Dark-bellied Brent Geese and shorebirds© Richard Smith
On a sunny morning with the temperature in the upper 'teens and a moderate breeze from the WNW, Brian led 7 LymNats from Maiden Lane on the first Sunday bird walk of the winter programme. As an earlier recce had found little activity on Normandy Lagoon, the chosen route took in Maiden Dock, 8 Acre Pond, Salterns Marsh/Lagoon, Moses Dock and Oxey Marsh/Lagoon. It would prove to be a morning defined by "Firsts" and "Lasts".
FIRSTS (of many to come): 2 Dark-bellied Brent Geese from Siberia on Oxey Lake; small numbers of Wigeon and Teal from their N Europe breeding grounds on Oxey Marsh.
© Chris Robinson
LASTS: A solitary Sandwich Tern, flying south; individual/small groups of House Martin and Swallow; an obliging Northern Wheatear (F) that posed for photographs on Oxey Marsh (all 4 species ultimately Africa-bound); Red Admiral butterflies put in regular appearances.
© Richard Smith
As the falling tide exposed the intertidal sediments, large numbers of birds took the opportunity to feed on tiny crustaceans, mud snails and marine worms, as well as small fish, insects, algae and seeds. These included very vocal Dunlin, Redshank, Greenshank, Ringed Plover, Grey Plover, Oystercatcher, Black-tailed Godwit, Curlew and Little Egret. Amongst the gulls were Black-headed, Herring and Great Black-backed. On the marshes were seen Stonechat, Meadow Pipit, Lapwing, Magpie, Starling and Grey Heron. Chris spotted a clump of flowering Common Cord-grass Spartina anglica on Oxey Lagoon.
The Reserve was still being grazed by cattle and ponies which help control scrub and invasive species such as rush. The smoke rising over Salterns Marsh was evidence of the human habitat management being undertaken by the New Forest Area Conservation Volunteers under the supervision of Julian Sheppard (HCC Countryside Ranger - New Forest Sites).
© Chris Robinson
A freshening breeze sought to relieve 2 LymNats of their baseball caps, but both were retrieved with the agility and dexterity for which LymNats are well known! A Common Buzzard took advantage of that same breeze, soaring high above in the blue.
And a final sighting. A Spotted Redshank on Salterns Lagoon. An excellent taster of things to come. BM