Wednesday, 22 March 2017

Birding Keyhaven Marshes

Our Tuesday group met on the first day of Spring at Keyhaven for a walk round the marshes, in glorious sunshine but with a chilly wind.  It was a day when it was very noticeable that numbers of waders and wildfowl were much lower than of late, already flying north towards their breeding grounds.  We're sure this will change over the next few weeks with new waders coming through from the continent.

There was still plenty to keep us occupied, starting with a pair of Great Black-backed Gulls, a few Brent Geese, Redshank and a single Oystercatcher.  Also the first of five bird of prey species with Marsh Harrier and Buzzard as we began walking the sea wall.  We were pleased to come across a flock of 30 Turnstones on the tideline, they hadn't forsaken us yet. We stopped to look over the small pools with a single Black-tailed Godwit, a few Redshank and Teal, also a Meadow Pipit.  A Kestrel hovered over the fields and then went across to the saltmarsh.  As I watched it I heard some of the birds on the marsh fly up agitated, Nick found the culprit as it flew towards us low and fast, a Sparrowhawk.  Nick luckily had his camera ready and got a couple of shots as it flew across us.  
Sparrowhawk - Keyhaven © Nick Hull
We reached Keyhaven Lagoon, first though a pair of Stonechats took our attention feeding on the ground and then popping up on top of the gorse or on the wire fence.  I could see a large white blob on the lagoon, looking very much like a hunched Spoonbill.  Not only was it indeed a Spoonbill moving round a little further we found four roosting together, one very briefly lifted up its head to show its bill.

Also on the lagoon were 22 Pintail, Wigeon, a few Lapwing and a smart Greenshank.  A couple of Roe Deer   On Fishtail Lagoon we added a couple of Snipe and three Spotted Redshanks, several Shoveler and Little Grebes.  On the saltmarsh all we could add were four Dunlin other than Redshanks and Curlews.
Redshank-Black-tailed Godwit Keyhaven ©Nick Hull
As we came up to the ancient highway a Cetti's Warbler called, a Skylark spiralled up in song despite the strong wind.  On the old tip pool were the usual Black-headed Gulls, Tufted Ducks, Coots and Canada Geese.   Suddenly the gulls lifted up and seemed upset, Nick again came to the rescue seeing the Peregrine flying along back of the old landfill.  It did land and we had poor views only really seeing its head as it came up from eating something it had obviously caught.

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