of us met up in the Blackwater car park on a bright sunny morning after heavy
overnight rain. There was a Nuthatch in the trees above us, the first of
several seen during the walk that took us eastwards along the track towards
Poundhill Heath. Beneath the beech trees a number of Blackbirds were sifting through
fallen leaves for food as last night’s rain still sparkled on the branches and
twigs above them.
and Pam pointed out several species of lichen growing on a hawthorn by a
gateway including Usnea
walk had been relatively quiet until we reached the heath where in low hawthorns and
birches we found a flock of some 30-40 Reed Buntings that eventually drifted
away in small groups across towards an area of burnt gorse. Some lucky people
also saw a female Yellowhammer, surely the best bird of the morning. As we walked along the edge of
Poundhill Inclosure a female Roe Deer in the bracken chose to retreat into
denser cover as a loose flock of Redwings flew out across the heath from the
conifers of the inclosure.
we took the hoggin track through the inclosure back to the car park Mike served
the biscuits whilst Brian, wearing a suitably seasonal hat, handed round
chocolates. They must have done some good for a up in the trees a few hundred
yards along the track a Firecrest was glimpsed along with a Coal Tit. We waited
and watched for it to reappear, but to no avail. Sheila however had more
patience, and by staying behind was thrilled with excellent views when it
re-appeared and stayed in sight for several minutes.
at the car park we wished one another a Merry Christmas and looked forward to
more enjoyable walks in 2017.
Geoff plus 9 (including one visitor) gathered at Testwood Lakes Centre on a
rather dull morning for this meeting, mostly focusing on birds and
identification of winter trees from their twigs.
was virtually no wind so small birds were active and visible if somewhat
difficult to identify in less than ideal light. Unfortunately the feeders near
the centre had not been filled but around the lakes Long-tailed Tits and
Goldfinch were much in evidence and Chaffinch, Greenfinch and Goldcrest were
also spotted in the trees. Blue Tit and Great Tit were active on the feeders by
the Heron hide and a Song Thrush landed in the nearby fields as we returned to
the centre. As usual we were accompanied for most of the morning by a Robin or
Robins which appear to have become a sort of unofficial mascot of LymNats field
Gadwall - a pair
species of gull were evident and there was spirited debate over one individual
which was thought to be a Common Gull but, as it didn't look “happy,” was more
likely a juvenile Herring Gull. We had an excellent view of Shoveler and
Gadwall from the screens by the scrapes and a Pochard was spotted amongst
Tufted Duck on Meadow Lake. Several Great Crested Grebe were seen with Lapwing,
a Grey Heron and a group of Cormorants. In all, 33 species were identified.
had been few species of bird showing on the recce, Geoff and Sue added interest
with a basic guide to identification of trees from their winter twigs (courtesy
of the Woodland Trust website). This was enjoyed by all and generated much
discussion as we closely examined various twigs as an alternative to naming
trees from their leaves and/or winter shape. Alder, Oak, Willow, Hawthorn,
Hazel, Lime and Field Maple were confirmed and we discovered (to our surprise)
that Hazel twigs are hairy when examined with a hand lens.
On a bright, clear Sunday morning Brian + 8 (including 2 visitors) set off from Keyhaven taking the path atop the sea wall towards Iley Point and into a keen easterly wind. November/December sees the peak numbers of winter visitors and these included Dark-bellied Brent Goose, Wigeon, Pintail, Curlew, Dunlin and Shoveler, both on the lagoons and offshore. Residents were well represented by Shelduck, Mallard, Coot and various gulls.
Male Wigeon (c) Simon Vale
On the outward leg there was a Raven flying west towards Keyhaven, 3 squabbling Little Egrets, 4 Avocets seen feeding and in flight on Keyhaven Lagoon and excellent close-up views of a Grey Plover, Rock Pipits and Turnstones. The return via Pennington Old Tip and along the "Ancient Highway" produced a female Bullfinch, a Shoveler on its spin cycle on the Western Balancing Pond and a perching Kestrel. Black-tailed Godwit were notably absent, presumably being either inland or on a more sheltered site. The high wind also accounted for the lack of small bird activity. It would have been a tall order to match the number of sightings on Duncan's walk 10 days earlier but hopefully the provision of "Club" biscuits was some consolation.
Weather - dry, cloudy becoming sunny, cold north-easterly wind. Tides - neaps, Hurst Point high water 07.40; low water 12.40 While assembling in the small free car park we had good views of Red-Breasted Merganser, Robin and, at the back of the reeds, a female Marsh Harrier. A group of 15 set off at 10.00 along the ancient highway to the lower Pennington Lane car park then on to the sea wall before completing the circular route at just after 12.30. Apart from the above, our species list was Tufted Duck, Wigeon, Teal, Mallard, Canada Goose, Redshank, Oystercatcher, Black-tailed Godwit, Blackbird, Lapwing, Woodpigeon, Rook, Carrion Crow, Grey Heron, Gadwall, Shelduck, Great Crested Grebe, Little Grebe, Brent Goose, Little Egret, Coot, Moorhen, Ringed Plover, Golden Plover, Pintail, Grey Plover, Curlew, Turnstone, Dunlin, Knot, Mute Swan, Shoveler, Herring Gull, Black-headed Gull, Great Black-backed Gull, Pied Wagtail, Rock Pipit, Meadow Pipit and Cormorant.
Pied Wagtail (c) Simon Vale
On the edge of Jetty Lagoon, everyone was able to enjoy seeing a Great White Egret with the added bonus of being next to a Little Egret for size comparison. After passing Keyhaven Lagoon, we spotted a Stonechat followed closely by good views of a Dartford Warbler. Then, with the tide almost at its lowest, we counted 94 Black-tailed Godwits and in excess of 100 Dunlin at the water's edge. Finally, back at the car park we saw two Marsh Harriers over the reeds, one was definitely a female but the other may have been a juvenile.