Monday, 23 January 2017

Keyhaven/Pennington Marshes & Upton CP

On Wednesday 18th January our group met at Keyhaven and started immediately with Marsh Harrier, in fact three of them, mostly just resting on top of the bushes.  A Cetti's Warbler sang from somewhere in the reedbed as we started to walk around the sea wall and as usual the Turnstone were searching through the seaweed and doing what Turnstones do, flipping pebbles for a tasty sandhopper or two.  On the far shore there were many Black-tailed Godwits, Dunlin and Curlew and in the distance we saw a very large flock of Brent take flight and heading inland, no doubt to feed on the fields.  Tony picked out a distant Grey Plover and a little later we had a few closer individuals which we could study much better.  As we walked on we could here the calls of Curlew and Grey Plover from the distance edge of the salt marsh and the odd Redshank would be seen flying a short distance to find a better feeding area.  Andy had a little luck with his camera with a very confiding Rock Pipit which seemed to be more interested in feeding than it was in Andy or the rest of us come to that. 
Rock Pipit © Andy Copplestone
Keyhaven lagoon we found it frozen with only a few Teal, Pintail, Wigeon a single Lapwing and Stock Dove.  Fishtail lagoon was also partially iced over but the bank had a good selection of wildfowl, we added Shoveler and Gadwall to our ever growing list.  We were treated by a flyover of noisy Canada Geese and another flock of Brent. We were just continuing along toward Butts Lagoon when I noticed a large brown bird with slow wing beat heading towards us, as I raised my binoculars to get a better look my initial thoughts were bird of prey.  You can imagine my surprise when it turned to give me a side profile and it was a Bittern I quickly called and I was very pleased that everyone in the group got onto it before it descended into the reedbed of Butts Lagoon.  On reaching the lagoon we scanned the reeds in the hope of getting another sighting but with no luck.  
Bittern © Andy Copplestone
Looking over the outer marsh there was a good few waders roosting mainly Grey Plover and Dunlin but we managed to find a handful of Bar-tailed Godwit and Knot amongst them. Out on the Solent there were a few Great Crested Grebes, several small groups of Red-breasted Merganser and Wigeon then a Kingfisher was found fishing from the Pennington jetty.

Pennington Marsh was fairly frozen though there was good numbers of Lapwing, Pintail, Wigeon and Snipe but no sign of any Golden Plover or an wintering Ruff seen on our last visit.  We added little on our way back to Keyhaven.

On Sunday 22nd January our Sunday group met at Upton Country Park, being on the edge of Poole Harbour it comes into its own in winter.  When we have a freeze  the water treatment works outfall flows into the top end of north east part of the bay warming the water slightly so it doesn't freeze like many of the other peripheral bays.  This of course has the attraction for the wildfowl searching for a place to feed.  

Today the bay was stacked with Wigeon, Teal, Shoveler, Shelduck, Gadwall, Mallard, Black-tailed Godwit, Dunlin, Avocet, Curlew,  Redshank, Knot, Spotted Redshank and Oystercatcher  scattered all over the north west and north east sections of the bay.  We managed after sometime to find our target species for the day a "redhead" Smew, a delightful female which has been returning to Holes Bay for the last couple of winters or so.  She was mingling with the Wigeon out in the middle of the main channel a little different to her usual habits of either being on her own or with Goldeneye. 
 Smew © Nick Hull
The renowned PC World drain produced a Little Egret, at least a half dozen Chiffchaff, Pied Wagtail and a single Grey Wagtail.  The woodland of the park produced the usual tit species and we found a small tit flock that included a couple of Treecreeper, Nuthatch and in the same area a couple of Redwing.  
A view across Holes Bay N/E section © Jackie Hull

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