Sunday, 4 March 2012

Lymington 17th - 19th February

Lymington was to be the base for our weekend while we explored the marshes around Keyhaven and Pennington, and also the New Forest.  When we arrived on Friday afternoon, it was dull and overcast.  We set off for the marshes at Keyhaven, and as we arrived it began to drizzle with light rain,  Despite this we walked the path around the marsh and pools.  There was plenty of duck on the pools, Wigeon, Teal and Pintail, but the gloom made it very difficult to photograph them.  The rain held off and we walked back to the car along Pennington Lane,  Two years ago we had been treated to a lovely display by a Barn Owl here, but unfortunately it now seems to have disappeared, hopefully not a victim of the bad winter weather.

Saturday morning was dry but windy with some sun.  The forecast was for heavy rain later so we got up had breakfast and decided to head into the New Forest.  The first stop was at Shatterford.  Where we walked the loop down alongside the railway, then along the dyke to Denny Wood through the wood and back along the road to the car park.

The wind was now quite strong, and this seemed to keep the birds down.  There was a pair of Stonechat on the gorse as we entered the wood and Buzzards circling overhead, but most of the activity was in the wood.  Redwings could be heard everywhere, and Blue and Great Tits would drop to the floor picking up moss and seeds.  In the trees Nuthatches called, and Robins were singing everywhere.  There were plenty of ponies, and as usual they made for that kodak moment!

We left Shatterford and went to try and see the Dark-eyed Junco at Hawkshill Enclosure.  It was still very windy, and this was probably one of the reasons why it didn't show.  There was plenty of seed around, put there by birders wanting to lure the bird out, but all it seemed to be attracting was Chaffinches.

Rather than stand around waiting we headed off down the track, and was rewarded with superb views of a male Crossbill as it ripped the cones apart at the top of a pine

When we got back to the Junco site, there was a school party that had decided to rest in the area.  Rest isn't probably the best word, as they were running around and making a considerable noise.  By now even the Chaffinches had gone!

By now the skies were darkening, and the forecast rain arrived, putting an end to outdoor pursuits, so we headed back and walked into Lymington for a coffee and wander.

Sunday dawned with clear skies and sunshine, the tide was rising and the light on the marshes was wonderful.  We decided to do the full marsh walk that we were going to do yesterday before heading home.  The day did not disappoint, with the superb light and rising tide we had a wonderful day.  Here are the highlights.

Teal were plentiful to but they were mostly settled into the bank sleeping.

This Dartford Warbler greeted us as we walked on to the marsh, it didn't stay long, but just enough to get this shot.

On Normandy Marsh the light was just right, the pools were full of duck, with the shoveler being very active.

The teal though were more content to sleep

Little Egrets are very photogenic probably due to their size and colour.  This one was fisjhing in the ditch, and was totally concentrating on the task at hand.  The reflections are lovely.

As the day wore on the duck became more sleepy.  These teal made for a lovely composition, and the Pintail is just a beautiful duck

A Reed Bunting posed nicely on a bush as it tried to sing in the sunshine.  Their song is pretty weak at the best of times, but this one was still learning. 

This Skylark took time off from singing high above the marshes to come down and fight off two others.

On the sea I found this Slavonian Grebe but just as I put up the camera it flew off, still it is nice to capture something different.

This Cormorant was fishing in the boating pool, I just love the scaly plumage on the back and green eye.  While it was continually diving we never saw it catch anything.

Black-tailed Godwits were almost everywhere, and very active.  This individual was having a very good wash.  I did see one Bar-tailed Godwit in amongst a flock of Grey Plover.

One of the stars of the area this time of year is the Spotted Redshank.  This is one of five we saw on Normandy Marsh

We saw one Avocet on Normandy and another later on at Keyhaven.  There were two later back on Normandy, and they were even showing signs of courtship.

Once upon a time like the Spotted Redshank you would only see Greenshank on passage, but now they over winter.  Again this area is very good for them, and this one was very confiding as it chased away a Redshank

With the tide dropping the Dunlin were very active feeding along the water's edge.  They seemed to be very jumpy when other birds came by, but were totally unconcerned by the dogs and there owners

It was a lovely walk on a beautiful day to end a wonderful weekend!

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