Its been a busy week down Farlington this week. Lots of Bearded Tits, a Marsh Harrier, Kingfisher, Barn Owl, tons of Curlew, Brent Geese and Shelduck and still a Short Eared Owl or two. There was a leucistic duck by the building Tuesday which I think was a Gadwall, despite being positioned next to a Pintail.
Today was particularly gloomy but there were 500+ Dunlin feeding on the mudflats west of the marsh with a few Black Tailed Godwits and Redshank mixed in. There was also one solitary Avocet roosting on the lake. I haven’t seen any Avocet around for a little while, despite the high numbers earlier in the year.
Spring really descended on Thursday. We were working in tshirts at Swanwick Lakes, basking in the warmth on the edge of the lakes. Whilst we were sat at lunch we had a Brimstone, Peacock, Comma and a Red Admiral pass by! These are the first butterflies that I have seen this year.
I think Saturday will be the better day this weekend and so will be a good opportunity to see the last of the waders and wildfowl. The numbers have certainly dropped significantly in the last couple of weeks and it will be sensible to keep an eye out for the first of the summer migrants. Reports of Wheatears and House/Sand Martins have been arriving across the country for a week or so now!
I was at Farlington for a couple of hours yesterday and a very fine day it was too, warm and sunny. We went north of the road to check a few things and saw a male brimstone butterfly, my first for over a month.
After checking the sluices that gave us so much trouble last month we headed back to the Building where several bearded tit were calling in the reedbed and a marsh harrier was very briefly seen before dropping down behind the reeds.
Looking down at the Stream I counted at least 32 moorhen from the Building, with slightly more to the north than the south, there must be well over fifty on the reserve as a whole. Otherwise the birds were the usual suspects, lots of brent geese, although no sign of the black brant that we could see and the best was a water pipit that flew off calling from the top of North Marsh as we walked by.
As we prepared to leave there was a particularly fine sun dog in the sky to the south-west.
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.