Monday, 31 August 2009

Post-Pride of Bilbao (Birding in Hampshire)

Friday 28th August.

Out like a light the previous evening, still felt shattered this morning. So just an easy day's birding was planned at a couple of sites near Portsmouth. The first one being Farlington Marshes, on the northern edge of Langstone Harbour.

A windswept morning combined with the tide going out meant thing were rather quiet here. A Brent Goose and 3 Greenshank being the highlights. Grab some lunch in a nearby Morrisons, and thought I would try my luck at Titchfield Haven. Still just as windy but at least there are some hides.

View from the Spurgin hide. On arrival in this hide a chap was telling me he'd found a duck with a small flock of Teal, either Garganey or possibly Blue-winged Teal, but currently obscured by vegetation. This'll be worth a wait anyway.

A few Lapwing got spooked and took off, which caused the small flock of duck to swim out, including the bird in question. Straight away I thought "that's no Garganey", with the recent Uttoxeter bird fresh in the memory. Unfortunately the duck swam back into the vegetation and out of sight again.

Getting a little excited I got the camera set up onto the scope, and after a while the Teal flock jumped out into the open to join some Shoveler.

Then they took off and out of sight, the finder could make out the blue fore-wing with a dark trailing edge. A mad dash back to the car check a field guide, and yep, I'm happy with that as a Blue-winged Teal! We were of the opinion of perhaps an immature drake, with the faint pale crescent shape next to the base of the bill.

Saturday 29th August.

I did think about going over to Pagham Harbour in West Sussex today, but it would've been low tide again by the time of arrival. There has been a Cattle Egret around Keyhaven/Pennington over on the west side of The Solent. A bit further to travel but I thought I'd give it a try.

In the end I'm really glad I came here, because it is a cracking spot. A series of lagoons next to The Solent. Also a good view of the Isle of Wight, with the Needles and Alum Bay:

That reminds me. When I went to Alum Bay years ago, you could buy bottles and test tubes containing patterns made by different colours of Alum Bay sand. I wonder if they still do them?

Oh yes, so they do! As I was saying, Keyhaven and Pennington Marshes is a series of lagoons, grazing marsh and scrub. An impressive selection of birds around too. Including Curlew Sandpiper, Ruff, Water Rail, 9 Eider and a scuttling Common Lizard.

As for the Cattle Egret, I wasn't quite in the right place. For that I had to follow a footpath inland a little way. I eventually came to a small pool with an Egret stood in the water. Surely not?

Certainly was! Unusual to see a Cattle Egret stood in water really. After a preen it took off and into a nearby field.

There was one more thing I wanted to do while in Hampshire. Yesterday I found a ploughed field between Titchfield Haven and Titchfield village. I could make out one or two Mediterranean Gulls while driving along but nowhere to stop and park. It would be nice to return there to try and digiscope some Med Gulls.

I did find a field with gulls in. Not in the same field, partly ploughed and partly maize stubble, but there was somewhere to park up. Even with a lot of gulls obscured by the cut maize I counted about 30 Med Gulls, of varying ages. Here's three adults:

Before heading back to the Travelodge in Portsmouth and hitting the bar, one more check of Langstone Harbour from Farlington Marshes car park. I'm glad I did as there was a hunting Osprey, scattering the flocks of waders.

Sunday 30th August.

Just when you think the birding is over. On the way home, up the A34 near Oxford is Farmoor Reservoir.

A bit of a concrete bowl of a reservoir, but a fascinating juvenile trio of American Black Tern, White-Winged Black Tern and a usual Black Tern. The American Black Tern was noticeably darker above than "our" Black Tern. Just an hour was spent here because I wanted to get home. But not a bad way to end a trip.

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