Walk report: 21 February 2019 Keyhaven

High water (Hurst Point) 11.20 – Spring tide. 
On a lovely morning Duncan welcomed the group of 16 members with a special welcome to two walks newbies, Barbara and John.
Given the state of tide and the presence of a cool south westerly wind, the leader decided that the group would set off along the Ancient Highway to the Lower Pennington Lane car park (to look over the flooded fields) then to Pennington outfall before returning to Keyhaven. Before leaving the car park we were able to enjoy good views of a female Marsh Harrier.

Goat Willow
© Richard Coomber
We had a cursory look at the Balancing Pond where there were Teal, Mallard, Shoveler, Gadwall and Coot. On this stretch, a Peregrine in flight crossed the track. In addition, Angela identified two lichens – Oak Moss (Evernia prunastri) and Xanthoria parietina (orange/yellow/green) – sorry no English name. Goat Willow flowers were breaking open, but the nearby Blackthorn bushes were still in very tight bud. Also, in the ‘Efford’ field we saw four Roe Deer including one buck and three Skylarks displaying.
© Chris Robinson
Overlooking the flooded fields we were rewarded with hundreds of Lapwing and Golden Plover which looked stunning with the sun emphasising their colour. A single Ruff was also located.

After a degree of clamouring from the troops, we had our mandatory biscuit stop before setting off for the sea wall and it must be reported that, again, there was a choice of dark and milk chocolate digestives! Chris forewent the biscuits, instead continuing towards the outfall. He returned several minutes later with his reward – an excellent photograph of basking adders.
© Chris Robinson

We had a really close view of a hovering male Kestrel before reaching the seawall where there was a good number of Dunlin and Turnstone. A Spotted Redshank was seen as were two Great Crested Grebes.
Kestrel hovering
© Richard Coomber

On the walk along the seawall there were Reed Buntings, a Rock Pipit and lots of Dark-bellied Brent Geese. Particular worthy of mention are the ‘white’ Ruff on Butts Lagoon, a Chiffchaff, a quartering Marsh Harrier, the pair of Peregrines on the usual stone block, a Spoonbill on Keyhaven Lagoon, the good numbers of Pintail and Shelduck together with another significant flock of Golden Plover.

We arrived back at the carpark at 13.03 and, although, one member made some crack about packed lunches and overnight accommodation being needed for this bird walk, we were privileged to have seen 55 species.

In summary, a most enjoyable walk with good company! (DW)

Spoonbill at Keyhaven Lagoon with Pintail and (in background) Shelduck
© Richard Smith