I was thinking as I visited my patch today about what a difference a decade or even a few years make. One of the first birds I set my eyes on as I entered the hide today was an adult spoonbill at the back of the “frying pan”, as it’s known. Spoonbills are becoming rather common round here. Indeed, not too far away in Dorset much larger numbers of them now winter there, and several have been handing around in Hampshire and Sussex too.
A Cetti’s warbler was singing nearby. Annoyingly out of sight as per usual! They too are birds from warmer climates that have moved over here, and I believe they’re spread over most of the UK now. It was only 1968 when the first one was seen here, at Titchfield Haven.
The spoonbill was soon alert and flying as a female marsh harrier took flight. She’d been sitting on the grass out in the meadow and caused chaos when she flew over the river. Minutes later, the chaos subsided and the birds landed. The spoonbill decided to land in a dip out of view – shame. Thankfully for us, the marsh harrier took flight again, and once again caused some chaos before disappearing over the reedbed into the distance. She put on quite a displace, and showed rather well.
As the birds settled down for the second time, the spoonbill reappeared. It then began to feed. Now I’ve never seen one in mainland Europe, but here they are nearly always sleeping, so to watch one feeding was lovely. Poor Bryan had just left the hide commenting how this would happen as soon as he left, and it did! Apologies for the poor quality, but it gives you an idea.
Before entering the hide I’d had a wander around Hill Head as it was low tide and to my delight had a bar-tailed godwit and 2 peregrines fly over. These are two species I see reported every now and then but usually miss, so to see both within minutes was great. It was also good to see a number of dark-bellied brent geese out on the beach.
Back on the scrapes, the numbers of Mediterranean and black-headed gulls are building up as they start to pick nest sites and think about courtship. More avocets are arriving too – there were 14 on Saturday! Won’t be long before the first summer migrants arrive in Hampshire. Wheatears and house martins are being reported in other counties. Meanwhile, 50 golden plover were still present until a sparrowhawk flushed them. Some of them are starting to gain their summer plumage.
Exciting times ahead!