Thursday 29 December 2022

Pennington Marshes and Blashford Lakes

Pintail Anas acuta

 Tuesday 27 December

Decent weather for my morning in the New Forest starting at its southern edge with a visit to Pennington Marshes.  Arriving by 9 I was able to go straight to the large pool off the old road before undertaking an anti-clockwise circuit of the area to take in both the Solent shore and its accompanying inland pools before heading back from Keyhaven along along the "Old Ancient Highway," originally an extension of Lower Pennington Lane.  Further than I had anticipated as in reaching my normal turn inland and back to the parked car I discovered the path was not only under water but surplus water was flowing rapidly out of the main lake across the path at a good rate of knots!

Once at the "inland" water just beyond the car park on the right-hand side of the Old Ancient Highway, no sign of the recent American Wigeon nor any other Wigeon.  Indeed, other than a pair of Mute Swans on the far bank and a couple of Coot the water was devoid of birdlife.  A large flock of Canada Geese were grazing about an hundred yards beyond the far bank and just over the fence from where I was viewing the water a large flock of Coot were doing likewise.  Making my back to the car park so that I could take the  track to the Solent shore I stopped to check out the large flooded and water-logged meadow to see what else might be visible along with the many Canada Geese.  Immediately very many Lapwing and an occasional Magpie and Carrion Crow.  A Buzzard was moving away on the far side of the meadow and a Cormorant flew south towards the sea. The larger pols on the far (eastern) side held a number of both Wigeon and Shoveler along with a few mallard.  Three Brent Geese were also recorded.  Then the first major find, a flock of over 300 Golden Plover with a Curlew  and few Redshank nearby.  Checking even further back I even found eight Greylag Geese.

Mainly Oystercatchers Haematopus ostralegus along with Black-headed Gulls Larus ridibundus and Brent Geese Branta bernicla

Continuing on down the sea wall the next pool held, in addition to more Canada Geese, a handful of Gadwall and a similar number of Teal.  Easy does it, as approaching the end of the path I noticed that the recent rains had lifted the water levels on the pool to my right which had now flooded the path so a question of good balance and walk along the grassy slope, so disturbing a Blackbird.  But eventually at the sea wall, having passed the Pied Wagtail foraging on the muddy path, and with the low sun coming directly towards me from over the Isle of Wight almost impossible to see any anything on the Solent.  Deciding to walk a short walk eastwards before continuing on my anti-clockwise circular trail, first a Heron in the stream and stopping at a sider part of the inland stream I picked up another Curlew, many Wigeon, a Little Egret and a couple of Oystercatchers.  A pair of Woodpigeons were resting in a tree at the back of the area.

Dunlin Calidris alpina

Making my way back to complete the sea wall walk as far as Keyhaven there were relatively few ducks about, especially on the last reedbed pool before the wall turned inland.  Tufted Duck an a few Knot were added and then on the grassy sea edges the marsh held plenty of Dunlin along with more Brent Geese, Oystercatchers and a few Curlew. A Herring Gull was noted and then when admiring a few closer Dunlin and Redshank along with a lone Grey Plover I spotted a pair of larger ducks at the edge of the distant bank.

Grey Plover Pluvialis squatarola

Good job I had carried the scope with me as I was able to record a pair of Red-breasted Merganser. Also, perhaps, fortunate that my original path was flooded so necessitating my longer detour back to the car otherwise this little ensemble would have been missed.

Red-breasted Merganser Mergus serrator

The pool opposite held most of the birds with the islands in the middle holding many Oystercatchers, Black-headed Gulls, Pintail and Brent geese.  In addition I also recorded Lapwing, Mallard and Teal. Finally reaching the end of the sea wall a pair of Mute Swans before taking the original Lower Pennington Lane track towards the car and as I reached the back of the previous pools enjoyed watching the distant Red Kite moving away and showing a perfect silhouette.

Mainly Pintail but also Shoveler Anas

With a list of 34 species I headed north to make a stop at Blashford Lakes on the way home and as I passed through the New Forest cam a cross a flock of feeding Rooks by the side of the road. On this occasion I started within the reserve proper and walking to the Ivy North Hide noted both Robin and Blue Tit in the neighbouring trees followed by a handful of Chaffinches.  Once inside the hide I quickly noted the Teal plus a few Wigeon, Gadwall, single Mute Swan and Cormorant on the water along with a few Black-headed Gulls.  Below me in the reedbed a flock of 10 Long-tailed Tits were bust feeding on the bull rush seed heads.

All quiet walking through the trees to the Woodland Hide save for a quartet of Goldfinch and once inside just a case of many Blue and Great Tits along with a lonely female Blackbird, Robin, handful of Chaffinch and couple of Dunnock.  All most disappointing as I had been hoping for both Serin and Brambling. The Ivy South Hide provided many more Wigeon, a few Teal, many Coot and a Mallard along with just the one Black-headed Gull.

Blackbird Turdus merula

So it was back to the car and drive across the road to the Ibsley Water Hide where, again, there seemed to be far fewer birds in total but certainly plenty of both Coot and Tufted Duck.  The near end to my left held a male Pochard and a couple of Mallard and then the use of the scope to check the birds at the far side of of the water including the small flat islands.  No shortage of either Canada or Egyptian Geese along with many Black-headed and a few Lesser Black-backed Gulls. Apart from many Wigeon I also recoded many Pintail and Lapwing plus a female Goldeneye and four Goosander. The last bird picked out on the far bank was a Magpie.

Birds seen:

Greylag Goose, Canada Goose, Brent Goose, Mute Swan, Egyptian Goose, Shelduck, Gadwall, Wigeon, Mallard, Shoveler, Teal, Pintail, Tufted Duck, Goldeneye, Goosander, Red-breasted Merganser, Cormorant, Little Egret, Heron, Red Kite, Buzzard, Oystercatcher, Golden Plover, Grey Plover, Lapwing, Knot, Dunlin, Curlew, Redshank, Turnstone, Black-headed Gull, lesser Black-backed Gull, Herring Gull, Woodpigeon, Pied Wagtail, Dunnock, Robin, Blackbird, Long-tailed Tit, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Magpie, Rook, Carrion Crow, Starling, Chaffinch, Goldfinch

Oystercatchers and Brent Geese Branta

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