For various reasons over the past month, I’ve not done much birding. Being in the third and final year of university means lots of deadlines. That mixed with a number of other things that need sorting out have perhaps meant I’ve not been as organised or as keen to get out birding as before, but with everything slowly getting back under control, things are looking up and with luck, normal service shall resume…
I did still manage some birding on patch. Highlights include 2 or more bar-tailed godwits continuing to overwinter, a merlin (100th species for patch this year) and pale-bellied brent goose at Hill Head on 11th. The 11th was a lovely, frosty morning; very contrasting from the stormy conditions previously. I hadn’t have much time to spare due to lectures starting mid-morning but made the most of the clear skies.
Valentines Day was also good – starting with a text from Dan Houghton about a black-throated diver off the chalets (yay! New species for the patch!), followed by an afternoon’s trip to West Walk (Wickham) for crossbills with Dave Stevenson. West Walk was very busy, full of families enjoying the start of half term. We were worried this would mean the crossbills wouldn’t show, but after an hour searching and hoping, a small group of about 6 appeared. Lovely! I have only seen crossbills once before, while on holiday in the Forest of Dean a few years ago, so was great to catch up with some much closer to home.
The scrapes at Titchfield Haven are beginning to fill up as the gulls return from wherever it is they winter. It seems to happen earlier every year. The silence of winter is soon broken by the squawking and squabbling of black-headed and Mediterranean gulls. Of course, its not actually silent in the winter months, but it is much quieter!
*full volume for maximum effect*
The avocets are also returning. 6 were present on 22nd, though up to 10 have been seen so far. Mediterranean gull numbers are building, with 6 of those too. The black-headed gulls never truly leave per se, though there are always more in spring, and the peace and quiet is shattered! Not long before the longer distance migrants begin to arrive…
Now up to 101 species on patch this year, with plenty more to see over the coming months!