Monday, 19 September 2016

Pennington Marshes - 17th September

On a grey and dreary September day in a strong north-west wind I had a wander around Pennington Marshes while Sarah enjoyed the spa at the Limewood Hotel before we met to celebrate our 6th wedding anniversary. It was thin pickings on the marsh with the highlights being five Yellow Wagtail, six Wheatear, one Reed Warbler, one Little Stint and six Sandwich Tern. Wigeon numbers were up to 45 and there was the usual range of waders. A steady stream of Hirundines overhead was estimated at around 250 Swallow with far smaller numbers of House Martin and Sand Martin. I felt a little underwhelmed by the whole experience and was quite pleased to meet Sarah in the Limewood for a glass of Champagne before heading to The Pig for wine and a lovely lunch!

Yellow Wagtail (1st winter) - Pennington Marshes

Whinchat (1st winter) - Pennington Marshes

Little Grebe - Pennington Marshes

Little Grebe a fairly late chick on Jetty Lagoon - Pennington Marshes

Turnstone - Pennington Marshes

Monday, 5 September 2016

Pennington Marsh - 2nd September

A grey and windy September morning found me at Pennington Marsh once more. A quick look at Efford Lagoon produced little but for a single Common Sandpiper and 15 Swallow. I headed to Fishtail Lagoon where there were five Little Stint and three Curlew Sandpiper but otherwise it was fairly quiet. So cutting along the north side of Butts and Jetty Lagoon I headed out to the seawall where I spent some time getting fairly close views of two Wood Sandpiper, two Little Stint and a Curlew Sandpiper. Also here were 30 Black-tailed Godwit, 30 Teal, six Wigeon, two Pintail and eight Shoveler.

Wood Sandpiper - Jetty Lagoon, Pennington Marsh

Wood Sandpiper - Jetty Lagoon, Pennington Marsh

Curlew Sandpiper - Jetty Lagoon, Pennington Marsh

Curlew Sandpiper - Jetty Lagoon, Pennington Marsh

Little Stint - Jetty Lagoon, Pennington Marsh

Little Stint - Jetty Lagoon, Pennington Marsh

From the seawall at Butts Lagoon there were at least 80 Grey Plover, 20 Turnstone and 25 Ringed Plover. It was pretty cold and the strong winds made viewing difficult so I headed for Fishtail Lagoon where there was little but for a Common Sandpiper and around 35 Teal. Out to Keyhaven Lagoon a single Wheatear was the highlight. In the bushes there were few warblers, three Reed Warbler, a single Sedge Warbler and no more than five Chiffchaff. It was time to head off and it was some relief to get to the shelter of the car.

Common Sandpiper - Fishtail Lagoon, Pennington Marsh

Common Gull - Fishtail Lagoon, Pennington Marsh

Northern Wheatear- Keyhaven Lagoon, Pennington Marsh

Wednesday, 31 August 2016

Pennington Marsh and New Forest - 29th and 30th August

It was a glorious Bank Holiday weekend and on Monday Sarah, Tobias and I went for a walk around Denny Wood. Much of our time was taken up with climbing trees and showing Tobias, Beech mast, Crab Apples, Sweet Chestnut 'conker's as well as hunting for Badger in various holes, the latter with little success. A few Marsh Tit were heard calling and Common Darter buzzed around the pools. I heard a call, 'Daddy, whats this' as Tobias pointed to the ground and there was a magnificent (if not pretty) Goat Moth caterpillar. This was a tick for Daddy and I am not sure who was the most excited Tobias or me. Anyway, after a bit of handling experience we placed the beast off the path and out of harms way. This is a scarce species in the UK, so named because the larvae is said to emit an aroma similar to that of a goat. The species is one of the longest lived moths in the UK living for around four years as a larvae feeding on wood of willow, birch and oak amongst others. Certain trees are traditionally used and it is thought that egg laying Goat Moth may be attracted back to the same tree by the aroma of the tree and its inhabitants. The sap runs caused by the boring larvae attract a diverse range of other invertebrates and such traditionally used trees are extremely important ecological features. A link to a Butterfly Conservation information leaflet can be found here.

Goat Moth larvae - Denny Wood, New Forest

Tuesday 30th August was a glorious day and I could not resist a trip down to Pennington Marsh. There were large numbers of hirundines present with an estimated 250 Swallow and smaller numbers of House Martin and Sand Martin. Fishtail lagoon is superb at the moment and I spent almost an hour here scanning from the bund to the east counting 11 Little Stint, at least nine Curlew Sandpiper, Wood Sandpiper, Ruff, 12 Snipe, around 150 Dunlin, 30 or so Black-tailed Godwit, 15 Ringed Plover, a juvenile Pintail, three Wigeon and around 75 Teal. In addition, there were at least two Wheatear, 30 Yellow Wagtail plus a handful of Chiffchaff, Reed Warbler and Whitethroat plus singles of Sedge Warbler and Willow Warbler.

Mediterranean Gull a moulting adult now in winter plumage - Efford Lagoon, Pennington Marsh

I then wandered along the south side of Butts and Jetty Lagoon before walking out onto the seawall. On Jetty Lagoon were around 250 Black-tailed Godwit, another Wood Sandpiper, 15 Snipe, around 125 Teal and eight Wigeon.

Black-tailed Godwit - Jetty Lagoon, Pennington Marsh

Black-tailed Godwit - Jetty Lagoon, Pennington Marsh

Black-tailed Godwit, good numbers of juvenile with their scaly upper parts are now moving through the site - Jetty Lagoon, Pennington Marsh

Canada Goose - Jetty Lagoon, Pennington Marsh

Canada Goose - Jetty Lagoon, Pennington Marsh

A scan to sea produced two cracking juvenile Little Gull, a patch tick for me, loitering offshore with the Black-headed Gull. Also present were around 25 Common Tern and 15 Sandwich Tern. Back at Fishtail Lagoon the same range of birds were present and I spent a short while enjoying the scene nice again before heading off to Keyhaven Lagoon. The water levels in Keyhaven Lagoon are looking good due to the current dry spell and there were 83 Grey Plover, 125 Redshank, 16 Little Egret, 75 Black-tailed Godwit and a handful of Dunlin. I searched hard for a Greater Sandplover but with no luck! Maybe next week....

Redshank and Curlew Sandpiper - Fishtail Lagoon, Pennington Marsh

Dunlin - Fishtail Lagoon, Pennington Marsh

Little Stint and Dunlin - Fishtail Lagoon, Pennington Marsh

A news alert flashed on my mobile, Roseate Tern at the jetty so a quick walk along the seawall produced a group of birders studying a tern perched on one of the posts. It was a little distant and in a heat haze and did have a dark bill but its overall darker grey tones showed it to be a Common Tern. The bird was either an adult winter or a 1st summer bird, a plumage that is a little less familiar in the UK as much of the body moult from summer to winter plumage and back again occurs further south. 

Common Tern, a first summer or adult winter bird - The Jetty, Pennington Marsh

I then made a quick stop at Matley Corner near to Denny Wood. This is one of my favourite locations for Orthoptera and one that I try and get to every few years. In a very small area one can find Wood Cricket, Heath Grasshopper, Woodland Grasshopper, Large Marsh Grasshopper and Bog Bush-cricket as well as most of the commoner species. A short wander into the bog produced around 12 Large Marsh Grasshopper, a stunning species. It has a very distinctive stridulation a series of single clicks rather than a rapid sequence as with most other species. The sound is produced by the animal kicking a single leg rhythmically. Unusually, I found no Bog Bush-criket and I wondered whether the grazing pressure was a little heavy.

Large Marsh Grasshopper - Matley Bog, New Forest

Large Marsh Grasshopper in mid stridulation - Matley Bog, New Forest

Woodland Grasshopper, a very localised species in the UK but with a stronghold in the New Forest - Matley Corner, New Forest

Back on the woodland edge the Heath Grasshopper and Woodland Grasshopper were very active and unapproachable in the very warm conditions so the only picture I obtained was of a single Woodland Grasshopper which I later realised had lost a rear leg - probably why it was easier to approach. A stunning little creature nonetheless. There were many stridulating Wood Cricket but I didn't have time to hunt them down but a colony of Bee-wolf distracted me and I spent some time watching them furnishing their burrows with Honey-bee, there must have been at least 40 burrows in the colony and I bookmarked the colony for a return visit when conditions are a little cooler and the insects more approachable for some pictures.

Friday, 26 August 2016

Isle of Wight and Pennington Marsh - 26th August

I was working on a Badger survey on the Isle of Wight and having finished at around 12:00 I headed to Newtown Nature Reserve for a couple of hours birding. Clamerkin Lake produced very little but for a handful of Oystercatcher and a couple of Kingfisher. I then walked out to the boathouse for a scan, this produced a single Brent Goose (my first of the autumn), 35 Dunlin, 15 Ringed Plover, a Whimbrel, ten Black-tailed Godwit and 23 Grey Plover. I decided to drive around the the East Hide. A Red Squirrel was feeding over the path in Town Copse. At the hide it was pretty slow going and, due to the low tide, most of the birds were distant. Most remarkable was a count of 53 Curlew, to me this seems like a high number for such a small estuary given the significant declines the species has experienced. I then picked up a distant Osprey fishing from a post on the Brickfields side of Clamerkin Lake and a second bird appeared to my right and plunged after a fish scattering the Redshank. The bird repeated its plunging in quick succession and then eventually caught a Mullet, both birds then soaring high and heading eastwards. The walk back produced a Greenshank and a confiding Willow Warbler on the board walk. Before the ferry I stopped briefly at the Western Yar, it was slow, 35 Black-tailed Godwit was about the best thing present.

Osprey plunge diving - Clamerkin Lake, Newtown Nature Reserve

Osprey with Mullet - Clamerkin Lake, Newtown Nature Reserve

Osprey with Mullet - Clamerkin Lake, Newtown Nature Reserve

Osprey - Clamerkin Lake, Newtown Nature Reserve

Willow Warbler - Clamerkin Lake, Newtown Nature Reserve

Back on the mainland I had around 90 minutes before I needed to get on the road to home. So I spent a little time around Fishtail Lagoon and out to the point at Butts Lagoon. The light at Fishtail was shite and so my photographs are appalling but there were eight Curlew Sandpiper and four Little Stint plus a single Wood Sandpiper and a juvenile Ruff. It was time to head for home.

Curlew Sandpiper - Fishtail Lagoon, Pennington Marsh

Little Stint - Fishtail Lagoon, Pennington Marsh

Wood Sandpiper - Fishtail Lagoon, Pennington Marsh

Sunday, 14 August 2016

6th and 13th August - Pennington Marsh

A free Saturday morning on 6th August and I couldn't resist the pull of Pennington Marsh but a few beers the night before meant a slightly later start so I wasn't in the car park at Lower Pennington Lane until 08:00 by which time the dog walking hordes had descended. I wandered a short way along the Ancient Highway to view Efford Lagoon where three Common Sandpiper, six Swallow, 10 Sand Martin and a single Swift were the highlights. Gulls are loafing here in good numbers now with at least 12 Lesser Black-backed Gull, five Great Black-backed Gull, 60 Herring Gull, 250 Black-headed Gull, four Mediterranean Gull and a couple of Common Gull. I then walked out past Shoveler Pools where a Green Sandpiper and Wood Sandpiper were present with three juvenile Little Ringed Plover and a single Yellow Wagtail, my first of the autumn. Cutting back along the north edge of the old dump there were good numbers of juvenile Willow Warbler (c.10) and Whitethroat (c.15) in the scrub.

Juvenile Reed Bunting - Ancient Highway, Pennington Marsh

Juvenile Willow Warbler - Pennington Marsh

I spent the best part of an hour scanning over Fishtail Lagoon, there are a lot of birds here and it is worth spending the time watching the comings and goings. The Wood Sandpiper from Shoveler Pools dropped in, around six Snipe, 125 Black-tailed Godwit, 30 Redshank, 25 Dunlin, two Little Ringed Plover were the best on show.

Roe Deer - Fishtail Lagoon, Pennington Marsh

Black-tailed Godwit dropping into Fishtail Lagoon - Pennington Marsh

Black-tailed Godwit dropping into Fishtail Lagoon - Pennington Marsh

I then went out to the point of Butts Lagoon and spent another hour or so here. The conditions were fantastic, absolutely still and brilliant sunshine. Little Egret chased fish fry in the shallows and on the mudflats were c.200 Dunlin, 45 Turnstone, 15 Grey Plover, one Sanderling, six Whimbrel, eight Curlew, 30 Ringed Plover, 25 Sandwich Tern and 30 Common Tern. After such a still morning it was amazing how the wind suddenly picked up from the west. I decided it was time to make a slow move towards home - another quick scan of Fishtail Lagoon failed to produce the hoped for mega, maybe next time.

Little Egret chasing fish fry off Butts Lagoon, Pennington Marsh

Little Egret chasing fish fry off Butts Lagoon, Pennington Marsh

Little Egret chasing fish fry off Butts Lagoon, Pennington Marsh

Little Egret chasing fish fry off Butts Lagoon, Pennington Marsh

Dunlin and Ringed Plover off Butts Lagoon, Pennington Marsh

Sandwich Tern, Common Tern, Black-headed Gull, Turnstone and Dunlin off Butts Lagoon, Pennington Marsh

13th August and another free morning so back to  Pennington Marsh. Today I completed the full loop, out past Shoveler Pools, back along the north edge of the Old Dump to Fishtail Lagoon then out to the point at Butts Lagoon, then out past Keyhaven Lagoon and around the Quay and back along the Ancient Highway. It was pretty slim going. The highlights of the morning were the first Ruff (2) of the autumn on Fishtail Lagoon, Wood Sandpiper on Fishtail, Tree Pipit (1), Yellow Wagtail (1)and  my first Wheatear of the autumn at Keyhaven Lagoon 

Reed Warbler - Efford Lagoon, Pennington Marsh

Reed Warbler - Efford Lagoon, Pennington Marsh

Reed Warbler - Efford Lagoon, Pennington Marsh

Reed Warbler - Efford Lagoon, Pennington Marsh

A distant Ruff, the first of the Autumn- Fishtail Lagoon, Pennington Marsh

Juvenile Sandwich Tern - Pennington Marsh

Juvenile Mediterranean Gull - Fishtail Lagoon, Pennington Marsh

Juvenile Mediterranean Gull - Fishtail Lagoon, Pennington Marsh

Juvenile Mediterranean Gull - Fishtail Lagoon, Pennington Marsh

Juvenile Mediterranean Gull - Fishtail Lagoon, Pennington Marsh

Sandwich Tern - Fishtail Lagoon, Pennington Marsh

Wheatear - Keyhaven Lagoon, Pennington Marsh