Trip reports

Weekend walk at Keyhaven Marshes on Saturday 5th October 2019

Weekend walk at Keyhaven Marshes on Saturday 5th October 2019
Black-tailed godwit moulting out of breeding plumage. Titchfield Haven June 2016 (Peter Hambrook)

Thursday, 24 October 2019

After the disappointment of having to cancel our visit last year due to adverse weather conditions it was good to see a kind forecast. Conditions were misty as we drove through the New Forest and on arrival the Isle of Wight was hidden by the fog across the Solent,however, the sun broke through during the morning and by midday it was warm with much improved visibility.

A small brick-built hide behind the harbour has been modernised, and with the addition of a viewing platform has now become the Visitor Centre operated, mornings only, by the Hampshire Wildlife Trust. We were welcomed and updated on the morning's sightings.

A pair of kingfishers on telegraph wires and in the reeds were seen nearby with Canada geese, mallards, wigeon, teal, moorhens and a single little grebe on the river. As we were moving on towards the marshes both a sparrow hawk and a kestrel were seen overhead and soon afterwards a peregrine falcon passed nearby chasing a black-tailed godwit.

With the tide low the harbour was busy with large quantities of redshank and black-tailed godwit together with turnstones and a single dunlin. Looking back up the river a pair of Marsh Harriers were seen beyond the marshes but kept disappearing behind the tree line.

We moved on following the seawall path beyond the harbour and looking out towards the Isle of Wight as it emerged from the fog, mute swans were seen on the water and mud flats with a few curlews across the channel and a pair of herons flew overhead. Black-headed were the most numerous of the gulls seen, with herring gulls and an occasional lesser black-backed. Closer to the sea wall, a pipit made its way along the shingle and after some consultation of Bird Guides this was identified as a water pipit, rather than the more common rock pipit.

Turning our backs to the sea and looking inland over the fields a greenshank took off and flew away over the bushes. The path then follows the shoreline passing lagoons inland. On gorse bushes near the path we saw linnets, stonechats and a very visible pair of Dartford warblers. Little egrets were in evidence in some numbers both around the lagoons and out on the mudflats. Turning back towards the sea a small group of grey plovers were spotted on a creek, and the Brent geese that normally winter in large flocks in the area had returned in small numbers in creeks out towards the sea.

On our return towards the harbour the tide had risen so the redshank and godwits had dispersed but collared doves and wood pigeon were in the trees by the harbour and a buzzard flew down the river.

Following a lunch break sitting in the sun we drove around toward Milford. A large and busy group of turnstones were on the shingle bank leading out towards Hurst Castle with more little egrets and several mute swans on the river. Another pipit was seen on the beach,but this was more probably a rock pipit.
From the top of the shingle bank the Needles and Bournemouth Bay could be clearly seen, although the Old Harry Rocks in Dorset were beginning to disappear in the mist.

Helped by the weather and with a total of 52 birds seen (some briefly) this was a very satisfactory morning's outing.

Legh Langston