Wednesday, 23 September 2015

Pennington and Keyhaven Marshes - 19th September

On a beautiful sunny September morning a spent a long morning birding at Keyhaven and Pennington Marshes. The tide was low so many of the waders were way out on the mud flats so I spent most of my time birding the scrub and bushes hoping for a Wryneck or Barred Warbler - it was not to be. Still, the birding was very pleasant and there were good numbers of Chiffchaff (15), Blackcap (8), Wheatear (12)  and Meadow Pipit (c.75). Overhead there were still around 350 House Martin and a small number of Swallow and Sand Martin while three Redpoll flying west were my first autumn passage birds. A an immature Hobby harangued the hirundines before crossing the Solent to the Isle of Wight. Numbers of Whitethroat and Acros' had dramatically reduced since my last visit to the site on 5th September with only four Whitethroat and a single Sedge Warbler. While I only recorded four Yellow Wagtail, one of which gave a rather raspy eastern type call but failed to land.

Chiffchaff in the early morning sunshine

Wheatear - many of the birds seen this morning were feeding on the revetment

Wildfowl numbers were up on my last visit with 175 Teal, 85 Wigeon, 12 Shoveler and four Pintail, the latter two species my first of the latter part of 2015. Waders were in fairly short supply with 15 Grey Plover, 125 Black-tailed Godwit, four Spotted Redshank, two Greenshank and small numbers of the other commoner species.


Meadow Pipit - A nice fresh juvenile bird

Whitethroat - Smaller numbers still lingering on but quite a decline on last visits numbers

Hirundines seemed to be in bathing mood this morning with hundreds dunking themselves 
into the lagoons

Black-tailed Godwit - Two juvenile birds

Greenshank - Juvenile against the purple hues of autumn coloured Glasswort 
and Spear-leaved Orache

Grey Plover - A moulting adult

Turnstone - Still in, a slightly ragged, summer plumage


Tuesday, 8 September 2015

Pennington Marsh - 5th September

With the recent cool nights it definitely felt like autumn was with us and I had a longing to get back to  Pennington Marsh after a long period with no visits and virtually no birding since my return from India. It was a grey and murky morning with drizzle and a light northerly wind and all the pictures from today reflect the greyness of the light. I walked a nice long loop of the site taking in the Shoveler Pools (now with water), Butts Lagoon, Fishtail Lagoon, the Old Tip, Keyhaven Lagoon, Iley Point and back along the Ancient Highway.

Autumn was definitely in the air and there were good numbers of Reed Warbler (c.25), Sedge Warbler (c.30) and Whitethroat (c.15) with a scattering of Chiffchaff (10) and Blackcap (5) but no Willow Warbler which, to me at least, appear to have been very thin on the ground this year. Most of the warblers that I saw appeared to be juvenile with only a handful of more worn looking adults seen.

Reed Warbler

Sedge Warbler

Sedge Warbler



There were good numbers of pipit and wagtail grounded with around 60 Meadow Pipit, most of which seemed to be rather scruffy looking adults with none of the classic pristine autumn first winters seen. I had two Tree Pipit on the Ancient Highway and there were around 25 Yellow Wagtail around the Butts Lagoon and Old Tip area plus a handful moving over. A single Whinchat was on the Ancient Highway.

Scruffy looking adult Meadow Pipit with its middle tertials missing

Yellow Wagtail - I find these pretty difficult to age and identify to subspecies. 
I think this is an adult summer flavissima

Yellow Wagtail - Same individual as above

Yellow Wagtail - I think this is a first winter flavissima

Waders were in short supply despite the ideal tidal conditions (almost high and then falling). There were a couple of Snipe on the lagoons, 40 Black-tailed Godwit, 10 Grey Plover, a handful of Dunlin and a couple of Greenshank. The water levels within the lagoons is very high after heavy rains and not at all conducive to attracting waders. Similarly, wildfowl numbers were fairly low with 10 Wigeon and 20 Teal the only species of note.

Out in the Solent tern numbers consisted of 20 Common Tern and five Sandwich Tern and five Eider but little else of note.


Little Egret

Stock Dove - An unusually confiding bird at Butts Lagoon

The hirundines were struggling today, clearly the conditions were poor for foraging with a flock of around 250 birds grounded on bushes around the Old Tip affording good views. Many of the birds appeared to be immature with small numbers of adult birds. House Martin were the most abundant but there were good numbers of Swallow and Sand Martin while two late Swift were present early on, these gave occasional screams, no doubt the last time I will here this in 2015.

Hirundines on Elder

House Martin

House Martin looking a little out of placing clinging to the Dog-rose

House Martin - Notice the large flat-fly on the mantle of this bird

House Martin

And here is the set - House Martin, Sand Martin and Swallow