Wednesday, 27 May 2015

Greater Yellowlegs at Titchfield and Pennington Marshes on 25th May

The Greater Yellowlegs that has been at Titchfield Haven on and off since 11th January has so far eluded me over the course of two visits to the site but during the course of last weekend when I was on the Isle of Wight it appeared to become a little more settled and had been showing on the river just off the coast road where mud is exposed at low tide and the Black-tailed Godwits gather to feed. So on the evening of 20th May as I passed nearby on my way between a survey and the office I popped in, the bird had been at the Suffern hide for much of the latter part of the day but when I arrived it had disappeared so I visited a number of the hides enjoying the Black-headed Gull colonies, Mediterranean Gull in full breeding swing and Avocet with about 35 of the latter present, many now with chicks. The news broke that the Greater Yellowlegs was showing from the on the Frying Pan so a quick dash around from where I was saw me enter the Knights Bank hide as the bird flew off - I had distant in flight views only.

Avocet - Nice views from Pumfrett Hide

The following morning (21st may) I had to drop Sarah off at Winchester train station and then head to Chichester for a survey so, knowing that the bird had been showing well at low tide in the morning from the coast road, I couldn't resist popping into Titchfield Haven again and as I arrived a small group of birders were staring intently at the mud and there it was, my first proper view of a Greater Yellowlegs in the UK. I enjoyed good scope views as it fed on the mud on the opposite bank of the river but my photos were poor due to the distance and the light conditions. Also here were around 100 Black-tailed Godwit which showed well close to the road. After 20 minutes the Greater Yellowlegs flew up-river and it was time for me to head-off.

Greater Yellowlegs - Distant shot of the adult from the coast road on the River Meon 
at Titchfield Haven

The bank holiday weekend had largely been a working weekend for me but I was able to pop down to Pennington Marshes on 25th May. I parked at the corner of Lower Pennington Lane and walked to the Efford Lagoon, passed the Shoveler Pools, passed Fishtail Lagoon, out to Keyhaven Lagoon and back via Butts Lagoon and Shoveler Pools. The marshes are a great place at this time of the year with breeding in full swing although it is often fairly settled with few migrants coming through. Highlights included 30 Swift over Efford Lagoon, two Little Ringed Plover at Efford Lagoon, good views of many Reed Warbler, six Dunlin in summer plumage, three Spoonbill and two Avocet on Keyhaven Lagoon, four Great Crested Grebe offshore, six Common Tern and a Wall Brown.

Oystercatcher - A pair are breeding close to the road at Lower Pennington Lane

Reed Warbler - Good numbers breed in the reed beds

Cormorant - Sequence of shots of a bird eating an eel

Spoonbill - One of three showing at a distance on Keyhaven Lagoon

Coot - Keyhaven Lagoon

Common Tern - Sequence of shots showing the male courtship feeding a female. Note the male bird has a ring on the leg, I have seen this bird (presumably the same bird) feeding a female on this same post over the last three years