Spring has definitely sprung in the Solent. I was saying before how quiet it was, but it feels like more is happening now. More swallows arriving, as well as sand martins and house martins. My first sightings of the latter two species were both at Farlington Marshes. I am yet to see them on patch, but I’m sure it won’t take long to rectify. Elsewhere, more warblers have arrived too. I’ve had blackcaps, willow warblers and of course chiffchaffs so far, with other species to come I’m sure. The reed beds are alive with the sound of sedge and reed warblers – two of this week’s patch “ticks” and great to hear once again.
I had my first sandwich tern on patch on 15th April, the highlight of an hour and a half of seawatching at Hill Head. Most of that time had been literally seawatching; watching the empty, misty Solent. I had hoped for more, but 4 mallards were the only addition.
Today (19th), there was still a single sandwich tern but also 3 or 4 common terns. I see there had been a report of 1 arctic tern with the commons, which may well have been the case but I still get confused with them. 3 black swans are still about, and a single brent goose and great crested grebe also present.
The greater yellowlegs made a reappearance (again), and disappeared (again), and then reappeared in the afternoon… Despite looking over the morning, I missed it, though having already seen it once I’m not too upset! Getting better views of said wader would be nice, I must admit. I do wish I’d returned this evening though (not that Mum and Dad would’ve agreed to it!). The photos I’ve seen are great, and show how much closer it was.
A new wader species for the year was a common sandpiper, this one seen not on my patch but Riverside Park in Southampton. There were 4 on Tuesday (14th), very close to one of our Uni sites, so I’ll be trying again next week.
I mentioned above that I’d visited Farlington Marshes. There was a WeBS count on 18th April. With spring underway, there was much less to count. Most of the brent geese had left with a few still in the harbour. Plenty of black-tailed godwits were still about too, looking ever more handsome in their summer plumage. With them were 2 greenshanks, my first this year. We had good views of sandwich, common and little terns too, as well as a flock of 11 whimbrel. There was also a white duck, which looked quite like a leucistic pintail. Any thoughts?
Butterflies are about too. So far I’ve had brimstone, peacock, red admiral, specked wood and brief views of a small white butterfly (not THE small white, though it could’ve been, but a white butterfly!). I must admit I’ve got lots to learn, and tend to focus on birds but my aim is to see more this year.
Finally, time to turn to mammals. A trip to Bridge Street floods on Thursday (16th) was poor bird wise because the horses were back grazing next to the river. However, as I went to leave I noticed a male roe deer in the opposite field. As I came up onto the path, it stayed so I watched it and a second roe deer for a good half hour.