Sunday 9 April 2023

Farlington Marshes

Little Gull Larus minutus flying over a Black-headed Gull Larus ridibundus

Sunday 9 April

It may have been sunny and very little cloud at 8 o'clock this morning when I arrived at Farlington Marshes but the keen wind was certainly cold enough to drive the temperature down to around 5C!  Thank goodness I had actually brought a light coat with me because it was certainly necessary.  As I prepared for my anti-clockwise circuit of the marsh, I recorded both Carrion Crow and Woodpigeon and then it was for the off.  Immediately a mass of song as I took the initial path from the gate to the sea wall and managed to record Blackbird, Robin, Wren, Dunnock and Song Thrush alongside the ever-increasing call of the local Cetti's Warblers.  A handful of Greenfinches were feeding and calling from the trees in front of me.

The green rump of a Greenfinch Carduelis chloris

Reaching the sea wall and with the tide well out just a few Black-headed Gulls and a lone Curlew on the mud whereas the small pool to my left held a single Mute Swan.  Once at the main stream to my left time to stop and count the score or more Avocets along with Teal, Mallard and Moorhen plus a few Coots on the far bank along with  a good number of Black-tailed Godwits.  A couple of Redshank were working the far shore and a trio of Mute Swans were feeding near the adjacent reedbed. Apart from the occasional Herring Gull that passed over me I was now in a position to note the very many Canada Geese that reside on the marsh itself. 

Linnet Carduelis cannabina

Once round the first corner opposite much bramble, I was able to note the many Linnet, both singing and perching atop the bushes, plus the first good-sized flock of Shelduck whose numbers were to teach the mid-thirties by the time I had reached the old Visitors Centre. After the first distant Meadow Pipit suddenly another half-dozen in the same general area along with  male Wheatear.

Record shot of a male Wheatear Oenanthe oenanthe

Then it was on round to the Steeps where many of the Black-headed Gulls had already booked their breeding platform on the floating rafts.  Around them a few Moorhen and the occasional Coot plus regular sightings of Lapwing. Given that the wintering Brent Geese seemed to have already departed, it was most strange to find a single Individual followed by two pairs just beyond the Steeps.  Were these sick or injured birds that had been left behind?

Lapwing Vanellus vanellus

Having watched a pair of Carrion Crows land atop a thick bramble bush, one then moved away to the grass below and the second seem to disappear into the top of the bush where it had, obviously, made its nest for the coming breeding season.

Carrion Crow Corvus corone settling down on her nest

As I was leaving the pools that made up the Steeps I came across, first, a pair of Wigeon and then a single Gadwall, the only members of these species seen all morning.  Turning to look out over the mud towards Hayling Island with the wind now blowing straight into my face, I found the feeding waders which were mainly Dunlin but also a small number of Ringed Plover, a single Grey Plover, a handful of Turnstone and a lone Oystercatcher. More Meadow Pipits were also seen.

Meadow Pipit Anthus pratensis

Moving on I then came across a pair of Shoveler in the stream between the sea wall and the marsh and just beyond many more Canada Geese and a number of Lapwing.  Also present was a large flock of feeding Starling and  lone Heron flew away from me.  In the distance I could see a second (of three) Little Egrets noted during the morning.

So on to the old Visitors Centre where a small number of birders had gathered.  Upon reaching them I was informed that a pair of Little Gulls were still present and they were certainly showing well, both resting on the water and in feeding flights over the same.  Once the birding group had moved on, chance to spend more time watching and photographing the gulls and able to note the difference in size and colouring between our small Black-headed Gull.

Little Gull Larus minutus

Whilst watching the Little Gulls a single Barn Swallow flew over the water and to my left a Reed Warbler was calling from the reeds.  Behind me in the bushes next to the building a male Reed Bunting put in an appearance and a Cormorant made its way over the stream and away towards the sea.  The last bird recorded at this point was the only Great Tit of the morning.  A roundabout walk along the stream and then back to the car park along the western sea wall produced a hen Pheasant and finally a Collared Dove.  A great morning recording 47 species and then both Kestrel and a handful of Rooks as I drove along the motorway past Porchester to miss the half-century by just one species.  Shame I saw neither Blue Tit nor Chiffchaff on this occasion!

Hen Pheasant Phasianus colchicus

Birds seen:

Brent Goose, Canada Goose, Mute Swan, Shelduck, Wigeon, Gadwall, Mallard, Shoveler, Teal, Pheasant, Cormorant, Little Egret, Heron, Kestrel, Moorhen, Coot, Oystercatcher, Avocet, Ringed Plover, Grey Plover, Lapwing, Dunlin, Black-tailed Godwit, Curlew, Redshank, Turnstone, Little Gull, Black-headed Gull, Herring Gull, Woodpigeon, Collared Dove, Barn Swallow, Meadow Pipit, Wren, Dunnock, Robin, Wheatear, Blackbird, Song Thrush, Cetti's Warbler, Reed Warbler, Great Tit, Magpie, Rook, Carrion Crow, Starling, Greenfinch, Linnet, Reed Bunting.

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