joined by more Little Ringed Plovers.  

As the faintest glimmer of dawn broke the first Cetti's Warblers were heard and we could just make out Crested Larks starting to move.  When dawn breaks it seems so quick that things happen so we left this area, by now we must have counted 25 Night Herons flying in to their roost and many Cattle Egrets were leaving theirs to go hunting.  Driving back to the main track where 30 minutes ago nightjars were feeding it was now House Sparrows, Serins, Goldfinches and Greenfinches to the fore.  Further down we stopped on the corner as the first rays of the early morning sun became visible over Malaga port and viewed the reedbed.  Well, in 3 years of watching this area [so, so pleased we discovered it] we have never seen so many Common Waxbills.  By "many" I mean seriously in a 3 figure number.  One flock busy early morning feeding numbered at least 50 birds and resplendent they looked in full breeding plumage.  The males with their very black vent and amazing pink breast feathers contrasting with an almost lipsticked beak, super little birds, and noisy too! 
Common Waxbill Estrilda astrild (PHOTO: From Internet)
Walking down the track juvenile Red-rumped Swallows were plentiful, presumably from the nests under the landing light pier, whilst Common Swift, House Martin and Barn Swallows fed over the reed bed.  Plenty of Reed Warblers were on on show most with young in tow.  A Purple Swamphen climbed to the top of the reeds before flying off.  But everywhere we looked we seemed to see and hear Common Waxbills and not necessarily in the reeds, some were on the green fence, some on the paths and others in the scrub.  No Short-toed Larks could be found in their usual place but they were soon located in the recently-harrowed field.  This field must be heaven to the seed eaters because it was absolutely packed with all the finches, Green, Gold and Linnet feeding away in sizable flocks. A total of 4 Hoopoes were seen, 2 on a fence and 2 flying over the field.  Unusually for here 3 Lesser Kestrel were feeding in the same area and as we turned away from them to look toward the reed bed a Little Bittern flew over the top of the reeds.  It's noticeable that they seem to hedge hop in their flight pattern never rising more than a few inches above the reeds.

We carried on walking up the path noticing the Spotless Starlings are now flocking in large numbers and some of the mixed Sparrow flocks feeding were very large.  I say mixed as there are some definite Spanish and Hybrids amongst the dominant House variety.  Reaching the end of the track by the road where we know the Little Bitterns nested and where the one we spotted a few minutes before flew too we scanned tying to find it.  No luck but even more Waxbills were busy and a family of Reed Warblers were visible.  Just as we thought we had yet another Reed Warbler family we realised something was different about this new bird.  The sound was different, almost insect like, it was much lighter almost greenish in colour.  Processing the information, the bird was very cooperative by staying around we had to conclude Savi's Warbler, nothing else fitted the description or sound.  We suspected we had recorded it earlier in the season but could then not be sure, this was a fabulous view, complete with its family.

By now 0900hrs. the sun had some real warmth so we started walking back to the car scanning the field and reed bed for any new arrivals, nothing exciting just Blackbirds, 4 Turtle Doves flew over and some of their Collared cousins were sitting on the fence.  By now the Monk Parakeets had become raucous, no change there, as they flew around the track.  The feeding field now had a small flock, some 8 birds, of Short-toed Larks and close by Linnets with males still very pink all very busy.

Back to the car by 0915hrs and the thought of churros & coffee had a certain calling, well you have to sin once in a while, don't you?

Derek Etherton

Now that's what you call a fabulous early morning's birding and back home in time to do the cleaning and washing and still have time to go shopping!!!!!

Check out the accompanying website at for the latest sightings, photographs and additional information.

Tuesday 26 July 2016

Rutland Water

Tuesday 26 July

The really good thing about having Rutland Water just fifteen minutes away as your local patch is that when you see the forecast for cloud and possibly rain later in the day you can drive over first thing in the morning and enjoy the warm sunshine whilst it lasts.  This happened to me this morning as I arrive just after 7.30 and was back home by 12.45 in time for lunch - and a chance of actually completing the blog on the same day!

Off to the water for these Canada Geese Branta canadensis
The usual greeting from Jackdaws, Magpies and Crows, not to mention both Wood Pigeons and Collared Doves along with Starlings and House Sparrows, and the whole site to myself.  First stop the Feeding Station, encountering both Blackbirds and Linnets on the way, where I found feeding Blue and Great Tits, mainly juveniles of both, Robin, Greenfinch, Goldfinch and Chaffinch.  Then it was the long walk down to the Snipe Hide overlooking the Wet Meadow adjacent to Lagoon 1 to see if the Black-tailed Godwits were still about.  They were not.  But there was a good variety of species including a single Green Sandpiper, Teal, Mallard and Moorhens.  A few Lapwing were also present along with a small mixed flock of Canada and Greylag Geese.  This lagoon was even more notable for the number of Pied Wagtails present and just beyond the small pool the first Great Crested Grebe of the morning.  On the lagoon itself I could see more of the same along with Mute Swan, Cormorants and Tufted Ducks and a cock Pheasant lifted his head from the grass just long enough to be noticed.  The only Gulls on show were a handful of the Black-headed variety.

The artificial Sand Martin Riperia riperia nesting site on Lagoon 5 (Spot the bird?)
On next to the 360 Degree Hide overlooking Lagoons 5,6,7 and 8 where water levels appeared to be falling and a good number of Canada Geese were gathered on Lagoon 5, either on the water or resting on the bank to my left.  A couple of Little Egrets and Little Grebe feeding on the water itself.  Again, more Lapwings and even a Yellow-legged Gull to be seen.  For the first time this summer I actually found an Egyptian Goose; well, three actually as it would appear only one gosling had survived.  Just outside the hide my first Dunnock of the day.

Just the one surviving gosling for this pair of Egyptian Geese Alopochen aegyptiacus

Retracing my steps to the Visitors Centre I duly checked in and paid my entrance fee, £4.50 for old fogeys like me and really good value for money, before checking again on the Feeding Station where I was graced with the arrival of a Great Spotted Woodpecker at the far end.

Now upwards and onwards to Lagoon 4 and my favourite Sandpiper Hide.  No less than 20 Little Egrets were counted which makes me wonder why I bother to leave Spain!  A single Oystercatcher was on the beach and it looked very much as if a pair of Egyptian Geese were using the "dummy" Osprey nest to raise their own family.  But before approaching the hide I mad a very hurried look at the new, replacement, Osprey Hide which was just about completed in time for its official opening by its sponsor, CJW Wildfoods, at the coming British Bird Fair next month.  For my trouble I managed to record the first of two Common Sandpipers for the morning.

Another pair seem to have taken over the Osprey's nest!
In addition to the many Little Egrets there were numerous lapwing and Black-headed Gulls along with a score or more of Common Terns. Just the one Oystercatcher and a single Redshank plus a lone Great Black-backed Gull towards the rear of the lagoon.  Taking a quick look outside the hide I was in time to be regaled by a calling Green Woodpecker as it "yaffled" away in the small spinney in front.  In the very far distance on the other side of the lagoon I could just, with the scope, make out the hovering Kestrel.

At least twenty Little Egrets Egretta garzetta on Lagoon 4 with even more Greylag Geese Anser anser
On to the Shoveler Hide overlooking Lagoon 3 where I was confronted by very good numbers of both Canada and Greylag Geese along with Mallards, Teals, a Common Pochard and a quartet of Gadwall.  No shortage of Great Crested Grebes and Sand Martins feeding over the water.  Two Shelduck rested on a platform accompanied by Mallards, Lapwing and Coots and a number of Mute Swan pens were out with their families enjoying the morning sunshine, whilst below me at least three recently-fledged Reed Warblers were awaiting feeding from one or both parents.

Recently-fledged Reed Warbler Acrecephalus scirpaceus
A quick look in at the Buzzard Hide revealed a rather gorgeous Sedge Warbler not two metres away and then it was back to the Visitors Centre and a further, last, check at the Feeding Station where the Great Spotted Woodpecker had returned and also a moulting male Reed Bunting.

All alone at his nest site for this Osprey Pandion haliaetus

Once back to the car I travelled home by an anti-clockwise circuit of the Water noting the single Osprey at his nest site in Manton Bay and a number of Tree Sparrows feeding at the Feeding Station in front of the Lyndon Visitors Centre.  My final bird, using the scope provided at the Centre, was my only Heron of the day, resting on the far bank.  A most enjoyable time, on my own, and a final tally of 53 species.

Tree Sparrow Passer montanus on the Lyndon Centre feeder

Birds recorded:
Greylag Goose, Canada Goose, Mute Swan, Egyptian Goose, Shelduck, Gadwall, Mallard, Teal, Pochard, Tufted Duck, Pheasant, Little Grebe, Great Crested Grebe, Cormorant, Little Egret, Heron, Osprey, Kestrel, Moorhen, Coot, Oystercatcher, Lapwing, Redshank, Green Sandpiper, Common Sandpiper, Black-headed Gull, Great Black-backed Gull, Yellow-legged Gull, Common Tern, Wood Pigeon, Collared Dove, Green Woodpecker, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Sand Martin, Pied Wagtail, Dunnock, Robin, Blackbird, Reed Warbler, Sedge Warbler, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Magpie, Jackdaw, Crow, Starling, House Sparrow, Tree Sparrow, Chaffinch, Greenfinch, Goldfinch, Linnet, Reed Bunting.

More pics:

One of scores of Common Tern Sterna hirundo

Juvenile (only one) Great Crested Grebe Podiceps cristatus 

Canada Geese Branta canadensis

Egyptian Geese Alopochen aegyptiacus

Check out the accompanying website at for the latest sightings, photographs and additional information.

Friday 22 July 2016

Birding in central Norfolk

Common Whitethroat Sylvia communis
Wednesday 20 July

What a way to spend your wedding anniversary, writing up bird blogs before having to go shopping and then a dance class.  By the time i get the photos sorted it will be the end of the week-end!  And to add insult to injury, even the planned two-day trip over to cousin Paul Newport in Watton (the Breckland Birder) took on last-second, nevermind minute, amendments.
The original plan was to set off mid-morning and spend the afternoon at Welney Wildfowl Trust before journeying on to Watton for an overnight stay then off to RSPB Lakenheath on the Thursday.  Back from my five-day visit to Warsash to find my eye appointment at the local hospital is to be on 19 August, two days after I leave for Spain!  Two alternative dates available but at the main hospital in Peterborough; one for Wednesday morning and the other for the following day when I should have been in Norfolk.  No problem as I had to drive past Peterborough so accepted 11.30 Wednesday and sent an email to Paul informing him of such and still expected to arrive about 5pm.  At the same time, a message form Paul to ask if I fancied a late evening/early dark visit to a local site where he had heard a very rare bird at 4.30 that morning.

Lovely Lady Fen, Welney from the Visitors Centre
Wednesday morning and arriving slightly early I noticed that the car park was free for the first 30 minutes followed by £2.60 an hour thereafter!  No problem as I imagined all would be completed in no more than twenty minutes if appointment on time.  Great; seen five minutes early but then the real fun started as I was sent from one room to another for this, that and every test.  Finally with the specialist who put some most awfully painful eye drops in to enlarge the pupils and casually enquired had I travelled by bus as I would not be able to see clearly for about three hours!!!!  Good news was that no problem with the eyes after all the implications leading up to the appointment.  But sit in a car park, not even able to read the book I had taken with me, for the final hour and a half (yes, that's how long the appointment lasted)?

Mute Swan Cygnus olor family on Lovely Lady Fen
After just over 2 hours I took off for Welney along the nearby A47 but arriving after 3pm I had only an hour to spare and rested the eyes further by taking a coffee and studying all the blurry white things on the scrapes below.  A Song Thrush along with Magpie on the way in and then Mute Swans with seven cygnets and a good number of Black-headed Gull families along with Coots, Mallards and even a couple of Ruff.  A you looked closer you could see the small number of Lapwing and even a pair of Oystercatchers on the far bank.  A few Moorhens paddled about whilst Barn Swallows fed overhead and both Wood Pigeon and Collared Doves were noted.  Add on Common Starlings and that just about took care of Lovely Lady Fen.

The other side of the reserve contained two pairs of Whoopoer Swans who, for one reason or another, had nor migrated back to Tundra to breed but chose to make whoopee at their winter quarters.  Also present were breeding House Martins, Avocets, Common Sandpipers, a single Pied Wagtail and a trio of Greylag Geese.  No shortage of Little Egrets and a Heron and then, on the journey over to Watton, Greenfinches, House Sparrows and a resting Kestrel.

By now the skies had become very dark in deed with thunder rumbling along in the background.  Come 7pm the heavens opened for a good hour so able to enjoy the day's report on the Tour de France before setting off to Hockham Fen.  Only problem now that I had packed no spare shoes, nevermind walking boots, so my suede loafers were somewhat wet by the time we had walked through the woods to the edge of the fen.  With a few minutes we had been joined by Kevin Moran for nearby BTO headquarters in Thetford who was most keen to confirm what Paul had heard very early that morning and, if confirmed, a very rare visitor indeed to this pat of the world a this time of the year.  A Heron flew across the sky as the sun set and then a silhouette of a Red Deer's head.  The animal later edged along the far bank and revealed itself along with a second hind plus two well-grown fawns and a third, older, youngster.

Then, at 9.19 precisely, the first call and we all looked at each other, smiled and shook hands as we confirmed the presence of a Spotted Crake, its "huitt" call sounding just like the first half of a wolf-whistle as so aptly described ion Collins.  A couple more calls in the next twenty minutes then it really took off after the last of the daylight had gone.  Magnificent!  Best of all, Paul had managed to take a recording and I have asked him if it is possible to download and then add to his blog as an attachment for other to listen.  Follow the Breckland Birder's blog at: to see Paul's report and whether or not such a connection is possible.  Then, in the dark, it was back to Watton and try and dry shoes in time for the morning's visit to Lakenheath but at least we would not be setting out before the sun.

Now that's a gorgeous Whitethroat Sylvia communis
Thursday 21 July

Distant Cranes Grus grus over RSPB Lakenheath
A lovely start to the day accompanied by the resident Wood Pigeons, House Sparrows, Starlings and Blackbirds (but no Blackbird seen at the RSPB reserve) as we set out on the thirty minute drive over to RSPB Lakenheath, arriving about 8.45.  Lots of Crows seen on the way along with the British plague of Wood Pigeons.

Singing Sedge Warbler Acrocephalis schoenobaenus
No sooner had we arrived than we could hear Pheasants calling and the first bird seen was a rather delightful Lesser Whitethroat that disappeared into cover as soon as it saw us approaching along with singing Blackcaps.  A first look at the Washlands viewpoint revealed many Mute Swans along with Coots, both with young, plus a dozen or so Herons, a few Mallards and a pair of Gadwall.  But just the single Moorhen.  Then it was back to the path to see if we could find the river embankment track (at this point I should point out that the River Little Ouse is the county boundary and we were actually in Suffolk but looking at birds in Norfolk beyond the mid-point of the river and to the far bank) and encountered our first Common Whitethroat; not one but a pair which very kindly posed to enable us to take numerous photographs.

Once more, back to our friendly Whitethroat Sylvia communis
Having realised we were heading in the wrong direction we retraced our steps to the Visitors Centre where we sorted out our route and made our way, once more, to the new view point over the river.  All the previous birds we seen as we sat on the seats along with passing Magpie and Crows plus a feeding Common Tern.  At least two pairs of great Crested Grebes on the water and more Black-headed Gulls and in the nearby vegetation both Reed Buntings and Sedge Warblers.  As left to walk the river bank a large flock of Lapwing flew high overhead and our first Reed Warbler was seen to accompany the many heard calling.  Then it was on, recording more Mallards, Mute Swans, a trio of Cormorants and a pair of Common Sandpipers, till we found the track leading to the Joist Fen Viewpoint where we sent very many enjoyable minutes.

Mute Swan Cygnus olor

On arrival we found a single Coot on the small pond immediately in front of the hide along with a lonely young Mute Swan cygnet; where were the rest of the family?  A juvenile Moorhen was perched on top of a metre plus post but soon change its mind when it saw that company had arrived.  Then a rather splendid thirty minutes as first a Bittern took off from close range, coming out of nowhere and disappearing to same with in five metres.  It was later to make another couple of short sorties before departing the immediate area.  In the distance, not more swans but four Cranes who made a number of circuits before settling once more.  At least thirty plus Lapwings flew over and then a couple of Buzzards over the far trees.  Meanwhile, behind us, we had a hovering Kestrel and that was it for raptors other than the Red Kite seen as we approached Watton on the return journey and the resident female Marsh Harrier.

Bittern Botaurus stellaris at Joist Fen Viewpoint
Lots of butterflies about including Red Admiral, Tortoiseshell, Gate-keepers, Small Coppers and, just for Steve, a small "Cabbage White".  All these plus crane flies and a number of dragonflies but no sign, for us, of the Hobby that had been foraging the area earlier on in the morning and most of the previous week.

One of very many Red Admirals Vanessa atalanta

Arriving at the new hide overlooking the small red-fringed lake we found full occupancy and just room for one seat.  Everybody here was with the expressed purpose of seeing and photographing the Kingfisher that had taken up territory.  We did see the bird flash past but this was not my "cup of tea" with so much else to see.

Common Blue Damselfly Enallagma cyathigerum
An Emerald or a female Common Blue?
The final stop of the morning was at the New Fen Viewpoint where, again, we were not to be disappointed.  More Mallards, Coots and Moorhens but the main sight was that of the Bearded Tit family that put in regular appearance but,, as so often is the case, never still long enough to get a photograph.  A Reed Warbler yes but not the BeardedTit.  Just to add a little spice to the occasion a Water Rail was calling from within the dense reed-bed.

High and distant Stock Dove Columba oenas

And so the morning ended with Goldfinches and Blue Tits on the feeders back at the Visitors Centre as we bade our farewells and headed off to Watton.

Norfolk Birds:
Greylag Goose, Mute Swan, Whooper Swan, Gadwall, Mallard, Pheasant, Great Crested Grebe, Cormorant, Bittern, Little Egret, Heron, Red Kite, Marsh Harrier, Buzzard, Kestrel, Water Rail, Spotted Crake, Moorhen, Coot, Crane, Oystercatcher, Avocet, Lapwing, Ruff, Common Sandpiper, Black-headed Gull, Common Tern, Stock Dove, Wood Pigeon, Collared Dove, Kingfisher, Barn Swallow, House Martin, Pied Wagtail, Blackbird, Song Thrush, Sedge Warbler, Reed Warbler, Blackcap, Lesser Whitethroat, Whitethroat, Bearded Tit, Blue Tit, Magpie, Rook, Carrion Crow, Common Starling, House Sparrow, Chaffinch, Greenfinch, Goldfinch, Reed Bunting.

One more Bittern back at the Visitors Centre - but going nowhere as he posed in his glass box!
More Whitethroat shots

Check out the accompanying website at for the latest sightings, photographs and additional information.

100+ for the day!

Wednesday 20 July

Whilst I was preparing for my hospital appointment and follow-on visit to Norfolk for a little light birding, friends Derek and Barbara Etherton along with Micky Smith and Luis Alberto Rodriguez got this mad, many would say crazy, notion to to try and set another one-day record for bird species seen in Malaga Province.  But why oh why pick just about the hottest day in the middle of a prolonged dry drought?  It mist surely be something in the water - or lack of water.  No matter, I have just received a smashing email from Derek to inform me that they topped the century mark and ended up with 106 species.  Well done all and I am sure that readers will enjoy reading Derek's message as follows.  Judging by the illustration, it look sot me as if Rufous Bush Chats are becoming two-a-penny!

A good, but tiring day yesterday.  Started at 0500hrs at Zapata, no Nightjars, shock, horror, but viewed on the track right in front of us a rare is that, and a first for Zapata.

Then the Montes de Malaga where we recorded every tit available, Haw, Chaff and Greenfinch, Great Spotted and Green Woodpeckers.

Poor old LA had spent 3 years walking Mollina and Sierra Mollina looking for the Rufous Bush Robins; he had knocked at doors, called at fincas but nobody could help him.  He knew it was one of the last 3 sites in Malaga Province to contain the bird but no luck.  So swearing him to secret and not mention it in his blog or elsewhere or I would have to kill him we drove there.  Parked and within five minutes one male flew up to the wire and started singing and lo and behold a second flew up 50 metres away and did the same thing.  To say he was impressed would be an understatement!

Male Rufous Bush Chat Cercotrichas galactotes (PHOTO: Derek Etherton)
On to Fuente de Piedra and after a severe storm over the weekend a little water was laying, enough for a male Ruff and a few other waders.  New to us there was a female Ferruginous Duck and amazingly a juvenile Night Heron found mostly hidden in the reeds.  Why that was there when they need flowing rivers for fish is anyone's guess.

Barbara called the 100th bird correctly by plumping for a Bee-eater, got that at Rio Grande along with 101 & 102, Little Egret and Grey Wagtail respectively.

From a cool start it got very warm and sticky and we called into our breakfast place, El Cohete, for a shandy and for Mick to depart, he was feeling it a little bit.  Luis Alberto, Barbara and myself zipped round Zapata again and added Reed Warbler, Monk Parakeet and Common Waxbill to finish the day on 106 species.  Not bad for the wrong time of the year.

So a peaceful day today with our gardener here doing some heavy work and a guy coming to valet the car this evening, 20 euros inside and out, seems like a bargain to me.

Thanks for a lovely report Derek bringing home very many happy memories and something to look forward when I return in about a month's time.  I thought you were the gardener who undertook all the heavy work so are you telling me that you pay Barbara a paltry 20 euros to clean the car?  If it's any consolation, I am just about to complete my blog for an overnight stop in central Norfolk where we managed a seemingly paltry 53 species - but it did include Crane, Spotted Crake, Lesser Whitethroat, Bearded Tit and Great Bittern!

Check out the accompanying website at for the latest sightings, photographs and additional information.

Sunday 17 July 2016

Farlington Marshes

Saturday 16 July

Time for a bare two hours at Farlington Marshes this afternoon whilst Jenny and Chris visited an elderly friend in nearby Portsmouth.  This reserve lies at the top end of Langstone Harbour almost adjacent to the nearby A27 so plenty of traffic noise as I got out of the car to start my, I am told, three mile ant-clockwise circuit.  On this occasion just the single Wood Pigeon to welcome me but I did have family of Carrion Crows.  The tide was almost completely out so not only mus flats but that distinctive salty smell that accompanies such occasions!  There was the odd Black-headed Gull resting/foraging on the slippery shore and, indeed, they were to be seen at all times in small numbers, mainly resting but with occasional aerial movement.

Carrion Crow Corvus corone
Keeping to the sea wall as advised by "Sam Portsmouth" who  met in his electric chair as I walked along the initial track (he gave much good advice and also informed me that there were kestrels and a pair of flying Little Owls in the wooded inland section of the reserve), I had a pair of magpies near the trees and then more sightings of the Carrion Crows.  I suspect that there were at least two family groupings on the site.  Stopping at the small lake on the left I picked up a Moorhen followed by a Coot and three Little Egrets whilst on the far side of the water a pair of Mallards drifted along.

Little Egret Egretta garzetta

Opposite this lake there was a small gully sill with water with yet another Little Egret and further away a flock of about 50 Black-tailed Godwits, a couple of Redshanks and even a Herring Gull. In front of me consistently on the move what I might describe as mini-murmurations of Starlings as they visited both hedgerow and beach.  Maybe over 200 individuals and not roost time so spectacular displays to be observed.

Black-tailed Godwits Limosa limosa along with a Curlew Numenius arquata
A second small pond held another Little Egret and a pair of Redshanks whilst in the deeper water three young Shelduck were busy feeding and very much trying to give the impression that they were juvenile Great Crested Grebes.  Even the trio of Canada Geese seemed out of place.

Redshank Tringa totanus
Continuing on with my walk along the sea wall towards the "Point Field" I found a pair of Linnets and, in the neighbouring stream, a female Mute Swan with her three well-grown cygnets before rounding the corner to head north I could make out many birds on the far side of the water - but too far away to identify without my scope.  On the nearside of the water a range of Black-headed Gulls and a few Oystercatchers but it was the handful of Curlew that caught my attention.  More Redshanks and even a lone Heron looking for a late afternoon snack.

Mute Swan Cygnu solor with her three cygnets
Then onwards and finally through the meadow recording Goldfinches, more Linnets and a Blackbird to the information barn opposite a fresh water lake.  Here I found a trio of Black-tailed Godwits along with Coots, Mallards, Redshank and, of course, more Black-headed Gulls.  To give a sense of summer and the heat of Spain that I was missing, a pair of Barn Swallows fed on insects over the water.  From here it was a steady walk back to the car park with little extra to add other than another Blackbird, more Black-headed Gulls and the return of both Carrion Crows and Magpies.

Male Linnet Carduelis cannabina
Not a lot of species recorded, probably wrong time of day, wrong state of tide and wrong season of the year; other than that it was perfect!  A good healthy walk in the fresh air and a temperature and mixed cloud cover that left you feeling too hot to wear a coat and too cool not to; typical British summer weather.

Lapwing Vanellus vanellus

Birds seen:
Canada Goose, Mute Swan, Shelduck, Mallard, Little Egret, Heron, Moorhen, Coot, Oystercatcher, Redshank, Black-tailed Godwit, Curlew, Black-headed Gull, Herring Gull, Wood Pigeon, Barn Swallow, Blackbird, Magpie, Carrion Crow, Starling, House Sparrow, Goldfinch, Linnet.
Starlings Sturnus vulgaris by the hundreds on both bushes and shore

Check out the accompanying website at for the latest sightings, photographs and additional information.

Saturday 16 July 2016

Titchfield Haven, Hampshire

Friday 15 July

Avocets Recurvirostra avosetta by the score
A few days staying with my brother-in-law, Chris at this new home near the mouth of the Hamble River in Warsash was the perfect opportunity to pay a visit to nearby Titchfield Haven Reserve at the mouth of the river Meon about fifteen minutes drive away.  Thursday saw about an hour without actually entering the reserve and then calling in at the (even more) nearby Hook-with-Warsash reserve on the way home.  Lovely sunny weather but rather cloudy when I made my way back to Titchfield Haven this morning for a couple of hours to take a closer look at the  western side of the site, the east being closed for path repairs.

Two pairs of Common Tern Sterna hirundo sharing with an Oystercatcher Haematopus ostralegus
One bird not in short supply on the Hampshire coast is the Wood Pigeon, they are everywhere.  On the other hand I only saw one pair of Collared Doves over both days.  Approaching the site on Friday morning the tide was on its way out and when it moves it moves fast as soon there was a lovely beach of mus and shingle to attract even more Black-headed Gulls.  A walk towards the Visitors centre gave me an opportunity to use the viewing area from the main road where there was certainly evidence of successful breeding by Black-headed Gulls, Common Terns, Coots, Mallards and Canada Geese.  Some of the above were still occupying the erected nest box platforms in the water whilst on the small island immediately in front I observed Cormorants and Moorhens.  Up river I could see a family of Tufted Ducks and a lone Little Grebe and walking back to the car, parked on the front overlooking the sea, I managed to encounter both Blackbirds and Common Starlings.

Cormorants Phalacrocoras carbo watched over by a Common Tern Sterna hirundo
A Magpie flew over the reserve to be joined by another and there were a few House Sparrows in the vicinity.  Returning to the observation area I managed to also record both Oystercatcher and Herring Gull.

Mr & Mrs Oystercatcher Haematopus ostralegus
The walk along the footpath through the Warsash reserve produced  number of young Robins as well as adults plus both Great Tit and Chiffchaff and then a couple of Carrion Crows and a very small charm of Golfinches. If you are on your own and it is quiet it is amazing the number of species that will come down on the paths as witnessed above.  However, I still wait to identify one species as per the attached photographs.  I immediately discounted a juvenile Robin and began to think Lesser Whitethroat until I got a clearer view of its head.  Perhaps the old adage is correct; Garden Warbler, distinguished by have no obvious distinguishing features!  There is a hint of green in one shot so more then happy to receive suggestions so that I can amend this blog.

One of a few juvenile Robins Erithacus rubeula
Name this bird!  Garden Warbler, Lesser Whitethroat or what?

Today saw me back at Titchfield Haven for a couple of hours and the roadside observation area produced a number of Common Terns on the boxes along with Cormorants, Coots, Mallards and Moorhens.  The Canada Geese tribe, all twenty plus, were happily paddling across the back of the water and a small flock of Starlings were resting on the wires of the moored yachts in the small harbour.

A rather tired looking Great Tit Parus Major 

Admission ticket purchased I entered the gate to the western side of the reserve as a pair of Avocets flew around overhead with the occasional drop on to the beach and even the sea itself.  At the time I thought this was something special until I reached the various scrapes and discovered that there must be a resident, including breeding, population of approaching 100 individuals.  In addition, my sole Little Egret was on a spit off the beach and nearby a family of five Carrion Crows also foraging away.

One of the 50+ Avocets Recurvirostra avosetta 
Seen from the Meon Hide, in addition to the Avocets and Black-headed Gulls, there must have been in excess of 50 Black-tailed Godwits, most still in their gorgeous summer plumage.  After confirming that there were still Lapwings about to be seen I noticed that the Shelduck present had also had a successful breeding season with a number of well-grown juveniles on show to the public.  At least three Redshanks were recorded along with a number of Moorhens and a score or more of Common Terns were resting in this scrape.  Further back a single Grey Heron was on the look out for a tasty snack and was later seen doing justice to an eel.  A cock Pheasant wandered out at the back of the scrape and a handful of Magpies were in the immediate vicinity.

Magpie Pica pica
Moving on the Pumfrett Hide gave a closer view of the North Scrape and conformed the birds seen form the former hide.  Whilst here watching a pair of Redshank and a small number of Oystercatchers, I was suddenly interrupted by the arrival of seven Dunlin quickly followed by a further five to bring up the round dozen.  The Magpies ventured closer and both Yellow-legged and Herring Gulls were recorded.

The arrival of the Dunlins Calidris alpina
On to the Spurgin Hide overlooking Eleven Acre Mere and the reward for the walk with a close fly-past by a Kingfisher.  Away to my left a quartering Marsh Harrier was briefly seen before it disappeared into nearby trees.  But, on the whole, much quieter here with a smaller number of Avocets, Black-tailed Godwits, Black-headed Gulls and Mallards along with just the one pair of Oystercatchers.

Maybe 100 Black-tailed Godwits Limosa limosa present on site
With time running out I made my way back to the Meon Hide for a final check and noted the arrival of both Barn Swallows and House Martins and a second, distant, appearance of the Marsh Harrier.  Lest you would think otherwise, there was still an abundance of Wood Pigeons!

The distant Marsh Harrier Circus aeruginosus over the reserve
Birds seen:
Canada Goose, Shelduck, Mallard, Tufted Duck, Pheasant, Little Grebe, Cormorant, Little Egret, Heron, Marsh Harrier, Moorhen, Coot, Oystercatcher, Avocet, Lapwing, Dunlin, Redshank, Black-tailed Godwit, Black-headed Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Herring Gull, Yellow-legged Gull, Common Tern, Wood Pigeon, Collared Dove, Kingfisher, Barn Swallow, House Martin, Robin, Blackbird, Chiffchaff, Great Tit, Magpie, Carrion Crow, Starling, House Sparrow, Goldfinch.

Black-headed Gull Chroicocephalus ridibundus

How is the Heron Ardea cinerea going to swallow this huge Eel?
Farewell to the Common Tern Sterna hirundo

Check out the accompanying website at for the latest sightings, photographs and additional information.