Monday 21st April 2014.
I took a walk with John Goodall around the scrubby field off Marlpit Lane early this morning and came up trumps with the annual Nightingale there, plus a few more year ticks. After yesterday’s deluge of rain, today was going to be a perfect Spring day, with light winds and warm sunshine. John had said on the way over to here that someone had heard the Nightingale here this week and it didn’t take too long to pick the bird up singing in the distance.
There was plenty to look at over here this morning as we arrived around 7.30am. Common Whitethroats could be heard in the distance (15 reported on Milton Common this morning) and we had the pleasure in watching a few males displaying in the area; our first of the year. Both Willow Warbler and Chiffchaff were in full song as was Blackcap; with all three species in nearly double figures here. Linnets were in good numbers on resting on the scrub or flying overhead in pairs or small flocks. Swallows occasionally flew overhead, singing in doing so, but no other Hirundines were seen, unfortunately.
Our main quest was the Nightingale and eventually, the lone singing male gave himself up and showed well in the small trees and brambles within the scrubby area. Unfortunately, the area is often used by motor bikes and Clay Pigeon shooters, but none were around this morning while we were there. Other than that, though it is on the border of West Sussex, it is a good stronghold for Nightingales here, along with Turtle Dove (though we saw none here last year). I have been coming back here for the past 20 years to view the birds and you never know what my fly over.
A pair of Common Buzzards were soaring high overhead and both Great Spotted and Green Woodpecker were viewable today. The Common Whitethroats numbered at least 5 singing males; another good area for this species. A pair of Stock Doves flew overhead heading west and the faint call of a Cuckoo could be heard way in the distance somewhere to the north.
As we neared the road again, a pair of male Orange Tip butterflies showed very well by the nettles. We walked north up Marlpit Lane to view the large field adjacent to the main Chichester Road. While checking out a male Blackcap, another warbler caught my eye and it turned out to be our first Garden Warbler of the year, searching for food in the tops of a Willow. But it soon disappeared into the woodland and no photo opportunity. More Blackcaps, Willow Warblers and Chiffchaffs were seen along the Lane, but apart from a Common Buzzard, nothing of note was within the fields.
Never mind, three more year ticks this morning, with Spring only just really starting. It looks as though the seawatch off Stokes Bay was very quiet this morning, so I made a good decision not to seawatch off Southsea today. Phew! Below, video footage of this morning’s Nightingale.