Thursday 29th April 2021

From the Reedy Ditch I watched a female Marsh Harrier carrying nesting material over P Shore View before dropping into the reeds. They haven’t bred here recently and it seems that NO may be attracting young birds who go through the motions, perhaps they are practicing. I later saw a male Marsh Harrier quartering in the NP hide area. They are difficult to age but he looked like he was in his fourth summer and so ought to be old enough to breed. 

I headed over to MMs Pools where a vocal Lapwing pair were obviously anxious about something and then I noticed their three chicks who quickly headed for the cover of the rushes. They usually have between two and four chicks but do well if more than one survives. Two red-headed Coot chicks were close by in the edge of the reed bed and a Yellow Wagtail, my first of the year, called as it flew overhead. A Blue-headed Wagtail was seen here on Tuesday.

Meadow Pipit

Grey Plover were calling as I walked over to Gt Marsh. I heard several overhead today, they don’t breed in Hampshire but a small number do stay for the summer, the majority head to the Arctic to breed.

There were 29 Avocets on Gt Marsh and five of them were sitting on eggs. They paid me no attention as I stood on the raised bank near the beach house. Once they have chicks they will be less tolerant of my presence and I’m likely to be mobbed. A quick scan around the rest of the marsh and I was pleased to see the Little Ringed Plovers again. They may attempt to breed and the habitat looks suitable, looking forward to checking on their progress.    

Reed Warblers photos by Ian Williamson and Brian Fairbrother

There were also single Bar-tailed Godwit and Black-tailed Godwit feeding on the marsh. The Bar-tailed Godwit was the only one I saw all day which is surprising given how many were around last week. Forty Whimbrel were still feeding in various fields around the reserve, hopefully yesterday’s rain will help them penetrate the ground!

As I got back to the car for a coffee three noisy Common Terns wheeled overhead. We’re hoping that they use the rafts which have been built for them on DL’O lagoon. A tape of their calls is playing on a loop. They bred successfully in 2019 but the lockdown meant that rafts weren’t put out in 2020.

On the way to the hides a Yellow Wagtail picked up from the flooded fields near the boardwalk. I followed it as it landed on V South and I managed some photos although the distance and the heat haze made them no more than record shots.

Yellow Wagtail

An obliging Willow Warbler was the first I’d heard for a while, they are hugely outnumbered by Chiffchaffs here. He was singing from just outside B Water hide. There were seven Reed Warblers, three Sedge Warblers, three Lesser Whitethroats and 15 Whitethroats singing around the reserve.

Willow Warbler

It was flat calm and a bit of sea-watching produced two Little Terns heading west, a patch tick for me. Twenty Sandwich Terns were also off shore plunge diving and amongst them five Common Terns were also feeding. Along the shingle spit a Turnstone was still hanging around and a Sanderling was a nice find on the beach.

Little Terns

On the way home a brief stop at the Reedy Ditch produced a mixed flock of twenty hirundines and an unexpected Green-winged Orchid in the middle of Warren Flash, I needed my scope to identity it!

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