Lunchtime Chiff & Other Niceties (Thursday Notes)

Yesterday the Beechcroft team joined us down at Farlington and we managed to finish off the fencing near the cycletrack entrance. It took us the best part of a morning to make it look proper smart so we rewarded ourselves with a sunny lunch-break sitting outside the reserve hut with the March solar rays beating down. It was really rather pleasant and to make it even better a Chiffchaff came and joined us, bellowing out its song from a Hawthorn behind the hut. It wasn’t bothered by us at all and we managed to get great views of it.



With sandwiches consumed and a good amount of sunshine absorbed, we spent the afternoon going around the reserve ticking off a selection of odd jobs. After we had finished up and packed the tools away I stayed on and went for a walk around the seawall talking with visitors and seeing if we had any new feathered arrivals on the reserve.

I was hopeful for a Wheatear, Sandwich tern or a Sandpiper but alas my luck wasn’t in. There were plenty of other niceties though. A lone Bearded tit (what looked most probably like a female) skimmed along the reedbed pinging as it went. The usual fine selection of waterfowl (Shoveler, Shelduck, Wigeon, Teal and Pintail) were still on the deeps area. Although it certainly looked like there were now fewer Wigeon on the reserve. The Brent were still present all over the reserve but in distinct tight groups, no doubt waiting for the ‘leader’ to say “right lets go!”. Lapwing are now throwing themselves around the skies busy setting up territories and showing off.

Distant Lapwing

Distant Lapwing

Looking out from the point a Seal was hauled out on the mudflats to the South. Unfortunately the Short-eared owl (last seen on the 13th) did not make an appearance in its usual area of the point field, so I carried on walking making sure I paid special attention to the Willow Pool, keeping an eye out for Wheatears. Try as I might I couldn’t make any tufts of grass on top of anthills into Wheatears so I continued on around the seawall. On the Lake was a Greenshank and a Spotted redshank with a selection of Black-tailed godwits (in the begins of their summer plumage). Also to the right in the reed stubble area were 7 Snipe. 

Black-tailed godwit showing off its part summer plumage

Black-tailed godwit showing off its part summer plumage

Greenshank & Redshank on the lake

Greenshank & Spotted redshank on the lake (blurry digiscope)

Spotted Redshank

Spotted Redshank – Caught a slightly better image with my camera after it moved onto the stream.

Before returning to where I had begun a single Avocet was busy feeding on the stream as the gulls began to come into roost.


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 (

Weasel – ©Justin Kercher (

Another Trip to Distant Shores

Slightly different weather conditions to last time

Slightly different weather conditions to last time

Yesterday the mainland South Hants reserves teams went over to the Isle of Wight to help Jamie, IOW reserves officer, with a large tree felling job. Apart from the horrendous traffic getting to the ferry, the day started well & we were treated to blue skies which allowed for a little seabird watching on the Solent crossing.

Chawton Field - looking north towards Cowes along the Medina river.

Chawton Field – looking north towards Cowes along the Medina river.

Chawton field is one of the newest pieces of land to come under management from the island HWT team. It sits next to the Medina River, just south of Cowes. The estuarine environment is rich in wildlife but under an ever increasing amount of urban squeeze. The task for the day was to remove a line of planted Willow, Oak and Ash to make the pasture behind more attractive to roosting waterfowl at high tide – a much needed sanctuary from the human impacts in the surrounding area.

In between the heavy showers (not that you would know it from the blue sky photos) and chainsaw time we sat down for some lunch looking over the estuary. In that short amount of time amongst the usual Brent geese, Shell duck and Oystercatcher we saw 2 kingfisher, a Little grebe and a Red-breasted merganser.

Lunchtime view - not a bad place for a picnic

Lunchtime view – not a bad place for a picnic

In other bird news, at Farlington, there have been 58 Avocet  reported (11th Jan) to the west around the main channel by the bridge of Eastern Road. Two Spoonbill (reported present from 9th – 13th Jan). They have been fairly mobile around Farlington & Langstone harbour but mainly reported as on the scrape behind the reedbed. And also a Dartford warbler has turned up, reported in the same area as before Christmas (on the seawall near the entrance to the bushes footpath, half way between the lake viewpoint and the car park).

Heres hoping the Greater Yellowlegs which have now disappeared from Titchfield turn up at Farlington….