Sunday 1st March 2015.
Would there be our first proper Spring migrant of the year on Farlington Marshes this morning? The answer was simply, no; but there was still a lot of birds preparing for Spring, which included displaying Meadow Pipits, Lapwings ‘tumbling’ over the fields and Skylarks overhead in full song. The morning kicked off bright and sunny at first, but then the cloud rolled in and as we were leaving after our walk around the reserve, the sun reappeared again; though there was a strong blustery wind blowing to keep the temperature down.
I met John Goodall at the reserve car park entrance at 8am and it was good to catch up with him for a chat, as I haven’t seen him for a while. By the reserve entrance, there were around a 100 Brent Geese feeding on the eel grass on the rising tide, along with a few Mallard and Teal. A pair of Pintail were swimming near the small island, but little else of note upon it. I was hoping for a Greenshank or two, but no diamonds there. We couldn’t see the Avocets in the harbour near the Eastern Road Bridge, but they were probably hiding on the saltmarsh there.
Three Reed Buntings rose from the grass below us and perched up in a bramble, as we walked up to the Lake. The Lake itself held bathing Brent Geese and a few Mallard, Teal, Shoveler, Pintail and Wigeon, but the water level here was very high and though good for the ducks, it didn’t attract many waders, bar a small flock of Redshank resting on the water’s edge. I heard a Water Rail calling briefly, but failed to locate the bird from the watchpoint. Over the fields, Lapwing, Black-tailed Godwit and Curlew were feeding on the soggy grass. I checked the fields thoroughly for an early Wheatear, but the best on offer were either displaying Meadow Pipits or skulking Skylarks on the fields. A Rock Pipit flew past in a hurry then landed on the saltmarsh below the sea wall.
As we neared the Point Fields, we heard the distinctive call of a Mediterranean Gull and sure enough, high overhead was an adult bird wheeling high over, heading eastbound. The Point Field was very quiet, with no Stonechats present; but out over the harbour, we watched a large flock of Dunlin flying over Oyster Island. No sign of any Mergansers or Goldeneye off the Point and no Grebes either, which was unusual! The Deeps area held good numbers of wildfowl, but nothing unusual among them. Another Reed Bunting was seen flying out of the reedbed below us.
Nearing the Information Centre, all the waders and Gulls took flight from the ‘Scrape’ area. The culprit was a female Sparrowhawk circling high overhead, until she drifted off east. The Stream area also looked quiet at first, but as we neared the Lake again, I found a Green Sandpiper wading by the water’s edge along with a Redshank. The Sandpiper was a year tick for John. They both didn’t hang around long and flew off over the reedbed, but a large flock of Black-tailed Godwit and Redshank remained and it least it gave us something to scan through for any possible goodies. A large flock of Gulls were also present here but no Laughing or Franklin’s Gull among them to get the pulses racing.
It was nice to catch up with John again and I was pleased he caught up with the Surf Scoter and ‘Waldo’ the Ring-billed Gull yesterday, despite the poor weather. Nigel Sivyer rang me today asking for directions for the Bean Goose on Chichester Gravel Pits and I am pleased to report that he caught up with the Goose for his year list. There was an interesting record reported this morning about a 1st winter Surf Scoter off Ryde, Isle of Wight, this morning. However, it was reidentifed as a 1st winter Velvet Scoter. A good bird to see, nonetheless. The drake Surf Scoter was still present this morning with the two Common Scoter in Stokes Bay. Will a Black Scoter be found soon within the Solent when all the Scoter flocks pass by during the Spring. Wouldn’t that be something?