Deadlines and exams… with birding in between

Term has restarted which means less time for birding, especially on my patch. However, I am trying to do as much as I can while doing my best to concentrate on work! It seems crazy to think how fast the past year has gone and that I’m nearing the end of my 2nd year of university. By the end of May I’ll be finished for another academic year.

I returned to Titchfield Haven briefly on Monday after more reports of the greater yellowlegs only to discover it has disappeared some time between me leaving the city and arriving. A shame, but an hour on patch isn’t something to complain about! Based on the tweets by the Titchfield Haven staff, Monday had been a rather good day but my brief time there mostly yielded the commoner species. It was nice to see more common terns, greater numbers of swallows and a great crested grebe though. There were still 10 or so sanderling, 30+ turnstones and 3 black swans once again.

I’m always looking out of the window on train journeys as you never know what might be seen, and my return to Southampton was no different. The train line crosses the river Itchen once and follows it before and after the bridge, making it an enjoyable entrance/exit of the city. I do intend to visit the sites that are passed to view them properly instead of at speed from a train window. Still, I usually see a couple of shelduck by what I believe is Chessel Bay, and 2 black swans by St Denys among other species.  

Now for some campus birding… As usual, being in Southampton means spending the majority of my time on campus so I’m making sure I make the most of it (as well as studying). A pre-lecture walk earlier in the week was rather pleasant with blackcaps, chiffchaffs and firecrests singing, as well as the common species. Thursday was similar, but with the additions of a male grey wagtail making an appearance and an evening sparrowhawk flyby. 

We finally passed 50 species for the year for the University Birdwatch Challenge today with little egret, Canada goose, common sandpiper and cormorant.  As impressive as it would be, I didn’t see them on Highfield Stream (on campus), it was the boat yard to the rescue instead! It’s opposite Riverside Park so rather well placed. The total now stands at 52, I think, with hopefully more to come.

I returned to my patch on Saturday (25th April). I arrived at Hill Head earlier than usual, hoping to do a spot of sea watching. Thankfully there was a group of birders already sea watching so I joined them. In the hour I was there, it was relatively quiet but I still managed a few patch ticks. 4 common scoter and 18 brent geese flew east. 2 great crested grebes were closer in to the shore, and a group of terns were resting on the sand bank before taking off. After a bit of discussion, it was decided that one of those terns was an arctic tern while the rest were common.

I didn’t spend long in the reserve in the end, but did see the 2 garganey that have been on the scrapes for the past few days.  Also my first cuckoo of Spring – 2 in fact, which flew past as I approached the hide. One was singing somewhere too. A whitethroat, another first for the year, was also about singing. Another highlight was the number of sand martins and swallows swooping over the scrapes. Nice to see them properly back at long last.

The garganey pair, Titchfield Haven, 25th April 2015.

The garganey pair, Titchfield Haven, 25th April 2015.


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