Friday, 6 May 2016

Pennington Marsh - 30th April and 2nd May

May Bank Holiday weekend and not much planned, apart from a family event on Sunday so Saturday and Monday were free, fantastic! Sarah needed some home time so I used the mornings of Saturday and Monday for some birding although I was aware that I needed to not push my luck and stay out too long!

Saturday morning (30th April) dawned early at I was up for 05:00, I need my breakfast and at least two coffee before I am ready to leave the house! A Cuckoo called outside and was a garden tick - nice start. I was down to Pennington Marshes for 06:30 and another Cuckoo called near to the carpark.  The winds were north-west and so I was not hoping for too much but it is always great to be out birding especially on a sunny mid-spring morning. I started by birding Efford Lagoon, the water levels here have started to recede exposing a little shoreline and now attracting a few waders, I had 35 Dunlin, two Little Ringed Plover and four Common Sandpiper here plus my first Whitethroat, five in total, of the year and a singing Dartford Warbler. A fly over Yellow Wagtail was my first of the year.

Common Sandpiper - Efford Lagoon

Chaffinch - Efford Lagoon

I then wandered out past Shoveler Pools and to the sea beside the jetty, it was evident that many of the breeding Whitethroat (15), Reed Warbler (12) and Sedge Warbler (6) were now on territory. Two Spoonbill, now a familiar site here, were on Jetty Lagoon and a single male Common Scoter was offshore. 

Linnet - Butts Lagoon

Black-tailed Godwit - Fishtail Lagoon

I spent a little time at Fishtail Lagoon, Keyhaven Lagoon and Keyhaven Quay and it was evident that there were good numbers of Dunlin around with approximately 350 birds present. Scanning through the flock at Keyhaven Quay I found a near summer plumage Curlew Sandpiper which I spent some time watching but it was too distant for photographs. At Fishtail there was a fine summer plumage Spotted Redshank, again a little too distant for decent shots, and five Swift appeared low over the lagoon. There were approximately 12 Whimbrel around the area, some feeding in the salt marsh while others were flying overhead giving their distinct bubbling often heard at the marshes in the spring. A single Common Sandpiper plus two Greenshank were also on Fishtail Lagoon. On the salt marsh there were still 15 Dark-bellied Brent and amongst them two Pale-bellied Brent. A fishing Common Tern was joined by two Little Tern on Fishtail, my first of the year.

Turnstone - Fishtail

Spotted Redshank, summer plumage bird - Fishtail Lagoon

Shelduck and nesting Lapwing - Keyhaven Lagoon

Shelduck - Keyhaven Lagoon

Common Tern - Keyhaven Lagoon

Whimbrel - Keyhaven Quay

I walked back along the Ancient Highway seeing a few more Reed Warbler and Sedge Warbler, 10 Swift. My total number of Lesser Whitethroat for the morning crept to five after. Finally, there were two Little Ringed Plover,  a female Wigeon and a male Shoveler on Pennington Marsh.

Monday the 2nd May dawned a classic Bank Holiday Monday, overcast, heavy rain and a cold north-west wind. Still, I was up early and decided to head down to Pennington Marsh. It was miserable and so I birded with just scope and bins and birded there Ancient Highway and back past Keyhaven Lagoon, Fishtail Lagoon and Shoveller Pools. It was pretty slow going, a few straggling Wigeon, a female Pintail, 15 Whimbrel, 6 Bar-tailed Godwit, 300 Dunlin, six Dark-bellied Brent Goose, eight Sandwich Tern, four Little Tern, eight Swift, a female Marsh Harrier, six Willow Warbler, and a briefly singing Grasshopper Warbler were the highlights. But, perhaps the oddity of the day was a group of five Black Swan which I first saw distantly off Iley Point and then later flew overhead and landed on Butts Lagoon - a very odd sight with their black bodies with white flight feathers and rakish heads and necks. I headed home early to gain some birding brownie points for another day.