Bird watching - Older walks

July 2017 walk. On a hot, sunny day, half a dozen of us ventured no further away than Farlington Marshes. In total, we saw 30 species, including: Linnets, Meadow Pipits, Lapwing, Shelduck, a single Pintail, Swallows, Goldfinches, Little Egrets, Cormorant, Oystercatchers, Kestrel, Great Black Backed Gulls, Stonechat and two pairs of Mute Swans, one pair with two cygnets, the other with five. Towards the end of the walk we had a chat with one of the wardens, who told us that it had been a good breeding season on the reserve and out in Langstone harbour for Little Terns and Common Terns (30 pairs on the raft at the Hayling Oysterbeds).

June 2017 walk. On a wonderful sunny day, three of visited the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust's Testwood Lakes reserve. Highlight was the Sand Martins. The reserve has an artificial nest bank overlooking one of the lakes, so we were able to enjoy great views of the Martins flying back and forth to feed their young. Other species seen or heard included: Swallow, Lapwing, Little Egret, Grey Heron, Canada Geese and Goslings, Little Ring Necked Plover, Chiffchaff, Robin and juvenile Robins, Chaffinch, Greenfinch, Goldfinch, Long Tailed Tits, a juvenile Great Tit, Buzzard and Great Crested Grebe. We also saw both Common and Banded Demoiselle Damselflies.

After lunch and now on my own, I went to the nearby Lower Test reserve, also run by HIWWT. On the reserve, I thought that I may have seen a Sedge Warbler, whilst crossing the bridge over the Test, I spotted a female Merganser amongst the Mallards. She is apparently something of a fixture at that spot.

May 2017 walk. This took place on Thursday 4th at RSPB Pulborough Brooks, where we joined the weekly Wildlife Walkabout. Shortly after arriving at the Visitor Centre, who should come in but Helen and Ken Walker. Their visit was completely unconnected to ours but it was good to see them both again.

Two early sightings were a Whitethroat and a Garden Warbler. Throughout the walk we could hear a Cuckoo but had no joy in actually spotting one. We were more successful with Nightingales, when one posed in full view about 30 feet away on a dead branch and we also had a decent view of a Chiffchaff,when we were at Jupps View. At the same location there were plenty of Swifts and House Martins around as well as the occasional Swallow and Sand Martin. Out on, or near, the water were Mute Swans, Canada Geese, two Egyptian Geese, a pair of Teal, a small number of Shelduck and seven Mallard ducklings. Moving on to Little Hanger Hide, there was a lone Pink Footed Goose, a Grey Plover, Ring Necked and Little Ring Necked Plovers, Dunlin, a Greenshank and a small number of Lapwing, including one with three chicks. The latter was spotted by one of the walk leaders but disappeared from view before I could see it. Rounding off the walk, as we headed back towards the Visitor Centre, we saw two Red Kites, the first of which was wheeling around directly overhead. As I headed home, a Jay flew across Clay Lane, the short cut from the A283 to the B2139.

April 2017 Walk. Blessed again with another sunny day, this month's walk was at RSPB Medmerry, starting from the car park just south of the Earnley centre. We saw and/or heard a total of 26 species of which the following were the most interesting: 2 Buzzards, one riding the thermals, the other perched in a bush: several Skylarks, one of which posed nicely for us on a post; a pair of Mute Swans; a Grey Heron; a Little Egret; 2/3 Cormorants; 4/5 Canada Geese; several Tufted Ducks; 2 Shelduck; circa 40 Avocets, one or two twice seen in flight: 2 Shelduck; Linnets; Rock and Meadow Pipits; Reed Bunting: Stonechat; Goldfinches; Two Greenfinches; House Sparrow; Robins and a Chiffchaff.

March 2017 walk. We met at St Wilfred's church, Church Norton on a gloriously sunny, if blustery morning, about two and a half hours after low tide. Out in Pagham Harbour, we could see Cormorants, Shelduck, Curlew, Brent Geese, Grey Plover and Dunlin and could hear a Green Woodpecker nearby. Continuing down to the sea, we spotted a Grey Heron and a few Wigeon, then from the beach a Red Breasted Merganser out to sea and a Turnstone at the edge of the water. Returning to the church, we drank our coffee in the churchyard and admired a small patch of Violets before driving back to RSPB Pagham. By the visitor centre, there were Blue, Great and Long Tailed Tits and Chaffinches on the bird feeders. From the hide overlooking the Ferry Pool, we saw plenty of Lapwing and Starlings, more Wigeon, a few Teal, 3 or 4 Black Tailed Godwit and at the back of the pool a male Pheasant, 3 Red Legged Partridge and a Green Sandpiper. Leaving the hide and heading towards the harbour, we heard a Cetti's Warbler, spotted a Buzzard sitting on a post and a few Tufted Duck in the adjacent channel. From the the bench where we stopped to eat lunch, we had two brief glimpses of a flock of 40 or so Avocet rising into the air before settling down again out of site. From the same spot we could see a flock of Dunlin lifting off and then back on to one the spits, more Shelduck, a pair of Pintail and a couple of Shoveller. Returning to the centre, we heard the Cetti's Warbler again and saw a couple of Robins and two Greenfinch. The final stop for three of us, was Ivy lake on the outskirts of Chichester. Here we saw Greylag and Canada Geese, more Tufted Duck, Pochard, Great Crested and Little Grebes and finally the two rarities that we were hoping to see, a male Scaup (difficult to spot amongst the Tufted Duck) and a male Long Tailed Duck. Our total tally for the day was 48 different species.

February 2017 walk. Cancelled due to inclement weather.

January 2017 walk. We met at Pulborough Brooks on a cold but gloriously sunny morning and joined one of their regular guided walks. Star attractions at the moment are 5 Bewick Swans, which we had good views of through the guides' telescopes. Other sightings included male and female Bullfinch, Greenfinch (looking fantastic in the sunshine), Tree Creeper, Nuthatch, Goldcrest, Linnets, Fieldfare, Mistle Thrush, Song Thrush, Snipe, Peregrine, Blue Tits, Great Tits, Canada Geese, Wigeon, Teal, a single Black Tailed Godwit and numerous Robins.

December 2016 Walk.Nine of us enjoyed this month's walk on the Chidham Peninsula, revelling in the glorious sunshine and the stillness of the day. Highlight of the day was a flock of some 40-50 Golden Plover. These were in the field immediately adjacent to the small car park at the bottom of Chidham Lane, where we had parked our cars. At some point they took off and we were able to admire them wheeling around but lost sight of them when they headed north. Happily, they were in the field when we returned. Other sightings of particular interest were: a male Kestrel devouring its prey on top of an electricity pole behind the Activity centre (it too was still there when we returned); a Kingfisher, which flew across the harbour from west to east: a female Reed Bunting and a female Stonechat. In addition, plenty of the ubiquitous Brent Geese, Teal, Redshank and Dunlin, as well as smaller numbers of Greenshank, Black Tailed Godwit, Lapwing, Grey Plover, Grey Heron, Little Egret and Curlew.

November 2016 Walk. For this month's walk, we headed over to Blashford Lakes just north of Ringwood. In addition to the birds shown in the picture gallery , we saw several species of ducks (Tufted Duck, Wigeon, Gadwall & Shoveler), a Green Woodpecker, Meadow Pipits and numerous Coots and Cormorants.

The highlight, though, was a Little Auk, which arrived whilst we were there. They breed in the Arctic and whilst they winter in the UK, are normally to be found on the east coast, down as far as The Wash.

On the non birding front, we enjoyed watching the voles/mice that were dashing around below the bird feeders at the Woodland Hide, saw some interesting fungi walking towards the Education Centre and at the Tern hide, saw a small group of Fallow Deer, comprising a stag and four hinds.

October 2016 walk. Nine of us enjoyed a dry, if chilly, visit to Titchfield Haven. On arrival we saw a number of Brent Geese flying east along the Solent, as well as a lone Great Crested Grebe. In the little harbour there were a few Turnstones scurrying around. Within the reserve, there were a considerable number of Canada Geese and smaller numbers of Black Tailed Godwit, Lapwing and Teal. Other birds spotted included Gadwall, Little Egrets and Cormorants, Little Grebe and a lone Kestrel. Our highlight, though, was a Snipe sitting quietly just below us, when we in one of the hides on the western side of the reserve. We had previously spotted other individuals on some of the little islands in the lagoons.

September 1st 2016. First walk of the new season. We met at Farlington Marshes on a lovely sunny morning and spent the best part of three hours walking around the reserve. Although we didn't manage to spot the Wryneck and Little Stint that the serious were there for and did see, between us we clocked up 28 species including Lapwing, Oystercatchers, Shelduck, Black Tailed Godwit, Reed Warbler and Stonechat. One odd sight was two Mute Swans and one Black Swan heading line astern (Mute,Black,Mute) down the harbour from the northeastern corner.

June 2016. We had a local walk starting at the top of Wade Lane, heading down past Langstone Mill Pond, then crossing over to the old oyster beds on Hayling Island. On our return leg, we headed down Mill Lane to Southmoor, then over to the lagoon at the rear of the sewage plant and then followed the Solent Way up to Harts Farm Way and back to the town centre. We saw 34 species in total, particular highlights being a Great Spotted Woodpecker in Wade Lane, a Reed Bunting at Langstone Mill Pond and a Skylark sitting on a fence and singing at Southmoor. New life seen included Mallard ducklings (10) and Moorhen chicks at Langstone Mill pond, Black Headed Gull chicks at the oyster beds and the Langstone Swan family on the Langbrook stream.

May 2016. We met at RSPB Pulborough Brooks, where we joined one of the regular Wildlfe Walkabouts. Early May is the time for Nightingales but they weren't there in abundance and were mostly heard not seen - there was one exception. Other sightings included Whitethroats, Reed Buntings, Sedge Warblers, a well camouflaged Linnet and a pair of Jays. The highlights though, were a great view, through the telescope, of a young male Peregrine perched in a Willow tree and as we arrived back at the Centre, a wonderful aerial display from a Hobby.