The morning was forecast to be sunny and with a hope of getting some nice photos I set off with my camera to Pennington Marsh but it was grey and drab with a gentle westerly breeze so I settled for my scope and Sony RX100 for a bit of digiscoping and some crap photos. It was remarkably slow going on the marshes and I walked south from the Lower Pennington Lane car park out past the Shoveler Pools, along to Keyhaven Lagoon and then back around Fishtail and Butts Lagoon. The tide was on the rise and not far off high and the water levels in the lagoons were high.
A single Chiffchaff called in the scrub next to the car park and around five Goldcrest quickly moved through. On Efford Lagoon there were around 55 Wigeon and 35 Coot. An immature male Peregrine passed through and landed on the north side of the lagoon flushing at least 75 Meadow Pipit from the recently seeded ground. As I headed past Shoveler Pool there were six stonechat on the The Old Tip, a higher number than usual and possibly indicating some migrants had arrived. There was a good gathering of Brent Goose on Fishtail Lagoon with around 175 birds present. These birds had gathered to bath and preen but there was a great deal of squabbling amongst the family groups as they maintained their personal space.
A family group of Brent Goose defend their personal space
The difference in structure between this pair of Brent Goose is evident with the male clearly with a bulkier head and bill, it was also substantially larger.
Out on the mudflats there was very little mud exposed and most of the wildfowl were loafing on the margins and the waders were roosting.
Adult male Wigeon approaching the end of its moult from eclipse plumage still with much chestnut feathering inn the flank and breast and with subdued head colours.
Adult female Wigeon
On Keyhaven Lagoon there were around 250 Wigeon and with good numbers of Shoveler now present, a total of 95 being counted. There was a distinctly wintery feel to the birding.
Shoveler on Keyhaven Lagoon
Continuing on my little mission of photographing and getting to know gull plumages a bit better I was hoping for a selection of gulls on Efford Lagoon but there were but a handful of Black-headed Gulls. Out on the mudflats there were half a dozen Common Gull, 25 very distant Herring Gull and half a dozen distant Great Black-backed Gulls all of which were adult but for this 2nd winter bird - mega distant!
Adult winter Common Gull. Moult to winter plumage is complete and extends from August and is completed in October.
2nd winter Great Black-backed Gull. Again winter plumage is achieved through a complete moult through the summer and completing in October. While I am no expert, this bird looks to be fairly advanced to me for this age with perhaps more of the dark of the adult feathers in the mantle and wings than is the norm for this age group.
AFter an uneventful few hours at Pennington I then spent a couple of even less eventful hours at Needs Ore Point having recently obtained a new permit. It was very slow going though with the only birds of any note being a Chiffchaff, Cetti's warbler and around 250 Brent Goose at the mouth of the Beaulieu River. The tide was very high and I pushed off home.