Sunday 31 July 2022

Warsash and Solent Shore

 Sunday 31 July

With the forecast suggesting rain by mid-morning I was out of the house just after 8.30 to walk along the foreshore at Warsash and then on down to Southampton Water in very cloudy weather and with a stiff breeze.  Low tide just over an hour previously so water very much on the turn to start pushing the waders up and also, hopefully, some fly over to Hook Pond for a rest.

As I left the house I quickly picked up the first Blackbird and Wood Pigeons and once overlooking the shore added both Black-headed Gulls and Carrion Crows. A Collared Dove and then a huge flock of Starling, certainly at least an hundred, flew over then swirled back inland and a couple of Magpies were on the path in front of me.  Looking down on the water from near Strawberry Fields I found almost a hundred Black-tailed Godwits and the first couple of a half-dozen Little Egrets.  By the time I had reached the Spit I had also added a number of Herring Gulls, Curlew and the first of a dozen Oystercatchers.

Except one, resting Black-headed Gulls Larus ridibundus

Just after the Spit I had a pair of Reed Buntings fly up from the shore with one making a brief landing on a nearby shrub to me left to confirm the identification. Then on to Hook Pond and as entered the viewing area a Linnet bade a hasty retreat (with a group of five making an appearance at the same site on my return walk).  On the water a pair of Mute Swans but only one of the three cygnets on show.  Three Little Grebes along with a few Black-tailed Godwits, a pair of Coot and over thirty resting Mallard.

Black-tailed Godwit Limosa limosa

Moving on to the Meandering Pool, as I entered the scorched area form the devastating fore a fortnight ago a pair of Pied Wagtails were noted.  A couple of Little Egrets and a Heron recoded upon arrival and having noted the reporting over the past few days, I soon fund a single Glossy Ibis at the far end feeding alongside a Black-tailed Godwit.  Then, as I made way back on he return journey before the rain might arrive, I found the other three Glossy Ibis at the back of the pool feeding alongside another Little Egret and Heron.  Great sighting even if the light will not enhance the taken photographs.

The single Glossy Ibis Plegadis falcinellus

And the other three

As I re-entered the path running alongside the burnt habitat site of the Dartford Warbler I was at first amazed, then delighted, to see a Dartford Warbler pass low over the path at the very edge of where healthy met ruined gorse and drop into a nearby low bush.  Whilst giving a clear view, unlike the local Stonechats it refused to pose atop the bush.  But, on the other hand, no sign of a Stonechat to offer company.

Could this Dartford Warbler Sylvia undata be the actual individual seen this morning?  Like a Phoenix rising from the ashes

Moving on back to Hook Pond a second large flock of Starlings swirled over and once on site discovered that most of the Mallards and the male Mute Swan had departed.  However, a lone Cormorant had arrive for a rest and as I moved off a handful of Barn Swallows flew low over the water heading north in the direction of Southampton.  Moving on a single Great Black-backed Gull flew southwards overhead.

Cob (male) Mute Swan Cygnus olor

Once back on the inlet behind the Spit I found the "missing" Mute Swan and, in addition to the many resting Black-headed and small number of Herring Gulls a single resting Common Gull by way of a pleasant change.  Finally, once back amongst the large feeding flock of Black-tailed Godwits I was able to pick out a few Redshank to take the morning's count to 27 species.

Common Gull Larus canus 

Birds seen:

Mute Swan, Mallard, Little Grebe, Cormorant, Glossy Ibis, Little Egret, Heron, Coot, Oystercatcher, Black-tailed Godwit, Curlew, Redshank, Black-headed Gull, Common Gull, Great Black-backed Gull, Herring Gull, Wood Pigeon, Collared Dove, Barn Swallow, Pied Wagtail, Blackbird, Dartford Warbler, Magpie, Carrion Crow, Starling, Linnet, Reed Bunting.

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Saturday 30 July 2022

Warsash - Lower Hamble River

 Saturday 30 July

Lovely calm morning at 6.30 as I started my walk up the Hamble River in Warsash to just beyond the conservation area and back at low tide.  With the low, early morning sunlight a mixture of deep shadow and sudden low, bright light whenever I looked inland, whereas all the shore birds were upwards of a hundred yards out.  Wood Pigeon, Carrion Crow and Blackbird on the path between entry to the river and ferry pier and on the adjacent muddy shore both Herring and Black-headed Gulls.

Black-tailed Godwit Limosa limosa

To the right of the path on the muddy flats a number of Black-headed Gulls and in the deep, empty channel stretching up to the back of the reedbed a trio of Lapwing plus a well-grown Water Rail that had made a very brief appearance on the edge of the reeds.  Near the river's edge  the first of many Redshank and Black-tailed Godwits that were to be seen and on the water itself a pair of Mute Swans.

Well-grown Water Rail chick Rallus aquaticus

Moving on towards the conservation area a Curlew on both the river shore and the inland mudflats.  Two Oystercatchers also noted with one wearing a couple of identification rings. A lone Pied Wagtail was feeding on a grassy bank in the mud and then, at the conservation area, both a couple of Little Egrets and a Heron along with more Redshanks and Black-tailed Godwits.

Curlew Numenius arquata

Making my way back I added another Heron at the ferry pier and a couple of Starling on the nearby path. Just when I was pondering on the fact that I had no seen a Magpie this morning, I exited the riverside path onto Passage Lane and there was a Magpie, sitting as calmly as you like on top of a telegraph pole immediately outside my front gate; must have known he would be sorely missed!

Colour ringed Oystercatcher Haematopus ostralegus  - now where was he/she ringed?

Birds seen:

Canada Goose, Mute Swan, Little Egret, Heron, Water Rail, Oystercatcher, Lapwing, Black-tailed Godwit, Curlew, Redshank, Black-headed Gull, Herring Gull, Wood Pigeon, Pied Wagtail, Blackbird, Magpie, Carrion Crow, Starling.

Grey Heron Ardea cinerea

Distant Lapwing Vanellus vanellus

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Friday 29 July 2022

Exbury, New Forest East

Friday 29 July 

A morning visit to Exbury Gardens near the mouth of the Beaulieu river in the eastern New Forest with Jenny led to a walk round the gardens and ride on the garden train as well as taking note of the birds seen.  Not many and the garden looking dry and in desperate need of prolonged rain even if the sprinklers seemed to be working overtime.  A number of Robins and Blackbirds then a few Wood Pigeon before coming across both Carrion Crow and House Sparrow.  From the train as we passed the pond a sight of the well-grown Moorhen chicks and, following a coffee off down the country lanes to the nearby Solent shore.

Robin Erithacus rubecula

Upon arriving the tide was just about full in and most birds seemed to be taking a well-earned rest on the grassy islands.  Mainly Black-headed Gulls and Oystercatchers but we did also fond a single Little Egret and Lesser Black-backed Gull along with a handful of Herring Gulls.  Moving back to Exbury village we then added both Magpie and Chaffinch before an overpass of a trio of Starling.

Little Egret Egretta garzetta

Birds seen:

Little Egret, Moorhen, Oystercatcher, Black-headed Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Herring Gull, Wood Pigeon, Robin, Blackbird, Magpie, Carrion Crow, Starling, House Sparrow, Chaffinch.

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Thursday 28 July 2022

Pennington Marshes near Lymington

Lesser Yellowlegs Tringa flavipes

 Tuesday 26 July

With the visiting Lesser Yellowlegs reported, after a full week, to be still in residence at the western end of the Normandy Lagoon near Pennington Marshes I thought it was time to once again visit this rewarding site on the Solent coast south of Lymington. Departing early  to the accompaniment of a local Collared Dove and arriving with Jenny just before 8, we were in time to find the best parking place on Normandy Lane for the short walk down to the large lagoon.  A Magpie on the filed to our left, Wood Pigeons and Carrion Crows to our right and a dozen Barn Swallows above we soon on the lagoon's western embankment.  Lots of waders immediately on view but not helped by the sun coming in low to our right.  Lots of Redshank, Oystercatchers and a number of Shelduck immediately recorded, followed quickly by both Black-headed Gulls and a couple of Little Egret.

"Strange" wader feeding alongside Redshanks Tringa totanus

Now time to scan the water from half-way along the western embankment in search of the Lesser YellowlegsGreenshank identified amongst the many Redshanks and a strange looking bird acting like a Phalarope with its tight-circle feeding activity but surely, more like likely a Redshank in the shade of the left-hand end of the large island immediately in front.  Back to the right-hand side where we found a single Grey Plover and as it paused bear a broke piece of concrete we saw the Little Tern resting at its end.

Grey Plover Pluvialis squatarola (right) with Little Tern Sterna albifrons

On round to the southern embankment where three other birders were studying the lagoon and one having been present since 5am and without success in finding the Lesser Yellowlegs.  Indeed, overnight the wind had dropped and changed direction so we were all surmising that the bird may have departed to pastures new. Below us another flock of Redshank along with a small number of Dunlin, a handful of Turnstone, more Oystercatchers and even a couple of Ringed Plovers.  Off to the far, northern, end both a pair of Little and a single Great Crested Grebe.  However, by far the best sighting was the pair of Red Knot, both still with their red fronts albeit most of the time asleep and facing away from us.

Red Knot Calidris canutus

No sooner had a score of Canada Geese flown over westwards and away to the main marshland than we received a hand signal from the birder who had been on sight since first light that he had found our target bird so we remainers upped and move back to the west embankment ad I found myself standing in the original position where I first searched for the bird.  Now the Lesser Yellowlegs was almost underneath the embankment just a metre or so into the water and within ten metres of we observers.  And would you believe it, the very same bird I had seen on first arriving and acting like a feeding Phalarope.  Yes, smaller than a Redshank but more more like a Marsh Sandpiper.  What a way to end this part of our visit to Pennington Marshes.

Lesser Yellowlegs Tringa flavites

Then followed the short drive to Lower Pennington to park the car at the end of the lane and walk down to the shore so that we could inspect the inland pools. Immediately upon arriving a Robin and the walk down to the shore produced Barn Swallows above, a pair of Whitethroats along with a couple of Wren and a handful of House Sparrows.  It was whilst checking the Greenfinch perched at the top of a large bush that we noticed the movement below and finally managed to catch a quick record shot of the feeding Willow Warbler.

Willow Warbler Phylloscopus trochilus

Once on the embankment we stopped to watch a pair of Stonechat and moving eastwards to the large pool found a lovely flock of resting Black-tailed Godwit and more gulls, Carrion Crows, Shelduck and Oystercatchers.

Stonechat Saxicola torquatus

Black-tailed Godwit Limosa limosa

Next a walk westwards along the embankment noticing the pair of Great Crested Grebes on the Solent before reaching the main lagoon which, sadly was very devoid of water. Lots of resting Black-headed Gulls along with eight Little Egret, Heron and Moorhen.  No shortage either of Mallards of mixed age. Close at hand a couple of Reed Warblers and a Lapwing checking out the lower path whilst, towards the sea, a Cormorant flew westwards.

Lapwing Vanellus vanellus

The also very dry next pool provided a mass of Avocet including many juveniles.  Also a number of resting young Shelduck.  Wader numbers were made up with Dunlin, Common Sandpiper, Ringed Plover and a still summer-plumaged Sanderling.  far away to my left I could see a pair of Mute Swan and as I walked down the embankment to my final pool a Dunnock was feeding on the path in front of me.
Avocets Recurvirostra avosetta

Sanderling Calidris alba

It was as I approached this last water that I noticed the dark shape in the water grass on the edge of the Solet.  Closer inspection revealed a lone Whimbrel that then settle down to rest before I could get a record shot.  On the reeds below the track next to the pool a couple of Reed Bunting were bust foraging along the edges.

Sleeping Whimbrel Numenius phaeopus

Then it was back to the path to take me inland and the car park, recording a number of Blackbirds on the way.  Before leaving I took the extra short walk to check out the large pool adjacent to the temporary camping site and here I found Mute Swan, Mallard, Coot and Moorhen not to mention the sixty plus Canada Geese.  On the far bank not only both Heron and Little Egret but  handful of resting Herring and a single Great Black-backed Gull.  Just when I thought I had finished birding for the morning as I walked the fifty metres back to the car, out of the bush and across the track but giving me just enough time to identify before disappearing into the foliage, a Lesser Whitethroat.

Red Knot Calidris canutus

Birds seen:

Canada Goose, Mute Swan, Shelduck, Mallard, Little Grebe, Great Crested Grebe, Cormorant, Little Egret, Heron, Moorhen, Coot, Oystercatcher, Avocet, Ringed Plover, Grey Plover, Lapwing, Knot, Sanderling, Dunlin, Black-tailed Godwit, Whimbrel, Redshank, Greenshank, Lesser Yellowlegs, Common Sandpiper, Turnstone, Black-headed Gull, Great Black-backed Gull, Herring Gull, Little Tern, Rock Dove, Wood Pigeon, Collared Dove, Barn Swallow, Pied Wagtail, Wren, Dunnock, Robin, Stonechat, Blackbird, Reed Warbler, Lesser Whitethroat, Common Whitethroat, Willow Warbler, Magpie, Carrion Crow, Starling, House Sparrow, Greenfinch, Reed Bunting.

Black-tailed Godwit Limosa limosa

Ringed Plover Charadrius hiaticula

Common Sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos

Dunlin Calidris alpina

Grey Plover Pluvialis squatarola

Little Egret Egretta garzetta

Young Shelduck Tadorna tadorna

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Wednesday 27 July 2022

Lesser Yellowlegs at Pennington Marshes, Lymington

 Tuesday 26 July


A visiting Lesser Yellowlegs has been at Normandy Lagoon on the eastern end of Keyhaven and Pennington Nature Reserve for just over a month, always at the western end near the largest island.

Arriving just before 8am on Tuesday 26 July 2022 lots of waders, especially Redshank and Oystercatcher but no sign of the American wader. I thought I had found a Phalarope as watched a wader undertaking rapid circling activities as it fed but surely wrong bird and wrong time of the year, must have been a distant Greenshank. So onwards and off to the sea side of the lagoon where I met four other birders, one of whom had been on site since 5am but no sign of the target bird. The wind had eased well back and changed direction overnight so it looked very much as if the Yellowlegs had moved on.
As the early morning birder moved off back to the entrance point he stopped, raised his arm to indicate that he had found something whereupon we all moved best the western embankment, almost immediately on the spot where I had first stopped. And, sure enough, there was the Lesser Yellowlegs feeding close to the water's edge right in front us, not ten metres away.
Yes, you've guessed, the very bird I had earlier seen undertaking the circular feeding activity! "Collins" suggests that the bird is often found associating with Redshank and appears to be a smaller version, about the same size as a Marsh Sandpiper and with a similar fine, almost completely dark bill as the Redshank and with a rakish build. Naturally, always very yellow legs. To me, at close quarters, the bird was certainly more like the Marsh Sandpiper than a Redshank. But, as suggested, it was certainly accompanying the many Redshank and a few Greenshank. Wonderful sighting and the photos also include my initial record shot of the more distant, as then unidentified, Lesser Yellowlegs.

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