Trip reports

Mid-week walk at Farlington Marshes

Mid-week walk at Farlington Marshes
Male redshank displaying to female at Farlington Marshes. (Steve Williams)

Wednesday, 21 April 2021

Weather: Sunny and bright with a cool wind.
Farlington Marshes is a 300 acre reserve in Langstone Harbour that is managed by Hampshire and the Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust. There are a variety of habitats including grazing marsh, a lake, meadows and the foreshore and there is usually something interesting to see. On this occasion the tide was a long way out when we arrived and then it retreated even further.

Ten of us, in two groups of five, set off from the car park in the direction of the lake. There, the groups took different paths. One group, led by Geoff, continued anti-clockwise around the sea wall and we followed the path beside the reed beds and joined the sea wall on the other side of the reserve and then walked clockwise around the reserve.

These are my highlights from the walk:-
Avocets. As we walked by the stream there were many black-tailed godwits, the males looking splendid in their breeding plumage. Amongst them there were 16 avocets, their delicate, understated plumage contrasting with that of the godwits.
Bearded reedlings. As we followed the path by the reed beds we commented that it was probably too windy for us to see bearded reedling. However, as we reached the last patch of reeds we saw a small bird skim over them, and then another, accompanied by a tell-tale "ping". Having been alerted to their presence we watched for some time and saw several birds take off from the reeds close to us and then return a few minutes later. The windy conditions prevented them from sitting up and giving us a good view, but it is always nice to see them.
Lapwings with chicks. We saw adults with very young chicks on both the main marsh and the hay field. The chicks with their downy feathers and disproportionately large legs looked quite ungainly but they were able to keep close to the safety of their parents.
Whimbrel. We had heard that whimbrel had been seen earlier and we checked carefully to make sure that the distant curlews were, in fact, curlews. Just after we reached the sea wall, we spotted three large waders on the mud quite close to us. All three had a definite eye stripe and their bills were shorter and more curved than those of the curlews we had seen earlier, definitely whimbrel!
Sedge warbler. The path around the eastern edge of the reserve is bordered in places by trees and brambles. We had heard sedge warblers singing from deep within the vegetation and every small bird we saw turned out to be a linnet. Near the most southerly part of the reserve we again heard a sedge warbler and saw movement in the brambles. We waited for a few minutes to get a clearer view. This time it was not a linnet but a very smart sedge warbler with its clean buff chest and a bright supercilium.
Redshank displaying. As we neared the lake we saw two redshanks on the mud flats . The male began to display, beating his wings whilst standing about two meters from the female. He slowly edged closer to her whilst continuing to beat his wings. When he got very close to her he attempted to mate but she was not impressed by his display and moved away.

During our walk Simon recorded that we had seen, or heard, 63 species. The "seen" list included raven, Mediterranean gull, ringed plover, oystercatcher and whitethroat. The heard list included Cetti's warbler, wren, chaffinch and blackcap. The first group saw two more species, little ringed plover and grey plover making the grand total for the day an impressive 65 species.

Thanks to everyone who came on the walk and especially to Geoff for volunteering to lead one of the groups.