Friday 7 January
A little later leaving than I had hoped but the sun was shining in some blue sky as I finished my breakfast but when Jenny dropped me off at the top of Workman's lane to walk a complete circuit around the perimeter of Hook with Warsash Nature Reserve it had clouded over somewhat and you could really feel the chill factor in the light, but increasing, wind reducing the temperature to nearer 1C. Thank good ness for the jumper, sleeved fleece and sleeveless birding coat on top, not to forget the beany to keep my head warm! Immediately a small flock of Jackdaw along with both Blue and Great Tits in the hedges on the way towards the sea. By the time I reached the end of the road to take the narrow lane I had also recorded a trio of Curlew foraging a small pool to my right whilst on the main field to the left a dozen or more Black-tailed Godwits were feeding in the flooded dips. Also present over a score of Carrion Crow along with the first Magpie of the day and a couple of Wood Pigeon. A Pied Wagtail made a hurried departure as did the flock of forty Starlings.
|Curlew Numenius arquata|
Once on the shore of Southampton Water I immediately had a feeding flock of over forty Sanderling accompanied by almost fifty resting Oystercatchers. On the water to my left a flock of 70 Canada Geese were paddling out to sea and eventually arrived at a very small shingle island where they tried to join the Cormorant and a pair of Greater Black-backed Gulls. Interestingly, it was whilst the Canada Geese were paddling out to sea that I picked up the two smaller "black blobs" and quickly identified a pair of Common Scoter.
|Sanderling Calidris alba|
Continuing along the shore with the now cold and strong breeze coming in straight off the water, I soon also added a few Redshank and a dozen or more Turnstone. Approaching the scrape I found a single Little Egret on the small, meandering pond and quickly followed by a (true) pair of Stonechat. The scape itself was fuller than I had ever seen on previous visits with no islands exposed. Black-headed Gulls were perched on the few exposed post tops and a number of the Canada Geese had arrived. Just before moving on s I brought the notebook up to date a Little Grebe surfaced on the water to my right.
|Oystercatcher Haemantopus ostralegus|
All then very quiet until I reached the mudflats between the spit and School of Navigation where, after noting the two score Wigeon and a Curlew on the inlet stream, I found the main Brent Geese flock along with many more Oystercatchers and Black-headed Gulls. Also present a number of Teal, a few Mallard and the occasional Carrion Crow. However, the highlight was most probably the lone Bar-tailed Godwit at quite close quarters. Amazing the birds you see when you deliberately leave the camera at home! As I assed the slipway a Rock Pipit landed then flew across the track in front of me and the footpath past the Strawberry Fields produced a Dunnock and I was not surprised that there was still a Robin singing away from the top of the lobster pots opposite the sailing club.
|Brent Geese Branta bernicla|
With the circuit completed in ninety minutes and still no sign of the expected rain. rather than straight into the house I took the footpath down to he lower Hamble and walked up river as far as the conservation area and back. Another thirty-five minutes to try and locate some of the birds I had not seen on the above circuit. And I was certainly not disappointed as I added a further eleven species. First the flock of seventy Dunlin gradually being pushed up by the rising tide and quickly followed by a couple of Herring Gulls. A little longer before I located three Grey Plover and then a mixed flock of Ringed Plover and Dunlin on the muds in front of Bunny Meadow. But of all the birds seen in this final half-hour including very many Wigeon and Teal, more Curlew, Brent Geese and lots of Turnstones and Redshanks, the pick of my selection was probably the pair of resting Greenshank. A lovely morning's birding and still no rain, even if very cold.
|Greenshank Tringa nebularia|
Brent Goose, Canada Goose, Gadwall, Wigeon, Mallard, Teal, Common Scoter, Cormorant, Little Egret, Oystercatcher, Ringed Plover, Grey Plover, Sanderling, Dunlin, Black-tailed Godwit, Bar-tailed Godwit, Curlew, Redshank, Greenshank, Turnstone, Black-headed Gull, Greater Black-backed Gull, Herring Gull, Wood Pigeon, Rock Pipit, Pied Wagtail, Dunnock, Robin, Stonechat, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Magpie, Jackdaw, Carrion Crow, Starling.