Sunday 26 March 2023

Oxey Marsh and lagoons, Lymington

Greenshank Tringa nebularia
 with Common Redshank Tringa Totanus
 and notice the Spotted Redshank Tringa erythropus in the background

Sunday 26 March

Following last night's heavy rain it was dull and overcast this morning with some light rain falling as I set off at 8.15 to drive into the New Forest to meet up with other members of the Hampshire Ornithological Society for their meeting covering Oxey Marshes and the Normandy Lagoons, so ably led by the very experienced and informative Ian Packer.  Perhaps due to the weather conditions, only a total of six of us including Ian (Michael, Brian, two Susans and myself) for the three plus miles figure-of-eight loop but great fun and in great company.  And even the very light rain rain stopped within the hour and the sun put on a hazy hat to keep us war,  especially when we stopped for our picnic lunch.

Those who braved the elements, myself, Ian, Michael, Susan, Brian and Susan at Normandy Lagoon. Solent to the right

Having noted the Jackdaws as I drove through Lymington and passed both Song Thrush and Collared Doves as I approached the meeting point in Maiden Lane, we were soon rewarded with a number of species a we awaited the off, including Chiffchaff, Blackbird, Cetti's Warbler and an over-flying pair of Canada Geese. Once on the way both Robin and Woodpigeon were immediately added to the day's list and then a Magpie flew across the lane. Continuing on down a very muddy path on the other side of the Salterns sailing Club we stopped to both identify Chiffchaff and Chaffinch and also added a solitary House Sparrow.

Avocets Recurvirostra avosetta

Then we back out into the open and crossing the marsh where we found a number of Meadow Pipits and a Sky Lark was singing above us and eventually found.  A number of Black-tailed Godwits were on the meadow to our right accompanied by some distant Redshank and Curlew whilst to our left we had a trio of Avocet, Black-headed Gull and a pair of Pintail on the water.  A single Great Black-backed Gull flew over and we were to find two more once we reached the sea wall and could see the shingle spit. The occasional Mallard but mainly Teal occupies the wet areas albeit we did see the first Snipe of the day as it beat a hasty retreat away from us.  By this time Canada Geese were seen just about everywhere and once the first pairs of Shelduck had been noted they, too, made very frequent appearances.  Likewise, no shortage of Oystercatchers showing up at very regular intervals.

Oystercatchers Haematopus ostralegus

As we approached the sea wall the first of a number of Lapwing were up in the air and a distant cock Pheasant was noted. A heron flew across from right to left and then we were on the sea wall checking the Solent itself.  As already mentioned, a pair of Great Black-backed Gulls were accompanied on the shingle spit by a Herring GullBrent Geese and Redshank.  Nearer to us on the water a feeding Great Crested Grebe and a second individual a little further away.

Female and male Eider Duck Somateria mollissima

Approaching Acre Pond we had chance to check the more open Oxey Lake where we not only found a number of Eider Duck on the water but even more on the far bank and totalling approximately 40 individuals, mainly males. The hedgerow behind us held a trio of Dunnock, Stonechat and the Reed Bunting, first seen by Michael.  Brian then proceeded to find a Wren.

Spotted Redshank Tringa erythropus

So to the wonder of Acre Pond.  Not just many Redshanks and more Black-tailed Godwits and Avocets but the first of two Spotted Redshanks, thanks to Ian's scope.  The second Spotted Redshank was even nearer and we had the privilege of seeing it posed next to a Common Redshank where both were joined by a Greenshank.  

Greenshank Tringa nebularia
Redshank Tringa totanus and Greenshank Tringa nebularia

Moving round to our final destination, Normandy Lagoon, we spent much time study the bird life and even stopped for our picnic with the sun shining and warming our backs as we noted the very many Black-headed Gulls and a pair of Black-tailed Godwits.  Upon arrival we had spent considerable time checking the gulls where it was possible to pick out a good number of Mediterranean as well as a couple of Herring Gulls.  Lots of Shelduck on the lagoon plus more Avocets

Black-headed Gulls Larus ridibundus with a few Mediterranean Gulls Larus melanocephalus
(Note the gull almost centre front looking right)

A female Red-breasted Merganser was busy feeding and seemed to have covered just about every area of the water and on the far bank a quartet of Spoonbill plus many more Little Egrets and Redshanks. Immediately below us about a dozen Dunlin and a couple of Ringed Plovers on the shingle and looking across the water to the far bank a larger flock of Dunlin perhaps totalling fifty or more. It took a little time but we eventually also found a handful of Wigeon and a couple of Cormorant. Before continuing to the far corner before starting our return walk to the cars, a Great Black-backed Gull flew over and then Barry managed to find another Snipe.  (Brian's home territory and he knew where to find the resident birds!)

Making our way back it was not so much the single Feral Pigeon (Rock Dove) nor the pair of Mute Swans that caught our attention but, rather, the Raven that Ian found immediately above us being mobbed by the local Black-headed Gulls and one can imagine the cacophony of noise surrounding the occasion! So ended a most splendid morning with a final total of species exceeding the fifty mark.

Birds seen:

Brent Goose, Canada Goose, Mute Swan, Shelduck, Wigeon, Mallard, Teal, Pintail, Eider Duck, Red-breasted Merganser, Pheasant, Great Crested Grebe, Cormorant, Little Egret, Heron, Spoonbill, Oystercatcher, Avocet, Ringed Plover, Lapwing, Dunlin, Snipe, Black-tailed Godwit, Curlew, Spotted Redshank, Common Redshank, Greenshank, Mediterranean Gull, Black-headed Gull, Herring Gull, Great Black-backed Gull, Rock Dove, Woodpigeon, Collared Dove, Sky Lark, Meadow Pipit, Wren, Dunnock, Robin, Stonechat, Blackbird, Song Thrush, Cetti's Warbler, Chiffchaff, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Magpie, Jackdaw, Carrion Crow, Raven, Starling, House Sparrow, Chaffinch, Reed Bunting.

Dunlin Calidris alpina with Ringed Plover Charadrius hiatiula at extreme right

Greenshank Tringa nebularia with Spotted Redshank T.erythropus in background

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