The wintering female Scaup was last seen on the 1st completing a 14 week stay on Black Water. At the turn of the month she was accompanied by building numbers of Tufted Duck which peaked at 32 on the 7th. Good numbers of Mistle Thrush also moved through the reserve on the 7th.
The Avon Valley colour-ringed Redshank was seen again early in the month on Sluice Gate Saltmarsh.
Later that afternoon a Common Seal was resting on the river bank south of the Yacht Club. They are well known for hauling up on beaches and sandbanks in tidal estuaries but despite their name they aren’t as common or widespread as the more familiar Grey Seal.
Two Slavonian Grebes remained throughout the month, down from five in January, perhaps some have moved on already, last year they had all gone by mid-March.
The wintering Spotted Redshank was elusive. I saw it well at De L’Orne on the 10th and then heard it again on the 12th.
The flock of 120 Golden Plover on De L’Orne Scrape on the 12th was the highest count at Needs Ore for five years. There were still at least 80 around at the end of the month.
The sea was quiet throughout the month in Hampshire and it was the same here. Highlights were a Common Scoter and a Great Northern Diver both heading west on the 12th and 11 Eider also heading west on the 17th. A nice surprise was watching a Great White Egret pay a brief visit to De L’Orne on the 12th
I didn’t walk the spit during February but managed to see the Purple Sandpiper distantly in the high tide roost opposite the cottages on the 17th, also on the 17th a Chiffchaff was calling in the hedge near Rye Errish Copse on Park Lane.
An unexpected Sandwich Tern was off the Sailing Club on the 27th. There have been a handful wintering in the county this year but none were seen here until now.
There were noticeably fewer Teal on the reserve by the month end suggesting that some are already heading back to Scandinavia and northern Europe. The WeBS count found only 146 compared to 631 in January and 926 in December.
Several queen Buff-tailed Bumblebees and Red Admirals were seen towards the end of the month by which time birds were establishing territories and plenty were singing. Meadow Pipits in their parachuting display and Skylarks rising into their song flight. Around the water bodies Little Grebe were singing.
Birds present throughout the month included the adult Spoonbills with the peak of 17 on the 17th.
A three year old male Marsh Harrier was seen regularly throughout the month and may be old enough to breed this summer. There was breeding activity around Black Water last year but this may have been younger birds practicing. They did breed locally (east of Lepe) and several juvenile birds visited us in the late summer.
The two Cattle Egrets were still present at Park Farm throughout February.
Returning Avocet numbers rose steadily to 21 by the month end. They included two colour-ringed birds – AX a four year old ringed at Great Marsh in 2018 who appeared to spend the summer at Titchfield Haven last year, it will be interesting to see if it stays longer this year. Also VI a three year old ringed at Great Marsh in June 2019. It wasn’t old enough to have bred last year but it may well this year. All the Avocets were on De L’Orne Scrape or the river, they don’t tend to visit Great Marsh regularly until April.
Notable absentees include Dartford Warbler not seen or heard since 19th January and still no sign of either adult Peregrine at the Point. It’s been nearly three months since I saw either of them although an adult at Park Shore on the 12th may have been one of our birds.