Roseate Tern – Titchfield Haven, Hampshire

As we were heading back to the car after excellent views of Honey Buzzard at Acres Down Mark Francis reported via WhatsApp that there were two Roseate Terns on south scrape at Titchfield Haven. We decided that we would drive back to Dad’s house and then for Martin and Mark to head back to Titchfield in Mark’s car with me and Dad following in mine.

There were no further reports over the next hour or so. We arrived and Martin and Mark signed us in as guests and we were about to enter the reserve when Martin picked out a Roseate Tern on call and we watched two distant terns fly out of the reserve and towards Hill Head. We all followed but couldn’t relocate either of them on the low tide shingle. Soon afterwards Phil Fawkes messaged that there was a Roseate Tern back on South Scrape.

After a brisk walk I arrived in the Meon Shore hide and met Clay and Phil. The adult Roseate Tern was at the back of one of the islands but currently out of view. Martin mentioned that the island had a large and long rear and could well be hiding lots of terns and after 20 minutes of no sightings I began to wonder if it might be worth heading to Pumfrett Hide. It certainly looked like they would be able to get a much better view although no one had reported it from there via WhatsApp.

Martin and Mark decided to head off home. Phil came into the hide to ask me about our Honey Buzzard sightings and he also confirmed that the tern was showing well from Pumfrett Hide. Dad and I decided to head over there and we were rewarded with good views as it rested on the sandy bar. It took off on a couple of occasions but always returned quickly. In flight it was strikingly white above and below with a narrow dark wedge on the outer primraries and long tail streamers. On the ground the mantle was noticeably whiter than the surrounding Common Terns, the bill was entirely black, the legs were a brighter orange red and there was no hint of grey at all to the underparts. In some lights the chest appeared to have a faint rosy flush.

28th June is early for returning Roseate Terns and this was perhaps a failed breeder from Coquet Island in Northumberland. I noticed that the bird was ringed and this also suggests its Coquet Island origin given that they have been ringing Roseate’s there since 1991.

A really great day with my best ever views of Honey Buzzard and Roseate Tern new for the year means that I will finish June on 227. In 1996 I was on 224 at this stage and so 1996 has caught up 11 during June. Keeping ahead of that record year (when I finished on 289) is becoming more of a struggle and I am likely to start falling behind that level in August although my target of 250 looks fairly comfortable now. My Hampshire Year List stands at 192 and so it would be good to break 200.

Wood Sandpiper – Fishtail Lagoon, Hampshire – 12th July 2019

Heading towards mid-July and waders are starting to return in earnest and there were two gettable ones which I still needed for the year, Wood Sandpiper and Little Stint.

As I was heading to an appointment at Lepe news came through of a Wood Sandpiper on the western edge of Fishtail Lagoon on Pennington Marshes. After I’d finished the tuition I headed towards Lymington to look for the sandpiper, I had an hour before my next appointment.

There were good numbers of returning Black-tailed Godwits (100+) but unfortunately there was no sign of the Wood Sandpiper. Obviously disappointing although there should be a few more opportunities to catch up with this attractive wader over the next couple of months.

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