Thursday 27th November 2014.
I was working all day on Hayling Island, however, within my extra-long lunch hour, I took a stroll around Hayling Oysterbeds. It was a grey day, with the occasional burst of sunshine beaming across a high tide within Langstone Harbour. Almost immediately, on drawing up within the car park, I noticed the waders jostling for space in large flocks, as the tide was near its highest. There was hardly a ripple on the water as I made my way up to the reserve; armed with scope, binoculars and camera, I noticed a group of birders in the distance, containing a dozen souls overlooking the ‘Beds’.
A pair of Rock Pipits was searching the shingle tideline to my left as I made my way up to the ‘Beds’, and a large gathering of mumbling Brent Geese were grazing on the last stretch of mudflat untouched by the upcoming tide. Behind these, Dunlin, Grey Plover, Ringed Plover and Curlew were pouring in onto the spit and provided a superb spectacle as I neared the area to view the harbour.
On the ’Beds’ itself, up to five Red-breasted Mergansers swam, including two smart looking drakes. Nearby, three Little Grebes swam together, while on the shoreline, several flocks of Redshank were settling down to rest along with some Oystercatchers. From the viewpoint overlooking the harbour, a count of at least 50+ Great Crested Grebes was obtained, although there were probably even more around. Another raft of at least 20 Mergansers were also seen with others dotted around the harbour between the Oysterbeds and the RSPB islands.
While checking out the waders on the spit, a pair of Sandwich Terns passed by at speed and, unfortunately, all my photos of the two birds came out blurred! A Harbour Seal had its head out of the water, but remained distant within the harbour. I couldn’t find any Goldeneye or the Black-necked Grebes, which was disappointing, but at least the waders present entertained as they flew past in tight flocks; with Dunlin easily being the most numerous.
The walk back south along the Hayling Billy Line was rather quiet with only a pair of Goldcrests seen deep within the hedgerow, being noteworthy. There was still a few flowering plants by the Oysterbeds including White Dead Nettle, Smooth Sow Thistle and Annual Mercury. Not a great deal reported in Hampshire today, though a Black Redstart was found in Old Portmouth this morning. The drake Ferruginous Duck was still on Kingfisher Lake on the Blashford Lakes complex though there was no sign again of the adult Franklin’s Gull this evening.
I have put the moth box out tonight, seeing it is going to be a very mild night and hopefully, not too much rain. Last chance saloon really as it will probably be put away for the winter tonight. Then I shall send my moth records for the year to Hants Moths. Unless I tomorrow, I had got 121 species of macro for the year, which is 13 more species than last year and the highest total for the garden.