Walk report: 01 March 2020 Keyhaven Bird Walk

On a bright, dry morning, 17 of us set off from Keyhaven to walk round the sea wall, down to Pennington Marsh and back down the Ancient Highway.

Brent Goose © Richard Coomber
Straight away there was a male Red-breasted Merganser in Keyhaven harbour, quite close in and showing well. A good start. There were two Marsh Harriers over the Avon Water reed beds.

As we walked along the sea wall we could see the results of the succession of storms have had on the shore line. Shingle and seaweed had bee carried over onto the marsh side exposing the concrete footings of the sea defences. I, for one, have never seen this before.

Hovering Kestrel © Chris Robinson
Brent Geese were still about on the water, though probably not for too much longer, along with one Great-crested Grebe and a few Shelduck. On the marsh side there were Stonechats, a Linnet and a pair of Kestrels. The female was perched in a tree but the male was hunting over the grass.

Keyhaven Lagoon had its usual ducks (Teal, Wigeon, Pintail, Shoveler and Mallard) along with Curlew, Little Egret and Grey Heron. On the saltmarsh there were more Curlew along with Redshanks and Oystercatchers.

Fishtail was more of the same, with numbers of Brent Geese increasing all the time as they flew in. Coots, Moorhen and one Little Grebe were also present. The three local Barnacle Geese were amongst the Canadas. We got distant views of a Spoonbill flying east, Buzzard, Sparrowhawk and a Peregrine. On Butts Lagoon there was a host of Gadwall, RC counted around 100 overall including those on Jetty Lagoon and Shoveler Pools.
The oldest Little Egret  © Richard Coomber

We stopped for our biscuit break at the ‘Jetty’ where the turnstones were turning what seaweed and stones were still there. A Rock Pipit was around along with Reed Buntings. Nowadays one tends to take Little Egrets for granted, but the one in the ditch near the Jetty was rather special for it was the oldest known on its kind on the BTO database. It had been ringed as a chick by Graham Giddens in 2006 and can be identified by the colour rings – left leg – orange and the letter J, right leg yellow and N.

Light-bellied Brent Goose © Richard Coomber
We walked down towards the Lower Pennington Lane car park. On Pennington Marsh there were Golden Plovers galore, ditto Lapwings and three or four Ruff. A passage of Lesser Black-backed Gulls was a quite unusual sight, but at this time of the year they should be returning from wintering in foreign parts. The local Starling were giving a mini-murmuration!

With the Brent Geese flock in the field north of the car park was an immature Light-bellied Brent Goose, the race that breeds in Greenland or Arctic Canada. On the way back along the Ancient Highway there were Goldfinches, a singing Great Tit and, by the Lower Balancing pond, a singing Cetti’s Warbler.

And it didn’t rain! CR