07 January 2018 Keyhaven Bird Walk

The first Sunday bird walk of the year saw nine hardy souls turn out at Keyhaven in a bitterly cold strong north-easterly wind but with mostly clear blue skies as some compensation. We followed our usual route from Keyhaven along the sea wall then returning via the Ancient Highway.

A female Pintail followed by a pair of Shoveler
We began our walk a couple of hours after low tide which meant plenty of mud in Keyhaven harbour for the probing Dunlin, Common Redshank, Black-tailed Godwit and Grey Plover; out on the water were Little and Great Crested Grebes, Red-breasted Merganser and Brent Goose.

On the lagoons numbers of birds were unusually low and most of those that we did see were hunkered down sheltering from the wind. However we managed to add a number of duck species to our list – Teal, Wigeon, Shoveler, Pintail, Shelduck - and the low angle of the sun meant that their colourful plumage was visible at its best.

Brent Geese in flight
Overhead a large flock of Golden Plover and Lapwing swirled back and forth in flight but we didn’t see what had disturbed them. Brent Geese also took to the air a number of times; it’s always a pleasure to hear them calling constantly to each other either in the air or on the water.

Grey Heron, Little Egret and Wigeon sheltering
Small birds were few in number though we did manage to note Stonechat, Reed Bunting, Pied Wagtail and a snatch of Cetti’s Warbler song along the Ancient Highway where there were good numbers of water birds on the balancing ponds, perhaps because it was a little more sheltered there.

Overall we noted 42 bird species during the morning plus a couple of Roe Deer browsing on the marsh beside Fishtail Lagoon. MF

Top two photographs © Richard Coomber. Bottom image  © Richard Smith