Wednesday, 21 December 2016

Normandy Marsh

Normandy Marsh was our location for our December Sunday monthly walk it always gives us a good selection of birds to find and see.  We started our walk from Maiden Lane with a Redwing and Song Thrush and headed out to look over Oxey Lake.

 where we found six Little Grebe diving and very actively feeding, Coot, Tufted Duck, Redshank and Little Egret.  Whilst we were moving on we had our first sighting of a Kingfisher streaking by. Looking over the Solent we added a pair of Eider and a number of Red-breasted Mergansers, Great Crested Grebe and a couple of female Goldeneye.  A pretty good start, looking over Normandy Marsh itself we scanned through the many Wigeon and Teal and found Shoveler, Pintail, good numbers of Lapwing either roosting or feeding around the edges of the lagoon.  Here we also found Dunlin more Redshank a single Greenshank, Ringed Plover and Black-tailed Godwits.  Then a Kingfisher was found sitting atop a post out in the lagoon which we watched fishing before it flew off out of sight.  Jackie then drew our attention to a small group of waders feeding together they were belly deep and had a sweeping feeding action and once we moved along the path a little it became apparent that our first thought were correct we had seven Spotted Redshank and very close giving excellent views.  


Further on we were scanning the outer marsh but the fog hampered our view some what but we found good numbers of waders and as the tide was moving they became restless and we watch a large flight of Dunlin swirling around trying to find a resting place.  Angus and Tony both picked out groups of Grey Plover and we had the od Turnstone or two flyby.  There was also the usual Dark-bellied Brent now back in good numbers they were scattered in various size groups over the marsh and some were flying in to the fresh water of the lagoon to bath. 
Greenshank © Nick Hull
As we started the return walk we had a small flock of Linnet and found the odd Meadow Pipit I found another two Greenshank.  As we took the path towards the yacht yard Angus asked what the possibility was of seeing a Dartford Warbler and Jackie said well on a sunny day we might have been lucky but because of the damp foggy cold weather she doubted if we would see one and no sooner than she stopped speaking Scott sighted one on the gorse by the path so carefully approaching a little closer we stopped and waited and watch and a female popped out on top of the gorse giving brief but good view as she moved through the bushes in search of insects.
Common Buzzard © Nick Hull
Walking the lane back to the cars is where we usually pick up our woodland species and indeed we did with the usual tit species Goldcrests, and various finch species were all seen. In one of the fields there was a good number of Curlew amongst which I found a single Whimbrel.  Also along here we had our only raptor in the guise of a Buzzard a Great Spotted Woodpecker.  We completed our walk with a list of Sixty Four species not bad for a single site in two and a half hours.

Monday, 12 December 2016

Bird Fest at Keyhaven

We haven't had a group out birding Keyhaven and Pennington for quite a while, so it was about time we returned to this excellent birding area.  We assembled at 10 o'clock and whilst we were doing our introduction and locking cars Liz and I saw two birds drop out of the air into the reedbed behind my car.  Scanning the reedbed we eventually located two Bearded Tits, the male only showed briefly but the female gave amazing views, an absolutely brilliant start to a walk.
female Bearded Tit - Keyhaven © Nick Hull
We walked the sea wall and quickly ticked off Redshank and Turnstone as they flew in to feed on the edge of the expanding tide line.  There was a constant movement of wildfowl flying out of their high tide roosts and on to the salt marsh to feed as the tide dropped, with many Teal, Wigeon, Mallard and Pintail being seen. On the marsh we found our first Rock Pipits and one or two Snipe and a small flight of Reed Bunting flew in and perched up for us to get to grips with telling males from females in their winter dress.
Male Reed Bunting- Keyhaven © Nick Hull
Looking over the Keyhaven lagoon we had Shelducks, Dark-bellied Brent, Teal, Mallard and Liz found a close Snipe in amongst the marsh grass.  Looking out over the outer marsh towards the Solent we could see a large flock of waders moving along the shoreline but they landed out of sight but there were others still roosting in the spartina and Grey Plover, Knot and Dunlin could easily be seen. In the water channels we found Red-breasted Mergansers and a single Greenshank.  A Curlew flew in and landed right in front of us giving us  great views and then we watched as it swam across a small creek.
Swimming Curlew - Keyhaven © Nick Hull
On the Fishtail lagoon we had more of the same wildfowl and I was asked to look at a duck at the back on the lagoon which turned out to be a female Wigeon in amongst a group of Teal.  While I was looking at this bird an obvious pipit flew through the scope, I quickly found it feeding along the back edge of the lagoon it was a Water Pipit which gave good scope views for everyone in the end.  
Drake Wigeon drying off after bathing © Nick Hull
Walking towards the Pennington jetty and looking out over the Solent we added more Red-breasted Mergansers and Great Crested Grebes.  Looking toward Lymington we had a number of waders on the shingle islands which were now exposed due to the dropping tide with Grey Plover, Knot, Dunlin plus Ringed Plover and Mediterranean Gull.  Moving on and looking over Pennington Marsh there were good numbers of mixed waterfowl spread over the marsh.  Jackie found a small flock of Golden Plover which were looking their best in the morning sun and she also pointed out a Ruff.  Returning via the ancient highway Sarah stopped and drew our attention to a Dartford Warbler in the hedge next to the path, in fact there were two but one was very visible hunting for insects in the gorse and showed exceptionally well.
Dartford warbler © Nick Hull
Beyond on the large pond by the landfill there was a large flock of Canada and Brent Geese and an assortment of gulls.  Continuing on we looked over the balancing pond where we added Gadwall though Joe had seen a pair distantly on Pennington marsh.  As we arrived back at the cars I picked up a Marsh Harrier quartering over the reedbeds.   Sitting on the seawall with our lunch watching the reedbed we realised that there was another harrier and then three were stirring up excitement in the waterfowl.  With Black-tailed Godwits, Lapwing and Teal all taking flight and they only settled when the harriers landed on the distant hedge but were soon off again when they took flight again.  It was a tremendous end to a super walk around an excellent birding area.