Friday 22nd April 2016.
This Whimbrel took off quickly but soon settled again distantly within Langstone Harbour.
It was a wet old day today, with a cold easterly blowing and really not a good day for working in, but I persevered nonetheless. I had the opportunity in having a quick look on Chichester Gravel Pits around lunchtime, watching the Hirundines and Terns buzzing over Ivy Lake in the rain with a lovely lady called Sue Henderson. If you are ready this Sue, it was lovely to meet you.
But I shall kick off with yesterday evenings sightings down Farlington Marshes. Faced with another boring load of rubbish on telly (apart from the brilliant Paul O’Grady in Borneo programme), I took Scruff with me to walk the perimeter around the reserve. It was overcast when I arrived and a keen wind blowing from the north west, but at least I had my fleece on (thankfully!). Earlier today, the reserve hosted a pair of Spoonbills and a couple of Wheatears, but there were no sign of them tonight, sadly. Also today, a flock of 10 Pomarine Skua’s passed the Hampshire coast and 9 of the birds passed Selsey Bill around 9.30am this morning.
I found this recently dead Carrion Crow by the Bushes area last night on Farlington Marshes.
Back on the reserve, as I passed the Bushes area, there were a good number of warblers in song, which included Chiffchaff, Common Whitethroat, Lesser Whitethroat and Blackcap and fortunately, I got to see at least three Common Whitethroats this evening, which were my first of the year. The tide was out within Langstone Harbour and I was lucky enough to watch a Whimbrel fly off and land distantly from the seawall (see photo).
On reaching the Lake, there was a good variety of waders present which included a Spotted Redshank in near summer plumage feeding right at the back. A flock of 12 Dunlin were also present as well as Black-tailed Godwits, Redshank and at least one Greenshank. I checked the fields for any Wheatears but I couldn’t find one, which was disappointing. There were plenty of Lapwings out in the fields and it will be interesting on how many are breeding on the reserve this year. I am sure we will find out soon. A lone Brent Goose was by the Willow Pool as was a pair of Gadwall and Shoveler.
Waders on the Lake which included Spotshank, Black-tailed Godwit, Redshank, Dunlin and Greenshank.
The Point Field held several Linnets and the occasional calling Cetti’s Warbler but nothing else of note. I had seen a Common Buzzard earlier, perched on a bush near the Scrape and now the bird was flying low over the island towards islands, which in turn put up all the nesting Gulls. A male Kestrel flew overhead and headed off into the fields. The Deeps didn’t hold anything exciting bar a few Tufted Duck and a Little Grebe, but again, no Wheatears. Passing the Blockhouse, a good number of Rabbits were out in the fields including a couple of the black ones, which attracted a Fox which ran towards the brambles close to the footpath.
An adult Little Grebe fishing by the Sluice gates.
As I neared the Info Centre, a large flock of Hirundines were present and on closer inspection, they were mostly Swalllows, but they also contained at least two Sand Martins, which were also new for the year for me. Close by, at least two Reed Warblers sang in the reedbed and behind the Info Centre, a distant Sedge Warbler could be heard singing within the line of brambles near the main road.
Brent Goose by the Willow Pond.
I decided not to walk through the bushes area as I know that it was going to be boggy still and I didn’t want to risk Scruff getting filthy. I was happy with tonight sightings and also pleased to get a few more year ticks inboard my year list. However, I am way down on this time last year, but I was self-employed then and had more free time.
Cowslips growing near the Deeps on the reserve.
On the way home from work yesterday, from the car, I watched a male Sparrowhawk give chase to a small passerine along Fratton Road. The twists and turns the hawk made were breathtaking as it eventually flew off over the rooftops, still chasing its prey.
This morning, the moth box revealed just two moths: an Early Grey and a single Light-brown Apple Moth. At lunch time today, I spent 15 minutes overlooking Ivy Lake in the rain and enjoyed the company of Sue Henderson, who allowed me to look through her scope at the Common Terns and Hirundines. At least 50+ Swallows were present with smaller numbers of both House and Sand Martins (the former being year ticks). Sue had earlier seen two Swifts here but I couldn’t locate any. She also said that there were many more Swifts over the Westhampnett Pit. While checking the 20+ Common Terns for anything rarer, my first Yellow Wagtail of the year flew over and headed low south towards the fields, which was a real bonus. A Cetti’s Warbler sang behind us and a Chiffchaff was in full song too nearby, but I didn’t linger too long as I was by now getting quite wet and had to go off onto my next job.
One of the black Rabbits on Farlington Marshes.
By the Oaks Crematorium today, there were sightings of Great Spotted Woodpecker, Common Buzzard, Nuthatch and Skylark. The Firecrest was heard singing again this afternoon, but I still couldn’t see the bugger! Today, 4 Black Terns were on the Posbrook Floods, Titchfield and a trickle of Arctic Skuas through the Solent. Hopefully, I might catch up with a Skua or two soon. I have added a few photos taken by Dave Levy from his trip to Minsmere this week (the lucky man!).
Barn Owl at Minsmere by Dave Levy.
A male Dartford Warbler at Minsmere by Dave Levy.
A male Black Redstart at Sizewell by Dave Levy.