Monthly coastal bird walk: 04 October 2021 Normandy with Brian Matthews

The weather forecast for the first walk of the winter programme was not very promising but, after an initial heavy squall, the morning was one of sunny intervals, occasional showers and (sometimes double) rainbows. It was about one hour before a very high tide and, to keep the prevailing SW wind at our backs, we followed an anti-clockwise route around Normandy Marsh.

Dunlin and Ringed Plover roosting at Normandy Lagoon during high tide 
© Chris Robinson

Hampshire County Council began purchasing the coastal grazing marshes between Lymington and Keyhaven in 1973 with the acquisition of Normandy Farm. Normandy Farm Lagoon is a product of the seawall reconstruction (1990-94), itself constructed with perforated concrete blocks to aid re-vegetation.The farmland provided fill for the wall and the lagoon was created when the land was flooded with salt-water in early November 1990.

The current wind direction does not favour bird migration: In the departure lounge, Swallows and Wheatear. Recent arrivals, Wigeon and Teal.

Wheatear stooped off on its autumn migration 
© Chris Robinson

Wigeon newly arrived for the winter from the North 
© Chris Robinson

Amongst a number of Little Egrets, "JN" (the oldest known Little Egret in Britain) still commanded his regular spot. Any hope of seeing Snipe was dashed by the presence of large numbers of Canada Geese. These "noisy neighbours" would not be appreciated by a bird that likes to keep to cover.

Other sightings included: female Shoveler, Little Grebe, Cormorant, Oystercatcher, Ringed Plover, Grey Plover, Lapwing, Dunlin, Turnstone, Curlew, Redshank, Green- shank, Black-headed Gull, juvenile Herring Gull, Kingfisher: Pied Wagtail, Meadow Pipit, Chiffchaff, Starling and Linnet. The non-birding highlight was a Fox Moth caterpillar probably heading for somewhere to pupate.

Fox Moth caterpillar © Chris Robinson

Returning along Normandy Lane there were two groups of Roe Deer in the fields: a doe with fawn in one and two does, a buck and a fawn in another.

In just over 2 hours we were back at Maiden Lane, and reasonably dry!

 Please note: Our regular winter bird walks that used to take place on the first Sunday of the month (October-March) in the past have been moved to the first Monday of the month.