Tuesday 31 August 2021

Warsash, Hampshire

 Tuesday 31 August

An overcast morning in Warsash with a light breeze and a misty drizzle trying to decide whether or not to turn into a more persistent period of light rain. Leaving the Dunnock feeding in the garden I drove to the southern end of the village to walk along Workman's Lane and on down the narrow track to the shore.  Once parked at the top a leisurely wander to the far end of the metalled road produced Blue Tit, Carrion Crow, Wood Pigeon and a good-sized flock of low feeding House Martin.  Having reached the track leading into the horse fields I soon found a couple of Yellow Wagtail and back at the road both Robin and a pair of Magpie.

Black-headed Gull Larus ridibundus

Then it was on down to the end following the track to the shire where I found the receding tide.  On the muddy exposed beach a small number of Black-headed Gulls and single Turnstone and Oystercatcher

Oystercatcher Haementopus ostralegus

Within minutes the Oystercatcher number had increased to a dozen and accompanied by 27 Black-tailed Godwit.  Also present a few Herring Gull and as a sandbar appeared just off shore a couple of Lesser Black-backed Gulls.  

Black-tailed Godwits Limosa limosa

A flock of Starling came down to feed on the seaweed plus a pair of Collared Doves.  Before starting the return walk I was busy checking individual gulls when I located up to a handful of Mediterranean Gulls.

Mediterranean Gull Larus melanocephalus

Re-joining the path leading back to Workman's Lane a trio of feeding Blue Tits which disturbed the nearby Chiffchaff.  The small pond below also held a couple of Mallard and a trio of Moorhen.  Once back on the metalled Workman's Lane the local reserve held many low-feeding House Martins along with both Sand Martins and Barn Swallows. Finally, on returning to the car a Chaffinch in the neighbouring tree.

What might have been a distant Peregrine Falcon turned, out when enlarged with binoculars, to be a metal owl scarer; a sort of "Long-eared Peregrine Owl"

Birds seen:

Mallard, Moorhen, Oystercatcher, Black-tailed Godwit, Turnstone, Mediterranean Gull, Black-headed Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Herring Gull, Wood Pigeon, Collared Dove, Barn Swallow, House Martin ,Yellow Wagtail, Dunnock, Robin, Chiffchaff, Blue Tit, Magpie. Carrion Crow, Starling, Chaffinch.

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Sunday 29 August 2021

Turnstone Ton

 Sunday 29 August

Just a few of the hundred plus Turnstones Arenaria interpres 

Up early and down at the mouth of the River Meon on Southampton Water by 7 o'clock with the sun shining, very little cloud and generally calm if somewhat cool for the time of year.  Approaching the shore I had both Wood Pigeons and a Blackbird but the bad news was that, having not checked last night, it was virtually high tide and no exposed mud for feeding waders and water birds. However, parking the ar on the sea wall I could see a small group of Turnstone on the nearest groyne ahead but with he low sun also in the same direction.  Taking a leisurely walk along the top of the bank towards the mouth of the Mean to have the sun behind proved most worthwhile as not only were the neighbouring groynes holding small numbers but on the shore line immediately below numerous resting Turnstones.  Having counted 110 it was time to take a photograph or two and when walking back to the road obvious that there other individuals in the area.  One can only guess at the total number present.

Over the road to the the bridge from where I could see a couple of Mallard and a pair of Great Crested Grebe on the pool in front which forms the lowest point of the adjacent Titchfield Haven bird reserve. In the distance just showing above the tall grasses a single Canada Goose.  As I was about to move on a pair of Gadwall appeared out of the reeds on my right.

Gadwall Anas strepera

Arriving at the viewing point over said pool it was soon obvious that the breeding Common Terns had now departed but still a good number of Black-headed Gulls.  Both Coot and Moorhen on the open water but the few Mallard present seemed to be taken a sleep on the island in front of me.  Whilst a pair of Gadwall moved to the right a couple of resting Cormorant and a Great Black-backed Gull rested on top of the island. The peace was suddenly shattered by the raucus call of a Cetti's Warbler below me that then showed briefly form a bush in front.

Great Black-backed Gull Larus marinus with Cormorant to right

The tide was now on the turn and the sea level in the small harbour was rapidly dropping revealing more Mallard and a feeding Rock Dove.  Moving  northwards along the front I noticed that the Turnstones were beginning to disperse so decided time to return home for an early breakfast.  Passing through the outskirts of Titchfield on the narrow, country lane I then recorded a number of Magpie along with a couple of Collared Dove plus Wren, Carrion Crow and an early-feeding Barn Swallow.

Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo

Birds seen:

Canada Goose, Gadwall, Mallard, Great Crested Grebe, Cormorant, Moorhen, Coot, Turnstone, Black-headed Gull, Great Black-backed Gull, Rock Dove, Wood Pigeon, Collared Dove, Barn Swallow, Blackbird, Cetti's Warbler, Magpie, Carrion Crow, 

Mallard Anas platyrhynchos

More Turnstones Arenaria interpres

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Saturday 28 August 2021

Hamble River, Warsash

Black-headed Gull Larus ridibundus

 Saturday 28 August

Two early morning walks up the Hamble River at very low tide from the start at Southampton Water finally produced a combined total of 24 species. Whereas yesterday, Friday, was a beautiful, clear and sunny stat at 8am, today a little more cloud at 7.45 which masked the early sun plus a cold breeze from the east.  Good job I had exchanged yesterday's sleeveless for a jumper!  Overall, there seemed to be more bids about yesterday including juvenile Shelduck and half-dozen Rock Doves.  On the other hand, this morning produce the other 16 species plus a single Lapwing, Oystercatchers, the handful of Jackdaw, a flock of Teal rather than a pair and late Collared Dove and Magpie, the last as I approached our new home close to the shore.

A group of Black-tailed Godwits Limosa limosa

Whereas on both walks there were numerous Black-headed Gulls from the off, yesterday I started with a score of Turnstone on the first stretch of muddy beach whilst today the smart waders were fewer and more spread out.  But the Black-tailed Godwits were out in numbers again but probably more widely spread along my two-kilometre walk up stream.  Today an early Greenshank followed by another pair later in the walk.  Lots of Redshank gathered at the water's edge and, again, plenty of Ringed Plovers.

Greenshank Tringa nebularia

Just the one Whimbrel and fewer Curlew to be soon.  Whilst pondering that though I heard the plainful cry of a departing Oystercatcher and soon found another.  The first of two Heron was resting near the far end of the Warsash to Hamble ferry landing strip and, at the same time, a Wood Pigeon took off from the path in front of me and a trio of Starling flew in to forage on the weeded shore.

Distant Curlew Numenius arquata

Continuing on I soon found another Curlew followed by the first Little Egret of the morning.  A pair of Carrion Crows were scavenging on the beach to me left whilst on the wet meadow to the right  a couple of Herring Gulls resting near the many Black-headed Gulls.

Herring Gull Larus argentatus

Very little on the protected roosting /nesting area on the right other than a second Little Egret and a Redshank but up returning to the site less than ten minutes later as I made my way back a dozen Teal had arrive - but no juvenile Shelduck on this occasion.

Little Egret Egretta garzetta

Checking the area at the back of this stretch of wet meadow I found a single Lapwing and to the side of the channel both a half-dozen Jackdaw and couple of Carrion Crow.  All the outward species were recorded on the return walk along with another couple of Pied Wagtail.  In the trees at the back near the large houses a Collared Dove was calling and, finally, approaching the road and home a single Magpie.

"Tatty looking" Carrion Crow Corvus corone

Birds seen:

Shelduck, Teal, Little Egret, Heron, Oystercatcher, Ringed Plover, Lapwing, Dunlin, Black-tailed Godwit, Whimbrel, Curlew, Greenshank, Redshank, Turnstone, Black-headed Gull, Herring Gull, Rock Dove, Wood Pigeon, Collared Dove, Pied Wagtail, Magpie, Jackdaw, Carrion Crow, Starling.

More photos:

Pied Wagtail

Black-tailed Godwits Limosa limosa

Whimbrel Numenius phaeopus

Heron Ardea cinerea

Turnstone Arenaria interpres

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Tuesday 24 August 2021

Frampton Marsh and Baston Gravel Pits Lincolnshire

 Tuesday 24 August

Frampton Marsh looking west towards the Visitors Centre

Arriving at Frampton Marsh near Boston at 7.20 this morning in time to greet the waders being pushed up by the high tide just after8, I had a couple of Rook as I approached the turn off the A16 then both Collared Dove and Dunnock passing by Frampton church near the entrance to the reserve.  Straight to the bottom car park, noticing a few Wood Pigeon on the way, to check out the Saltmarsh and immediately obvious that the water levels were even lower than my last visit and there appeared to be relatively few birds about.  The odd Teal and Mallard along with a Snipe on the shallow water on my left as I approached the steps up to the embankment top and on the opposite side a couple of Cormorant.  From the top one could see that all the channels had now been filled by the incoming tide and no shortage of Back-backed Gulls nor a good number of Little Egret.  A huge flock of Starling were resting on fences near the grazing cattle and to my left a quartering Marsh Harrier.  One of the almost dry channels on the reserve side of the embankment held a Ruff and good-sized flock of feeding Dunlin

Ruff Philomachus pugnax accompanied by feeding Dunlin Calidris alpina

Back at the gate and looking over the northern side of the wet grassland I found another Snipe along with Teal, Moorhen and Lapwing.  A first of very many Pied Wagtails was also recorded and, even better, a Yellow Wagtail a little further away from the boundary fence.  Further away I was also able to find a number of Black-tailed Godwit, Little Ringed and many Ringed Plovers along with a Little Stint, pair of Common Tern and a handful of Herring Gulls.  Just the one Oystercatcher and, hearing the deafening "honking", looked up to see scores of Canada Geese preparing to land in front of me.

Black-tailed Godwit Limosa limosa

Time to retreat to the main car park and check out the waters near to the, yet to open, Visitors Centre. From a vantage point to the west of the building I could see very many Greylag Geese and the distant flock of 21 Spoonbill.  In front of me Coot, a couple of feeding Black-tailed Godwit, Teal and a second Yellow Wagtail.  Also present no less than four Green Sandpipers.

21 Spoonbill Platalea leucorodia on site

Moving to the other side of the Visitors Centre a better view of the distant Spoonbill along with very large numbers of Black-tailed Godwit, Dunlin and Knot which had been driven onto the reserve from the adjacent Wash as the high tide reached its peak.  Also present more Coot and maybe a dozen Little Grebe plus Little Egrets and Mute Swans.

Sleeping Knot Calidris canutus hidden behind the Black-tailed Godwits Limosa limosa

A Shelduck few away from the water and made me realise just how many Teal had arrived on site since my last visit.  On a nearby scrape, in addition to the many feeding Dunlin, I also found  small number of Sanderling and, at last, a couple of Avocet.

Mainly Dunlin Calidris alpina

Making my way to the 360 and Reedbed Hides I was aware of the very large charm of Goldfinch and, passing though the reedbed, a couple of Reed Warblers.  Very little water to be seen from the former but feeding the edges numerous Dunlin and many more Ruff.  Once in the Reedbed Hide I picked out more Teal and Mallard along with a couple of Tufted Duck.

Ruff Philomachus pugnax

Time to return the scope to the car and take a walk along the path heading northwards from the rear of the Visitors Centre.  Nothing new to add other than the Blackbird and a few House Sparrows at the first corner near the entrance roads. Returning to the car park I noticed that the information board had been updated and the rare Black Stork had once again been seen on the reserve in the fields over looked by the car par park. Stopping to ask a couple of lady birders with their scope standing near my car I asked if they had seen the Black Stork, the positive response was that it was right in front of me and about an hundred meters distance.  Once seen with the bins I even manged to get a quick photograph before the bird took flight to the right then turned round to head out towards the Wash.

The distant and recognisable visiting Black Stork Ciconia nigra

What a way to end a visit and then, as I approached the country lane at the reserve's exit, a Pheasant feeding in a field to my left and, as I stopped to watch, a Magpie flew past.  Meanwhile, still at rest, I noticed the half-dozen Barn Swallows resting on the wires opposite the first cottage.  But with the prospect of sunnier weather once away from the coast and in no hurry, I decided to return home with a slight deviation to take in a short stop at Baston Gravel Pits, recording a Heron crossing above the road as I approached Deeping St Nichols.

Barn Swallow Hirundo rustica

Arriving at the two main pools at Baston Gravel Pits I quickly noted the nearby Magpie, Jackdaw, Wood Pigeon and Carrion crows.  On the western water a number of Little Grebe, Mallard and a few Pochard along with both Lesser Black-backed and Herring Gulls.  A Moorhen was eventually discovered skulking in the edges and then a Little Egret.  A handful of Cormorant were resting on the island.  Moving across the road, the eastern water held a large number of resting Greylag Geese and Lapwing along with Coot and Mallard plus both Tufted Duck and Pochard. A good number of Mute Swans and it was whilst scoping two of the Mute Swans that I found a lone Sandwich Tern resting alongside the ducks and geese.  Enjoyable morning resulting in over fifty species being recorded including both the Black Stork and Sandwich Tern.

Distant record shot of the Sandwich Tern Sterna sandvicensis immediately left of the Mute Swan

Birds seen:

Greylag Goose, Canada Goose, Mute Swan, Shelduck, Mallard, Teal, Pochard, Tufted Duck, Pheasant, Little Grebe, Cormorant, Little Egret, Heron, Black Stork, Spoonbill,  Marsh Harrier, Moorhen, Coot, Oystercatcher, Avocet, Little Ringed Plover, Ringed Plover, Lapwing, Knot, Sanderling, Little Stint, Dunlin, Ruff, Snipe, Black-tailed Godwit, Green Sandpiper, Black-headed Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Herring Gull, Sandwich Tern, Common Tern, Wood Pigeon, Collared Dove, Barn Swallow, Yellow Wagtail, Pied Wagtail, Dunnock, Blackbird, Reed Warbler, Magpie, Jackdaw, Rook, Carrion Crow, Starling, House Sparrow, Goldfinch.

Departing Black Stork Ciconia nigra
Sleeping Black-tailed Godwits Limosa limosa with Greylag Geese Anser anser

Lapwing Vanellus vanellus

Greylag Goose Anser anser

Teal Anas crecca

Mute Swan Cygnus olor

Check out the accompanying website at 
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Sunday 22 August 2021

Atlantic Pelagic with Dave Elliott-Binns

 Sunday 22 August

I may be back in the UK at the moment but, nevertheless, it was great to receive an emailed report from my friend Dave Elliott-Binns about his Atlantic pelagic trip last Saturday, this time using  the port at Chipiona in Cadiz province, along with friends Derek Etherton and Ricky Owen under the leadership of Javi Elloriaga of Birding the Strait. Given the recent winds it was wonderful that the trip actually managed to take place.

Pelagic out of Chipiona:   Saturday 21st August

I left Arboleas on the Friday morning and stopped off at the Fuente de Piedra reserve.  Unfortunately there was very little water there and only saw about 30 Greater Flamingos in the distance.  I made my way to Chipiona and stayed overnight in the cheap hotel I had used last year when we went out from Rota.  This time the port was only 10 minutes away. Stupidly I misread the boarding instruction and waited at the wrong cafe!  I could see the boat on the other side of the harbour, so after a call from Javi, the organiser, I was only a few minutes late.  The bonus was that whilst I was waiting I saw at least 4 Little Swifts going to and from some nests under the roof of an open ended warehouse!

We left the harbour just after 8am and headed out into the Atlantic.  Javi said we'd be going out about 14 kilometres.  Birding was slow to start with.  We first saw a Gannet and the occasional Balearic Shearwater.  A low flying distant Great Skua was noted.  

Balearic Shearwater Puffinus mauretanicus (PHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)

Javi, who was spotter at the front, observed a small raft of white birds which turned out to be Common Terns.  He then shouted that there was a huge plethora (not his word!) of gulls ahead and we'd investigate.  Sure enough there were Black-headed, Lesser Black-backs and Yellow-legged Gulls.  Amongst them were more Balearic and Cory's Shearwaters.  

Cory's Shearwater Calonectris diomedea (PHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)

The odd Manx Shearwater was also seen.  We then had good views of some Great Shearwaters
Great Shearwater Puffinus gravis (PHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)

Javi was dropping "chum", popcorn & wotsit type snacks, off the back which attracted hoards of gulls plus some of the shearwaters.  A couple of Sooty Shearwaters came in quite close.  Two Great Skuas and an Arctic Skua skirted round the gulls chasing any with grub in its mouth.  An immature Gannet also came to investigate.  Our only Audouin's Gull of the day arrived and after various passes virtually took a sardine out of Javi's outstretched hand!

Sooty Shearwater Puffinus friseus (PHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)

We headed back in, hot and exhausted...well, I was!  The last bird on the list was a Turnstone on the quayside.

The sea was choppy at times so please excuse the amount and quality of my photos!  A grand total of 15 species seen.  Still no petrels for me.  Maybe next time!
Regards, Dave

Check out the accompanying website at http://www.birdingaxarquia.weebly.com for the latest sightings, photographs and additional information