Monday, 1 September 2014

Pennington Marshes 31st August

The mornings are really starting to feel autumnal now and despite the warm start to the morning there was definitely more of an autumn than summer touch to the air. The Hawthorn, Bramble and Blackthorn fruits are fully ripened and the movement of birds is certainly in full swing. It was a lovely mornings birding at Pennington today with fair numbers of hirundines, Yellow Wagtail (30), Tree Pipit (2) and Meadow Pipit on the move plus a few more waders and wildfowl than recent visits. I just wished that I had longer to spend on the marshes this morning.

I decided on a slightly different route this morning and rather than walking from the car park at the end of Lower Pennington Lane out to Fishlake and the around Keyhaven Lagoon before backtracking I walked west along the 'Ancient Highway' from the car park at Lower Pennington Lane out to Keyhaven Yacht Club, around the coast via Iley Point and back past the lagoons. Its a great way of seeing more of the area taking in more trees and bushes at the back of the lagoons. This maybe my new regular route.

The lagoon (Efford Lagoon) on the old dump at the end of Lower Pennington Lane supported its usual small flock of gulls and a few Tufted Duck but there appeared to be more pipits around with at least 15 Meadow Pipit and 20 Pied wagtail on the mud to the south of the lagoon. Overhead there were good numbers of Swallow, House Martin and Sand Martin but these appeared to be ranging the site feeding rather than moving in a concerted direction. Amongst these suddenly appeared a Swift which fed back and forth along the Ancient Highway before disappearing to the west. This was clearly a juvenile with clear whitish edges to the secondaries and upper and under wing coverts. The tips of the primaries were very abraded probably as a result of the bird rubbing its wings against the sides of a confined nest site.

Juvenile Tufted Duck on Efford Lagoon

Sand Martin over Efford Lagoon. The rusty-buff fringes to most of the feathers show this to be a juvenile.

Juvenile Swift over the Ancient Highway. Note the obvious white secondary and greater wing coverts.

As I wandered down the Ancient Highway the morning sun shone and the colours of the Hawthorn and Bramble in the bordering hedgerows were distinctly autumnal. I had nice views of a female Roe Deer and her fawn browsing in the marsh. The bushes were hopping with warblers, mainly Sedge Warbler (5), Whitethroat (C.15), Blackcap (5), Willow Warbler (5) and Chiffchaff (3) and a single Spotted Flycatcher was only my third of the year.

 Roe Deer and fawn

 Sedge Warbler on the Ancient Highway

 Whitethroat on the Ancient Highway

  Whitethroat on the Ancient Highway

Willow Warbler on the Ancient Highway

Spotted Flycatcher on the Ancient Highway

My first two Pintail of the winter circled over the pond at the western end of the Ancient Highway. This pond is quite secluded and difficult to view and appears to be used as a fishing lake or possibly a wildfowling pond. The adjacent tall Oak, Sycamore and Ash provided a nice sunny south facing treelike and good numbers of warbler were foraging here. 

Juvenile Pintail

I then birded the creek by the Keyhaven Yacht Club. It was low tide and there were many waders here including good numbers of Dunlin (c.150), Black-tailed Godwit (C.200), Turnstone (C.25) and Greenshank (2). Most of the Dunlin were adult birds moulting to winter plumage although there were fair numbers of juvenile birds present. Juveniles amongst the Black-tailed Godwit were still few in number. The birds were showing well and it was easy to get relatively close by walking across the shingle to the edge of the mud. There were walkers here and I guess that the birds are relatively used to people walking past.

Dunlin moulting to winter plumage

Juvenile (left) and adult (right) Dunlin moulting to winter plumage. The juvenile bird retains the dark spotted belly, chestnut fringed mantle feathers and a trace of the white braces typical of this age.

Adult Dunlin moulting to winter plumage

Juvenile Greenshank wing stretching

Juvenile Greenshank wing stretching

Close-up of Greenshank wing showing the fresh wing feathers with no sign of moult yet

Adult summer Turnstone

I wandered along the sea wall and at Iley Point I bumped into Tim Parminter and Marc Moody who put me on to a ring-tail Montagu's Harrier that they had watched drift over the marshes and out over the salt marsh. When I got onto the bird it was pretty distant and was gaining height as it crested Hurst Spit and headed west out to sea. A slow walk along the seawall to Butts Lagoon produced relatively little, the lagoons are quite full after the recent heavy rains and there were few waders. A Hobby flew north over Fishtail Lagoon and numbers of Yellow Wagtail (perhaps 30 in total) were moving back and forth across the marshes. On Fishtail Lagoon there were 30 Teal and 15 Shoveler, a good increase in wildfowl numbers since my last visit. A single Tree Pipit flew high to the west. At the point at Butts Lagon there were two Wheatear and the Grey Plover flock has now swollen to at least 25 birds, many of which are in breeding plumage. Mixed with these were five juvenile Knot. A quick scan of the Solent before I had to make a move produced eight sandwich tern and five Common Tern as well as the usual Eider flock.

Grey Plover with Knot and Turnstone on mudflats of Butts Lagoon