04 January 2018 Testwood Lakes

Richard led a party of twelve on a walk at Testwood Lakes during an interlude of relative calm and bright weather that occurred between Storm Eleanor and the next bout of strong winds that were scheduled to arrive a few hours later. At the car park catkins and the tiny red starry female flowers of the Hazel bushes were heralds of Spring, but the impoverished Red Deadnettle found later would have been a residue from 2017.

As we crossed the fields beyond the HWT visitor centre several Redwings flew across to the shelter of a stretch of woodland, but that was about as exciting as it got as far as small birds were concerned. However, from the Sand Martin and Heron hides we enjoyed good views of the various species of duck on the lakes before us. In the sunshine drake Mallard with their bottle green heads and bright orange legs and feet were splendid. Also green-headed was the smart drake Shoveler that swam in circles with its shovel beak submerged as it feed on invertebrates beneath the surface. Other dabbling ducks included Wigeon, Teal and Gadwall. Canada Geese were very much in evidence both on the water and ashore where their neighbours included a good number of Lapwing and four Black-tailed Godwits.

Having enjoyed the hides we headed back in the direction of the visitor centre stopping to look at three species of fungi on the way. The first was the ubiquitous Turkeytail and as yet the other two remain unidentified, but they were passed their best. Mammals seen during the walk were Grey Squirrel and Rabbit and there were two birds of prey – Kestrel and Buzzard.

Great White Egret
A slight detour from the path led us to a wooden screen with viewing slits though which the first to arrive had close-up views of a Great White Egret. Thankfully the bird flew only 50 m or so before landing next to a Grey Heron which provided a good size comparison. Nearby, but closer to us, was a flock of Lapwing looking good in the sunlight and as we watched up to 4 Common Snipe were found lurking amongst the grass and rushes alongside them.

We returned to the car park via the informative visitor centre operated by the Hampshire & Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust.

All photos © Richard Coomber