Wednesday, 5 January 2022

Exbury area in the New Forest

 Tuesday 4 January

With the rain forecast to stop before lunch and the weather brightening up during the afternoon, Jenny and I left late-morning to visit Exbury Gardens just a couple of miles in from the Solent shore overlooking the Isle of Wight on the eastern side of the New Forest.  

The Isle of Wight and its Needles across the Solent from the New Forest in late afternoon

After a very pleasant drive and the rain dissipaiting, observing Carrion Crow, Rook and Wood Pigeon on the way, we duly arrived at the Gardens around 1pm to discover that they were closed - and later, according to Google Maps, would be closed until mid-June.  Just as well then that on the moor-like countryside approaching our destination we had the pleasure of a Merlin right in front of us as it slipped quietly up and on to the top of a post on our near side.  Unfortunately, the only other car we had seen in the last five miles or so was right behind us on the narrow road so chance to stop for a longer view.

So near to many good birding sites so we continued on into the village itself and made a brief stop at the sports field car park where, on the grass in front of us, we encountered a score or more Redwing along with many Blackbirds, Dunnock, Blue Tit, Chaffinch, Goldfinch and a couple of Robins.

The Goldfinch Carduelis carduelis surrounded by Redwing Turdus iliacus

Then it was on to the shore just west of Lepe where, despite the tide being in, we had a close view of a fishing Razorbill right in front of us.  A handful of Mallards flew across and up into the Beaulieu River  whilst, on a post, we had a resting Black-headed Gull and the first to have colour on its head rather than the mere winter spot.  Also present were a couple of Herring Gulls.  Using the scope to check the shingle "bank" further out in the Solent we found a number of resting Brent Geese and, maybe, at least forty Oystercatchers awaiting the receding tide.  So to Lepe itself and a single Little Egret on the inland water and a Cormorant flying over the Solent.

Razorbill Alca torda

Making our way to Beaulieu itself we added both Pheasant and Chaffinch and then a couple of Mute Swans on the water of the village lake.  After a coffee break we continued on to the ponds just west of the town but found virtually nothing present other than hungry Black-headed Gulls waiting for visitors to arrive and feed then plus a couple of Mute swans, a Moorhen and a pair of Mallard on the water.

Next intended stop was Bucklers hard but no access to the river so made our way south to pick up the Solent once more.  However, at the entrance to the road leading to the mandatory car park a trio of Bullfinches in the hedge along with Greenfinch and a Great Tit.  The hedges on the way were alive with birds, mainly Blackbirds and Robins. However, we did also find four Mistle Thrush, a flock of forty Starlings and a Reed Bunting.

Mistle Thrush Turdus viscivorus

Once at the shore, with the tide full in and the light beginning to fade, the grassy shallows to the left held a small flock of Knot and three Goosander on the open water.  To the right a good-sized flock of Brent Geese and further out a single Grey Plover at the far side of the shallows.  And as we made our way back to Warsash a party of noisy Jackdaws were feeding on the green in the middle of Lyndhurst.  In he end a most enjoyable day.

Just a common Starling Sturnus vulgaris

Birds seen:

Brent Goose, Mute Swan, Mallard, Goosander, Pheasant, Cormorant, Little Egret, Merlin, Moorhen, Oystercatcher, Grey Plover, Knot, Black-headed Gull, Herring Gull, Razorbill, Wood Pigeon, Pied Wagtail, Dunnock, Robin, Blackbird, Redwing, Mistle Thrush, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Jackdaw, Rook, Carrion Crow, Starling, Chaffinch, Greenfinch, Goldfinch, Bullfinch, Reed Bunting.

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

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