I met Adam for a coffee and a catch up and then headed on to the reserve. It was very windy and there was definitely less bird life as a result.
The six Shelduck ducklings were on De L’Orne flood and I later saw them on Venner. A group of nervous Greylags took flight before I’d got anywhere near them and then circled around much closer.
From the De L’Orne screen I saw the Avocet family party again, the group of five I had seen on the 17th July also on De L’Orne scrape. Graham said that they were seen at Titchfield a week later on the 24th July but they have obviously made the return journey again. There were also six adult Greenshank feeding on the scrape.
A quick stop in Black Water hide produced a now much larger group of 53 Teal many newly arrived, the males and females still looking very similar.
On Venner it was good to see the seven Tufted Duck ducklings and the seven Pochard ducklings from two broods. A smart Hobby perched on one of the fence posts at the back of Wigeon Fields and a female type Marsh Harrier drifted over. A young Heron perched in a very photogenic way while a busy group of 15 Sand Martins, 5 House Martins and a single Swallow fed low over the water.
Great Marsh was very quiet with only a single Black-headed Gull and a Curlew. Over on Mary Monts Pools two newly arrived Snipe, my first of the autumn, were hunkered down on the wet grassy margins. Snipe breed in northern uplands and a few in the south west and in the winter birds from northern Europe join resident birds.
Offshore there was little movement other than Common Terns heading west including my first juvenile of the year. A distant Gannet also hugged the Isle of Wight coastline.
From the Sailing Club the Ringed Plover family showed nicely with the second juvenile just off picture. The Common Sandpiper was still feeding near the Sluice gate but flushed as we approached with stiff wings never above the horizontal.
I spent a bit of time looking for grasshoppers and bush-crickets in the damp grassy area near the weather station. There were plenty of Mottled Grasshoppers and Field Grasshoppers on the shorter grass and bare areas, lots of Lesser Marsh Grasshoppers and a conehead species in the longer wetter grass. The short wings of the conehead suggest that this is a Short-winged Conehead but the straight ovipositor confirms that this is a young female Long-winged Conehead with wings not yet fully developed.
I was also pleased to find a Roesel’s bush-cricket. These chunky insects have much reduced wings and escape by clambering out of sight rather than springing two yards away like the grasshoppers. Until the early 20th century Roesel’s bush-cricket was only found on the south-east coast but recent years have seen a rapid expansion right across the south.