Saturday, 2 May 2015

Meare Heath, Somerset - 1st May and Sidlesham Ferry Pond/Titchfield Haven - 21st April

I have had a frenetic few weeks and little time to bird or blog hence lack of posts, busy work and social life BUT, bloody hell a female Hudsonian Godwit in Somerset, how could I resist, a world tick and my 400th bird in the UK. So I headed off from home at 05:00 on 1st May for the 1.5 hour drive to Meare Heath part of the RSPB's Ham Wall reserve. When I arrived the bird was tucked under the near bank but after a 20 minute wait the bird flew with Black-tailed Godwit and its stunning black underwing was visible. I watched the bird for over three hours as it fed on the part drained lagoon with the Black-tails. It occasionally showed fairly close and the intricacies of its dark plumage could be seen with lovely chestnut crescents on the flank, heavily barred body and a bicoloured pink/orange and blackish bill. The bird was fairly aggressive towards the Black-tails and there was frequent skuffling between it and  neighbouring birds.

A comparison of the Hudsonian Godwit and a winter and summer plumaged Black-tailed Godwit shows the overall darker tone of the Hudsonian.

Typical aggressive behaviour towards Black-tailed Godwit

Amongst the Black-tailed the Hudsonian could readily be picked out by its dark tones

Distinctive black underwing and reduced upper wing bar made the Hudsonian highly conspicuous when in flight

Supporting birds at Meare Heath included two Marsh Harrier, many Reed Warbler and Sedge Warbler,  male Garganey, a single Ruff and two Bittern which spent a couple of minutes chasing each other over the tree-tops.

Bittern in aerial pursuit

This twitch was far more successful than one that I did on 21st April when I attempted to see a Black-winged Stilt that had been present at Sidlesham for three days previous and the erratically occurring Greater Yellowlegs at Titchfield Haven - I dipped both! At Sidlesham I spent a very noisy hour or so at the Ferry Pool with traffic roaring past my back - a quite unpleasant place. Scant reward were 15 Shoveler, three Whimbrel, two Avocet, 30 Black-tailed Godwit, Spotted Redshank and my first Nightingale of the year.



Black-tailed Godwit


At Titchfield I spent a couple of hours in the hides on the west side of the Haven seeing little. The Black-headed Gull were busy nest building and Mediterranean Gull ferried back and forth. The roadbeds were alive with the sound of Sedge Warbler and Reed Warbler and offshore were six Sandwich Tern, four Common Tern and a small group of Eider and a flock of eight Whimbrel with a single Bar-tailed Godwit which flew east along the Solent but not a sniff of the Yellowlegs.

Fine summer plumaged Black-headed Gull

Sedge Warbler