Sunday 30th August 2015.
Little Egret feeding just below the seawall on the reserve.
It seems a long while since I was down Farmington Marshes and with autumn in full swing, I managed to grab a few hours on my favourite reserve. The weather looked good and though mostly overcast, it really was very warm. The tide was at its highest at 11.30am today and so, on a rising tide, I was lucky enough to see the increasing wader numbers fly off the feeding ground on the mudflats, to rest on the reserve, during my walk round.
Grey Plover, Black-tailed Godwit and Knot in the harbour.
Oystercatchers and Knot over the Harbour.
The trip kicked off well with a Lesser Whitethroat flicking about the bushes close to the car park, but the less said about my photos of it, the better! There were lots of squeaks and whistles coming from the Bushes area, but nothing coming out to play as I made my way slowly to the Lake area. Out in the harbour, large numbers of Grey Plover and Redshank were resting on the mudflats, intermingled with good numbers of Knot and the odd Dunlin or two. A Little Egret was fishing close to the harbour wall, while wave after wave of Swallows poured through eastbound over the harbour and reserve.
A female Reed Bunting near the seawall.
A pair of Whimbrels flying east past the Point.
Among the Swallows, the odd Sand and House Martin went through; though many flew just feet away from where I stood. Simply terrific. If you wanted numbers, then the continuous Swallow numbers were virtually matched by a roughly 500+ Starlings swarming around the Point Fields. I had read earlier on Birdguides that a Rose-coloured Starling was by the lighthouse on Portland Bill; so I kept an eye out throughout the Starling flock. You never know!
A large group of birders were out on a guided tour.
This young Kestrel was searching for insects to eat on the Deeps.
From the viewing platform, I counted at least 10 Whinchats perched on the wire fence south of the Lake plus a large flock of Linnets feeding on the thistle heads nearby. Bearded Tits ‘pinged’ within the reedbed and a male Kestrel was hunting over the fields, while the odd Wheatear hopped over the short turf. More and more waders were coming off the mudflats to roost on the marshes and on the Lake itself, Redshanks and Black-tailed Godwit were building up in numbers. A couple of Greenshank were preening among the Redshank, but nothing more interesting to keep me entertained.
An unusual action shot of a couple of Swallows flying towards me by the Deeps.
Small White butterfly.
Walking up to the Point Fields, more and more Swallows poured through as I kept an eye out for anything interesting. A Common Whitethroat was perched on the edge of a bramble, showing well in the occasional burst of sunlight. Good numbers of Goldfinches were feeding on the thistle heads and the occasional quick burst of Cettis Warbler could be heard, but, as usual, not seen. There was a huge commotion going on over the RSPB islands within the harbour and I spotted my first Osprey of the year flying between large numbers of waders. There was a large group of birders present, which looked as though they were doing a guided tour and I am sure they must have clocked the Osprey.
Wheatear near the Blockhouse.
Not an awful lot on the Deeps area but I did find a strange looking Pipit that looked good for a Tree Pipit; a very streaked individual. Passing the Deeps, at least two Whinchats and a Wheatear were present on the grass behind the small reedbed. Swallows came in again and skimmed the water, taking a small gulp as they quickly past by and then over the harbour wall. A juvenile Kestrel performed well on the ground on the Deeps, picking off small insects down by its feet.
A male Migrant Hawker dragonfly.
A few notable insects seen around the harbour wall included good numbers of Migrant Hawker dragonflies and also a few Common Darters. Butterflies on the wing included Small Heath, Meadow Brown and several Small Whites. Passing the Blockhouse, I noticed the 7 or so Great Crested Grebes swimming on the calm water, but I was trying to find the Osprey I had seen flying earlier. When I reached a young couple of birders along the seawall, they kindly put me onto the Osprey, which was now perched on a small post. I had a lengthy chat with the couple from the Woking area as I watched the Osprey, who were a friendly couple that have only recently discovered this reserve.
Meadow Pipit on the seawall.
I couldn’t stay too long with them and so said my Goodbye’s and best of luck as I made my way to the Info Centre. I did hear some Yellow Wagtails flying over but they were too far away it seems. When I reached the Info Centre, the Stream nearby held an incredible 60+ Gadwall. I cannot recall seeing so many here at once, so it was certainly a notable sighting. Another Kestrel, a male bird, showed very well as I passed it when walking back to the car through the bushes. I couldn’t find anything else of note but I was very pleased with today’s sightings.
A male Kestrel in the Bushes area.
Geoff Farwell text me later in the morning to say that he was now down Farlington Marshes and had just found a Wryneck in the north-east corner of the reserve! Checking the Hants Bird Sightings website, Geoff was mentioned on it in finding the Wryneck. Also, as well as the Osprey, a pair of Spoonbills were resting on Binness Island within the harbour. A good day on the reserve.