Friday 18th April 2014.
A male Tree Sparrow was reported all day yesterday at Titchfield Haven, on the Hants Birding website and my friend, John Goodall was very interested in going for it. To be honest, I was making arrangements to go down to Southsea Seafront for a seawatch, but to get such a good year tick, in Hampshire as well, persuaded me to meet John at the Farlington car park at 7am. Isn’t it crazy that when I was a teenager, Tree Sparrows were everywhere and now, I literally have to ‘twitch’ one!
While waiting for John in the car park overlooking Langstone Harbour, I picked up an adult Lesser Black-backed Gull on the mudflats nearby. Also, a Greenshank was wading by the creek near the Eastern Road Bridge; both birds I pointed out to John when he arrived. Earlier this week, a flock of Little Gulls was seen flying along the Hilsea Lines nearby!
We arrived nice and early at the seafront in front of Titchfield Haven and quickly checked the Solent for anything moving. The only birds of note were a small flock of Sanderling flying along the shoreline, until they rested on the beach. It was low tide within the Solent, but we couldn’t find anything of note resting on the sea. A pair of Little Terns were later seen in the morning here. Walking down to the small Garden Hide, just behind the Centre, we noticed it was locked. We were joined by Keith Maycock, who we chatted to as we waited patiently in the garden, hoping the Tree Sparrow might pop up with the resident House Sparrows, which were using the nest boxes on the Centre. Apparently, the Tree Sparrow was actually seen on the boxes yesterday afternoon and by the nearby pond.
By 8.30, there was still no sign but a fellow birder reckoned he saw it on the feeders in the garden, looking through the thick vegetation of the hedge in front of us. We tried are luck looking through the hedge, but to no avail. He also told us that there was a pair of Garganey on the Posbrook Floods. Fortunately, one of the Reserve Staff opened up the Hide for us shortly afterwards, and so grabbing a decent seat, we waited patiently for the bird to show. This Hide was either made for midgets or simply for the kids for educational purposes, as the windows were very low down! Before long, it was packed with a total of 6 people in it!
We waited for at least an hour for the Tree Sparrow to show, but the bird did not reappear for us. John had to leave for home around 9.30am and so we had to call it a day. There were plenty of the common passerines using the feeders and a Stock Dove even came down to feed below the feeder. So, disappointed, we made our way back to the car, but we did get some nice views of a flock of around 40 Turnstone within the small inlet by the road. Three Black Swans were also in the small inlet, a species soon to be added to the British List, I believe?
When I got home, a good hearty breakfast made up for the disappointment of dipping on the ‘Spadger’ and so I took Scruff for a walk around Highland Road Cemetery. To be honest, though the weather was excellent, I was a little disappointed. There were no migrants but there were a few interesting sightings. A pair of calling Med Gulls flew high over, heading west and at least 2 Jays were present, flying from tree to tree. No sign of the Green Woodpecker today though, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t there though as most of the trees are in full leaf now.
I got a text from Geoff Farwell while I was there that he was enjoying a spot of lunch at a wood near the village of Dummer, while watching a pair of Willow Tits. Very nice. I found a Double-striped Pug perched on the bough of a Horse Chestnut, which was a nice surprise. I had one in the garden this morning while watering the plants; the only macro moth to be found after putting my moth box on last night. It is very disappointing for moths so far this year in the garden. Elsewhere in the County this morning, a Red-rumped Swallow was found near the Caravan Park at Pennington Marshes. Wow! What else will be found today?