Taking it Weaselly

Sparsholt visit

Identifying ducks on The Deeps

Today I showed Sparsholt college around Farlington. Unlike their previous visits, today they managed to pick an absolutely stunning day to walk around the reserve, learn about nature reserve management and get to grips with bird identification. (They usually end up coming to Farlington on the most foul of days – wind howling and rain coming in horizontally).

Bearded tit in the reed bed of The Lake

Bearded tit in the reed bed of The Lake

After leaving the minibuses at the car park we headed straight for the lake. Straight away Reed bunting were calling in the lake reedbed, followed by the familiar pinging of  Bearded tit. As the weather was so still both species were busy feeding on the seed heads – first we spotted 2 Reed buntings followed by  13 Beardies.

The seawall was busy with lots of other visitors, enjoying the great conditions. Even though it was low tide there were still plenty of birds both close to the seawall in the harbour and in the reserve on the marsh. The conditions were so good infact that a Skylark gave a little sonnet from the sky and a Lapwing practiced it’s springtime display in the sunshine.


Dunlin feeding on the low tide mud.

Out on the mud looking east towards Portsmouth were 37 Avocet on the main (Broom) channel, while good collections of waders (Dunlin, Redshank, Grey plover, Ringed plover and a couple of Turnstone) were all busy probing the thick mud.

One of the 37 - Avocet

One of the 37 – Avocet

Other birds of note on our way around the reserve were; a lightly coloured Short-eared Owl sat on an anthill out near the deeps, a single Raven flying over the reserve, calling as it headed east towards Hayling Island, 19 Shoveler on the deeps and a single female Goldcrest which was busy feeding in the bramble on the eastern seawall.

In the last two weeks there have also been three sightings of weasels on the reserve. All spotters have been lucky enough to get photos so I shall end this post with one of them.

Weasel - ©Justin Kercher (https://www.facebook.com/photographyprints/)

Weasel – ©Justin Kercher (https://www.facebook.com/photographyprints/)


2 thoughts on “Taking it Weaselly

  1. I was at Farlington yesterday morning and the sight of all those beardies was one of the most spectacular birding moments I’ve had! But I was also rather disturbed to see 2 chaps with camera equipment wandering round and round the field at the point, seemingly trying to flush out an SEO. I chatted with another gentleman who said there have been folk with cameras doing this quite a bit recently. Now I love a good photo as much as anyone, but surely the point of wildlife photography is not to disturb the subject of the photo, especially in such cold conditions when energy for any bird is at a premium. I may be wrong about their motivation, but it certainly got me thinking about the ethics of how we enjoy wildlife. I would have asked them if I’d caught up with them, but I was rather distracted by the sight of a SEO to the north of the reserve as the cameramen in question walked off in ignorance.

  2. Hi Kate, thanks for your comments. I see from the Goingbirding sightings web page that there was around 30 beardies spotted later in the day – it was certainly the right weather for them (sunny and calm).

    As for the Short-eared owl (SEO) photographers – I’m sorry to hear this is happening. This is not activity I condone for the reasons you state, particularly as food will be at a premium in this cold weather. I have not seen people stalking around the point field myself but if I did I would stress to sticking to the paths rather than flushing all the wildlife. If this continues to be a problem I will unfortunately have to lock the gates going down into the point field until the Owls have left. This in turn may allow the SEO’s to hunt the long grass of the point field undisturbed and allow for better views off the seawall. Thanks for your report on this matter.


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