Bird News


Slavonian Grebe by Chris Rose - Jan 18th, Pennington
Slavonian Grebe by Chris Rose – Pennington

Only a few rarities and scarcities were reported in December. A Penduline Tit was seen again at Titchfield Haven (15th). The regular Ferruginous Duck returned to Kingfisher Lake, Blashford, from the 14th. Also at Blashford was a Yellow-browed Warbler (from 11th). The only Snow Bunting to be seen in the county during 2020 was briefly at Hill Head (5th). An influx of White-fronted Geese saw reports from eleven sites, most frequently at Farlington Marshes where up to 23 were seen. Two parties of Tundra Bean Geese also arrived, with three in the Avon Valley at Sopley (11th) and by New Queen Public House (20th-30th), followed by four at Pennington Marshes (12th-29th). A potential influx of white-winged gulls began with Iceland Gulls seen at Lee-on-the-Solent (13th), Weston Shore (13th) and Eastney (28th), while a Glaucous Gull passed Milford-on-Sea (18th). Notable seabirds were single Leach’s Petrels seen off Weston Shore and in Langstone Harbour (both 27th) and a Pomarine Skua past Milford-on-Sea (19th).

Red-necked Grebes were seen at Barton-on-Sea (16th), Chilling (27th) and Calshot (27th). Slavonian Grebes settled down to winter in the western Solent and in Langstone Harbour, with a few more reported on single dates elsewhere. Black-necked Grebes in Langstone Harbour peaked at ten, but there was only one report at the regular site of Ibsley Water. More unusual were one off Oxey Marsh (12th) and three off Meon Shore (24th). Black-throated Divers were reported from Black Point (12th), Milford-on-Sea (19th) and Gilkicker Point (22nd), while Red-throated and Great Northern Divers were both seen widely along the coast. Single Velvet Scoters were off Chilling (6th) and Barton-on-Sea (16th) followed by presumably the same individual at Netley (27th), Weston Shore (27th), Hamble Shore (30th) and Hook-with-Warsash (30th).

Cattle Egrets were reported from several sites in the Avon Valley, with a high count of seventeen at Sopley (17th). Meanwhile up to eight remained in the Warblington area, close to their breeding site. Great White Egrets were reported widely, mostly from the river valleys, with up to three regularly at Blashford Lakes. Eight Spoonbills were in the western Solent, moving between Lymington-Keyhaven and the Beaulieu Estuary. A Bittern at Fishlake Meadows (27th, 30th) continued to be the only individual of this species reported so far this winter.

In the New Forest a Great Grey Shrike was seen around Ocknell Plain and Slufters Inclosure, while another was at Bransbury Common early in the month (1st-2nd). Away from roost sites Hen Harriers were at Holmsley (2nd), Titchfield Abbey (15th) and Ripley Farm Reservoir (18th). Short-eared Owls were seen at Barton-on-Sea (1st), Overton (1st) and Keyhaven/Pennington (9th, 11th, 17th). Merlins were reported from Lepe (6th), Timsbury (8th, 26th), Keyhaven (9th, 17th), Yateley GP (10th), Ibsley Water (15th, 19th), Bramshaw Telegraph (17th), Sopley (26th) and Havant Thicket (31st). Black Redstarts appeared to be wintering in good numbers, mostly along the coast, but Water Pipits were in relatively low numbers at their regular sites, with no double figure counts submitted.

Tom Jordan

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