Saturday, 8 April 2017

Pennington Marsh - 7th April

This first half of April has been fantastic, like mid-summer come early, after an early morning breeding bird survey where the highlights were a couple of Song Thrush and a Willow Warbler I spent a couple of hours at Pennington Marsh. Spring really is here and there were Blackcap singing from the scrub, fair numbers of Chiffchaff and at least six Willow Warbler. On Efford Lagoon the Little Ringed Plover have returned and one bird gave good views on the near shore as it ran amongst the Black-headed Gull - now in their spring finery. I walked out past Shoveler Pools but it was fairly slow going. A while scanning out to sea produced none of the hoped for returning tern but around 150 Dunlin, 30 Grey Plover and six Knot kept me interested. The Bearded Reedling were still frantically nest building on Butts Lagoon and there were at least four male and two female present. On Fishtail Lagoon there were two Spotted Redshank, still in their winter plumage, three Ruff and a fine, but skulky, summer plumaged Water Pipit.

Little Ringed Plover- Pennington Marshes

Black-headed Gull and Little Ringed Plover- Pennington Marshes

I wandered out to Keyhaven Lagoon but there was little to be seen, 15 Shelduck and a single Greenshank while in the scrub a Dartford Warbler sang and a Willow Warbler showed fairly well.

Dartford Warbler - Pennington Marshes

Willow Warbler - Pennington Marshes

Willow Warbler - Pennington Marshes

It was time to head back to the car, the gorse is just starting to flower in full fervour and the heady coconut aroma filled the air. Chaffinch and Linnet were singing from the golden fronds of the gorse while Cetti's Warbler gave only brief glimpses as at least four birds chased one another in territorial dispute. A single Swallow flew rapidly north but it was the only hirundine of the morning. As I wandered back to the car a pair of Mediterranean Gull flew over calling, always fantastic birds but particularly stunning against the deep blue sky. A final look at Efford Lagoon produced a pair of Great-crested Grebe in display, they swam to the shore side and it was evident tha,t as the female flattened her body, they were about to copulate but unfortunately the local Coot disturbed them but they went back to displaying fairly close to the shore but unfortunately a little distant for the camera.

Chaffinch - Pennington Marshes

Linnet - Pennington Marshes

Chaffinch - Pennington Marshes

Mediterranean Gull - Pennington Marshes

Great-crested Grebe, this display seemed to be the female encouraging the male to copulate - Pennington Marshes

Great-crested Grebe, the male was a bit sheepish when the female adopted this obvious 'come-on' pose - Pennington Marshes

Great-crested Grebe, the pair went back to this head shaking display before heading back into the centre of the lake - Pennington Marshes

Great-crested Grebe - Pennington Marsh

Great-crested Grebe - Pennington Marsh

Wren - Pennington Marsh

After grabbing some lunch and a coffee at Waitrose I headed to Denny Wood for a short wander and to see if the Redstart were back. There were at least four Redstart on territory but all were very elusive at the tops of the trees. It was time to head into the office but it had been a lovely morning out birding.

Treecreeper - Denny Wood

Thursday, 6 April 2017

Pennington Marsh - 27th March and Cotswolds 29th March to 1st April

Another lengthy spell with little or no birding. After dropping Tobias at a party in Lymington on 27th March, Sarah and I went for an afternoon walk around Pennington Marshes taking in Jetty Lagoon and Oxey Marsh. A male Garganey had been present on Oxey since the 19th March and it didn't take long to pick it up as it fed at the back of the lagoon with Teal, it was a little distant and in fairly poor light but nice to see. Other birds on the marsh included around 50 Brent Goose and small numbers of the usual winter wildfowl and waders.

Garganey - Oxey Marsh, Pennington

Garganey - Oxey Marsh, Pennington

From 29th March to 1st April we were up at our cottage in the Cotswolds I was hoping to go birding but we were unable to get childcare for Tobias and so I spent most of the weekend messing around in the garden planting up our small wildflower area. I ran the moth trap on each of the three nights and recorded the following species;

  • Brindled Beauty
  • Chestnut
  • Clouded Drab
  • Common Quaker
  • Dotted Chestnut
  • Dark Sword-grass
  • Diurnea fagella
  • Early Grey
  • Early Thorn
  • Hebrew Character
  • Herald
  • March Moth
  • Mottled Grey
  • Oak Beauty
  • Pale Pinion
  • Red Chestnut
  • Shoulder Stripe
  • Small Quaker
  • Twin-spotted Quaker
  • White-marked

White-marked was a new species for me which was pleasing, I don't get to see many new moths as I have been trapping for over 30 years so this was the definite highlight. The species is locally distributed in central southern England and into the south-Midlands and south and mid-Wales - I haven't really trapped in these areas before hence the reason the species is new.

Dark Sword-grass - Normally considered a migrant

White-marked - A new moth for me

Oak Beauty

Shoulder Stripe

Twin-spotted Quaker

Dotted Chestnut

The Herald

Brindled Beauty

Pale Pinion

Mottled Grey

Red Chestnut

A Pheasant coming after the moths

Saturday, 25 March 2017

Pennington Marsh - 23rd March

I was longing to get out birding as Spring is starting to feel like it is setting in and so after dropping Tobias at school in Lymington I headed to Pennington Marsh for a short walk. I stopped at the corner of Lower Pennington Lane where I had a coffee and scanned the marshes. There were a few Teal and Wigeon hanging on and small numbers of Brent Goose while singing from the willows were at least two Chiffchaff while overhead there were two House Martin, my first Hirundine of the year. Lapwing were displaying, what a fantastic sound they make, and I could see a few birds incubating within the grassland.

A wander to Efford Lagoon produced 15 Tufted Duck, a single Ruff and around 30 Pied Wagtail while gulls included Great Black-backed, Herring and around 75 Black-headed Gull.

A walk onto the seawall and there was a biting west wind blowing so I hurried towards Fishtail lagoon picking up a Slavonian Grebe, eight Pintail and small numbers of TurnstoneDunlin, Grey Plover and Black-tailed Godwit. At Fishtail Lagoon a 1st summer male Marsh Harrier flew east and showed well flushing many of the Teal and Wigeon and at least three Snipe from the Lagoon. Best of all though were four Bearded Reedling busy nest building, two of the males showed very well along the reed edge and I spent some time enjoying these fabulous birds.

Bearded Reedling - Pennington Marsh

Bearded Reedling - Pennington Marsh

Bearded Reedling - Pennington Marsh

Bearded Reedling - Pennington Marsh

Lapwing - Pennington Marsh

Lapwing - Pennington Marsh

Lapwing - Pennington Marsh

Lapwing - Pennington Marsh

Lapwing - Pennington Marsh

Oystercatcher - Pennington Marsh

Oystercatcher - Pennington Marsh

Oystercatcher - Pennington Marsh

Oystercatcher - Pennington Marsh

Brent Goose - Pennington Marsh

Kestrel - Pennington Marsh

Meadow Pipit - Pennington Marsh

Great Black-backed Gull - Pennington Marsh

Great Black-backed Gull - Pennington Marsh

Turnstone, just entering summer plumage with some rufous appearing 
in the scapulars- Pennington Marsh

Marsh Harrier (1st summer male) - Pennington Marsh