Sunday 16th May 2021

Our Peregrine monitoring was from 8am -11am and the forecast was for thundery showers. I arrived at around 6:30am so that I could check Gt and Gv Marsh first. The female Little Ringed Plover was safely on the nest and the water levels for the Avocets looked good although no chicks yet.

Little Ringed Plover

A new colour-ringed Avocet (Green/Blue-Lime/Black) has appeared. He is a 7 year old male ringed as a chick at NO in July 2014. Over the next few years he moved between Titchfield Haven, NO and Poole Harbour before first being recorded breeding at Normandy Marsh, Lymington in 2019 and 2020. He spent the subsequent winters there before preparing to breed again this year. In mid-April, however, a predator or human disturbance caused several pairs of Avocet to abandon the site. Green/Blue-Lime/Black tried Pennington Marshes first but then returned to NO. There is still time for him to breed here and I’ll keep an eye on how he gets on.

Avocet, a seven year old male recently displaced from Normandy Marshes

There was an encouraging seven Lapwing chicks on Gv Marsh with at least three looking old enough to look after themselves. Lapwing have a very poor productivity rate and even getting seven chicks away from the 23 pairs on the reserve would be an OK return.

Lapwing chicks

Shortly before meeting up with Ian I relocated the 1st summer Little Gull on Gt Marsh. Soon afterwards we had to shelter under trees in one of the most violent bursts of rain and hail I can remember. Having got so wet we retreated to the cars for a coffee and a dry out. We then headed off for our Peregrine monitoring.

The male Peregrine spent the first two hours sitting on the black barrel in sporadic heavy rain looking a bit miserable, the highlight being when the adults switched over on the nest and we saw the female for the first time. We did a bit of sea-watching while we watched the Peregrines and the first highlight on the sea was a Razorbill heading east.

At just before 10am Dimitri excitedly called out an unfamiliar seabird heading east and we quickly got onto it. A pale phase skua and on first glance very powerful looking with a heavy breast enhanced by a prominently marked breast band. It seemed larger and less maneuverable compared to the bouncy Kittiwake flight of the Arctic Skua. We were therefore surprised to see that it didn’t have the characteristic spoons of a spring adult Pomarine. It chased after a Common Tern and truly dwarfed it, I would say it was close to Herring Gull in size. No doubt a Pomarine Skua but with the spoons lost or being moulted out.

After the Peregrine monitoring we headed back to MMs for some extra sea-watching. The same Little Gull, or another, flew out to sea over our heads to join the feeding gull and tern flock. We then picked out a Little Tern amongst the Common Terns and Sandwich Terns.

A quick walk around the hides and Dimitri found the White-tailed Eagles perched on the fence at the back of Wigeon Fields.  

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