Sunday 17th January 2016.
The immature Spoonbill was a nice surprise this morning.
I was expecting a walk around Farlington Marshes at 8am today with John Goodall, but the weather put paid to that with persistent rain falling and so we both cancelled our proposed trip. However, by 10am, it was a lot dryer and so I made my way to the reserve. Despite the rain abating, it was still damn cold when I arrived (about 3 degrees). I could see a few hardy souls were braving the elements around the seawall as I made my way towards the Lake area.
My first Song Thrush of the year. At least 5 were seen this morning on the reserve.
Redshank, Grey Plover and Teal in the Sluice channel.
I was expecting to notch up quite a few year ticks this morning and I was pleased to get 11 more on my year list. John Goodall had a good day here yesterday with sightings of Marsh Harrier, Avocets, Bearded Tits, Slavonian Grebe and two Short-eared Owls. This certainly whetted the appetite and it didn’t take long for me to grab a few year ticks on route to the Lake. A pair of Stonechats were near the sea wall along with a Song Thrush; both in search of insects in the grass. Overhead, skeins of Brent Geese were flying over including large flocks coming in from the football fields to the north.
There is nothing quite like a skein of wild Geese taking off all at once. And Brent Geese are no exception.
One can get really close to the Geese here.
The Lake held good numbers of my first Pintail of the year and also a pair of Common Snipe were added shortly afterwards. The nearby reedbeds held brief sightings of both Bearded Tit and Reed Bunting, but the overcast conditions were inadequate to get a reasonable photo of either. It was low tide within Langstone Harbour and though I had already seen the Avocets from the Eastern Road Bridge, they still showed well, albeit distantly, from the harbour wall. Good numbers of Redshank, Grey Plover and Dunlin were also present, but no Knot among them. Grumble!
Shoveler in one of the pools.
The footpath leading to the Point Field.
The flooded Deeps area.
It was bloody freezing walking around the south section of the marshes, but at least the bird life kept me entertained. Another pair of Stonechats showed well by the barbed wire fence and good numbers of Brent fed on the grass within the fields close by. The flooded fields held Wigeon, Shoveler and Teal and I constantly checked the grass for any sitting Short-eared Owls; but none were to be seen today by myself. I checked the channel out in the harbour for the drake Velvet Scoter but there was no sign. A few Red-breasted Mergansers and Goldeneye were in the channel but little else.
Dunlin feeding in the harbour.
This Robin (one of at least 20 seen this morning) was down to about 3ft away from me.
Passing the Deeps area, I was amazed to see so much water here. Great for the wildfowl I suppose, but there was very little inhabiting the area and even the reedbed was very quiet. A large Starling flock (200+) was feeding in the field with the Geese near the Blockhouse, making quite a din as I walked past. Yet another pair of Stonechats were present here and further on near the Information Centre, another pair were found. These birds incredibly let me get as close as six feet away from them. I even had to put the camera on macro setting to focus properly! Suddenly, everything took flight within the fields and carefully checking for a passing raptor, I found a 1st winter Spoonbill flying east high over the reserve and into the harbour. That was a nice bonus and as the song goes, ‘I never expected that’!
Another shot of the Spoonbill.
A flock of Common Snipe over the reedbeds near the Stream.
The sodden trek to the Lake from the info Centre held a few notable birds. A couple of Goldcrests showed well and a male Kestrel perched nearby on the Double-Ponds area. A couple of Water Rails tantalisingly called deep within the brambles there, but never showed! Grumble again! The Stream area held a single Little Grebe and a small selection of Gulls but nothing new for the year. A flock of around 10 Common Snipe flew low over the reedbed several times to keep me entertained. I came across the pair of Stonechats again, the same pair I first bumped into as I made my way to the seawall. Sadly, the remains of a headless Brent Goose was lying on the grass and it looked like an adult too.
And its mate.
All in all, a nice walk round and I notched up 11 species for the year, which puts me on 82 species for the year.