Monday, 15 February 2016

Short-eared Owl & more at Pennington Marshes

Sunday 14 February, it was Valentine's Day and for me seeing a Short-eared Owl was definitely my biggest treat!  It was our Sunday monthly outing and we started on our walk from Ridgeway Lane, Pennington in beautiful sunny weather.   While we waited for everyone a Treecreeper obligingly crept up a nearby tree, Greenfinch and Chaffinch singing and a pair of Collared Doves flew by.

We started along the path to look over the marshes, stopping at the first field to see a single Brent Goose striding busily over the field as was a Little Egret, several Curlew and Lapwings.  Another field further on held a group of Redshank, three Ruff and a Stonechat.  Then a passing birder told us about two Short-eared Owls he had just been watching along a path we had just passed.  So we walked up the path, listening to Skylark and scanning the fields as we went.  It was Beverley that spotted an the owl first, it was sat on a post, though a little distant Nick managed to get a photo, it then flew and we watched it quartering the rough grassy field.
Short-eared Owl, Salterns Pennington © Nick Hull
Back on to the lane we resumed our walk down to Pennington Marsh, stopping to watch a Goldcrest and heard a Green and Great Spotted Woodpecker.  Arriving at the end of Lower Pennington Lane looking over Pennington Marsh we had a pretty large flock of Golden Plover in with all the Lapwing and then they all took to the air so we could really admire them, though what made them take flight we don't know.  We had heard the Long-billed Dowitcher was in the field by the caravan park so walked on.  Unfortunately something had put all the birds up and even though they did settle we couldn't find the dowitcher. Though there were a lot of other birders trying to find it so plenty of eyes looking but to no avail.  On the old landfill site pond were Tufted Duck, Gadwall, Wigeon, Teal and Coot, along the edge Oystercatchers, Canada and Brent Geese also Redshank.  Then a shrill call was heard "cheweet" several times, as a Spotted Redshank flew over head but wasn't seen to land.

As we began the walk down to look over Fishtail Lagoon we looked back to see all the birds up in the air, I soon spotted the cause of this furore - a Red Kite, causing mayhem as it majestically flew over the old landfill site.  In the distance we found three Buzzards also up soaring over the woods.  A Kestrel was then seen over Fishtail lagoon, the marshy area behind held many Shoveler and we could hear the 'whinny' of Little Grebe.  With our backs to the lagoon and looking over the salt marsh we had yet another bird of prey when Liz spotted a Peregrine which then settled on the outer marsh.  

Waders on the salt marsh included Bar-tailed Godwits, Knot, Dunlin, Grey Plover and Turnstone.  In the Solent were a couple of pairs of Red-breasted Merganser, Great Crested Grebe, two Slavonian and one Black-necked Grebe.  Very distantly Liz picked up a couple of Eider, including a drake.  Returning to the cars a field we passed earlier now had a flock of Fieldfare and Redwing.

Fieldfare-Pennington © Nick Hull

Redwing-Pennington © Nick Hull

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