From the Sailing Club I was surprised to see six Slavonian Grebes in three pairs close together on the sea. This is my highest count here and one of the highest Hampshire counts in recent years. The numbers have built up from a late arriving individual in mid-December, then two in late December, four in late January and now six.
Roughly in the same direction the Pale-bellied Brent Goose was with a group of 100 Dark-bellied Brents just over the creek from the Wardens Hut. I managed closer views by using the hut as a shield. It will be sad to see the Brents heading back to the Arctic Russian coast in the next few weeks. In the far distance towards Inchmery House a single Bar-tailed Godwit was feeding amongst the high tide groups of Dunlin and Grey Plover. This is the 5th time this winter I’ve seen a single Bar-tailed Godwit in this location, perhaps it’s the same individual. A Pied Wagtail was singing from in front of the Sailing Club. The song is slow and laid back and he sang from the ground for much of the time I was here.
Little Egret and Pied Wagtail
There were three or four Great Crested Grebes in the mouth of the river and also a pair of Red-breasted Mergansers. I later saw, what was presumably the same male Red-breasted Merganser, heading back towards P Shore. Also moving on the sea were several Cormorants in full breeding plumage. While sea watching I noticed a very distant falcon heading straight towards me from the Isle of Wight. The very quick flicking flight pointed to Merlin and as it got closer I could see it was a female type. It landed in a small tree near the cottages and although I was quick with the camera I wasn’t quick enough and could only manage an ‘exit’ photo.
Breeding plumage Cormorant, Red-breasted Merganser and Merlin leaving
Distant divers can be difficult to identify and the diver that I picked up heading towards P Shore was too far out for safe identification. Thankfully it doubled back and came closer. A pot-bellied appearance with huge feet and an indented collar all confirmed Great Northern Diver the commonest diver on the Hampshire Coast. Half a dozen Lapwing were wheeling and tumbling around displaying with their slightly electronic sounding calls. The cat like mewing of Mediterranean Gulls overhead caught my attention, several of them with full black hoods already.
I walked around the wet areas hoping that the thermal camera might help me find a Jack Snipe. I did flush nine Snipe from near the NP hide but no sign of Jack Snipe, I’ve only had one brief flight view all winter. On the walk over to the hides a group of 10 Meadow Pipits posed on the barbed wire fence, today was the first time this year I’ve noticed their cocked tail parachuting display flight. From near where the JV hide used to be I watched three Spoonbills fly over presumably from the flooded meadows behind B Water where I had seen them feeding on Sunday.
Meadow Pipit and Spoonbill
Long-tailed Tits regularly commute up and own W Lane but they are so active it can be difficult to photograph them. I waited and hoped that one of this group would land in a convenient spot and this time it did.