Sunday, 25 September 2016

24th September - Keyhaven, Pennington & Normandy Marshes, Hampshire

Friday was a beautiful autumn day, this morning as I left home the skies were clear and there was a red glow away to the east.  With it there was a fresh southerly breeze that already was making it feel quite warm.  I arrived at the car park at the end of the lane in Pennington with the sky now much brighter but stiil the sun had not arrived.  Birds were leaving the night roosts, I could hear the Canada Geese calling from over on the marsh, and ducks were flying high as they arrived from different places around the reserve.  These I think were Pintail flying past the waning moon.

Away to the east the sky was a collection of yellows and oranges.

A party of fifteen Little Egrets flew from the direction of the caravan park, followed by two that passed through the orange sky.

While the calling geese on the marsh finally took off heading to the flooded pit on the reclaimed land.

In the distance the Lymington to Yarmouth ferry was heading out in the glow of the sun as the Canada Geese headed toward Oxey Marsh.

We headed down the path alongside Fishtail Lagoon, and stopped to look out over the small pools at the back of the main lagoon.  There was little about but the early morning sunshine was lighting up the marsh and a pair of Mute Swans.

As we reached the sea wall we stopped to watch and photograph a Black-tailed Godwit feeding on the marsh close to the pools.

Another bird flew in and called which obtained a response from the original bird, a call back and a flaring of the wings.

The tide was still high, and we scanned the islands that were covered in waders.  There were predominantly Dunlin, with Grey Plover, a single Golden Plover and a Bar-tailed Godwit.  We walked on to the Jetty Lagoon where there was a large roost of Black-tailed Godwits, a single Curlew Sandpiper and a very confiding Little Stint, that eventually came very close.

Giving some lovely views in the morning sunshine.

Picking a nice reflection in the shallow pools.

From the Jetty Lagoon we made our way back to Fishtail, there were three Spotted Redshanks feeding in the deeper water, and on the small pools there was a Little Stint and several Dunlin.  Standing watching all the activity was a Grey Heron, that hardly moved while we were there.

From Fishtail we headed around to Keyhaven, a couple had remarked that there was a Pectoral Sandpiper close to the path feeding in the pools.  As we approached we disturbed many Meadow Pipits, some perching on the fence wires.

We found a wader, but unfortunately as suspected it wasn't a Pectoral Sandpiper but a very confiding juvenile Ruff.

After flying around it returned to feed in the vegetation around the pools.

We walked to look over the lagoon, where there were several Black-tailed Godwits and out on the saltmarsh were five Knott feeding.

In all the pools it was noticeable that the numbers of Wigeon had increased over those present three weeks ago.  They are still though in eclipse plumage.

Back at Fishtail the number of Spotted Redshanks had increased to five, and they were all feeding furiously in the pools at the back of the lagoon.

We walked to the jetty where with the tide out there were many waders feeding amongst the exposed shingle.  Turnstone were present in good numbers, but also Grey Plover and A few Curlew.

As we walked back towards the car park a familiar "gronk" signalled the arrival of a Raven flying overhead.

We were intending to check Normandy Marsh but couldn't face the walk around the sea wall, so headed inland along the footpath.  In one filed there were several Swallows flying low over the grass, while on the wires above there were many others waiting.  There was through out the morning a steady trickle of Swallows, House Martins and Sand MArtins moving through the marsh heading south.

Just before we reached Normandy Marsh we found a Greenshank close in, but as we tried to get closer it flew off into the middle of the mud.

Where it joined another feeding in the shallow water.

It was quiet on the marsh, but with the cattle in the distance we could see several wagtails and decided to get closer.  The wagtails were Pied, but on the mud there were Grey Plover, Black-tailed Godwits, and two Curlew Sandpipers among the numerous Dunlin.

Of more interest were the Little Egrets, fishing in the shallow water, showing the yellow legs of the adults as they stalked through the mud.

As we walked back close to the path there were eight Curlew Sandpipers feeding in the mud giving some excellent views.

You can see the clean appearance, the longer beak, and longer neck and legs compared to the Dunlin.

These were all juvenile birds.

As we watched the sandpipers a pair of Little Egrets were engaging in some interesting behaviour.  One bird addressed the other by extending its head up as it walked towards the other.

The aggressive bird did not have yellow feet, but black ones which meant that this was juvenile bird, this though did not stop it from attacking the other egret that was an adult bird, with yellow legs.

It was not clear what the intent was, maybe the young bird was just trying to exert dominance, but the attacks were quite aggressive.

In the end they just went there own way leaving each other alone.

We decided to walk back around the sea wall, but were intending to cross the marsh at Moses Dock.  A small group of waders close to the old sluice turned out to include four Bar-tailed Godwits.  here you can see the key difference between the two godwit species.  The Br-tailed being paler, shorter legged and and with a shorter bill.

As we walked towards the dock a passerine flew past, across the hedge and then down on to the path.  I thought maybe a pipit, but it was large so maybe Rock Pipit but then the head was in a strange position, could it be, surely not?  I thought then Wryneck, and despite doubting me at firs Ian agreed.  We then proceeded to get pictures quickly.

We edged forward slowly, but it was off, across the water and into the bushes on the far side where we lost it.  We made our way around to the other side where we searched the gorse and scrub, but could not relocate the bird.

In Oxey Creek a Little Egret stood with its reflection in the dark water.

In the end we had to give up, and we set off along the path.  We stopped at area with concrete and scrub, looking to check the perfect place for the Wryneck to be.  As we looked over the gate a bird flew into the hedge.  I could just see it, the only thing immediately visible being a flicking red tail, a Redstart.  It then disappeared into the hedge.

We waited and finally it emerged flying over the far side, but then returned hovering around the edge of the hedge before returning out of sight, only to put in a brief final appearance of which I managed a very poor record shot.

We continued back along the sea wall where the Goldfinches were all over the teasels growing along the path.

Walking back towards the car park we came across four Yellow Wagtails at last, they were amongst a herd of cattle close to the footpath.

Back in the car park we were told of a Spoonbill that had been seen on Fishtail, so we decided to once again walk back there.  We stopped at the point where you can look over the pools at the back, and scanned across the marsh to look for a white bird, the only ones we could find though were several Little Egrets.

There were though quite a few small waders, of which we identified several Dunlin and a couple of Little Stint.  Then one slightly small wader appeared alongside the Dunlin, with a white belly different from the Dunlin, and a very distinct supercilium.  More importantly it was slightly smaller than the Dunlin, while definitely bigger than the Little Stint.  Overall appearance was of a grey bird.  We were satisfied that this was the White-rumped Sandpiper.  And watched it for at least twenty minutes before we lost it when all the birds flew up as a Kestrel flew across the marsh.

It was very distant, and at best the only photograph was a record shot.

So it turned out to be not a bad day after what was a quiet start.  We missed an Osprey, but did manage two year ticks including a self found Wryneck, and a life tick.  Not bad!

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