Our next members’ Zoom talk will be given by Chris Chapleo, the chair of the Christchurch Harbour Ornithological Group (CHOG). Chris will be showing us some of the rich variety of bird life that is to be found in the harbour and the lower Avon Valley.
The walk started well down a wide grassy fire break through mixed woods and then Richard Smith and I were then confronted with an extensive waterlogged and well trodden section While circumnavigating the section, a song thrush was glimpsed and a little later a redwing.
|©Crown copyright 2021 Ordnance Survey. Media 008/21|
Diane and I set off from the (newly charging) car park at the Keyhaven end of the sea wall. We were greeted by the Marsh Harrier landing on its preferred bush on Avon Water. On the harbour side of the sea wall the tide was very low, exposing large amounts of mud and seaweed. This was reflected in the numbers of Dunlin and Turnstones feeding just below us.
On the harbour water the Brent geese (40–50) couldn’t seem to make up their minds whether to walk or swim in the shallow water.
As we walked round towards Keyhaven Lagoon there were Curlews both sides of the wall, more Dunlin, Oystercatchers and Redshanks, Little Egrets and Shellducks. On the lagoon itself there were more of the same with added Wigeon, Shovellers, Black-headed gulls, Canada geese, Coots, Teal and Pintails. On the footpath there was an obliging pair of Stonechats.
On Fishtail there were all the forementioned species plus one Snipe!
On Butts there were two ‘rafts’ of Black-headed gulls for no very obvious reason. Each group consisted of 20-30 birds, in close order. The rest of the water was empty! Three Reed Buntings were feeding on seed heads amongst the reeds.
On the mud there were two Ringed plovers and several Grey plovers amongst the other waders.
The flooded fields were frozen as we walked down towards the car park at Lower Pennington, the only birds on them was a pair of ice-skating Pied wagtails.
Down the ancient highway we saw mainly Robins (there seem to be more than usual around at the moment), Blackbirds and Canada geese.
Back at the Keyhaven car park we took one last look over Avon water. The Marsh harrier was just where we had left it, but a Kingfisher was present along with a couple of Little grebes.
Home for lunch!
Spring is on its way. The days are lengthening, Spring flowers can be seen in sheltered parts of the garden and bird behaviour is already changing around us.
The first illustrated talk in our Spring programme of Zoom meetings will be given at 7.15 on Tuesday 12 January by Louis Rumis and will take us to northern Greece and to Lake Kerkini, one of the most important wetland sites in Europe. All members are welcome to attend.
|Shelduck, Grey Plover and Dunlin at Oxey|
For the first scheduled walk of 2021 Brian met Richard Smith at Maiden Lane and followed a route that took in 8 Acre Pond, Salterns Marsh, Moses Dock, Oxey Marsh/Lagoon/Lake, Maiden Dock, Normandy Lagoon/Marsh, Pinckney Path and Normandy Lane. The start time was 08.30, sunrise having only been at 08.08, with LT having been at 06.45/0.95m and HT due at 13.31/2.96m. There had been no overnight frost and there was only light cloud with a gentle breeze from the NNE which freshened throughout the morning - but at least it didn't rain! The following list shows the variety of birds that were seen: Mute Swan, Greylag Goose, Canada Goose, Dark-bellied Brent Goose, Shelduck, Wigeon, Mallard, Pintail, Shoveler, Teal, Goldeneye, Pheasant, Little Grebe, Great Crested Grebe, Cormorant, Little Egret, Grey Heron, Peregrine, Coot, Oystercatcher, Avocet, Grey Plover, Lapwing, Dunlin, Snipe, Black-tailed Godwit, Turnstone, Curlew, Common Redshank, Spotted Redshank, Greenshank, Black-headed Gull, Herring Gull, Great Black-backed Gull, Feral Pigeon, Woodpigeon, Kingfisher, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Wren, Dunnock, Robin, Stonechat, Blackbird, Long-tailed Tit, Great Tit, Blue Tit, Coal Tit, Magpie, Carrion Crow, Starling, Chaffinch. And Roe Deer.
Spotted Redshank and Mallard
Selected highlights were: 3 Spotted Redshank on Salterns Lagoon; a "Peregine on a post" offshore; 10 Avocet, 2M + 4F Goldeneye, a "number" of Snipe and a Kingfisher (all on Normandy). Simply trying to count the roosting/resting Avocet, the perpetually diving Goldeneye and the cryptically camouflaged Snipe gave some insight into the difficulty of conducting the WeBS count (Wetland Bird Survey). The walk concluded around midday.
|©Crown copyright 2021 Ordnance Survey. Media 008/21|
P. hymenina is supposedly common and widespread, but I had only come across it in field guides up until now.
On this same log were several other lichens (including Cladonia digitata), lots of mosses and a single Scots pine seedling.
On the day of the New Moon Richard Smith met Brian in Maiden Lane at 08.30 for an unscheduled pre-Christmas 4 hour walk around Lymington-Keyhaven Nature Reserve following an anti-clockwise route. The conditions at the start were very benign with sunshine and light winds, interrupted by the occasional light shower. The wind steadily increased throughout the morning and the skies became more menacing. The tide was very high and there was a lot of standing water resulting from the recent rain which filled the lagoons and flooded the fields. None of this bothered the birds however which were everywhere in large numbers. We set off along the footpath to Lower Pennington Lane and our first sighting of note was of 8 Barnacle Geese in the fields behind Oxey Barn. It was good to see quite a number of juveniles amongst the Dark-bellied Brent Geese which were grazing the same fields.
|Barnacle Geese amongst Canada and Brent Geese|
Next came a large flock of Golden Plover and 2 Ruff on Pennington Marsh, one of which was very active and doing a passable impression of a snowman/bird! All of the usual suspects were on Fishtail but the Pintail (M) get the award for the snappiest dressers. We turned back from the junction of Keyhaven and Fishtail Lagoons and continued via Butts, Jetty and Pennington Lagoons, Oxey Marsh, Salterns Marsh and 8 Acre Pond to the undoubted highlight, Normandy Marsh. Because of the state of the tide birds were crammed into the lagoons and its islands.
|Ringed Plover and Dunlin|
Neither they nor us were sheltered from the sudden arrival of squally winds and heavy rain/hail/sleet but we managed to see: Avocet, Red-breasted Merganser (M+F), Goldeneye (F), Kingfisher, Dunlin, Curlew, Cormorant, Great Black-backed Gull, Ringed Plover, Grey Plover, Lapwing, Shelduck, Shoveler, Redshank, Greenshank, Oystercatcher and Snipe.
Roe Deer had put in an appearance at 4 different locations on the walk and we put up a small flock of Bullfinches in Normandy Lane as we returned to our start point. It turned out to be lovely weather for ducks!
|Seasonal pond at Nomansland Green. MW|
|Sulphur Tuft (Hypholoma fasciculare) MR|
Somewhat chewed, we made a hasty exit down the path through mixed woodland, tramping in thick, leafy layers below spindly birch and large beech, now almost bare, though oak was hanging on to rich-brown leaves. The little gully we crossed was in modest flow after recent rain that had benefited the bright, feathery tufts of Hard Fern (Blechnum spicant) overhanging the bank.
|Hard Fern (Blechnum spicant) MW|
Joining a wide ride we continued downhill then turned left uphill towards Bramshaw Wood carpark. Several trees have fallen here over the years in messy tangles, bearing more Sulphur Tuft and stacks of Turkey Tail (Trametes versicolor). Tiny, glistening-white clumps of Porcelain Fungus (Oudemansiella mucida) contrasted with the hard, black blobs of King Alfred’s Cakes/Cramp Balls (Daldinia concentrica). Missing our field companions, we struggled with identifying some fungi but thought they might be Mycena sp. and/or Russula sp.
Just short of the parking area we turned south-east onto the old Church Path. Heading steadily downhill, ignoring any side paths, we reached a bog, dry-ish in summer but now very wet. Apart from some clumps of black and grey Candlesnuff (Xyaria hypoxylon) on mossy mounds, the only creature of note was a large golden retriever, revelling in traipsing through the mud up to its belly, clearly on borrowed time pending the arrival of the owner.
|Candlesnuff (Xyaria hypoxylon) MW|
|Turkey Tail (Trametes versicolor) MR|
|Cramp Balls (Daldinia concentrica) SP|
Birds were clearly otherwise engaged this morning, making brief appearances or just calling from afar. Hence, we bagged only Blackbird, Blue Tit, Carrion Crow, Common Buzzard (heard), Jackdaw, Nuthatch (heard), Robin and Woodpigeon. MW/SP/MR
On a misty morning Richard Smith, Diane and I set off from Bolderwood car park to look for winter thrushes.
We arranged to meet Richard Smith a couple of days early for our walk, due to the poor forecast for Thursdays weather . Meeting up at Setley Pond in early morning sunshine we immediately saw the grey heron, as Setley is known for its long standing heronry. Walking towards the A337 on first the heath and then through narrow paths we noted fresh rabbit holes, a field of crows and a pair of probably goldfinches flying swiftly away.
A not-to-be-missed opportunity to leave gloomy lockdown behind and to travel with us to sunny Central America to learn about the colourful and magical bird life of Costa Rica. Our speaker will be wildlife photographer, Steve Oakes.