Sunday, 14 October 2012

Pennington Marsh 11th-12th October 2012

Spent these two mornings birding at Pennington Marsh, the 11th was a morning that threatened rain but instead was just rather gloomy with south-west winds of force 5. The 12th was a beautiful crisp still autumn day with a north-west wind of force 3. My usual birding route at this site takes me around a relatively limited area of the complex of marshes covering Fishtail, Butts and Shoveler Pools from the Lower Pennington Lane car park. This is a nice route taking in bushes which are good for migrant warblers, both freshwater and saline pools and the seafront as well as providing expansive views east towards Lymington. As a result of the diversity of habitats a good range of birds can be seen and I am rarely fussed about striking eastwards towards Normandy Lagoon which does however often hold excellent numbers of birds. A map of the site can be viewed here:

Having not visited the site since 2nd October it was quite noticeable that numbers of wildfowl and waders had increased with good numbers of wigeon, teal and pintail now present. My first dark-bellied brent geese of the year consisted of a small flock flying westwards along the Solent. The tides were particularly high during my visits and Fishtail Lagoon held a flock of 275 black-tailed godwit which gave excellent views. The birds were very nervous – possibly as a result of the high tides concentrating the birds into a relatively small area and they frequently exploded into the air to wheel around before settling again.

Black-tailed Godwit, Pennington Marsh - Simon Colenutt, The Deskbound Birder

Black-tailed Godwit, Pennington Marsh - Simon Colenutt, The Deskbound Birder
Black-tailed Godwit, Pennington Marsh

Shoveler Pool held two green sandpiper and three spotted redshank. Due to the small size of these pools birds here provide excellent views:

Spotted Redshank, Pennington Marsh - Simon Colenutt, The Deskbound Birder

A small jay movement was in evidence on both days with eight moving east on 11th and 11 on the 12th. These birds appeared on site high from the west before landing in the scrub around the lagoons – here they appeared unsettled and shortly took flight and regained height to continue their movement. Birdguides ( have reported a number of jay movements in October with 668 over Hunstanton, 189 over Sidestrand and 130 over Great Yarmouth on 6th and 340 over Reculver and 448 over Hunstanton on 7th October. Given that many of these records included birds arriving in off the sea it is probable that these records involve continental birds moving in response to an acorn failure, however, it is possible that a similar failure has resulted in the movement of local birds.

Also of note today was a sleepy juvenile spoonbill on Pennington Lagoon and my first brambling of the year – a male which flew east with chaffinches giving its rather harsh nasal call.