Wednesday 14th July 2021

It’s been a good year on Venner for ducks some of whom are not common breeders in Hampshire. A second Pochard pair have at least 2 small chicks and the original female now has five almost fully grown ducklings. The lovely blackish Tufted Duck ducklings, seven of them, were following the female everywhere. There were 39 Gadwall resting on Venner with at least 17 off spring ranging from small chicks to almost fully grown ducklings. There were 60 and 44 broods of Tufted Duck and Gadwall reported across the whole of Hampshire in 2019, around 20 broods of Shelduck and Pochard was only confirmed as having bred at three sites.

Pochard and five almost fully grown ducklings

There has been an influx of Teal since Sunday with seven on Venner and 16 on Black Water. 13 Curlew and nine Black-tailed Godwit, previously out of view, flew up from behind the island and over my head towards Black Water. The Egyptian Geese were walking their eight youngsters to the water’s edge from Wigeon Fields and the eight Shelduck chicks were still on De L’Orne flood.  

juvenile Egyptian Goose

Little Grebe haven’t bred at Needs Ore for a few years and so I was glad to see a juvenile on Black Water, he showed remnants of some head stripes and a reddish patch. I was at the De L’Orne screen and very distant, hence the poor quality record shot. An adult was also on Black Water but keeping an eye out from a distance.

juvenile Little Grebe

A juvenile Great Spotted Woodpecker flew over Venner Island as I was leaving.

juvenile Great Spotted Woodpecker

On my way back from the hides I reached the boardwalk and checked an egret which was in the trees on Venner. I’ve done this hundreds of times before but this time it was a stunning breeding plumage Cattle Egret with an orange bill and orange patches on the head and chest. I headed back to the screen at Venner and enjoyed some closer views. A patch tick. Soon afterwards the equally stunning summer plumaged Black-necked Grebe appeared from behind the Island.

Cattle Egret

The gorse was popping in the heat and there were plenty of butterflies on the wing with lots of Gatekeepers, Meadow Browns, Small and Large Whites, a handful of Marbled Whites and several Small Heaths. There were three or four Purple Hairstreaks drifting across Warren Lane as I had a drink back at the car. A Comma pausing on brambles near the Pullen Hide was new for the patch. 

Gatekeeper

Dragonflies were also evident with plenty of Common Darters and Black-tailed Skimmers, a lovely male Ruddy Darter near Pullen Hide and a female Migrant Hawker alongside the flight pond at Great Marsh.

I headed on to Gravelly Marsh and it was obvious that the Black-headed Gulls, who had left the rafts at De L’Orne, had now relocated to Great Marsh, the noise levels had certainly gone up a few notches.

New migrant waders included an adult Dunlin and two adult Greenshank. The juvenile Redshank had been walked over from Gravelly Marsh and so too had a young Lapwing. I flushed a wader from the short causeway at the eastern end of the flight pond. It looked like a ringed plover species and the ‘teeuu’ call and lack of wing bar confirmed it as Little Ringed Plover. A little later I found one of the two juvenile birds on the same island as the Dunlin. The juvenile birds are pretty independent now and I couldn’t find the second bird.

Little Ringed Plover

The first returning Turnstones, seven of them, rested below the new groynes at Park Shore.

As I walked back from Great Marsh nine Swallows flew overhead and they included seven juvenile birds with their shorter tail streamers.

A Field Grasshopper showed nicely near the Pullen Hide. Not an adult yet as you can see from the very short wing buds but the markedly indented pronotum and hairy underside are diagnostic.

Field Grasshopper

A lovely juvenile Stonechat flicked up to the top of a gorse bush in front of me in the beach scrub south of Pullen Hide, a Hobby dashed over the cottage pines and a female type Marsh Harrier drifted towards me from Black Water.

It was approaching high tide and the Oystercatchers were gathering together on Inchmery, there were at least 75 in view from where I sat at the Warden’s Hut. At least one of the juveniles was still present in amongst Sea Lavender near the sluice gate.

Flowers I’d noticed for the first time included the frothy vanilla flowers of Meadowsweet mainly along the track just after the entrance gate and the strangely named Sneezewort over on Great Marsh.

Meadowsweet

During the afternoon I saw the Cattle Egret in flight three more times, once heading west over Great Marsh, then over Pullen Hide and finally returning back towards and then landing in the trees on Venner, back where it started.

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