Trip reports

Coach trip to Titchfield Haven NNR

Snipe perched on fence post

Thursday, 6 November 2014

Saturday 25 October 2014

Weather - it was bright, dry and quite warm for October with a light south-westerly breeze.

With Len at the wheel of our coach we don't often stray off our intended route but on this morning we did, just a short way, but Len soon had us back on track and we only lost about five minutes of what turned out to be an excellent day in Hampshire. As we descended the steps of the coach, in the sailing club car park, the Solent was alive with craft of all sizes as nautical types took advantage of the fine weather. Our group headed into the Reserve Visitor Centre to get our stickers and check the latest bird news. The friendly staff soon had us sorted out and told us that the visiting Siberian Stonechat hadn't yet be sighted so we headed out, and around the small harbour to check the sea and shoreline. Apart from a handful of turnstones, a few black headed gulls, the odd cormorant, one little egret and a very distant pair of brent geese, the sailors and anglers had both the sea and the shore to themselves. A bit disappointed we crossed the road and entered the reserve, soon finding our way into the Meon Shore Hide where the birds were much more obliging. A good selection of waders (black-tailed godwits, snipe, redshank, lapwing, avocet etc.) gave excellent views as they fed only a few yards away.
Most of the ducks were teal and they were pretty active while a few wigeon and shoveler dozed or cruised about in relaxed fashion. A solitary water rail was seen briefly before it disappeared back into the security of the reeds. We waited a while hoping for it to reappear but eventually gave up and pushed on to the Pumfrett and Spurgin Hides. Birds seen at these locations were much as we had seen already but snipe were particularly plentiful and a hunting peregrine gave an exciting fly-past. Having explored the west side of the reserve we returned to the visitor centre and after a brief comfort stop headed to the Meadow Hide where the Siberian Stonechat had apparently woken up! As soon as we arrived the pale little rarity was spotted and all our group had ample opportunity to look at the bird and to compare it with a number of "proper" stonechats which were very obliging, perching on fences and prominent plant stems. From this hide we also spotted a trio of barnacle geese, close to a flock of Canada geese, and a female marsh harrier. The last hide on the east path, Knights Bank, provided more sightings of the harrier and a distant buzzard but with time running out we turned back for a quick stop at the Suffern hide that we had bypassed earlier. The River Meon outside was quiet with only a couple of dabchick and half a dozen mallard to look at but a call of "kingfisher" made us sit up. The bird crossed the river and perched very briefly on a reed stem before moving out of sight and causing a little frustration in certain quarters. Thank goodness it popped out of its hiding place and perched long enough for me to get my scope on it and for a young man to "tick" it. That was a very satisfying end to the day.

Our total for the day was 57 species, including a life-tick for everybody.

Little grebe, cormorant, little egret, grey heron, mute swan, Canada goose, barnacle geese, brent geese, wigeon, gadwall, teal, mallard, shoveler, marsh harrier, sparrow hawk, buzzard, kestrel, peregrine, pheasant, water rail, moorhen, coot, oystercatcher, avocet, lapwing, snipe, black tailed godwit, curlew, redshank, turnstone, black headed gull, common gull, lesser black backed gull, herring gull, great black backed gull, woodpigeon, kingfisher, great spotted woodpecker, pied wagtail, wren, dunnock, robin, stonechat, Siberian stonechat, blackbird, cetti's warbler (h), chiffchaff, long tailed tit, blue tit, great tit, jay, magpie, crow, starling, house sparrow, chaffinch, goldfinch.