I spent Saturday at Farlington Marshes, a day that started cloudy and wet, but quickly cleared to sunshine with a stiff and cold wind. The reserve was fairly busy with a steady stream of admirers coming to see the red-breasted goose which now seems to be regularly feeding with a flock fo a few hundred brent geese in the fields near the eastern seawall. Given that the southern and western wall path is closed for repair work this is a most fortunate choice on the part of the goose.
I checked the cattle and then thought I would go and pay a visit to the goose. I walked right down to the Point Field where I just missed a short-eared owl, but saw 3 lesser redpoll in the thorn bushes. You might not think this especially remarkable, but lesser redpoll used to be very scarce fly over birds here until very recently and grounded birds were extremely rare. What was more I later saw at least two more in the willows near the spring to the north of the A27. Clearly the status of this fine little fine has changed since I was last working at Farlington some six and a half years ago.This is not a long time but there have been a number of other changes as well. Ravens are now regular, albeit usually the same pair, until last month I had never seen one at Farlington and buzzards used to be scarce and then almost always flying north of the road, now they are regular on the Marsh.
Looking from the Point I saw a common seal, another sight that has increased in frequency in the last few years. The tide was rising and the remaining mudflats of Russell’s Lake had several thousand dunlin feeding on them, getting in last chance to feed before the water covered their food for five or so hours. We have all heard about sea-level rise and it seems clear that many of our mudflats and salt marshes along the Solent will disappear over the next few decades. But long before the habitat is lost it may be come unable to support many waders simply because it is not uncovered for long enough for the to feed between each high tide. Along with the dunlin there were a scatter of grey plover, ringed plover, redshank, curlew and a single knot.
Heading back up the seawall I stopped to try to take a few pictures of the red-breasted goose in the brent flock, but as I got ready I saw a brimstone butterfly flying across the mudflat and over the wall before landing just beside me in the grass. The sun was out but it was far from warm and I suspect this will be my last brimstone of the year.
I got pictures of the butterfly and the geese but, once again, they will not load so will have to wait for another time.