A very frosty start with thick ice on the car windscreen. From Warren Shore visible migration in small numbers included Siskin, Linnet, Goldfinch, Song Thrush, Skylark, Chaffinch and Meadow Pipits.
There were two Dartford Warblers in the Beach Gorse, both were elusive but I managed a photo of the first bird, the one nearer to Shore Hide.
As I approached Mary Monts Pools I glanced towards Pullen Hide and a ring-tail Hen Harrier appeared. I managed a brief photo as it headed purposefully over Gravelly towards Park Shore. Only the second Hen Harrier I’ve seen here.
Sea watching was quiet on a flat calm sea with a female Common Scoter being the only highlight.
On Great Marsh 10 feeding Redshank was an unusual sight and there were 2 Rock Pipits near the groynes on the Park Shore side of the beach house. A lovely pale Stonechat perched up nicely in the morning sun and showed that it was ringed. Graham could read enough of the ring to know that he ringed it on 25th September, interesting to know that it may have decided to winter here. This is a 1st winter female, the narrow pointed tail feathers are retained juvenile feathers and you can see that the greater coverts and tertials are fresh while the alula, primary coverts and primaries are older duller juvenile feathers.
A pair of Redpolls called as they headed over the Nightingale Enclosure. Back at Shore Hide I noticed Dad’s car and so I headed over to the hides to hopefully meet him. On the way I popped into Black Water hide where three Pochard were newly arrived, the number of Shoveler had increased to 85 and the female Scaup was still present.
I met Dad at De L’Orne. There were still six Greenshank on the scrape. A Spotted Redshank on the Lagoon had gone unnoticed until it called in alarm as a Marsh Harrier drifted over. It flew over to join the Greenshank near the Roosting Stones. The Greenshank looks like a 1st winter bird showing worn and plain coverts with a brown basic colouration and with a single adult-type grey greater covert.
It was high tide and there were good numbers of other waders on the scrape including 220 Dunlin, 108 Ringed Plover, five Black-tailed Godwit, six Avocet and a Grey Plover. From the hide I watched a male Red-breasted Merganser fly up the Beaulieu River.
An adult Redshank fed on the saltmarsh opposite the sluice gate. 1st winter birds would show buff-fringed scalloped coverts and notched dog tooth tertials. This adult has whitish edged coverts, pain tertials and bright red legs.
We headed over to the Sailing Club where the number of Brent Geese had grown. I counted 330 but many more were probably hidden from view. Of the 40 or so that were close enough to age easily there were only two juvenile birds, not a great return. The juvenile birds will keep these white-edged covert feathers until they moult in the spring.
Almost all the wildfowl on the river suddenly flew up noisily and we soon found one of the White-tailed Eagles perched on a bare tree at the bottom of Exbury Fields.
Three pipits called confidently and in flight they looked larger and less hesitant than the familiar Meadow Pipits. I checked the three Rock Pipits and one was slightly different and probably a Scandinavian Rock Pipit sub species littoralis. The white outer tails feathers exclude petrosus race Rock Pipit.
Nine Snipe flushed up from the shoreline along the River Outflow Channel.
I headed over to Park Shore and walked the beach to the Beach House. I was hoping for a Short-eared Owl but I was pleased to see a male Merlin dashing away from me very low over the fields. The Great White Egret appeared briefly in the distance and dropped down in the fields near the Reedy Ditch. One of the White-tailed Eagle appeared in the same direction.
It was now low tide and several Grey Plover and a Knot were feeding on the stony beach.
On the way back to the car I had site high counts of 22 Collared Dove and 31 Egyptian Geese.
The cattle had been moved to the very last field at the top of Park Lane and the six Cattle Egrets had moved with them. Graham has suggested that they may winter here as although the dairy herd will soon be going indoors for the winter 80 heifers are going to continue to graze the fields.