Friday 7th March 2014.
I had to put the car in for its first MOT this morning and so taking it to the Peugeot garage at Farlington, I dropped it off and took a walk around the nearby Farlington Marshes. I knew it was going to be several hours before I got my car back, so I took the morning off and headed to the reserve for a spot of birding. Maybe a Wheatear or Sand Martin today?
It was low tide when I arrived at the car park of the reserve and the overcast and drizzly conditions, eventually gave way to bright sunshine as the morning wore on. Passing the Bushes area, I scanned the fields behind the Stream for the recent Spoonbill, but no sign whatsoever of the bird. There were still good numbers of Brent Geese upon the reserve, probably around a 1000+ birds here still, although they will be all getting itchy feet soon and head off to their breeding grounds. The Lake was rather quiet, but at least a dozen or so Pintail were present on the water. No Garganey or a late Green-winged Teal (one was still reported at Sopley yesterday) hiding away by the reedbeds, but plenty of Eurasian Teal, Mallard and Gadwall. Still no sign of any Bearded Tits either.
The devastation caused by the recent storms was evident along the main footpath along the seawall. All that gravel laid down on the footpath had mostly been washed down the banks on the edge of the fields. The money spent on creating this footpath totally wasted by the freak conditions. I wonder if they are going to relaying the gravel again? A pair of Rock Pipits were seen chasing one another near the seawall, but would not settle for me to grab a photo. Overhead, Skylarks and Meadow Pipits were in full song, but I couldn’t find a Wheatear along the seawall.
Nearing the Point Field, I decided to check the Brent flocks in the field’s close by. I did find the Black Brant again in the first flock of Brent Geese, then in the second flock close to the Point Field, I unexpectedly found a Pale-bellied Brent Goose; my first for the year. I managed to grab a few more photos as I strolled leisurely around the Point. A burst of song from a male Cetti’s Warbler was heard somewhere deep within the brambles, but the bird laid low. Out in the harbour, I picked out a couple of Great Crested Grebes swimming in the channel near the islands, but little else of note.
The Deeps held the usual wildfowl and despite searching all the ducks, I couldn’t find my first Garganey of the year. Grumble! A female Linnet was seen on brambles by the seawall just past the Blockhouse along with around 6 Greenfinches. It won’t be long before the first warblers will be singing in the same stretch of bushes. All was quiet over the saltmarsh to the east as I made my way down to the Information Centre. Before reaching there, I had a quick look ‘north of the road’, around Peters Pond. Apart from a Green Woodpecker, it was a virtually bird-less and so I made my way back to the Info Centre.
In the ‘North-east’ fields, another large flock of Brent Geese were present and amongst them were at least 20 Curlew and around 10 Lapwing. A lot of the Lapwing are now displaying over the fields and here was no exception. A Skylark was singing over my head, with several more chasing each other over the fields. From the Info Centre, there was another burst of Cetti’s Warbler song and this time I was in luck. The bird flew over the footpath but quickly dived into cover and remained out of view. Well, it was at least a year tick! No sign of any Bearded Tits here either, which was disappointing.
The soggy walk back to the seawall on the east side of the reserve was rather uneventful, bar another Green Woodpecker flying over the ‘Double-Ponds’ and my only raptor of the day, a Kestrel, flying overhead. A pure white ‘farmyard’ goose flew past, calling loudly then quickly settled on the Stream. I mean, the resident Canada Geese are ‘plastic’ enough, and now this individual! Unfortunately, I found an adult Canada Goose that had something seriously wrong with its legs as it simply couldn’t stand as I walked past it. Though it tried, it clearly was in trouble and remained where it was. I didn’t want to spook the bird and so carried on to the seawall.
I was pleased to hear that my friend John Goodall also saw all 5 Grebe species from Budds Farm early yesterday morning. Last night, I put my moth box out for the first time this year. This morning, I had a total of four moths, however, they were all ‘Plume’ Moths: 3 Emmelina monodactyla and 1 Amblyptilia acanthadactyla. It’s a start, I suppose!