Half past six on a cool but sunny Sunday morning saw Steve,Pete and myself heading South for the W.O.S. walk at Keyhaven and Pennington. Over the last couple of days there had been some good birds in the area so all we needed was for the weather to be kind. Unfortunately the forecast wasn’t great and as we drove into Hampshire the heavens opened. However the sun was out again when we arrived at the coast, early as usual. A quick look in at Sturt Pond started off the trip list with plenty of Blackwits and gulls seen. Saltgrass lane was the next stop with good numbers of waders out in the harbour. Dunlin, Ringed Plover, Turnstone and Redshank being the most numerous. We arrived at Keyhaven at nine to find a good number of Wiltshire folk already birding. Joining them we soon found Water Rai,l and a Kingfisher was seen perched high above the water on some telegraph wires. Not something I have seen before. Turnstones were feeding on the shireline right next to the sea wall and a good-sized flock of Blackwits was in the harbour.
We set off along the coast path under darkening skies. A Peregrine was seen by most as it shot across the path ahead of us. However it wasn’t long before the wind came up and the rain arrived. With waterproofs on and with spirits dampened we carried on to the lagoon. Fortunately the rain soon stopped and we started checking out the saltmarsh. Knot and Grey Plover were found and there were plenty of Curlew to be seen. At the lagoon there were good numbers of waders arriving as the tide rose. There were also plenty of birders and photographers here as well. Mainly due to the Semi-palmated Sandpiper that had been around for the previous couple of days. Curlew Sandpipers were soon found amongst the many Dunlin and a possible Little Stint was called but not confirmed. It was a great opportunity for us to check out the numerous different plumages of the Dunlin and Grey Plovers.
Some still resplendent in their summer finery. Sadly the Semi couldn’t be found but we were treated to some great flying displays as on a couple of occasions all of the small waders were flushed by raptors. Other than a couple of Wheatears and a few Linnets, small birds were conspicuous by their absence. No doubt keeping their heads down in the blustery wind. Another Peregrine was found sitting on a shingle bank. When we arrived at the point where the path meets the sea a couple of the group had found a female Eider that came fairly close to the shore. A few Sandwich Terns were seen flying out in the Solent. We were then lucky enough to find several, mainly juvenile terns sat on posts quite close in. It got even better when we realised that there was a mix of Black, Common and Sandwich. A great chance to see the difference in sizes.
After having our lunch here we carried on a little further before the group split up. Several of us returning along the coast path while the majority headed back
on the inland route. Nothing new was seen on the walk back and after a coffee back at the car we started of back home with a lower than expected total of forty-nine species seen. A possible Stonechat was seen near Beaulieu and a brief stop by the River Test at Mottisfont added Little Grebe, Tufted Duck and Coot to the day list which ended up on fifty-six. So another successful day out. Not quite as much seen as had been hoped for but still very enjoyable.