Sarah, Tobias and I were on the Isle of Wight catching up with family on 29th and 30th December and I popped out to Newtown Harbour on the morning of 30th for a little birding in the lovely sunny but cold conditions. I was up at 07:00 and the temperature was -3c, it was an extremely treacherous drive to Newtown from Chale Green as hardly any of the roads seemed to have been gritted. As I drove slowly along the Military Road, which extends alone much of the south-west coast of the island, a ring-tailed Hen Harrier flew across the road in front of me between Whale Chine and Atherfield Coastguard Cottages. I stopped and watched as it hunted the fields and then a female Merlin chased low across the fields heading towards the cliff. With this early morning luck I pushed on to Newtown.
Causeway Lake was largely frozen and other than a few hardy Teal, Wigeon and Pintail there was little to be seen so I headed around to Newtown Quay and walked out to the boathouse and saltpans. I spend the next hour enjoying a splendid sunrise and watching birds moving to newly exposed mud as the tide dropped. The usual selection of estuary birds was present with numbers of Dunlin, Oystercatcher, Knot (35), Curlew, Grey Plover, Redshank and a single Greenshank heard. Numbers of wildfowl seemed to be fairly low but many of the Brent Geese were feeding towards Shalfleet Quay and largely not visible from Newtown Quay, I suspect that this is where many of the Wigeon, Teal and Shelduck were also feeding. Many of the photographs I took today were taken from the north wall of the saltpans and were of birds flying from the east to feeding areas in the west of the harbour.
Newtown - Sunrise over the saltpans
View from north wall of saltpans looking east
Red-breasted Merganser - Female just off the saltpans
Red-breasted Merganser - Male just off the saltpans
Red-breasted Merganser - Male displaying to female on saltpans
Red-breasted Merganser - Male on the saltpans, there were four birds in total
Brent Geese - Moving to feed on the mudflats as the tide dropped
Shelduck - Male
Pintail - Distinctive elongate shape of this duck readily visible in this skein