HAMPSHIRE SIGHTINGS FOR JANUARY 2021
With the return of lockdown, notable reports were relatively sparse in January. Three Bean Geese were still in the Avon valley on the 4th, with two nearby at Kingston Common on the 8th. Up to four White-fronted Geese were also reported sporadically in that area, with other records from Farlington Marshes (10th-27th) and Fishlake Meadows (2, 30th). The regular Ferruginous Duck was reported a couple of times at Blashford Lakes, where the Ring-billed Gull was also present in the first few days of the month, plus two Caspian Gulls. The Yellow-browed Warbler at Blashford was seen again on New Year’s Day, with another seen regularly in a garden in Portsmouth (from 9th).
Spoonbills were seen widely along the western Solent coast, with numbers eventually reaching a new county record of 19 off Normandy Marsh on the 22nd. Cattle Egrets peaked at five in both the Avon Valley and the Warblington area, while two were at Wickham on the 4th. Great White Egrets were reported widely with the usual focus on the Avon and Test valleys. Once again there was only a single Bittern located, which was seen on five dates at Fishlake Meadows.
Scarcer winter wildfowl included a Scaup at Titchfield Haven and Hill Head, a Long-tailed Duck off Weston Shore and single Velvet Scoter at each of those sites, with a further two Velvet Scoters off Eastney (6th). In the Pennington Marshes area there were up to four Slavonian Grebes and more unusually up to three Black-necked Grebes too. The main Black-necked Grebe flock in Langstone Harbour peaked at 12 and there was also a single report from the regular site of Ibsley Water (3rd). Black-throated Divers were off Barton-on-Sea (1st), Hook-with-Warsash (1st) and in Chichester Harbour (16th, 20th), while there were more widespread reports of Red-throated and Great Northern Divers, including up to five of the latter off Lepe.
Great Grey Shrikes were seen at Woolmer Forest, Bransbury Common/Wherwell and in the Milkham Bottom area of the New Forest. Depressingly there were no Hen Harriers reported, although this may be a reflection of lower coverage during the lockdown. Only one Short-eared Owl was seen, at Hook-with-Warsash (12th), while Merlins were at Skidmore (8th, 21st), Branshaw Telegraph (16th) and Rockford Common (22nd). Among the scarcer wintering passerines, there were a good number of Black Redstarts wintering, particularly around Portsmouth and Hayling Island, while Water Pipits were seen in low numbers at their regular sites.