Walk Report 04 February: Normandy area

Avocets at rest

Only 3 intrepid LymNats joined Brian on a cold, sunny morning with a strong north-easterly wind for a walk from Maiden Lane to Lymington Marina. Whilst the main focus was on Normandy Marsh, mudflats and shingle banks were still partially exposed offshore with LW having been at 06.50 (0.62m) and HW due at 13.15 (3.24m).

Hampshire County Council began purchasing the coastal grazing marshes between Lymington and Keyhaven in 1973 with the acquisition of Normandy Farm. This far-sighted policy was a response to the rapid pace of development which had occurred on the Hampshire coast over the previous decades. It was felt that the only way to safeguard this beautiful section of coastline for future generations was to bring it in to public ownership.

Normandy Lagoon was the product of the excavation of material used in the construction of the new seawall in the early 1990s, since when the number of visitors to the Lymington-Keyhaven Reserves (HCC and HIWWT) has steadily increased with around a quarter of a million visits recorded each year. Sunday's walk encountered many of these visitors -  fellow birders, buggies, bikes, dog-walkers, joggers and ramblers. At times there seemed to be almost as many people (not LymNats, obviously!) on the seawall as there were birds on Normandy Lagoon.
Great Crested Grebe
Eight Acre Pond: Coot, Little Grebe, Mallard ♂♀.
Four Acre Pond: Dunlin, Lapwing, Turnstone, Oystercatcher, Dark-bellied Brent Goose, Black-headed Gull, Redshank.
Normandy Marsh/Lagoon: Pintail, Teal, Wigeon, Red-breasted Merganser, Shoveler (All ♂♀), Great Black-backed Gull, Little Egret, Ringed Plover, Greenshank, Black-tailed Godwit, Curlew, Starling, Avocet (15+ - 2 actively feeding, the remainder resting), Mute Swan, Canada Goose, Cormorant, Dartford Warbler (♂), Wren. One Little Egret was seen with yellow leg rings.

Slavonian Grebe
Oxey Lake/Aden Bank: Goldeneye (3♀), Great Crested Grebe and Slavonian Grebe (2). The latter were at first difficult to identify but remained resting on the surface for some time and were viewed from several different angles - a Great Crested Grebe obligingly appeared and dived in their immediate vicinity for comparison. BM.

photographs © Richard Coomber