The weekend started much the same as it did the previous week; an early start at Titchfield Haven for some bird ringing. We started well with numerous species and lots of individuals. Blackcap, Chiffchaff, Whitethroat, Blue tit, Great tit and warblers (Cetti’s, Willow, Garden & Sedge) were all coming into our nets in varying degrees of occurrence. The session was slightly behind last weeks saturday catch of 244 birds with a catch of 130, still not bad and worth getting up so early. Half way through the morning we got great views of a Marsh Harrier (which had a distinguishing feature; a missing primary feather) flying down the Meon River, stirring up the birds as it flew over. There were also hundreds of Swallows and Martins gathering in a large group gaining height in the sky, presumably ready to make the next hop on their migration south.
Bird of the morning was this stunning, but aggressive, Jay. Its powerful bill and claws were no match for bird ringers hands, frequently drawing blood.
After a brief coffee stop it was time to head for Farlington. Our plan was to set up our scopes on the lake a few hours before high tide, watch the birds come onto the marsh and allow people a chance to see these stunning birds in a bit more detail. Luckily everything seemed to be in our favour. The sun was shining and the marsh was busy with both birds and people. Only concentrating on what was in the lake area we managed 32 species. Highlights were stunning Grey plover and Black-tailed godwits in their breeding plumage, 9 Snipe, 5 Curlew Sandpipers, 2 Bearded Tits, Water rail and a Little stint. It was great to get to meet so many visitors that are enjoying the marsh and even reading these pages. Hopefully we might try to do something similar again on the next spring tide, particularly during the autumnal migration period.
Today I was off to Keyhaven for an event run in partnership with the Hampshire & IOW Wildlife trust, County Council countryside team and the New Forest National Park. Again we were blessed with sunny weather but slightly stronger winds. I helped Bob Chapman on the ‘bloke with a scope’ attraction (a chance for people to get closer views of birds with the aid of several scopes) over Normandy Marsh. The area was busy with both birds and interested people. Bob wasted no time and quickly rattled up an impressive bird list including 5 juvenile Little stint.
Other activities during the day included crafts, meeting moths, having a sit in a tractor and bird ringing demonstrations. A particular crowd pleaser was this female Kingfisher.