Trip reports

Visit to Farlington Marshes.

Saturday, 28 October 2017

After watching a flock of long-tailed tits in bushes around the car park, a dozen of us set off into the reserve at 10am. Although the sun was shining brightly the breeze was chilly early in the day.

With the tide low, large numbers of birds were busy on the mud on the Portsmouth side of the harbour. These included the usual redshank, oystercatcher, dunlin, shelduck and large numbers of Brent geese and black-headed Gulls. Less common were little egrets, several curlew, two common gulls, a group of pintail, several grey plover and one greenshank. Continuing to the Lake we found teal, shoveler, and mallard sharing the space with more Brent geese.

Looking south over the vast expanse of mud in the main part of the harbour, the sun was in our eyes making it harder to identify birds but a group of eight common seals was spotted along with cormorants and more curlew. Inland in the meadows were a large group of Canada geese with three barnacle geese and a solitary greylag. A low flying heron circled over the bushes and kestrels hovered overhead. Sadly, a thorough scan of the Point Field failed to reveal any of the wintering short-eared owls.

On the river to the east, a solitary female red-breasted merganser kept putting her head under water as she swam, no doubt looking for fish, while a larger group of both males and females were seen in mid-harbour. Several black-tailed godwit along with a single bar-tailed godwit - identified by its upturned beak - were to be seen on the shore along with yet more curlew. On the Deeps, the group of ponds on the eastern side of the marshes, a group of wigeon and teal and a small group of black-tailed godwit were visible, while a buzzard was eating some unfortunate creature on a grassy mound.

Leaving the sea wall and heading back towards our cars three buzzards could be seen circling over the hills inland. Although there was some movement and sound from the large area of reeds by the hut it was not possible to identify any bearded tits on this occasion.

Arriving back at the car park, shortly after 1-30 pm, we found that the long-tailed tits were still present.

It had been a good morning, but either it was too early for most winter visitors, or the mild October had simply not tempted them south!

Legh Langston