07 December 2017 Calshot

A discussion!
© Richard Smith

Despite the unwelcome presence of Storm Caroline, Geoff and Sue with 11 others set off from Calshot waterfront in steady rain which fortunately dried up after about 40 minutes.

This was a walk where the industry of the decommissioned Fawley power station meets the salt marsh of Calshot Marshes Nature Reserve. The small area of reedbed yielded little but a small group of waxcap toadstools was spotted on the field alongside the power station amid the young Holm Oaks where a charm of Goldfinch were also found.

Great Crested Grebe
© Richard Smith
By the time we reached the saltmarsh the rain was easing and there were plenty of birds in evidence including Great Crested Grebe, Pintail, Shoveler, Brent Geese and Ovstercatchers. The footbridge, which was subject to temporary closure causing the relocation of the walk, was in fact open and we crossed a short way towards Ashlett Creek for our refreshment stop. Sightings on this side of the bridge were Cormorant,  Redshank, Black-tailed Godwit and a solitary Dunlin.

Returning towards Calshot Spit we left the footpath to walk along the shingle bank where Geoff collected a good selection of mollusc shells both bivalve (Oyster, Mussell, Cockle and the alien Manila Clam) and gastropods (Periwinkle, Dog Whelk, Limpet and Slipper Limpet – another alien species). In the water, Shelduck, Wigeon and Teal were seen with a large roost of Oystercatcher in the distance and a few were treated to a brief sighting of a Kingfisher.

On the landward side were Linnet, Fieldfare, Redwing and Reed Bunting. On reaching the sea, we diverted along the Spit and were rewarded with a view of a large group of Ringed Plover (c40) and Dunlin (100+) hunkered down out of the wind. A few Turnstone were also spotted on the return stretch with more Redwing and Fieldfare in the adjoining field.

In the end we had a very satisfying walk, certainly far better than anticipated at 10 o’clock! G&S

Walk: Sunday 03 December 2017 Normandy area

Roe Deer - female
The last Sunday bird walk of 2017 coincided with the first full moon of winter (at 15.47) which would produce a tidal range of nearly 3m during the day (09.53/3.39m; 15.49/0.52m). This December's full moon, besides always being known as the "Cold Moon", qualified as a "supermoon" because of the satellite's proximity to Earth (perigee). With a light NW wind it was appreciably milder than of late when Brian + 7 set off in a SW direction to the Old Salt Buildings before joining the footpath that would take the party N along the sea wall  to Normandy Marsh/Lagoon. The route encompassed Moses Dock, Salterns Marsh/Lagoon, 8 Acre Pond, Maiden Dock and Oxey Lake, returning to Maiden Lane via Pinckney Path and Normandy Lane. During this time there was little apparent movement in the tide level so no mud flats had been exposed.

Little Egret
Footpath to the Old Salt Buildings: female Roe Deer; Jay; Goldfinch; Redwing (individuals and small flocks).
Footpath to Moses Dock sluice gate: Dark-bellied Brent Geese; Canada Geese; Common Polypody (Polypodium vulgare); Kestrel over Pennington Marsh; met noted local ornithologist Marcus Ward who had no unusual sightings to report (he had seen a flock of Fieldfare earlier in the day though).
Salterns Marsh/Lagoon: Wigeon ; Common Redshank; Black-tailed Godwit; Shoveler ♂♀; Shelduck; Kingfisher.
8 Acre Pond: Mallard ♂♀; Little Grebe; Little Egret; Grey Heron; Great Black-backed Gull; Herring Gull; Coot.
Oxey Lake: Goldeneye 2; a Common Seal surfaced frequently before a paddle-boarder got too close.
Avocets at Normandy Lagoon
Normandy Marsh/Lagoon: Avocet (10+ in 2 groups); Red-breasted Merganser (4); Spotted Redshank (4); Greenshank (2): several Kingfishers; Stonechat ♂♀; Lapwing; Dunlin; Tufted Duck: Teal; Pintail; Oystercatcher; Turnstone; Cormorant (10+).
Normandy Lane: The fragrant, pink-lilac flower heads of Winter Heliotrope (Petasites fragrans); Hartstongue fern (Phyllitis scolopendrium).

The highlight of the morning was probably the sheer variety of activity to be seen on Normandy Lagoon. (BM) All photos © Richard Smith