Thursday 17th December 2020

Redwing were calling overhead as I paused at the Reedy Ditch and from DL’O I watched as 14 Spoonbill came into roost landing next to 14 already roosting Avocets. The Avocets move away at the end of the summer. Most head to Titchfield Haven to moult and then disperse to wintering grounds such as Poole Harbour. In mid-winter a few begin to filter back and a count of 14 is typical for this time of year. We then see a big increase in March, as the breeding birds return, along with some on passage.

Spoonbills photo by Ian Williamson

Back at the car I switched to wellies and headed over to the beach and the wet margins around NP. A large female Sparrowhawk stood on the high tide ridge above the beach. A strong supercilium had me wondering although her proportions and slender legs weren’t right for Goshawk. She powered off in my direction but was quickly lost to sight behind the trees.

I’ve checked the sea off MM’s house every time I visit hoping for Slavonian Grebes and today for the first time I was successful. A lovely dapper Slav showed distantly to the east associating with a couple of Great Crested Grebes. Just behind them a couple of big bruiser Great Northern Divers drifted west against the rising tide. Later I returned to find the Slavonian Grebe closer, just about close enough for some record shots. A patch tick for me. In the last five years Slavonian Grebes have arrived a month earlier than in 2020 – 18th November, 15th November, 25th November, 19th November and 18th November.

Slavonian Grebe

During my visit I counted 19 Linnets at both ends of the reserve and so perhaps it’s one winter flock and they spend their days commuting between MM’s house and the Sailing Club. They showed very nicely and so I checked them all for Twite, just in case…

Ian had seen a Jack Snipe on Tuesday and armed with directions I tried the same wet ditch, unfortunately no luck today. I then did a loop I’ve done many times over the last six weeks and just as I was finishing I flushed a silent and starling sized snipe, he waited until I was six foot away before flying and would have given me amazing views if I’d been checking carefully ahead of me. The Jack Snipe flew back in the direction of the first ditch I’d tried and so it may well have been Ian’s bird. Another patch tick for me.

While walking back to the car I bumped into one of the Dartford Warblers and ended up having great views. This bird was one of the two birds who have rings on their right legs.  As I got back to the car for lunch a mobile tit flock included a sneezing Marsh Tit.

Dartford Warbler

I joined Brian and Val at the Sailing Club and Brian mentioned seeing what he thought might be Golden Plover on the scrape from the sluice gate, he’d only had his binoculars at the time. I headed off and sure enough there were five in amongst the Lapwings, my third patch tick of the day. I got back to the Sailing Club and then picked out another 60 Golden Plover in the fields below Exbury House and in amongst them were 52 Black-tailed Godwits, my largest count to date.  

A brief stop at the Reedy Ditch produced 171 Starlings on the wires and a huge flock of bickering Brents in a grassy field near the farm buildings on P Shore.

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