Saturday, 12 September 2015

5th September - Titchfield Haven, Hampshire

With the previous weeks sightings of Kingfisher at Titchfield, Helen was keen to go back and hopefully to see them for herself, so we headed down there, also in the knowledge that there had been a Cattle Egret reported hanging around with the herd of cattle.  The morning was the reverse weather wise of last weekend, we left emerging sunshine in Four Marks, and as we arrived on the coast at Hill Head it was overcast, along with the treat of rain.  It was also very cold for the time of year.


The tide was very low, and along the edge of the sea, Black-tailed Godwits were feeding.


We left the visitor centre, heading for the Knights Bank hide which was reportedly the best place to see the egret.  Above us in the trees as usual on a tall dead branch was a Great Spotted Woodpecker.


As we walked through the bushes you could hear the contact calls of Chiffchaffs and Willow Warblers, and as we approached the Knight’s Bank Hide a Swift flew over along with several Swallows.

The Cattle Egret was following the cattle around in the meadow, but was very distant.  It seemed to have a favourite cow it stayed with, and unfortunately this cow decided that it wanted to feed in one of the far corners that were tucked behind some of the bushes.  Consequently the views were very difficult and distant, but I did manage to get a record shot.


The egret behaved like all the other Cattle Egrets I have seen around the world, scurrying in and out of the cattle feet, looking to pick up insects that he cows disturbed as they grazed.
As well as the Cattle Egret there were a few Yellow Wagtails about, but nowhere near the same numbers as were present last week.  Other birds of note were a Whitethroat, and several Sand Martins moving through amongst the Swallows and House Martins.

We waited to see if the cattle and the egret would come closer, but they stayed in the far corner, after a time we decided we would move on to the other hides.  Approaching the Suffern, I noticed a small clump of lilac fungi that I believe is Lilac Dapperling.


Once again there were Common Buzzards causing some excitement from the hide, but that is what they were, Common Buzzards.  A pair of Barnacle Gees flew in and demonstrated how shallow the water was in front of the hide.  These are plastic birds but still look quite smart for geese.


A Kingfisher was perched on the dead branches over the river at the right hand side; it then flew off, past the hide, but kept going around the bend into the far bay.

A Little Egret was present in front of us, busy preening it cast some interesting reflections in the dark still water.


Then after a preen it was off hunting, running through the water, lifting its yellow feet out as it went.


Time to move once again, and we made our way to the Meon Shore Hide by way of the cafĂ© and a cup of tea.  There was a little more activity than the previous week, with many Black-tailed Godwits close in feeding.

On the closest island was a Common Snipe, head tucked under its wings it gave the impression of being asleep, when in truth it would continually open it eye.  This angle shows the russet colour tip to the tail feathers, something not readily noticed, and the beautiful ochre tinges to the feathers on the back.


At the back of the island was a Black-tailed Godwit that waded out into the deeper water and appeared just to sit content with the water up over the legs.


Looking back at the Snipe and it was gone, in the short time it had woken up and decided to go to the edge of the island where the reflections were at their best.


Then it was time for a preen with some itches in annoyingly difficult places to reach.


The Godwit then decided to get into the act with some serious preening involving the stretching of the wings showing the white wing bar.


The bill would be used to fan through the feathers, taking a drop of water in between to help the smoothing out of the feathers.

By now the Snipe had finished its ablutions and had moved over to the reeds where it was probing into the mud with its long bill.


Most of the teal were asleep, but one was feeding at the edge of the island, walking forward with the bill laying just under the surface of the water and filtering the mud and water as it went.


We walked to the Pumfrett, and Spurgin hides but both were very quiet, so we made our way back to the visitor centre where we had some lunch.  During the time we sat in the garden we were treated to a Sparrowhawk passing overhead.


And the highly remarkable rescue of a bee from the pond, the finest example of life saving you could ever witness.

After lunch we walked back to the Suffern Hide where the water was a lot higher than earlier, and the number of birds present greatly increased, but mostly due to around fifty Black-headed Gulls.  We watched as a Little Egret hunted in the shallow water, as it moved you could see the ripples and even splashes of large fish as they took evasive action to avoid the beak of the egret.


The egret seemingly mesmerised by the movement, and not sure where to go, flapping its wings to steady it as it twisted and turned in pursuit of the fish and every so often plunging into the water but was not successful in catching anything


A nearby Grey Heron that had seemed to be happy just standing on a branch seemed to be alerted by the antics of the Little Egret and waded slowly towards where the fish were moving causing more panic amongst the fish, and more ripples and splashes.  

The Heron, like the egret started to chase around dancing in the water jumping up and flapping its wings.


While all this was going on, the Kingfisher flew through from the left, then returned and landing on a reed stem on the other side from the hide.

A cormorant was also present on the benches, giving some nice views of a bird not often photographed.


But that was about all, a rather quiet day with every so often something to keep you interested and some acceptable views of Kingfisher.

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