There was an obvious heavy movement of Meadow Pipits throughout the day with at least 100 coming in off the sea in groups of 10 or so. Aside from the pipits there was little other sign of spring migration, just a handful of Chiffchaffs singing around the reserve.
On the walk to the hides a group of seven Black-tailed Godwit were feeding near DL’O hide, they are quickly acquiring their summer chestnut tones. Three Spoonbill were resting around JV and nine Avocet were on the scrape.
One of the highlights of the day was watching a majestic Goshawk powering over G island and then on towards Inchmery. In the rest of the New Forest they are shy and elusive with most views being distant displaying birds in the spring. Here they are seen regularly and sometimes quite close. The powerful proportions, very long neck, heavy hips and pregnant look are all obvious in these photos. The heavily marked underparts and unmarked face make this a juvenile bird.
Other than the geese the most vocal birds were the Oystercatchers and the Redshank. There seemed to be fewer Teal and Wigeon, perhaps some have already headed back to their breeding grounds in Iceland, Scandinavia, the Baltic and Russia. I was hoping to see a Sand Martin or a Wheatear but no luck.
While watching the scrape from the gate to the south I noticed a Merlin on a raised mound near the waters edge. After spending 20 minutes watching the activity all around it the Merlin launched into the air pursuing a flock of Meadow Pipits. It came very close to catching one on several occasions but the pipits just evaded it. Soon afterwards the Merlin returned to a post along the estuary fenceline and was slightly closer.
Merlin top photo by Ian Williamson
At least one Slavonian Grebe was still present on the sea with 24 Turnstones turning seaweed and stones along the high tide line, my highest count at NO so far. A Dartford Warbler sang briefly near NP hide but I couldn’t track it down.
One final shot for the day. A Barn Owl in the darkness with the thermal camera. You can see how much blood supply there is to their face, more than with other birds.
Turnstones and Barn Owl with thermal camera