Monday 28 February 2022

Titchfield Shore and Canal

Monday 28 February

A double visit this morning albeit both of limited duration due to still high tide and need to be back home before 11am.  First to the Meon shore at Titchfield have where, as soon as I got out of the car parked on Cliff Road above Hill head sailing Club I was able to use the scope and find a line of eight Common Scoter about 200 metres off shore and slowly working their way northwards.  Also below me a couple of Black-headed Gulls and singing in the bush to my left a Dunnock.

Meon shore looking south towards Hill Head

Time to walk down to the shore and a call in at the hide adjacent to the Titchfield Haven reserve produced both Dunnock and Great Tit.  Just round the corner at he public viewing point a couple of Gadwall and a number of Coot plus a trio of Cormorant.  Also on the small island a sleeping Oystercatcher and over in the reserve proper I could see numerous Black-headed Gulls and a small number of resting Teal.

The now full harbour held thirty mallard and a quartet of foraging Turnstone on what little shore had now become exposed whilst oh the shore at the front at least seven resting Ringed Plover.  Finally, a look up the Meon from the road on the beach front confirmed a couple of Canada Geese and a passing Carrion Crow.  There were also a few Wood Pigeons to be seen in the trees at the back.  Returning to the car on top of the hill I once more enjoyed the singing Dunnock along with a Robin and a few Starlings on the roofs opposite.

Turnstone Arenaria interpres

Then it was off towards home but with a stop in Titchfield itself to walk a short distance along the canal path. No sooner out of the car and I was surrounded by Wood Pigeons and a number of Blue Tits in the adjacent trees.  Lovely to see a Nuthatch land in a tree before setting off to the Barn Owl viewing point a bout aa hundred metres distant.  Black-headed Gulls were flying around me and then I stopped to first note both Blue and Great Tits but then a lovely pair of displaying Wrens.  As the Wrens departed they took with them the previously concealed Blackbird.

Blue Tit Parus caeruleus

Checking the old, ruined tree I was surprised to find nobody at home.  Were the Barn Owls off feeding, now about ten thirty and on the cloudy side but quite calm, or had they moved on to pastures new?

On the main water away to my left a number of Coots and mallard along with both Gadwall and Pintails.  Beyond the water a trio of Magpie and more Wood Pigeons.  In addition to the Black-headed there was also a small number of Herring Gulls. More Great Tits and Chaffinches as I carried on for a few more metres to take a closer look at the second lagoon where I dully found a large resting flock of Wigeon along with a few Shoveler.  At the edge of the water a half-dozen Jackdaw were bust bathing and drinking.  making my way back to the car a second viewing of the Wrens along with a pair of Robins.  In the trees behind the car park many more Blue Tits and a party of eight Greenfinches.  In the end a most enjoyable double visit which produced a total of 29 species in about 70 minutes viewing.

Birds seen:

Canada Goose, Gadwall, Wigeon, Mallard, Shoveler, Teal, Pintail, Common Scoter, Cormorant, Coot, Oystercatcher, Ringed Plover, Turnstone, Black-headed Gull, Herring Gull, Wood Pigeon, Wren, Dunnock, Robin, Blackbird, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Nuthatch, Magpie, Jackdaw, Carrion Crow, Starling, Chaffinch, Greenfinch

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

Sunday 27 February 2022

Hayling Island Oyserbeds

Mediterranean Gulls Larus melancocephalus

 Saturday 26 February

Off early at 7.40 to make a first visit to the Oysterbeds at Hayling Island by walking the "Billy Trail."  Or, at least, I would have been had I not opened the front door to discover that we had had a serious frost overnight and the car was now a white-out!  A good ten minutes later I finally got under way and was still at the site's car park at the the very north of the island.  Other than being very cold, still only about 6C, it was a glorious, clear and sunny morning and the temperature did finally creep up to double figures albeit I was only on site for a couple of hours.

From Hayling Island looking towards the mainland with road bridge on right and former railway track on left

As can be seen from the above photograph the Billy Trail follows the line of the former railway branch line from Havant to the south of Hayling island.  To the right you can see the present road bridge from the mainland to the island with Langstone Harbour, beyond the bank on the left, to the left and Chichester harbour to the right beyond the road bridge.  The line has long ben lifted (I last visited by train as a schoolboy around 1955) and although the wooden railway bridge has now been removed it is rather nostalgic to see the signal still in place.)

Langstone Harbour with Portsmouth in the distance and resting Black-tailed Godwits Limosa limosa in front

The tide was on its way out leaving much exposed mud upon which numerous Brent Geese were feeding.  Also present many Redshank, a few Oystercatchers and the occasional Curlew. A single Little Egret was also in sight.  No shortage of Back-headed Gulls and as I started off on the trail a Carrion Crow passed inland overhead.

Black-tailed Godwit Limosa limosa with Redshank Tringa totanus right

Looking at the first enclosure between bank and the main harbour a small flock of Shelduck and Shoveler were feeding.  Still more Black-headed but also a few Herring Gulls in addition to the constant supply  Redshank.

Curlew Numenius arquata

The next bed held similar birds but now the first of a good number of Pintail.  A trio of House Sparrows were flitting around in the bushes behind m but below by the water my first sighting of the many Black-tailed Godwits that I was about to see.

Pintails Anas acuta

Reaching within sight of the lower car park I now had a series of earth barriers separating the pools with a path that would also take me to the end of  spit with views over the open water.  Some time spent searching these banks with their numerous Black-headed Gulls but then I was on to the main flock of Mediterranean Gulls.  What a lovely sight and so missed since moving back from the Spanish coast in Malaga province where they were the de facto gull of the area.  But still Redshank, Oystercatcher and Curlew to be found.  Nevermind the magpie foraging the ground in front of me my attention was completely focused on the seven Red-breasted Mergansers that had entered the enclosure at the far end.  And yet by the time I had reached the far end for a closer look these birds had moved to the opposite end behind me!  

Very distant Red-breasted Mergansers Mergus serrator

Still checking the shore I found more Black-tailed Godwits and a small flock of Dunlin which also included a few Ringed Plovers. A view of a close Curlew and Oystercatcher before retracing my steps and taking more photographs of the Mediterranean Gulls, finding another quintet of Red-breasted Mergansers and so on to the end of the spit.  The tide was now retreating at a quicker pace and it took some searching before finding the pair of Black-necked Grebes diving in and out of the water about ten metres off shore.

Red-breasted Mergansers Mergus serrator

Continuing my walk back to the car park I continued to find the above mixture of waders, gulls and geese including more Little Egrets with both Wood Pigeon and Starling seen on the inland side of the trail.  A lovely experience and next time I shall know to try and visit on the incoming rather than outgoing tide.  Only 21 species but what a lovely selection.

Little Egret Egretta garzetta

Birds seen:

Brent Goose, Shelduck, Shoveler, Pintail, Red-breasted Merganser, Black-necked Grebe, Little Egret, Oystercatcher, Ringed Plover, Dunlin, Black-tailed Godwit, Curlew, Redshank, Black-headed Gull, Mediterranean Gull, Herring Gull, Wood Pigeon, Magpie, Carrion Crow, Starling, House Sparrow.

Oystercatcher Haematopus ostralegus with Ringed Plover Charadrius hiaticula in front

Curlew Numenius arquata

Black-tailed Godwits Limosa limosa

Brent Goose Branta bernicla with the small Dunlin Calidris alpina flock

Mediterranean Gulls Larus melanocephalus but also note Black-headed Gulls Larus ridibundus in lower picture

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

Blashford Lakes, New Forest

 Friday 25 February

Nuthatch Sitta euroaea

At last a beautiful day with clear blue skies and little wind, even if the temperature was still down in single figures at the start but did rise to around 14C by mid-afternoon.  So off with jenny to the New Forest to explore the highly recommended site of Blashford Lakes just north of Ringwood.  And what a fabulous site it turned out to be and, I suspect, one that will receive regular visits in the coming months - subject to their being any fuel available the way the price per litre has rocketed in the past fortnight.

Whilst parking the car we already had busy Blackbirds, Wood Pigeon and both Great and Blue Tits near the car and then the short walk to the Visitors Centre which produced a Green Woodpecker quickly followed by Carrion Crow, numerous Chaffinches and Long-tailed Tit.

Grey Heron Ardea cinerea

Our first walk was to the Ivy North Hide where the wintering Bittern was to be found, but not by us. A couple of Mute Swans with an almost complete nest, which had also attracted a couple of Coot, and then a Heron dropped in to explore the open channel in the reeds to our left.  Meanwhile, on the wat a lot of activity but, unfortunately, to our right and appearing as distant silhouettes in the very bright, low sunshine.  However, a good number of Black-headed Gulls moving about and a couple of Great Crested Grebes in front of the hide.  Eventually, we were able to locate Mallards and many Tufted Duck along with a good number of Pochards.  On the far side we also found a Moorhen and a Little Egret.

Great Crested Grebe Podiceps cristatus

Walking through the trees to the Woodland Hide we picked up a Great Spotted Woodpecker and a quartet of Mallard on a small, shaded pool.  A Nuthatch was working the trees immediately in front of us and, as we approached the hide, an additional bird feeder was encouraging the local Siskins to visit the area.  Once inside the hide, with mainly fixed windows, we soon had the reward of seeing so many visiting small birds tot he feeders along with a Jay that was making the most of a second feeder on regular visits.  Lots of Blue and Great Tits plus the later arrival of a handful of Long-tailed Tits.  In addition to the many Chaffinch, also a small number of Goldfinch and a couple of Reed Buntings.  Both Dunnock and Robin were working the ground areas and later joined by a pair of Blackbirds. The arrival of the Nuthatch was a great sight for all those inside the hide but even more the brief visit of a Marsh Tit.

Jay Garrulus glandarius

We stopped opposite the small pool to our right to observe a pair of Gadwall and were also rewarded by the sight of a Kingfisher which eventually moved off to the south. Once inside the hide the sight of many Wigeon and Shoveler along with resting Cormorants, more Mute Swans and Great Crested Grebe.  In addition to Black-headed we also recorded Herring Gulls.

Male Reed Bunting Emberiza schoeniclus

Male Chaffinch Fringilla coelebs

Goldfinch Carduelis carduelis (left) with male Siskin Carduelis spinus

Time to return to the car but not before revisiting the Woodland Hide where a Redpoll had been seen since our departure.  However, a Great Spotted Woodpecker came to work the tree immediately in front and also a Coal Tit.  Recording our missed Redpoll with the warden, I looked up and there at the top of the tree immediately in front of us the bid itself!  Arriving back at the car a Song Thrush dashed across the path in front of me.

Great Spotted Woodpecker Dendrocopos major

Only a very short stop at nearby Tern Hide as all the bird life seemed to be resting at the far end other than a small flock of Tufted Duck.  With the scope we could pick out many Cormorant and Shoveler and also a Magpie on the grassy banks.  However, just before departing we did record a trio of Lesser Black-backed Gulls on the mid-distant waters.  Then it was off to the local pub overlooking Rashford Lake for a light lunch.  Lunch completed a short return to the Visitors Centre an on to Ivy North Hide in search of the missing Bittern.  One birder had found the individual near the Mute Swan's nest but not one of the rest of us could confirm a sighting.  On the other hand, a Little Grebe put in an appearance.

Tufted Duck Aythya fuligula

Early afternoon so a slight diversion on the way home to take in two further pools in the New Forest.  First stop Eyeworth recording Starling, Blackbird and Wood Pigeon before noting the many Mallard and just the one Mandarin Duck and  Moorhen on the water.  Still many Blue and Great Tits along with a Robin near the feeders plus many Chaffinches.

Male Mandarin Duck Aix galericulata

A first visit to Cadnam Pond was somewhat disappointing due to a mixture of time of day and many visitors.  However, amongst the Mallard and a couple of Moorhen along with seven Canada Geese we did find a single Mandarin Duck. Again, more Chaffinches and Great Tits.

And so time to eventually set off back to Warsash.  Stopping near Bolderwood we watched a Raven flying past and then not only the expected Chaffinches and Blackbirds but wo sightings of close Mistle Thrushes to bring the day's species tally up to 46.

Birds seen:

Canada Goose, Mute Swan, Mandarin Duck, Gadwall, Wigeon, Mallard, Shoveler, Pochard, Tufted Duck, Little Grebe, Great Crested Grebe, Cormorant, Little Egret, Heron, Moorhen, Coot, Black-headed Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Herring Gull, Wood Pigeon, Kingfisher, Green Woodpecker, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Dunnock, Robin, Blackbird, Song Thrush, Mistle Thrush, Long-tailed Tit, Marsh Tit, Coal tit, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Nuthatch, Jay, Magpie, Jackdaw, Rook, Carrion Crow, raven, Starling, Chaffinch, Goldfinch, Siskin, Redpoll, Reed Bunting.

Great Spotted Woodpecker Dendrocopos major

Female Blackbird Turdus merula

Long-tailed Tit Aegithalos caudatus

Female Siskin Carduelis spinus

Male Siskin Carduelis spinus

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

Wednesday 23 February 2022

Lower Hamble River

Peregrine Falcon Falco peregrinus

Wednesday 23 February

Different walk this morning. Took the bus to A27 bridge over the River Hamble and then walked back down steam to Warsash,  The main problem was that once at the riverside it was neither that much warmer nor less windy than I had previously thought.  Perhaps not the best choice of clothes but at least I was wearing an extra body-warmer! On the hand, at least it was dry rather than the expected further rain and the Sun did try and put in an appearance.  Once at the water's edge the first observation was that it seems to be only further upsteam and away from the mud flats that I find both Mallard and Gadwall and, further on down the river, most noticeable that the large flocks of both Wigeon and Teal seem to have split up into smaller groups, but still good numbers of both.  Brent Geese were both the first and last sighting along the river complete with small groups all the way south.

Having seen the first handful of Brent Geese they were quickly followed by a small flock of resting Black-headed with a couple of Herring Gulls.  Moving round the first bend I found a pair of Mallard, and another pair a few hundred metres on, followed by a pair of Gadwall.  Indeed, just a few minutes later another quartet of Gadwall resting with a first year Mute Swan rapidly coming into its white feathering.  Meanwhile, on the land side of the track, a first Wood Pigeon before find a larger group  later on, whist foraging under a slipway a lone Turnstone.  But the biggest surprise was the bare tree in the adjoining wood that held a collection of dark shapes at the top.  Without a scope, the birds appeared too small to be Carrion Crows which are found in abundance yet too large to be Starlings. having counted a dozen and conformed jackdaws I was somewhat surprised to see the end bird on the left (see photograph) appeared to have a white front.  Most odd.  But all was revealed when I enlarged the photograph on the computer upon returning home to discover a male Peregrine Falcon. Now that really was a great find for the morning.

A dozen Jackdaws Corvus monedula but look at the interloper!

So back on the trail and not only more Brent but a handful of Canada Geese, one on the water and the others in a field on the opposite side of the track.  The first Redshanks were recorded and soon after the first of the many small groups of Teal.

Teal Anas crecca

By now I had reached the conservation area which was surprisingly quiet with just a couple of Teal and a few Black-headed and single Herring Gull. On the water the first of the Wigeon and also a first Curlew of the morning.  Watching the Curlew feeding around a large rock I could not but help smiling as the bird crossed its legs performing some perfect dance steps!

Curlew Numenius arquata

Black-tailed Godwits were then seen including a good-sized collection just off the shore. After more and more Wigeon were encountered I was near the muddy islands where I first found a single Grey Plover ad below it a few of the hundred plus feeding Dunlin.  On the meadow side of the path a lone Greenshank appeared right in front of me and at the same time I discovered the camera battery was flat.  Now isn't that just typical birding!  

A few of the very many Dunlin Calidris alpina accomapanied by Teal and Wigeon Anas penelope

There was only the one Oystercatcher to be seen all morning but the first Carrion Crow was next to put in an appearance.  A single Little Grebe was working the now flooded bay and leaving the waterside and more Brent Geese I took the narrow path back towards the house noting the Magpie sitting atop a chimney on a neighbouring house.

Birds seen:

Brent Goose, Canada Goose, Mute Swan, Gadwall, Wigeon, Mallard, Teal, Little Grebe, Peregrine Falcon, Oystercatcher, Grey Plover, Dunlin, Black-tailed Godwit, Curlew, Greenshank, Redshank, Turnstone, Black-headed Gull, Common Gull, Herring Gull, Wood Pigeon, Rock Dove, Magpie, Jackdaw, Carrion Crow.

Black-tailed Godwit Limosa limosa (above and below)

Black-headed Gull Larus ridibundus

Common (Mew) Gull Larus canus

Herring Gull Larus argentatus

Curlew Numenius arquata

Gadwall Anas strepera (male above, female below)

Gadwall with Mute Swan Cygnus olor

Grey Plover Pluvialis squatarola

Oystercatcher Haematopus ostralegus

Wigeon Anas penelope

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