A dawn walk on Thorney Island.

Saturday 20th December 2014.

Dawn over Thorney Island.

Early this morning, I met up with John Goodall by the small car park at Thornham Lane, Thorney Island. with Scruff. Though it was overcast and the sun hadn’t quite come up yet, it was still relatively mild, until we reached the sea wall, where the southerly breeze made it much colder.

Oystercatchers on the shoreline of Emsworth Harbour.

The Horse Paddocks to the north of the footpath were flooded still, but no Water Rails were on show here today. A Chiffchaff was heard, but proved too elusive to find in the brambles. A Cettis Warbler was also heard somewhere in the reeds, south of the footpath and again, remained hidden. The tide was on the rise within Emsworth Harbour, but a scan over the water revealed nothing but several flocks of Brent Geese bobbing on the water.

John checking out the harbour.

The Little Deeps was rather quiet, with just a few dabbling duck at the far end of the pool, so we carried on south. It wasn’t till we reached the Great Deeps, where there was a lot more activity going on. John spotted a Kingfisher flying low over the water and as I picked it up through the binoculars, I watched it fly towards us then land in the south west corner to land out of view. On the water itself, several Red-breasted Mergansers were flying in off the harbour to land with about a dozen others on the Great Deeps, though quite some distance away from where we stood.

Adult & juvenile Brent Geese in Emsworth Harbour.

In the small creek leading north from the Great Deeps, the usual flock of Greenshank numbered around 7 birds at first, then something (most likely the Common Buzzard that perched up on a fence post near the Great Deeps) spooked everything and then the Greenshank flew low over the Great Deeps and headed off east, now numbering 18 birds. A Spotted Redshank was heard calling, but I failed to locate the bird.

Greenshank.

On the return journey, all was pretty quiet, but a female Reed Bunting was seen on the sea wall briefly then flew back into the reeds on the Little Deeps. A female Stonechat was seen perched on the fence wire adjacent to the footpath. The walk through the paddocks was again quiet, but a male Sparrowhawk buzzed through the brambles, putting up all the Pigeons and smaller birds. A pair of Long-tailed Tits were seen in the brambles and a small flock of Chaffinches were searching for seeds in the last paddock by the main road.

Brent Geese arriving from the harbour onto the island.

In Hampshire today, the drake Ferruginous Duck was still present on Kingfisher Lake, near Ringwood. The Barn owl is back quartering the fields within the Posbrook Floods, Titchfield, along with a Marsh Harrier. Nearer to home, a Black Redstart has taken up residency in a back garden within North-end, Portsmouth. Keep your eyes peeled everyone. I am putting plenty of food out for the birds within my garden, but nothing unusual yet. I had an email a few days ago from Birdwatch magazine. They are wanting me to write for them for the February issue about where to watch birds in the Farlington Marshes and Langstone Harbour area! Watch this space!

The female Stonechat seen this morning.

Marsh Tits & Fieldfares on Old Winchester Hill.

Saturday 13th December 2014.

A frosty start.

There was a sharp frost on the ground when I arrived at Old Winchester Hill at 8am today, with Scruff on tow. I was greeted with an empty car park and as soon as I stepped out of the car, there were a good number of winter thrushes around, plus a few Bullfinches calling in the trees and bushes nearby. My mate John was busy this morning and so I ventured on my own (along with Scruff of course) around one of Hampshire’s premier sites.

Redwings at dawn.

I got my first decent sighting of Fieldfares this winter by the bushes near the entrance, with at least 10 birds being present feeding on berries plus around a dozen or so Redwing among them. The light wasn’t very good at first but as the morning wore on, the sun rose and though cold and fresh, the whole area was bathed in sunshine. A couple more Bullfinches were in the bushes as well, but were heard not seen.

Fieldfare.

The walk to the Fort was fairly quiet, but several finch flocks flew over including Goldfinch, Chaffinch and Greenfinch. A Green Woodpecker was flushed by Scruff from the main footpath, which it then flew off down the slope. To my left, a couple of Tawny Owls were hooting quietly in the roadside wood opposite the Hill. Yet again, Tawny Owl sightings have remained scarce this year for me personally, with only the one sighting in March this year.

Female Bullfinch deep within brambles.

More Redwings were observed in the bushes and over the fields to the south and to be honest, not a great deal to be seen along the footpath to the Fort area. I never saw one raptor this morning, which was unusual. Another absence were the Yellowhammers and Skylarks. Where had they all gone too? Never saw one during my two hours here! Nearing the Fort entrance, a flock of Chaffinches were seen within the neighbouring bushes along with several Greenfinches. Yet another couple of Bullfinches were seen briefly along with a pair of Song Thrushes, which quickly flew off over the fields.

Several Robins were on the footpath leading to the fort.

Walking around the Fort, with Scruff on his lead, the sheep soon scarpered on his approach along the footpath. A scan over the fields, I picked up a covey of Red-legged Partridge in the distance in one of the fields. A large number of Gulls had gathered in the fields below the hill, mostly Herring Gulls from what I could see. Rounding the fort, a flock of 8 Meadow Pipits took flight then flew off south.

A large flock of Linnets flew up from the field to the left of the fort.

The walk back was a much quieter affair, but a large flock of Linnets were seen flying by the entrance of the fort. As I neared the entrance to the car park, I heard then saw my first Marsh Tit of the morning. The bird was briefly joined by a second bird but both were too busy to notice me while they were feeding. Better still, one individual showed ridiculously well by my car; showing down to just a few feet. The Fieldfares were still showing well by the car park, feeding on berries still, but this time in much better light. Pleased with this morning’s walk, we then headed back south, homebound. I wonder what will be discovered today in Hampshire?

Marsh Tit within the car park.

I just love Redwings.

Sanderlings abundant at Eastney.

Friday 12th December 2014.

Sanderling on the beach.

After last night’s strong winds, there was always a chance of something unusual in Langstone Harbour or the harbour entrance and so, I took Scruff for a walk this afternoon around Eastney Point. Though the wind had dropped, it was quite chilly and overcast as I first walked up to the Hayling Ferry then down to Eastney Point.

Same bird with its prey!

The usual House Sparrows and Starlings were present in the car park and as per usual, they allowed a close approach. Up to 20+ Black-headed Gulls were on the beach, scrounging for scraps from the public in their cars. Walking up to the Hayling Ferry, I checked out the harbour looking south, but very little of note to be seen bar a few Brent Geese and a Cormorant. So, walking back, we made our way down to the Outfall.

One could get to within a few feet of the Starlings.

There was nothing on the sea within the harbour entrance, but a couple of Sanderling were walking along the shoreline near the boatyard. More Sanderling were present further south near the Gull roost which also contained a flock of 13 Oystercatchers. The building work is still going on to renew the Water Treatment Works, but I have noticed it was a lot cleaner within the car park there, which was probably due to the workman being there first thing in the morning and last thing in the afternoon. A male Kestrel was hunting over the wasteland near the brambles and a pair of Pied Wagtails were flitting around on the beach.

Some of the Gulls within the roost.

Male Pied Wagtail on the beach. The female was never too far away.

We walked to the bottom of the Outfall and I giving the sea a good search for anything interesting, not a sausage! The walk back produced the Sanderlings again, but this time, a flock of around 20 birds flew south over the harbour entrance.

Black-headed Gulls in the car park having a drink.

Mike Wearing had a nice surprise when he came across this White Wagtail while looking for the Purple Sandpipers at Southsea Castle today.

Ferruginous Duck added to year list.

Tuesday 9th December 2014.

I was working in the Romsey / Ringwood area all day today and after my first appointment, I thought I would try my luck for the wintering Ferruginous Duck on Kingfisher Lake, which is the most southerly lake of the Blashford Lake’s complex. Rain was forecasted to come in from the west later in the afternoon, but, though it was overcast, it remained dry while I was in the area. I have never been to Kingfisher Lake and though a ‘strictly private’ fishing lake, viewing can be obtained by driving down to the end of Hurst Road, then walking north along the footpath to view from the fence. However, even this view isn’t all that great to check the ducks on there and hindered by a lot of vegetation.

I'm afraid the small brown duck was the only decent shot of the drake Ferruginous Duck I could get. Distant and overcast dark conditions didn't help at all.

I followed the footpath adjacent to the lake, which ran through some woodland, which held a stream flowing through it. Though I didn’t spend much time studying my surroundings, I did come across a couple of Goldcrests among a small flock of Titmice. When I found a suitable gap in the fence to look across the water, I was glad to see plenty of wildfowl present, but where was the ‘fudge’ duck? Wigeon, Mallard, Pochard, Gadwall and Tufted Duck were all seen along with a couple of Great Crested Grebes, but it took a little time for me to actually pick up the star bird.

Eventually, I did see a small brown duck in the distance, sporting a white undertail, but I didn’t have my scope with me. I quickly walked back to the car and grabbed the scope and eventually my suspicions were confirmed. It showed all the prominent features of a Ferruginous Duck, although some individuals still believe it could still be a possible hybrid. I couldn’t see it myself, so I shall happily add the Ferruginous Duck to my year list. If my memory is correct, I have seen around four of this species and all have been around the Blashford Lakes area, bar one sighting.

After my second appointment, I did fancy trying my luck for a Bittern from the Ivy North Hide on Blashford Lakes, but with the weather forecast looking grim, I decided to spend about an hour overlooking Ibsley Bridge and the River Avon. After grabbing some ‘nosh’ from the nearby garage, from the car overlooking the fields from the bridge, I could see quite a few Mute Swans in the area and although I need Bewick Swan for a year tick, there were none here today. One was spotted on Ibsley Water recently, so it could be still in the area. While finishing off my lunch, a Grey Heron flew over then landed by the roadside in the field to the south of the road.

Female and drake Goosander on the River Avon.

Recently, some lucky chap spotted a dog Otter from the bridge and took some superb photos. I gave the river a good scan both north and south, but no Otters today. Instead, two drakes and a female Goosander fishing the north side of the river, entertained me during my stay. They never came that close, but were soon joined by four Tufted Duck and a Little Grebe in the same stretch of river. Much closer, was a Grey Wagtail, which was chasing insects which had landed on the water. The bird would literally hover for a short time over an insect, pick it off almost ‘Little Gull’ style, then fly back to the shoreline to get its breath back! I even got a brief sighting of a Cetti’s Warbler which first burst into song then flew across the river to land in brambles by the main road.

Drake Goosander with a Mute Swan on the river.

Out in the fields, a large flock of Canada Geese held a couple of Egyptian Geese, but little else seen within the fields, for I was really concentrating on the river. I didn’t hang around too long as the first drops of rain started to fall and so made my way back home.

Black Brant in Langstone Harbour.

Sunday 7th December 2014.

Langstone Harbour looking south.

John Goodall and I met up at the Farlington Marshes car park at 8am, ready for a nice stroll and a catch-up. We haven’t been birding together for a few weeks due to work and family commitments, so it was nice to meet up and get all the latest news. I forgot to look at last night’s weather report for Sunday and when I noticed it was a bit grim this morning, I quickly found out on the TV that this morning’s forecast was for heavy showers! However, when are they ever right?

The Black Brant among the Brent Geese within Langstone Harbour.

While talking to John in the car park, a Brown Rat was feeding on something close to the main gate, but soon scarpered when we walked up to it. The tide was out when we arrived at the reserve and the overcast, breezy conditions didn’t bode well, however, it soon got a lot brighter when we neared the Point Fields.

A Brown Rat in the car park.

As we neared the Lake, a check over the mudflats in the western side of the harbour revealed our first Black Brant of the season, feeding with 40 or so other Brent Geese. I was hoping to pick up one yesterday at the Marine Barracks on Southsea seafront, but this one will most certainly do. The Avocets were seen on the far shoreline, feeding along the water’s edge near the Eastern Road, numbering around 15+ birds. Good numbers of Pintail were present now among the more common Teal and Wigeon.

Grey Heron, Black-tailed Godwit and Teal on the Lake.

The Lake was busy with wildfowl and several feeding Redshank and Black-tailed Godwit. A small group of Common Snipe were resting on the edge of the reeds, but I didn’t take my scope along with me today to check if any Jack Snipe might be lurking among them. A Water Pipit was present here yesterday; somewhere at the back of the Lake, according to John.

Male Stonechat near the Point Field.

Nearing the Point Fields, we found a pair of Stonechats flitting about the brambles. A Rock Pipit was seen on the rocks near the sea wall and a couple of Meadow Pipits flew up from the footpath. A lot of seaweed has been washed up on the footpath and unless they have done a clean-up of all the litter, I hardly found any down below the seawall. From the Point, a check in the harbour channel revealed at least a dozen or so Mergansers, with at least four Great Crested Grebes and a probable Slavonian Grebe in the distance. Clearly smaller than the GC Grebe, it was most likely one seeing that a group of four were seen here yesterday. The Black-necked Grebes tend to be on the Hayling side of the harbour. A male Kestrel was hunting over the Point Field until flying off into the harbour.

How many species can you spot here?

The Deeps held a good number of Brent, Wigeon and Shoveler and among the Canada Geese flock, we found three Grey Lags and a Barnacle Goose. A female Reed Bunting popped up within the reedbeds near the footpath and then flew off. While watching the waders in the harbour, there was an almighty crack of gunshot, which made both John and I jump! Our attention then turned towards the two wildfowlers down below the seawall near the Blockhouse.

Wigeon and Canada Geese by the Deeps.

Followers of my blog know all too well that I absolutely loathe Wildfowlers. But what makes me angrier, are the idiots who allow them to shoot on a ‘nature reserve’? They are even given a key for the gates, to drive their bloody vehicles onto the reserve and park up near the seawall!!!! Now, with that terrific bang that made even John and I jump, what if someone with a heart condition walked past and then faced that row? I could rant all day about it, but I am bloody disgusted on how they are allowed on here.

Juvenile Brent Goose showing down to a few feet.

Back to the birds, before I lose my rag; the Bushes area held a pair of Goldcrests and at least one Redwing (which was heard only), but we didn’t give it a good search as a rain shower came down. As we reached the harbour wall, a check on the Lake once again revealed a healthy flock of around 60+ Black-tailed Godwit and squadrons of Redshank coming into roost on the Lake. Several Dunlin fed along the water’s edge also. A Golden Plover was reported here yesterday, but no sign of it today.

Pintail in the western side of the harbour.

On the rising tide, there was a nice flock of Pintail out in the harbour, but no sign of the Black Brant we had seen earlier. Another female Reed Bunting was seen in the brambles within the Bushes are on the way back to the car. I have just read on Birdguides that a Black Brant has been seen on Hayling Island. Same bird as mine or a new one?

Showy Knot with the Purple Sandpipers.

Saturday 6th December 2014.

Knot at Southsea Castle.

Scruff and I took a walk to view both the confiding Knot and the Purple Sandpipers by Southsea Castle this morning. Though it was very cold first thing this morning, after scraping away the first hard frost from my car windscreen of the winter, we were basking in strong sunshine and along with a clear blue sky, it was just perfect for photography.

Knot.

Roosting Purple Sandpipers.

It didn’t take long to spot the Purple Sandpipers, all 11 of them (though there was 15 yesterday), roosting and preening on the concrete embankment below the Castle. A pair of Rock Pipits flew low overhead, but didn’t stop as they disappeared over the grassy mound. Shortly afterwards, up popped the Knot, which everyone has been talking about along with a brief sighting of a lone Sanderling. The Sanderling popped down onto the shoreline and out of view, but the Knot was much more obliging as it walked along the embankment in full view.

Purple Sandpipers.

I took quite a few photos of this lovely bird; easily the closest I have ever been to a Knot (apart from a dead one!) and then onto the Purple Sandpipers. I checked the embankment as I walked west along the promenade, but failed to locate any more hiding away within the cracks. A look over the flat calm sea revealed nothing bar a few loafing Gulls on the water. I then took a walk up the grassy hill behind me and noticed something quickly flying down onto the grass within the Bandstand field. It was a Skylark, which was busy picking off seeds within a small gulley; but it was soon flushed by a group of people exercising! This was my cue to make my way back to the car.

Skylark.

On the return walk, all the waders had disappeared, although the tide was much higher than when I first arrived. As I drove along the seafront eastbound, heading towards Eastney, I noticed a large flock of Brent Geese within the fields in front of the Royal Marines Barracks. Pulling over within the car park, I checked the 1000+ Brent Geese present for anything interesting, but failed to find any Black Brants or Pale-bellied Brent.

Brent grazing in front of the Royal Marines Barracks.

Reaching the car park by the harbour entrance at Eastney, I took Scruff for a walk up to the Hayling Ferry and back. Plenty of the usual House Sparrows and Starlings by the car park, but very little was out in the harbour of note. Four Mergansers, two drakes and a 2 females, were seen over the west side of the harbour and a couple of Turnstone were roosting on one of the boats within the harbour. Very little else of note, so we headed back home.

Starling and House Sparrows by the harbour entrance.

A female House Sparrow allowing me a close photo.

Mike Wearing had a dog Fox within his garden this week and he kindly emailed me across a couple of photos of the animal. Cheers Mike.

The Fox in Mike's garden.

And again!

Another walk around the Cemy.

Friday 5th December 2014.

Foraging Blackbirds on the pathway to the Mausoleum.

A cold, but pleasant walk around Highland Road Cemetery early morning with Scruff before work, perked me up nicely for the rest of the day. The overnight temperatures are getting colder, which we should expect for this time of year, but there was nothing new within the Cemy, except for a species of fungi, which was a year tick for me.

Snowy Waxcap.

The bright and sunny first thing this morning, the cloud soon rolled in but it wasn’t as dark and dank as yesterday. I kept Scruff on a lead today (I like him to stretch his legs) for most of the walk as there seemed to be a lot more dog walkers than normal. All the usual birds were present, but again, no Woodpeckers! Where have they gone too? Jays numbered at least two birds and were seen often flying over the Cemy to a nearby tree.

The Prince.

I was pretty sure I had a new ‘mammal’ tick for the ‘patch’, when I clocked a Brown Rat running between some graves heading south! Unfortunately, I lost sight of it when a lady walked up to me with her dog and grabbed my attention. Greenfinches aren’t often seen in the Cemy and so when a pair flew over and landed on the tallest trees, I gave them a once over with the binoculars. A Goldcrest was heard earlier, calling within the clump of Holm Oaks, but none were on show today.

Male Blackbird.

Wrens numbered at least three birds and at least two Robins were seen. The usual Great and Blue Tits were present, but nothing more unusual. It shouldn’t be long to when we get the Coal Tits through. Some winter thrushes would be nice here, but for now, I shall settle for the usual Blackbirds, tossing over leaves with their beaks on the wet grass. The most notable bird this morning was probably the Meadow Pipit which flew low south over the Cemy then over the rooftops. Along the southern part of the Cemy, I found a moribund Bumblebee along the footpath. It was a queen Buff-tailed Bumblebee, but I think it was on her last legs!

Queen Buff-tailed Bumblebee.

I found my first Orange Peel Fungus of the year, this morning within the centre of the Cemy, standing out nicely below a Beech Tree. Other Toadstools included another group of Snowy Waxcaps, Puffballs and The Prince (a clump of toadstools I had found in late November here) in the same place as before.

Orange Peel Fungus.

I read this morning that there were 13 Slavonian Grebes on the sea off Church Norton today! Bloody typical after I had been there yesterday, with next to nothing on show! Also, a Short-eared Owl was seen to land on Tern Island amongst the Spoonbills! What a difference a day makes! I have not seen a ‘Shortie’ this year and I hope to get to see one before the years out. The drake Ferruginous duck is wintering again on Kingfisher Lake, near Blashford Lakes this morning and the Bittern is starting to show well in front of the Hides again.

Puffballs.

Spoonbills in Pagham Harbour.

Thursday 4th December 2014.

Lapwing concregating on and over Siddlesham Ferry Pool.

In the words of a famous Simon and Garfunkel song ‘A Winter’s day, in a deep and dark December’ reflected on what a grotty day it was regarding the weather! I was working in the Selsey area today and despite overcast and very dull conditions, I spent my lunch hour in the Pagham Harbour area. Sensibly, I took my scope and birding kit along with me to West Sussex and thankfully, some of the more exciting recent sightings played ball. Though it was a tad cold (only 5 degrees!) to be walking around in my suit (though I did have a thick coat, hat and gloves handy), I took a quick look first of all on Siddlesham Ferry Pool for the Ruddy Shelduck.

The entrance to St. Wilfrid Churchyard.

Unfortunately, this bird didn’t want to play ball and with a high tide within Pagham Harbour, I could only assume it was bobbing about within the harbour.. The Ferry Pool held a large flock of Lapwing (some 500+), which had been previously spooked by a probable passing raptor? There were a few Shelduck, Teal and Shoveler on the Ferry Pool but no sign of the ‘Ruddy’. The neighbouring fields held more Lapwing, with several Curlew among them and a few Redshank were wading on the Pool.

Knot, Dunlin, Grey Plover and Curlew over the harbour.

My next stop was to be Church Norton car park for a walk by the harbour. It was that dark at midday that all the passing cars had their headlights on! I drove past a male Kestrel perched in a roadside tree, but nothing was out in the roadside fields. There was a few cars within the car park, but I didn’t see anyone as I walked through the churchyard by St. Wilfrid Church. The only birds seen within the churchyard were Robins and Blackbirds, but I had more to look at once I was overlooking the harbour.

The three white blobs are the Spoonbills on Tern Island.

There was a report of a Black Brant and a Pale-bellied Brent Goose among the Brent Geese flock at Church Norton yesterday, but no sign of the flock whatsoever in the neighbouring countryside. The three juvenile Spoonbills made up for that, but in this awful light, only record shots of three white blobs were obtained, as they all slept together on Tern Island, within the harbour. A scan across the harbour water failed to pick up the Ruddy Shelduck, with just a few Shelduck and a lone Great Crested Grebe seen swimming this side of the harbour.

Redshank feeding close to the footpath.

Waders were abundant with all the usual species on show. The wintering Whimbrel didn’t show, but a good number of Knot were seen among other waders near Tern Island. Despite the tide now ebbing, I thought I would brave it and take a look on the sea. What a waste of bloody time! There was a couple of Slavonian Grebes reported recently, but for my effort, all I managed was a single Great Crested Grebe flying fast low over the sea. Disappointed, I made my way back to the car for my client in Chichester.

Two brave souls in the cold and gloom, enjoying the distant Spoonbills.

Plenty of fungi around the Cemetery.

Friday 28th November 2014.

Late afternoon in the Cemy.

After finally finishing off all my paperwork after a busy week of work, I took Scruff for his walk around Highland Road Cemetery. There was actually some sunshine beaming through the clouds, late afternoon, as I grabbed Scruffs lead and took a pleasant stroll around my local patch. Nearly all the leaves are down now from the trees, but there wasn’t too much in the way of birdlife today.

Second winter Herring Gull.

Snowy Waxcap.

It started well, with a Grey Wagtail flying low over my head, but it didn’t stop as it flew off northbound over the rooftops. Walking clockwise (for a change) around the perimeter of the Cemy, I came across a small group of Herring Gulls searching the grass for a worm or two. Three adults and a 2nd winter bird were present; the latter being very photogenic. In the bare trees, the odd Wood Pigeon or Carrion Crow was seen, but very little else. In fact, the best I could muster was a Goldfinch and several Blackbirds! A Goldcrest was heard a couple of times but somewhere deep within the Holm Oaks.

Coral Fungus.

To be ID'd.

A few insects were still around, which included a Hoverfly species, which bathing on a leaf in the late afternoon sun along with several Houseflies perched on a gravestone. Herb Robert, Ox eye Daisy and Smooth Sow Thistle were still flowering around the graves, but I expect a good heavy frost will put paid to these soon; but not this week, with warm air coming in from the Continent over the next few days. Because of the warm air, I put my moth box out last night and I was rewarded with one solitary moth – a Light-brown Apple Moth! Time to put the box away now, me thinks!

First winter Blackbird preening in the sun.

What really kept me entertained was the amount of fungi on show this afternoon. I must have found at least five species within the Cemy, of which, three of those require further research to ID them. So, I shall be adding more to this entry on my blog later. However, I was able to ID Honey Fungus, Puff Ball and Field Mushrooms.

The Prince toadstools.

In Hampshire, yesterday, Andy Johnson found a 1st winter Caspian Gull on Hayling Island. Nice one mate.

Coprinellus micaceus OR Glistening Ink Cap

Wader spectacle over Hayling Oysterbeds.

Thursday 27th November 2014.

Birders enjoying the wealth of birdlife on the Oysterbeds.

I was working all day on Hayling Island, however, within my extra-long lunch hour, I took a stroll around Hayling Oysterbeds. It was a grey day, with the occasional burst of sunshine beaming across a high tide within Langstone Harbour. Almost immediately, on drawing up within the car park, I noticed the waders jostling for space in large flocks, as the tide was near its highest. There was hardly a ripple on the water as I made my way up to the reserve; armed with scope, binoculars and camera, I noticed a group of birders in the distance, containing a dozen souls overlooking the ‘Beds’.

Geese, Gulls and waders near the Oysterbeds.

Nice shot of a Brent Goose by the waters edge.

A pair of Rock Pipits was searching the shingle tideline to my left as I made my way up to the ‘Beds’, and a large gathering of mumbling Brent Geese were grazing on the last stretch of mudflat untouched by the upcoming tide. Behind these, Dunlin, Grey Plover, Ringed Plover and Curlew were pouring in onto the spit and provided a superb spectacle as I neared the area to view the harbour.

Rock Pipit.

Pair of Mergs on the 'Beds'.

On the ’Beds’ itself, up to five Red-breasted Mergansers swam, including two smart looking drakes. Nearby, three Little Grebes swam together, while on the shoreline, several flocks of Redshank were settling down to rest along with some Oystercatchers. From the viewpoint overlooking the harbour, a count of at least 50+ Great Crested Grebes was obtained, although there were probably even more around. Another raft of at least 20 Mergansers were also seen with others dotted around the harbour between the Oysterbeds and the RSPB islands.

Dunlin about to rest onto the spit.

More Dunlin pouring through along with Turnstone, Ringed Plover and Grey Plover.

While checking out the waders on the spit, a pair of Sandwich Terns passed by at speed and, unfortunately, all my photos of the two birds came out blurred! A Harbour Seal had its head out of the water, but remained distant within the harbour. I couldn’t find any Goldeneye or the Black-necked Grebes, which was disappointing, but at least the waders present entertained as they flew past in tight flocks; with Dunlin easily being the most numerous.

Waders settling on the spit with Brent Geese.

Dunlin passing by at close quarters.

The walk back south along the Hayling Billy Line was rather quiet with only a pair of Goldcrests seen deep within the hedgerow, being noteworthy. There was still a few flowering plants by the Oysterbeds including White Dead Nettle, Smooth Sow Thistle and Annual Mercury. Not a great deal reported in Hampshire today, though a Black Redstart was found in Old Portmouth this morning. The drake Ferruginous Duck was still on Kingfisher Lake on the Blashford Lakes complex though there was no sign again of the adult Franklin’s Gull this evening.

Mixed flock of Dunlin, Grey Plover, Ringed Plover and Oystercatcher resting on the 'Beds'.

Clumps of White-dead Nettle were flowering still.

I have put the moth box out tonight, seeing it is going to be a very mild night and hopefully, not too much rain. Last chance saloon really as it will probably be put away for the winter tonight. Then I shall send my moth records for the year to Hants Moths. Unless I tomorrow, I had got 121 species of macro for the year, which is 13 more species than last year and the highest total for the garden.

Brent feeding by the Oysterbeds.