Trip reports

Titchfield Haven Nature Reserve

Little ringed plover wading in shallow water

Sunday, 28 July 2019

Eleven met in the yacht club car park and after passing a lot of mallards swimming in between the moored boats in the little harbour, we had a look over the Meon River from the viewing area near the visitors centre.
Black-headed gulls and common terns were looking after chicks on the wooden nesting islands. We didn't know at the time, but they were the lucky ones. A fox had recently managed to get under the wire fencing and take all the avocet and common tern eggs and chicks. A marsh harrier nest suffered the same fate.

At the Meon Shore Hide, there were no deafening calls from black-headed gulls. Possibly they had no young to care for either after the fox incident, but most of the islands on this occasion were occupied by adult common terns. There were a lot of birds on the scrape, the pick of the sightings a distant wood sandpiper. This bird occupied a patch of water next to the bank where both a common sandpiper and a green sandpiper were feeding. We were therefore able to compare the size differences, colour and different feeding habits of all three birds. Waders present included avocets, lapwings, redshank, oystercatchers, black-tailed godwits and dunlin, whilst near to the hide a juvenile little ringed plover was feeding on the mud enabling close views of its dainty shape and yellow eye ring.

Several butterflies were seen in the sunny conditions on the way to Pumfrett Hide. Red admiral, peacock, meadow brown, speckled wood, and numerous gatekeepers kept us company. A common darter dragonfly and a holly blue butterfly also inspected the party as we made our way along the path. Birds seen from this hide included four feeding black-tailed godwits, a small group of Canada geese, mallard, coot, moorhen, grey heron and teal. Meanwhile a comma butterfly flew up and down outside the hide windows.

At Spurgin Hide, two green sandpipers that were feeding close to the hide unfortunately flew away as soon as the hide windows were opened. Apart from a few mallard, nothing else was seen so we had a quick look over the beach and around the breakwaters. A group of approximately 20 turnstones and a friendless juvenile dunlin were added here before we decided to take lunch.

From Suffern Hide on the East side of the reserve a pair of eclipse shoveler were seen on the river. Several cormorants occupied either dead branches or perching posts in the river and both little and great crested grebe were seen. Ducks were represented by two pairs of eclipse gadwalls and one of shovelers. Only a distant hovering kestrel could be seen from Meadow Hide, but from Knights Bank Hide, there were distant views of gulls on the Frying Pan and cormorants, and wood pigeons sat on posts

A distant buzzard soaring on a thermal brought the day to a close.