Sunday 23 August 2020

Keyhaven Marshes, Hampshire

 Sunday 23 August

Rain on the way but all dry once we three arrived at Lower Pennington to visit the Keyhaven Marshes and check out the Solent.  A lovely scenic drive through the eastern New Forest passing through Lyndhurst, Brockenhurst and Lymington.  On the other hand, just about every other car was also undertaking the same journey as far as Lyndhurst so lots of traffic delays!  Not a lot of birds seen as we left it too late to gain the benefit of shore birding and very few birds resting on the marshes other than very many Black-headed Gulls and a huge flock of Canada Geese on a nearby field but a beautiful scenic day out which was enhanced by our wandering return journey taking in Beaulieu and Hyde before returning to Warsash on the Hamble river.  And, certainly, the ponies seem to have been very productive this past year!

Walking from the car park at the end of Lower Pennington Lane to the Solent we recorded Carrion Crows and Wood Pigeon along with a Magpie.  A stop to check the grasses just before the end of the path revealed a single Curlew.

Curlew Numenius arquata

Once on the sea wall it was obvious that we ought to have arrived a couple of hours earlier to check the shore as the tide was now up to the pebbles.  However, resting on some rusty old iron supports just of the shore we counted 14 Turnstones.  Behind us on one of the pools we had a Little Egret followed by a Greenshank then the first two of the five Redshanks recorded.  A few Starlings before finding the main flock and time to walk westwards.  But not before checking the sea where, about two hundred meters off shore, we found a large raft of 28 sea ducks swimming slowly westwards almost in line astern.  Almost sure that they were Common Scoters but took record shots and, upon returning home, decided they were in fact Eider Ducks.

Some of the drifting Eider Ducks Somateria mollissima

Walking towards Keyhaven, the next pool provided more Redshanks and a Heron plus single Little Egret.  A Mute Swan and couple of Mallards were nearer to me and so we pressed on.  With Hurst Castle and a distant view of the Needles ahead, we stopped at an inlet where we found a trio of resting Cormorant on the far side along with an Oystercatcher.  However, immediately in front of us and slowly drifting away were another couple of Eider Ducks.

Eclipse male Eider Duck Somateria mollissima

Well beyond the bank to the right of the Cormorants another couple of Heron and, even further back, a small resting flock of Black-tailed Godwits.  (Good job I carried the scope!)  The final water produced a quartet of Little Egrets, two Herons and a large flock of Black-headed Gulls before we found three more Oystercatchers.

Then it was back to the car and our picnic before completing our scenic drive of the eastern New Forest by returning to the motorway vis Beaulieu and Hyde, the latter on Southampton Water.  This lovely drive, with a few diversions of the main road, also produced Rooks, Jackdaws, Collared Dove and a Buzzard and, for me, at least I now know where to find the relevant sites for a future visit.

Birds seen:

Canada Goose, Mute Swan, Mallard, Eider Duck, Cormorant, Little Egret, Heron, Buzzard, Oystercatcher, Black-tailed Godwit, Curlew, Greenshank, Redshank, Turnstone, Black-headed Gull, Wood Pigeon, Collared Dove, Magpie, Jackdaw, Rook, Carrion Crow, Starling.

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

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