Thursday 25th March 2021

I pulled over just after the entrance gate to listen for Nuthatch, no luck today although a Goshawk was calling from the woodland opposite and male and female Muntjac crossed the track in front of me, the male showing his stripy face and horns.

Muntjac

With a moderate south westerly blowing I decided to head to the beach first. I could hear Water Rail and Cetti’s Warbler from the smaller pond near MMs house and on the way over a male Linnet was in full out song, when the female arrived they flew off together.

male Linnet photo by Ian Williamson

The sea was reasonably active with a steady stream of Mediterranean Gulls heading west, 25 in all. First new bird for the year was a group of three Common Scoter, 2 males and a female. They were flying west to start with but turned towards me before swinging around to head east. Their paler primaries stood out.

The first Sandwich Tern since the 5th January headed west soon afterwards. Not sure if this is a newly arrived migrant or one of the wintering birds appearing again.  

Through the binoculars a group of three gulls caught my attention as their flight was particularly buoyant and tern like. I half wondered about Kittiwake but quickly discounted this through the scope as they were much smaller than an accompanying Black-headed Gull and one of them had a full black hood. Also obvious were rounded white wings tips, black underwings and a noticeable white trailing edge to the secondaries, all confirming Little Gull, a patch tick. Several have been heading past the Isle of Wight recently but far fewer come inside the island to be seen off NO.

Common Scoter, 2 males and a female

Another unexpected bird was next, an auk heading rapidly east showing a brownish colouration, messy underwings and a pointed head profile. Guillemot was another patch tick and a NO rarity.

It was around now that it started to rain and it did so on and off for the rest of the day. A band of showers had been forecast to go south of the Isle of Wight but with a northerly shift this long thin band of clouds spent the rest of the day dropping rain over the Hampshire coast. Back at S hide I noticed a male Chaffinch with a mild bacterial infection of the foot (bumblefoot).

Chaffinch

After a coffee in the car I headed over to the hides. I’ve been double checking young Pied Wagtails throughout March hoping for a spring migrant alba and today…success!  A lovely pristine White Wagtail around the flooded areas on the fields west of the walking trail.  Clean demarcation from black head to pale grey mantle as well as grey rump and white flanks. Not a full species but lovely to see.

White Wagtail

While in DL’O hide a Spotted Redshank called ‘chew-it’ as it flew over and a Sparrowhawk dashed past just 10 feet in front of the window. I recorded my highest count of Red-breasted Merganser this winter with two pairs distantly off the sailing club. A good end to a really great day!

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