Trip reports

Normandy and Oxey Marshes

Normandy and Oxey Marshes
Chris Robinson

Thursday, 14 December 2017

Despite the weather forecast giving a less than 5% chance of rain, a heavy shower passed through the New Forest at 9.30 am, when many of us were on our way to Lymington. Thankfully, the rain eased to a light drizzle by the time we arrived and them stayed dry for the rest of the walk. Maiden Lane sometimes provides good birds while waiting for the rest of the group to arrive, but just a lively flock of blue and great tits went through this morning. 15 people finally set off for Normandy Marsh, and were soon rewarded by the first of several sightings of a kingfisher as it flew across Salterns boating lake. The tide was high so there was no mud for waders in the channel, but little egret, pied wagtail, meadow pipit and redshank were on the shoreline. The kingfisher shot past us as we approached Normandy lagoon. Dunlin were dabbling amongst the teal in a pool, while shoveler, pintail and lapwing were on the grassy bank. On the water were tufted duck, female goldeneye, red-breasted merganser, cormorant and little grebe. A female kingfisher, probably the same one, perched on a fence-post at the side of the lagoon long enough to provide good telescope views for everyone.

As we walked to the corner of the sea-wall, two kingfishers flew off across the inlet towards Salterns Lake, one obvious chasing the other, possibly a territorial dispute. A splendid male goldeneye was spotted towards Oxey Marsh, but he made it difficult to get everyone telescopic views as he repeated dived. A very distant peregrine was spotted on the far side of the island but as we watched it took to the wing and was mobbed by a couple of smaller birds. A group of about ten avocets were feeding at the shore side of the lagoon and a greenshank was identified. Scanning the sea produced a seal, but no birds, other than mergansers.

As it was getting chilly in the strong south-westerly breeze, we walked briskly back past the Salterns lake towards Oxey Marsh. A kestrel was hovering in the direction of Hurst Point and a large flock of lapwing had taken to the wing. Above the lapwing was a flock of about 100 golden plover. A number of linnets flew a head of us around Oxey Marsh and a group of spotted redshank were found towards the southerly end of the marsh. A small wader alongside two roosting spotted redshank proved difficult to identify, but as it flew off it showed a distinct white rump indicating curlew sandpiper. Still nothing was showing on the sea.

We headed inland around Oxey Marsh where we followed a flock of linnets. A solitary stonechat sat up on some brambles. Along the path between the fields we had a large flock of mixed Canada and Brent geese with a lone grey heron on our left, while on our right the Brent geese were accompanied by black-tailed godwits and curlews. All the birds took to the wing as a raptor flew through, possibly a peregrine, but only poor views were had. The walk back to the cars provided good views of song thrush and long-tailed tits and a goldcrest was seen by some.

12 of us then retired to the Chequers for lunch and liquid refreshment, satisfied with the 56 species seen that morning.

Species list:
Mute Swan, Canada Goose, Brent Goose, Shelduck, Wigeon, Teal, Mallard, Pintail, Shoveler, Tufted Duck, Goldeneye, Red-breasted Merganser, Cormorant, Little Egret, Grey Heron, Little Grebe, Kestrel, Peregrine Falcon, Moorhen, Coot, Oystercatcher, Avocet, Golden Plover, Lapwing, Dunlin, Curlew Sandpiper, Black-tailed Godwit, Curlew, Spotted Redshank, Greenshank, Redshank, Turnstone, Black-headed Gull, Herring Gull, Great Black-backed Gull, Wood Pigeon, Kingfisher, Magpie, Carrion Crow, Goldcrest, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Long-tailed Tit, Wren, Starling, Blackbird, Song Thrush, Robin, Stonechat, Dunnock, House Sparrow, Pied Wagtail, Meadow Pipit, Chaffinch, Goldfinch, Linnet