South Coast Sunshine

Having decided to give the WOS walk around Castle Combe a miss, myself Pete and John decided to head to Farlington Marshes in Hampshire to try for the Red-breasted Goose that has been around for a few days. This was to be my first visit to this site. Having scraped the ice from the car before starting and driving through plenty of mist on the way we arrived in glorious sunshine. I had decided to park in the Broadmarsh car park which is right on the coast path. It was almost high tide and the first bird seen was a Red-breasted Merganser. There were a lot of Brent Geese on the sea along with a few Great-crested Grebe. A Sparrowhawk shot across the car park, a Kestrel was hunting nearby and a Great Spotted Woodpecker landed on a nearby telegraph pole.. Several Turnstone were seen perched on a boat in the bay. On the walk along to the marshes we saw Heron, Little Egret Curlew and Redshank. After looking unsuccessfully through a couple of flocks of Geese we located the Red-breasted Goose feeding on the marsh. It could be surprisingly hard to see but we had great views. Also on the grass were many Lapwing and Wigeon. Out in the harbour on various little island were hundreds of waders, most being Knot and Oystercatchers with a few Grey Plovers also seen. Stonechat, Meadow Pipit, Skylark, several Robins and a lone Rock Pipit were added to the day-list. Cetti’s Warbler was heard but not seen. By now the Red-breasted Goose had moved onto a small lake on the marsh, giving closer views, a stunning bird. Walking back to the car with the waters receding we were treated to the sight of dozens of waders flying onto the exposed mud. With Black-tailed Godwit, Ringed Plover and Dunlin we managed ten species of wader. A flock of around twenty Merganser were noted along with a handful of Goldeneye. After having lunch we decided to brave the traffic in Portsmouth with the Purple Sandpipers at Southsea Castle our target. On arrival we decided that an hours parking should be enough. As it happened ten minutes would have been fine as I picked up a Sandpiper straight away and we all had good but brief views. A second bird was then found which allowed a more leisurely view. Having read about these birds on various blogs I think we were extremely lucky to find them so easily. The again returned Ring-billed Gull at Gosport was our next stop. This entails a drive of about fifteen miles to get to a place less than a mile across the river. On arrival we spotted a couple of likely candidates but they were both Common Gulls. Another promising bird was seen but before we could check it out properly it flew off towards the river. Despite a good search and then waiting for an hour or so it was not relocated . With a life and two-year ticks on an absolutely beautiful day we decided to head for home with a day total of fifty-three species. For the last few miles I diverted onto the back roads hoping that an owl would be out early. None seen but we had great views of two Hares crossing the road in front of us.

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