On Thursday at dusk while at the Reedy Ditch I’d seen, distantly to the west, a very large flock of Brent Geese in front of RP Farm. This morning I decided to try and get closer to them and had in mind that looking north from P Shore would achieve this. I drove past the normal turn into W Lane and then left down P Lane. After a hundred yards or so a panoramic view opens up to the east and I quickly noticed a large flock of Brents in the nearest field.
I pulled over set up the scope and amazingly the first goose I got in the scope was an adult Russian White-fronted Goose! It was with three others, two more adults with their black belly barring and white frontal blazes and also a single juvenile/1st winter bird. The goose flock comprised 950 Dark-bellied Brent Geese, 88 Greylags, 45 Canada Geese and the four Russian vagrants. Greenland White-fronts are larger, darker and with a more orange bill (as opposed to pink). I looked for Pale-bellied Brents but couldn’t find any.
They were too distant for decent photos but close enough for acceptable record shots.
While watching the geese flock I heard and then saw a Raven, Lesser Redpoll and Marsh Tit. There have been a handful of Russian White fronts in Hampshire and so I was delighted to find my own.
Ian saw them again the next morning when the Brents had disappeared but the White-fronts and the Greylags had moved closer.
Russian White fronted Geese, right hand photo by Ian Williamson
I then headed over to NO as I was taking part in a synchronised wintering Sandwich Tern count. There were two Golden Plover, six Spoonbill and three Avocet on DL’O. On B Water I saw Mute Swan N7L. She is a 12-year old female ringed as a first year at Christchurch in 2009. She bred successfully on Hythe Marshes with male J5A from 2010 annually through to 2019 and was often seen with cygnets on the eastern shore of Southampton Water. She has now been sighted at NO with a new mate who has lost his plastic ring (K6V) but is an adult ringed in 2014 at Keyhaven. Her old mate may have died in the last year or so.
From the sailing club I noticed the Slavonian Grebe on the sea, it was now further east and level with the wardens hut. A pair of female Eider drifted up the river in front of the sailing club. 20 Skylark fed in the short coastal grasses and 40 Black-tailed Godwit flew in to land in the field below Exbury. Unfortunately there were no Sandwich Terns on show today.