Trip reports

Visit to Titchfield Haven on 13th February 2016

Visit to Titchfield Haven on 13th February 2016
David Brown

Saturday, 13 February 2016

Despite stormy predictions earlier in the week we had a rain free visit to Titchfield Haven. Before it enters the sea, the Meon River flows through the Reserve and enters the Solent at the Hill Head Harbour. It divides the reserve in two with the one mile Boardwalk Trail on the eastward side and a 1.3 mile Scrapes Trail on the westward side.

Along the eastern edge, at the Suffern Hide, we watched flocks of golden plover and lapwing take off and fly over the river and land back on the scrapes on the west side. On the river were a dabchick, 2 gadwall, 6 teal, a few mallard and a cormorant. During the walk to the Meadow Hide we were startled to see a life like full size wooden carving of a badger next to the path as blue, great, and long tailed tits flitted about in the hedge. In a garden next to the reserve a fieldfare feasted on fallen apples. At the Meadow Hide a delightful pair of stonechat posed on posts a few feet in front of the hide. 4 curlew worked their way in the marsh grass together with 20 canada geese and 15 or more shelduck sat in the far side scrapes. A brown blob in a tree turned into a marsh harrier as it took off to quarter the reed beds before it realighted in the willow scrub. A kestrel had been hovering above the willows before it too landed on one of them. And then from the Knights Bank Hide the third raptor of the day a common buzzard, was spotted on a post.

We returned to the centre and after an excellent lunch in the café our group of 14 crossed the road to walk along the sea wall next to the harbour. Amongst the dinghies, paddled a lonesome pochard, whilst close to the wall a black swan waited expectantly among the mallard and black headed gulls for food to be thrown to them by the visitors. On the spit on the seaward side of the harbour a small group of 20+ dunlin and 10 turnstones huddled on the shingle bank. We continued past the harbour toward the western edge of the reserve. Looking back on the shingle beach we saw more turnstones and a small flock of 20 sanderling that scampered about in front of the waves.

After a short walk we crossed the road back into the western edge of the reserve. From the Meon and Pumfrett hides some excellent views of the island scrapes revealed each scrape had its own unique population of small flocks of oystercatcher, golden plover, black tailed godwit and lapwing. Each scrape was identified by a clear letter which aided location of each specie. Four gadwall, 30 + teal, a lesser black backed gull, moorhen, coot and 4 redshank mingled between the scrapes with 100+ black headed gull. Nearby 30+ stunning shelduck upended near to and rested on the banks of the lagoon.

At the darters dip pond a song thrush foraged amongst the cleared scrub and we arrived at the Spurgis hide, the furthest one from the Centre, with a volunteer warden. A solitary avocet and 3 shoveler were in the Eleven Acre Mere. After a few minutes we admitted to him that despite our best efforts we had failed to find any snipe. "Oh there's one there" he said immediately, pointing to our embarrassment, to a scrape just 5 metres in front of us! We then had 10 minutes to walk back to the centre as the reserve closed at 4.00 pm.
The group had seen 48 different species on a reserve in which a lot of work parties had maintained the board walks and reed beds to a very high standard. This is a lovely reserve well worth another visit. It had been a pleasure to welcome Mike Bassett for his first trip with us and hope he will join us again. As we left the rain that had held off for our visit, came down to hinder our journey home but overall a very enjoyable day out was had by all.

Finally many thanks to the drivers, who drove the 110 miles each way to the reserve. We really do appreciate you taking us for a very enjoyable day out.


Anne Gosney, Jane Pate, Robert and Kathy Moore, Chris and Mike Ridley, David Jones, Alan Corner, Jeanette Gosney, Michael Howard, John Frone, Gavin Hughes, Mike Bassett, Roger Prue.

trip report by Alan Corner