Trip reports

Mid-week Walk at Farlington Marshes

Mid-week Walk at Farlington Marshes
Peter Hambrook

Wednesday, 14 March 2018

Weather: Mild with a high bright overcast but a very strong SE wind around the sea wall. 10C.

It was just past high tide as we set out from the parking area, so there was no mud at all for the waders in the harbour and we therefore expected the first lake to be pretty busy. Well it was, but not with waders, as the water level was the highest that I have ever seen it, leaving just a few small patches of mud around the edges.

The lake was being used by a large flock of Brent geese that we had seen fly in as we approached, while around the edges were good numbers of pintail and teal and smaller groups of gadwall, wigeon and shoveler. Wader interest was confined to a large group of redshank and two or three sanderling, and a few moorhens and coots made up the numbers. While we were checking over the lake we noticed large flocks of birds being put up out on the marsh and we eventually found a pair of hunting peregrines to be the cause. These landed on two grassy hummocks and one appeared to be eating something, so obviously a successful hunt. A couple of avocets then flew in and landed quite well out on the lake. Out in the harbour, only black-headed and common gulls were at all numerous but we also found a male red-breasted merganser and a great crested grebe.

Looking out onto the marsh we found meadow pipit, linnet and skylark, plus larger birds including masses of shelducks and many more Brents, together with smaller numbers of wigeon, curlew, lapwing and Canada geese. A reed bunting sat on a hedge briefly and a buzzard was found sitting on a fence post, again briefly.

Approaching the information hut, we came across a kestrel that flew up into a tree, while the lake in front of the hut only added a little grebe to the list. Taking the decidedly waterlogged path across the grass along the river back to the west side allowed us to add little egret, grey heron, herring gull, great black-backed gull and some land birds such as blackbird, robin, greenfinch, dunnock and goldfinch to the day's count and the lake on the west side now hosted a group of black-tailed godwits where the redshanks had been.

With the tide now receding, some areas of mud were appearing in the harbour and one of the peregrines was trying to catch an avocet which, wisely, decided to land in the water. A small flock of waders landed on a sandy area and, while trying to get a better view of them, we came across three Mediterranean gulls amongst the black-headed and common gulls. The waders proved to be dunlin - amazingly the first we had identified on this visit.

It has to be said that this was not the most enjoyable visit to this site but at least it stayed dry and was reasonably warm.
Peter Hambrook