Tuesday 21 March 2023

Hayling Island & Farlington Marshes

 Tuesday 21 March

The Mixed Black-headed Larus ridibunus and Mediterranean Gull Larus melancocephalus breeding colony

The forecast suggested very early morning shower followed by more showers later in the morning.  Therefore, awake early and out of the house just after 7 to visit Hayling Island and catch the incoming tide.  Dull and cloudy for my time at Hayling Island but starting in the car park with scores of Black-tailed Godwits, Redshank, Dunlin and Black-headed Gulls I made my way to the "Billy Line" and on down to the neighbouring old oysterbeds.

Black-tailed Godwit Limosa limosa

The initial walk provided me with a number of Woodpigeon, Carrion Crows and Magpie plus a male Blackbird  on the bank of the first pond to my left. On the oysterbeds themselves I soon noted numerous Brent Geese along with  few Shelduck, Curlew and Dunlin. As I left the old railway track to take the narrow path a couple of Chiffchaff, Greenfinch and Blue Tit were observed. Ere long I also added both Oystercatcher and a couple of Grey Plover.

Black-headed Gulls Larus ridibundus

The loud noise of the hundreds of Black-headed and Mediterranean Gulls on the breeding colony was heard well before reaching the site where, I estimate, there must have been at least 300 of the former and certainly more than 50 of the latter, albeit it was too cold to stop and make a more definitive count. Whereas the Black-headed birds seemed to be spread far and wide, the group of Mediterranean Gulls concentrated on one particular area at the north of the breeding site.

Mediterranean Gulls Larus melancocephalus

But not just the gulls.  A Cormorant had overflown me and was now fishing in the waters to the left of the colony and within a few metres a pair of Red-breasted Mergansers were drifting along.  Shame not better weather to throw more light on the birds.  And on the opposite side of the colony I was also to find a pair of Little Grebe.  meanwhile, immediately behind me, I turned to find a Song Thrush perched on the top of one of the bramble bushes.  Leaving the colony behind me I ventured out to the sea wall to scan the main harbour and eventually found the long-staying Long-tailed Duck amidst the choppy, dull water with a mixture of resting and diving for food.

Male Red-breasted Merganser Mergus serrator

back at the car and changing out of my walking boots a short, sharp shower arrived but I was already sitting in he car so no problem.  However, with it being only 9.15 and looking a little brighter, I mad the decision to stop at nearby Farlington Marshes (on the other side of the harbour) on the way home and a very profitable 90 minutes it turned out to be in the ever improving weather and much brighter then forecast.

The tide was now almost in but a few Brent Geese, Carrion Crows and an Oystercatcher were below me as I parked the car to walk straight to the closed Visitors CentreWoodpigeons, Magpie and Black-headed Gulls were added to the new list of species seen on the day.  Once at the Visitors Centre I was able to check the river on the opposite side having first recorded a number of Moorhen, Little Egret and a cock Pheasant of the motorway side of the track.

Cock Pheasant Phasianus colchicus

The lagoon in front of me held a pair of Mute Swans along with a number of both Mallard and Teal

Mute Swans Cygnus olor with Black-tailed Godwits Limosa limosa

Eight Black-tailed Godwits and a single Redshank were resting at the right-hand side and a Pied Wagtail seemed to demand attention as it flitted around the area.  Also present a number of Coot plus more Moorhens along with a pair of Little Grebe before I found the quartet of Gadwall. But more noticeable was the quintet of Avocet.

Avocets Recurvirostra avosetta

With the main track not looking too bad I decided to continue up to the sea wall before returning to the car.  Reaching the first bend having noted the Blackbird in the way, I stopped to admire the Meadow Pipit that landed close to me on the field to my right and then, on the opposite side, not only many more Brent but also a score of Canada Geese. Flying around to my right a number of Lapwing and many more Canada Geese were noted.

Brent Geese Branta bernicla

At the back of the next field I found a very large number of resting Shelduck whist to my left the field held many resting/feeding Black-headed but with also at least a score of Mediterranean Gulls. With more time to check these gulls I also noted the few Lapwing and Curlew that were feeding amongst them.  Overhead a male Kestrel hovered and  lone Heron flew across the field to the back.

Meadow Pipit Anthus pratensis

So back to the car park but then decided to walk along the sea wall to the mirador so checking both the bushes and the fields and rivers to my right.  A Robin and a pair of Greenfinches were quickly added and many more Brent Geese recorded.  On the river I then counted a further 25 Avocets plus more Teal, a second Little Egret and more Carrion Crows and Woodpigeon.  Before turning for the return walk to the car park, a pair of Meadow Pipits flew out to the harbour and back with one alighting on the bush below me to give a good photo opportunity. And so this last minute additional walk added a total of 31 species with Avocets the special bird at this site. Home just after 11 in time for a shower before lunch and the afternoon's dance and a final total of 40 species for the morning. Most enjoyable.

Distant Greenfinch Carduelis chloris

Birds seen:

Canada Goose, Brent Goose, Mute Swan, Shelduck, Gadwall, Mallard, Teal, Red-breasted Merganser, Long-tailed Duck, Pheasant, Little Grebe, Cormorant, Little Egret, Heron, Kestrel, Moorhen, Coot, Oystercatcher, Avocet, Lapwing, Grey Plover, Dunlin, Black-tailed Godwit, Curlew, Redshank, Black-headed Gull, Mediterranean Gull, Herring Gull, Woodpigeon, Meadow Pipit, Pied Wagtail, Robin, Blackbird, Song Thrush, Chiffchaff, Blue Tit, Magpie, Carrion Crow, Starling, Greenfinch.

Moorhen Gallinula chloropus

Song Thrush Turdus philomelos

Gull colony with Mediterranean Gulls Larus melancocephalus at the very far end

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