01 October 2016 Keyhaven bird walk

With the cancellation of the previous field meeting at Taddiford Gap, the Sunday birdwalk became the first outing of the winter programme. The day after New Moon and approximately 2 hours before high water, Brian + 8 set off from Keyhaven following the Brent Trail anticlockwise. On a glorious morning there was much activity - both avian and human. We were accompanied throughout by the aerial displays of myriad Swallows and House Martins.

 At Keyhaven Turnstones had returned for the winter to use various moored vessels to rest at high tide and Brent Geese had returned to the saltings. Looking across Keyhaven Marsh a Sparrowhawk was mobbed by corvids, but that paled to insignificance when an Osprey (left) suffered the same fate! In fact we had several sightings of the latter during the walk including it, or a different individual perhaps, which flew east over the Old Tip. 

Black Swan flanked by two Mute Swans
At Iley Point we found Dartford Warblers and Wheatears, whilst nearby at Keyhaven Lagoon a Black Swan (right) happily consorted with Mute Swans. The high tide forced many shorebirds off the saltings to roost on the lagoon's mudbanks including a large number of Black-tailed Godwits a few Grey Plover, Dunlin and Knot. An immature Ruff lurked along the lagoon’s rushy edge as a Kingfisher sped by. Wildfowl included Shelduck and Pintail.

One of Brian's Kestrels
It seemed that almost every post along the route offered a vantage point for a Kestrel (below). At Fishtail Lagoon a Grey Heron attempted to swallow a large uncooperative eel. Sue spotted a soaring female Marsh Harrier high above us and shorebirds on and around the lagoon added Golden Plover and Spotted Redshank to the ever growing list. Two Black-tailed Godwits wore colour rings from Peter Pott's ongoing research into the Icelandic race birds that winter along the Solent.

Along the Old Tip Cetti's Warblers were singing and a Common Buzzard passed overhead before we walked along the Ancient Highway to the Western Balancing Pond, where amongst a variety of wildfowl Shoveler were seen in eclipse plumage.

It was a morning that will take some beating with some 65 species of birds noted. There were more than just birds to see for we recorded Grey Seal, Roe Deer, Red Admiral and Painted Lady butterflies and a number of unidentified hawker dragonflies.