Sunday, 26 April 2015

25th April - Keyhaven, Pennington & Normandy Marshes, Hampshire

The weather has changed, gone is the blue sky and sunshine, and as we drove down the M3 it was in mist and drizzle, but once into the Forest, and to the coast the skies cleared.  It was cooler, but dry.  This was a family event, Helen and I were joined by Louise, and we were going to walk the route Helen and I took in March.

As we set off along the Pennington cycle track over the water to our right there were plenty of hirundines, with House and Sand Martins being year ticks. The gorse was looking superb, and along the fence there were Linnets.  Some were also using the newly filled puddles for a bath.

A Little further on there were more signs that the overnight rain had been very welcome as a Robin was in the middle of an extensive preen.

There was bird song everywhere, Chiffchaff, Chaffinch, and Wrens, then a rattling song that I haven't heard for awhile, a Lesser Whitethroat, the trick now would be to find it, they are notorious for creeping through the bushes and staying hidden.  It kept singing, and I kept looking.  Finally it came out into the open, and showed really well.

I am not sure why it is called a Lesser Whitethroat as it appears with a much whiter throat.  It then sang in the open.

The show continued with a shake and quick clean up.

In the ditches a Reed Warbler sang, but never showed, and as we reached the car park at Keyhaven a Firecrest sang from the conifers.

We took the coast path, the tide was out and as ever the Oystercatchers were both visible and vocal on the mud.

Whitethroats were singing from the gorse, bursting up into the sky at intervals, you could find them at the top of the bushes.  You can see the difference here from the Lesser, the Whitethroat having a white throat patch

As well as the Whitethroats the Linnets were using the gorse as a place to sing from there rosy chest patches now quite bright.  

With the tide out the mud was exposed, a Redshank was busy feeding in the gullies.  At this time of year they look very smart with the spotted chest not seen in the winter.  Often an overlooked bird but looking good now.

we walked around to Fishtail Lagoon where a Common Tern was fishing, again my first for the year.

Like the swallows the tail streamers are pristine at this time of year.

The channel between Fishtail and Butts looked lovely with the flowering Gorse and Blackthorn, plus a small flock of Canada Geese flying over.

There was a good size flock of Dunlin about, all looking splendid with their black bellies.  There had been a report of two Curlew Sandpiper in the area at the old jetty, there are two birds in this photograph that do not have a black belly and could be Curlew Sandpiper, but I am not one hundred per cent certain.

The Black-tailed Godwits are currently in different stages of plumage.  It must be hard for those with out the lovely brick red plumage to look at those with it, a case of the ugly Godwit.

There were several Mute Swan about, and one decided to take off, the noise and effort impressive as it flew past us.

Several more terns were fishing on Pennington Lagoon.

A lone Greenshank was also on the lagoon just off one of the small islands.

There had been a few Curlew calling but I finally managed to find a Whimbrel.  It flew over onto a spit offshore and was immediately mobbed by Black-headed Gulls, and flew off.  I can only assume the gulls thought it was a raptor from the colour, I see no other threat from the Whimbrel.

You can clearly see the head and eye stripe, plus the smaller bill.

As we came around Oxey Marsh a flash of white alerted me to a pair of Wheatear.  They were chasing each other, and flew through the gorse before settling on a bank on the other side of the marsh.

In the bay there were more terns, but this time the flight was more bat like with high flaps of the wings, they were also smaller than the earlier Common Terns.  They were Little Terns and there was at least three fishing in the shallow water.  In this picture you can see the blur of the wings, but the head kept still.

The tide was turning now, but there was still plenty of mud, and a flock of Dunlin were joined by a couple of Ringed Plover.  You can see here the lovely breeding plumage of the Dunlins

While I watched the waders the Little Terns came back and gave some good close views.

On Salterns Marsh another Greenshank was patrolling the water in front of the reeds, but was this time a little closer.

We then made our way up Normandy Lane, and into the centre of Lymington for lunch and a wander around the street market.  On the way back a Chiffchaff showed well above in what was now some warm sunshine.

The sunshine was also responsible for bringing out the butterflies, an Orange Tip flew past not stopping to be followed by two dueling Speckled Woods, but finally one Speckled Wood stopped to show off its newly emerged wings.

As we came onto Normandy Marsh a Whitethroat flew up to the fence and sang, the white throat patch showing clearly as it sang.

Sailing boats on the 8 Acre Pond meant there was little there but nesting Canada Geese, however as we turned on the path past Salterns, a superb Spotted Redshank was feeding quite close in.

The weather was changing once again, it was getting much cooler as the sea mist rolled in up the Solent.  In the distance Hurst Castle was slowly disappearing.

We headed back to the car park, and the pools were also showing mist above them, I can only assume the water was warmer than the cool air that was now coming in from the west. You can just make out the mist over the water here.

A lovely walk with some quality birds, the weather being a pleasant surprise.

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