Avocet – Pennington Marshes, Hampshire

On Saturday an adult Little Stint was found on Fishtail Lagoon at Pennington. Rather than set the alarm and get there early on Sunday morning I decided to wait and see if the stint moved on overnight. It was still there first thing and so I headed down mid-morning on Sunday.

As I reached the seawall, a Common Tern flew past me, hawking along one of the creeks. There was plenty of life on Fishtail Lagoon and lots of people out for a walk but not many birders. Over the next 45 minutes it gradually dawned on me that the Little Stint had gone.

Once I had given up hope of finding the stint I decided to sketch some of the nesting Avocets. There were already at least 10 juvenile Avocets feeding along the edge of the lagoon and several of the adult birds were sitting on eggs. Avocet are normally single brooded and so presumably some of the adults were a bit late to lay.

The Avocet has been a breeding success story in the Lymington area this season with up to 30 pairs having successfully raised young, possibly a record high for Hampshire.

I also watched two pairs of Little Ringed Plover and they too had fledged young, several tiny little balls of ‘fur’ were dashing around. Although wader young are usually precocial in that they hatch and are immediately out of the nest with well-developed legs and eyes they are still very vulnerable to marauding gulls or foxes and so the parent birds looked slightly harassed, constantly checking for danger.

As a landscape photographer I always hated a bright midday sun but it can be quite helpful for sketching as it can help you see where the shadows lie and also some birds are resting in the heat which again makes sketching easier. 

Osprey – Fishlake Meadows, Hampshire – 28th June 2020

The dogs like a particular gravy bone biscuit and we get these from a pet shop in Romsey. As we were running short I headed to Romsey and then Fishlake Meadow afterwards as it is close by. An Osprey had been seen here regularly since 20th May.

My guess is that all of these sightings refer to the same individual. On 27th May he was seen on a dead tree from the road side viewpoint, he was wearing a blue ring. The ring ‘3AB’ revealed that he was a male ringed as the only chick in a nest near Rutland Water on 30th June 2017. He also spent the whole of July and August at Fishlake last year. Being not quite three years old it may be too early for him to breed and this could explain him spending so long at Fishlake late last summer and also this summer.

I arrived and set up in the viewing area next to the road. There were lots of Swifts and House Martins over the lake with the odd Sand Martin and Swallow joining them. A Common Tern also made a few low passes. Several Buzzards drifted over and then the unmistakeable angular and elegant shape of two Red Kites. A Hobby also powered through no doubt excited by the many aerial prey possibilities which make Fishlake a great location for these dragonfly assasins. A drake Wigeon was an unusual record although a handful do summer in Hampshire each year.

I decided to give it an hour and my time was almost up and still no Osprey. I packed away my sketchbook and was about to collapse the telescope legs when I saw the Osprey.

It was a brief view and it quickly drifted out of view on lazy languid wings. Thankfully it returned and I hoped that it might land in one of the dead poplar trees which make this site unique. Unfortunately it didn’t and I had to make do with the two good flight views.  

I finished June with a year list of 191 which, due to the virus, is well behind last year’s total of 227 at this stage.    

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