Since the start of the year the weekend weather has been very disappointing, but even more so when the Friday was clear and sunny. As I drove along the M£ and then the M27 towards the west, I thought once again about this. Yesterday was fresh, a little overcast but dry. This morning was cold with persistent drizzle, but as I drove along Lower Pennington Lane it was dry, the rain having kept away so far.
In the car park a Song Thrush was singing, and out on the Old Tip I could hear two more trying to compete. I set off along the path towards the Jetty, away in the distance a Kestrel sat at the top of a tree, up early to scan the marsh
The blue hie has come about because of the gloom, and on the other side of the path I could just make out a Buzzard sitting below a Woodpigeon at the top.
I was walking towards the Jetty, in hope. This is my third visit here to try and find the long staying Red-necked Grebe. It was still relatively dry, and there was hardly any wind, and as I climbed the sea wall I could see that the sea was almost dead still, and out beyond the Jetty was a bird that looked very much like a grebe. I put up the 'scope up, and yes, it was the Red-necked Grebe. It was though distant, and the light was very poor. I walked along the Jetty to try and get closer, and this was the best shot I could get.
I watched the grebe as it drifted away to the east, moving out into the middle of the channel, and even further away, and with it went the dry conditions, as drizzle soon became harder rain. A pair of Mute Swans swam lazily past.
I had covered the camera, but with the rain getting harder, I covered it more, and then set off towards Oxey Marsh. The tide was low, but coming in, and on the exposed sea weed there were waders feeding veraciously, Turnstone, Redshank, and in with the Dunlin the Purple Sandpiper. I managed to get the camera out but the viewfinder fogged up so it was a case of point and hope, and this was the best I could get, but then I have had some good ones previously.
I walked around to Oxey Creek, and out in the middle of the creek were four female type Goldeneye, and a drake. Once again I managed to get the camera out as they swam away from me. You can see the rain falling!
I walked on, through Moses Dock, but then I decided there was no point heading on. I had disturbed seven Avocet, so felt it would be better to turn around and head back. As I did so a Spotted Redshank called and dropped into a pool alongside Wigeon.
A shape in the middle of the creek was moving, and closer inspection revealed a Common Seal.
It dived and then came up, and watched me as I photographed it.
Further out there were small groups of Wigeon, and pairs of Great-crested Grebe, and scanning through the grebes I found two that were different, definitely Slavonian, so I walked on to the point to get a better view. They were a little way off shore to start with, but fortunately the rain had eased almost stopping.
But then drifted in closer, separately at first.
But then coming together.
At one point it is possible just to make out the red eye.
I walked on, the rain starting once again. I picked up a grebe distant once again, the Red-necked Grebe
In the lagoon a female Red-breasted Merganser was swimming with Tufted Ducks, then her mate appeared from under the water.
And once again some wonderful close views of this punky duck.
It slowed down to have a preen, and show its red feet.
Mean while the female had come ashore to preen, and despite the dull appearance she looks quite smart with that lovely red bill
Further on a Wigeon drifted past and cried out to be photographed.
While on Butts lagoon, yet another grebe, this time a Little Grebe.
Stopping to talk to AL, a scruffy Eider flew past, and then as I walked on in the rain to the steps, I heard the familiar ping of a Bearded Tit, and looking down I saw a female scrambling through the base of the short reeds. I scrambled to get the camera out knowing that these birds can just disappear, but she didn't, and even showed better by climbing the reed to allow me some great shots.
When she moved it was just to turn around.
And to look at me.
It then flew across the reeds alongside the path on Fishtail Lagoon, I walked to see if it would show as it continued to call. As I decided to walk back I picked up the male calling from the reeds where the female had been.
As I tried to get closer it too flew over to the Fishtail reeds.
I couldn't relocate the tits so headed back to the car park, crossing the old tip and walking alongside Pennington Marsh. Scanning the marsh I couldn't find any Golden Plover but as always there were plenty of wildfowl, and of course my favourite the Pintail.
But with many Wigeon and a few Shoveler.
While there were no Golden Plover, there were Lapwings and they were spread out across the marsh.
As I climbed up onto the bank I disturbed the duck, and woke up the Pintail.
I make no apology they are a stunning duck.
A little further on and there were feeding Black-tailed Godwits, and in amongst them were four Ruff, this one a male with a lovely white head.
Before returning to the car, I walked along the lane to get up close to the duck and waders on the marsh. Once again I could not resist the Pintail.
And the male Ruff came close once again.
It was raining once again, and I decided to head around to Keyhaven where if necessary I knew I could shelter in the hide. However along the way I had to pass a field where there had been a first year Iceland Gull in residence with Black-headed Gulls. The field was just outside Keyhaven on Lyemore Lane, and as I reached the spot I could immediately see the gull from the car. Stopping I go t out in the rain once more.
It was walking around the field paddling the ground, probably in search of worms.
As I pulled into the car park at Keyhaven the rain was very hard so I went into the hide.
Along the hedgerow a Marsh Harrier sat in the rain.
Once again some wonderful views of Water Rail.
It really is a wonderful place to watch Water Rails.
The familiar whistle and a Kingfisher flew to a perch close to the hide, but didn't stop, and then flew off to the post a little further away. Unconcerned about the rain.
But it didn't stay long and flew off around the reeds. It came back later, but flew over the hide and out into the harbour. Another Water Rail then came out of the reeds on the far side of the hide.
The rain had eased once again, so I decided to walk around Iley Lane to try and find the White-fronted geese. There was a sizeable flock of Meadow Pipits coming out of the hedge into the field.
And then a little further along a Stonechat
I found the geese, but very distantly with Canada Geese. I had to climb on rocks to try and get a good view that would allow me to photograph, but it was very difficult, having to try and focus through tree branches. Needless to say I failed with the photo, but I saw the geese.
As I struggled with views I could hear a Peregrine calling behind me, and I turned to see the falcon in display above the trees. There were two birds present the other in the tree, but later flew off.
I came out on Pennnington Lane and headed back towards the Pennington car park. A Song Thrush was singing in the hedge and this time could see it.
The tide would now be high and I walked down to the Jetty once more, and was greeted by the Red-necked Grebe much closer.
It was raining once again, and I walked along the Jetty again to get closer, and had my best views.
I had to walk back to Keyhaven, and as I passed Fishtail, large flocks of Wigeon flew overhead fro the saltmarsh.
The rain was now very heavy, but on Keyhaven lagoon a white shape turned out to be an immature Spoonbill feeding at the back of the lagoon.
I couldn't resist as well the Brent Geese flying low over the water.
As I approached Keyhaven Harbour a Kingfisher flew from the harbour and settled on a rope. I edged closer, but it flew off once again and disappeared somewhere in the harbour.
The rain was very heavy and I decided to call it a day. I could have gone to Blashford, but felt it would be busy. It hadn't been a bad day, some excellent birds and despite teh conditions some nice photographs