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Titchfield Haven April 2018
The visit to the reserve will be remembered for the large number of black headed gulls that had taken ownership of the scrapes.
Seven turnstones in summer plumage seen lingering near the moored boats had appeared to have delayed their journeys North due to poor weather, but a little later over forty of these wading birds were huddled together on the beach, which was unusual this late in April. From the viewing area along the coast road, two little grebes were seen diving close to the reeds, but other than these just a coot and lots of black headed gulls were on view.
The extent of the gull takeover was most noticeable from the Meon Shore Hide. Each small island was guarded by a number of raucous inhabitants. Four oystercatchers were seen on the left side of the scrape whilst a male ruff resisted the temptation to wander out of the grass and parade in his finery. Five avocets occupied Island ‘ D ‘ with just two shelduck, two drake shovelers, a small number of lapwing and gadwall accompanied the gulls
Just before Pomfret Hide we enjoyed excellent views of a water vole sitting on a drainage pipe. Seven avocets and four black tailed godwits were feeding whilst over thirty oystercatchers were counted at the rear of the South scrape. A cuckoo perched and calling from the top of a distant willow demanded our attention soon after leaving the hide.
From Spurgin Hide, a sparrowhawk and two swifts were seen in flight. A male marsh harrier then put all the black headed gulls up in the air and proceeded to give us a nice display whilst quartering the reed beds. A group of eight ringed plovers were seen in flight over the beach as we returned.
Down the East side, only five drake and two female tufted ducks were witnessed from Suffern Hide. A female marsh harrier was seen well and a heron in flight from Meadow Hide. From Knights Bank Hide, a group of ten black tailed godwits were feeding in one of the fields, one individual looking grand in rusty feathers. Five herring gulls, two lesser black backed gulls, five cormorants and some starlings were seen on the Frying Pan. Two great black backed gulls bathed in the fresh water and a wave of swallows descended over the fields for a few minutes from the North.
Some of the group ended the day back at Meon Shore Hide savouring excellent views of a summer plumaged Mediterranean Gull
Thursley NNR - May 2018
With only mallard at Moat Pond, we proceeded out on to the heath and followed a bridleway south past the boardwalk. Initially it seemed quiet, before the first of two male stonechats perched up and a curlew was seen in flight away to our left. Two swallows flew across before the male redstart that could be heard singing was eventually located, perched on a broken tree on the edge of some fairly dense woodland. Goldfinch, chiffchaff and crow were added before a willow warbler was seen singing from the top of a dead tree opposite the oak woodland. A male whitethroat appeared on the same tree just seconds later.
The woodland was quiet, and although photographers were waiting in the field for the summering cuckoo, there was no sign of this bird. A garden warbler was heard close to the edge of the wood, but typically failed to appear in view.
A woodlark was seen in a small pine before performing its song flight high above the heather, and then a buzzard was noted in flight. A male Dartford warbler showed nicely in gorse, before another was seen churring from a small silver birch whilst carrying food.
On approaching the area of fallen dead wood just before the start of the boardwalk, first a female redstart was seen on the path, then a male stonechat on a small branch growing on the left side of a pine. A male redstart then showed nicely in the pines before a tree pipit on a fallen pine branch nearby. The walk back across the boardwalk provided decent views of hobby with up to three birds being seen at any one time. There were a few nice flypasts, but no perching this year. A heron in flight and two black headed gulls completed the avian sightings.
Two raft spiders were admired from the boardwalk on the way back.
RSPB Farnham Heath - JUNE 2018
Twelve members met for the annual nightjar walk, and sightings began well when a spotted flycatcher was seen in the pines left of the path on entering the reserve. The promising start petered out however with very few birds seen whilst the light remained good. Just a song thrush followed by a willow warbler singing from the top of a pine preceded a short stop at the small pond. Here a grass snake quickly slithered in to the water submerging itself but for its small head that remained above the surface.
Having spent a while watching this and another in the water, we proceeded to the recommended area of the reserve to watch for the nightjars. Two roe deer were admired quite close to the path and then a tree pipit singing from the top of a silver birch. There was no sighting of redstart, woodlark or Dartford warbler unfortunately, but even more surprising, no stonechats either!
The evening’s visit ended well with good views of at least two male nightjars and one female in flight. A roding woodcock was a pleasant bonus and compensated somewhat for the persistent attentions of some rather large mosquitoes.