Tuesday, 21 April 2015

Pennington Marsh - 18th April

I was hoping for some spring migrants but as I parked on the corner at Lower Pennington Lane and walked west the north-east wind gave a bitter bite and I wished that I was wearing an extra coat and gloves - it was sunny but it felt far from spring like. On Pennington Marsh there were still fair numbers of Wigeon and Teal and a single female Pintail while a scan through the grassland revealed that many of the Lapwing were already incubating eggs. At the Efford Lagoon my first migrants, three Little Ringed Plover fed on the grassland around the lagoon while a Whitethroat sang from the hedgerow along the Ancient Highway with a second bird more distantly on the marsh. I walked out past the Shoveler Pools my hands turned to ice and I had to take shelter from the wind in a sheltered sunny hollow to recover them - approximately six Whitethroat sang obliviously in the Brambles and a female Marsh Harrier past east. At the jetty there was a flock of 25 Turnstone, many gaining their summer plumage with lovely chestnut upperparts and black chest markings. On Butts Lagoon a Ruff and a Spotted Redshank were again present but the Ruff was a far darker bird than that seen on 6th April and so was likely to be a different bird - it was in the same location as the bird on 6th and I at first took it to be the same bird. The distinctive call of a Sandwich Tern and there the distinctive rakish shape flying west along the Solent, my first of the year. On Fishtail Lagoon there was a nice gathering of 30 Shelduck and a lonesome looking Brent Goose while on the mudflats was a flock of 250 Dunlin, many birds now in summer plumage. I wandered onto Keyhaven Lagoon, the wind seemed to be getting colder, there was a single Common Tern, again my first of the year, patrolling the south-east corner of the lagoon and giving excellent views. I decided to call it a day and head for Denny Wood but a final scan at Efford Lagoon produced 30 Sand Martin, five House Martin and five Swallow.

My first Whitethroat of the year


Female Marsh Harrier

Skylark on the old tip

Turnstone - Now developing their summer plumage with a mix of rufous feathers on the upper parts and a gradually blackening breast

Ruff - Male in the same location as bird on 6th April but apparently a different bird



Common Tern - My first of the year foraging over Keyhaven Lagoon.
 A bird that seems to have a fairly concolourous dark bill. 

Common Tern


Denny Wood felt positively warm, my main target here was to see if the Redstart were back and within seconds of leaving the car I heard them singing. Over the course of an hour or so I saw at least 10 birds many singing males but also a pair prospecting nesting sites, breeding was in full swing. A single Willow Warbler was singing but there were few other migrants evident and with time ticking on I needed to head for home.

Redstart - Male investigating nest hole

Redstart - On song post atop an Oak

Redstart - In full song

Marsh Tit foraging in fresh Oak leaves