Saturday 22 August 2020

Hamble River, Warsash

Black-headed Gull Larus ridibundus

 Saturday 22 August

Late morning and time for a walk alongside the River Hamble at Warsash.  Crossing the road in front of the house I was at the mouth of the Hamble in a couple of minutes.  On the water’s edge to my left a Turnstone, seven Black-tailed Godwits and a Redshank as Jenny and I started our walk upstream with warm sunshine and broken clouds behind and above us plus a very strong, gusty wind pushing us along.  Regular sightings of many Black-headed Gulls and every inlet and island seemed to reveal another dozen or do Black-tailed Godwits.  With the water less than a couple of hours short of high tide, we expected to get closer views of any waders as we covered about a kilometre before returning along the same riverside path.

Turnstone Arenaria interpres

Continuing on and the flat, muddy expense to our right revealed more Black-headed but also a couple of Herring Gulls and resting Common Tern on an island next to the shore.  Looking closely at the island we also found eight Ringed Plovers and a solitary Bar-tailed Godwit.  Three Starlings flew in to forage on the rapidly shrinking shore and then we came across three Carrion Crows at the far end of the next island.

Herring Gull Larus argentatus

A stop to check out the remaining mud flats in the reserved area for resting birds not only produced scores of Black-headed Gulls but also the gathering roost of Black-tailed Godwits which now exceeded an hundred.  Nearly caught us out before we realised the lone bird was in fact a Whimbrel.  Not just a Whimbrel but a short distance away a couple of Curlew and then a small flock of ten Dunlin took off and headed downstream.  Also present a score of Redshank, another Dunlin and a few Herring Gulls.  On the grasses at the back at least four Heron and a similar number of Little Egrets.  The Wood Pigeon at the back of the marsh led our eyes to find a trio of Lapwing and then time to make the walk back in the face of bright sunshine and the strong wind.  As we departed a trio of Common Tern were flying over the deepening pool.  By now the water was almost up to the bank and pouring through the sluice channels to cover the previously damp mud flats.

Black-tailed Godwits Limosa limosa

What next?  Perhaps a late afternoon to the Warsash shore on Southampton Water if the wind dies down a little to justify carrying the scope.


Late afternoon saw me parked up on the outskirts of Warsash so I could walk down the path through the Hook with Warsash Nature Reserve to the shore of Southampton Water.  Not as I expected; the tide was still in and up to the shingle beach and the wind still very strong off the water.  Walking down the pat I had a very brief sighting of a Little Egret over the reeds of the reed-filled lake to my right and a fast disappearing Magpie in front of me.  A few Wood Pigeons about and then a trio of Carrion Crows near the end of the walk and I caught up with them again foraging on the shore.

With no shelter straight to the fresh water scrape with its viewing point conveniently sheltered behind some large bushes so protecting me from the wind. Since my last visit in early July the water levels have risen sufficiently to cover the shallow spit on the far side of the water.  The water itself was very quiet with maybe a dozen resting Black-headed Gulls and a pair of Mallard.  A flock of six Canada Geese flew over and the the sight of large flock of Starlings, in excess of 200, constantly moving between reeds, bramble bushes (lots of ripe blackberries) and the shore.  Enough is enough so I returned to the car noticing the single Cormorant flying down Southampton Water and a lone male Blackbird at the end of the path.

Birds seen:

Canada Goose, Mallard, Cormorant, Little Egret, Heron, Ringed Plover, Lapwing, Dunlin, Black-tailed Godwit, Bar-tailed Godwit, Curlew, Whimbrel, Redshank, Turnstone, Black-headed Gull, Herring Gull, Common Tern, Wood Pigeon, Blackbird, Carrion Crow, Starling.

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