Walk Report: 03 February 2019 Keyhaven - 1st Sunday bird walk

Common Seals © Richard Smith
On Sunday Brian, deputizing for Duncan, led 10 LymNats from Keyhaven following the 5km Brent Trail out along the sea wall and back via the "Ancient Highway". The morning was sunny and clear with light winds from the SW but the severity of the recent cold snap was still evident in the frozen lagoons and the snow-covered fields on the Isle of Wight.

The sea was flat calm and a lot of birds were to be found offshore being denied access to open water on the lagoons. The first sighting, perched on its customary hedgerow in Keyhaven, was of a Marsh Harrier - on any other day this might have been the highlight. Next came a male Bullfinch and then, looking across Hawker's Lake towards the yacht moorings, two Common (or Harbour) seals were hauled out and lounging on the
Rock Pipit © Chris Robinson
exposed mud banks. It is likely that there were two more, briefly observed "bottling" with head and neck clear of the water, but these were disturbed by the presence of kayakers and paddle-boarders. Continuing to Iley Point 10+ Snipe were feeding frantically, in the manner of a sewing machine, in soft mud on Keyhaven Marsh. Their cryptically-marked plumage is less effective camouflage in bright sunlight.

Offshore, a Peregrine made an unsuccessful low-level attack. On Butts Lagoon a Rock Pipit auditioned for "Dancing on Ice", dexterously plucking insects off the surface of the ice. Passing the Shoveler Pools, Chris was able to identify two Water Pipits with his 'scope, stating that it was his best ever view of this species.
Common Snipe
© Richard Smith
Returning along the "Ancient Highway", and while observing a Kestrel in a tree top, a pair of Roe deer raised their heads. The male was in velvet and the female may well have been pregnant as, whilst the rut is in summer, gestation is long due to the delayed implantation of the egg(s) and the young (sometimes twins) will be born in the following May - June. The final treat was the aerial display of four Marsh Harriers, probably drifting above the Avon Water's reed beds. In a morning of numerous highlights it would be remiss not to give a special mention to the large numbers of Pintail, a supremely elegant duck. BM