Tuesday, February 05, 2019

πŸ“– #4/2019 ~ Hampshire Weekend

The plan was to travel down to Hampshire last Friday afternoon, staying at the Premier Inn in the New Forest that evening and with friends in Lymington on Saturday night. After the predicted heavy snow overnight Thursday (not at the marina I hasten to add) I checked the route down with the AA and Highways Agency live twitter feeds, which included the M40/A34 and M3 motorway. The route seemed clear and the weather forecast Friday morning from both the BBC and Met office, only predicting the odd snow flurry we decided to head off.

Mayhem on route to Hampshire
Leaving at 3:30pm the journey was pretty uneventful until shortly after passing the junction with the A34/M4, where it began to snow quite heavily. After 2 hours held up on the A34 in horrendous and quite frankly frightening conditions, it was plain to see this was not the forecasted snow flurry but a major weather event which took everyone by surprise and completely closed the M3 motorway in both directions due to jackknifed lorries and abandoned vehicles!! In fact, by the time we reached our destination 4 1/2 hours after leaving the marina, it was still snowing. How could those responsible for the forecast get it so wrong once again?

Black-tailed Godwit ~ Titchfield Haven Nature Reserve
After our horrendous journey, and a good nights sleep, thankfully not in the car Saturday was spent enjoying the Hampshire coastline with a visit to Titchfield Haven Nature reserve. The reserve itself was pretty quiet, probably due to the frozen pools, the best on the reserve some close-up views of a group of feeding Black-tailed Godwits, plus a gorgeous male Bearded Tit.

The Solent provided a sea-watching opportunity but this too was quiet, the only recordings of note several Red-breasted Mergansers and many displaced Great Crested Grebes, obviously escaping the frozen lakes and pools. After the tide receded around midday waders took advantage with Dunlin, Sanderling, Ringed Plover, Curlew and Turnstone feeding happily but the dog walkers soon put paid to that!

Drake Pintail at IOW Ferry Terminal

Grey Plover ~ IOW Ferry Terminal
We decided to head back across the estuary to Lymington, where we were staying the night to watch the sunset and stopped at the IOW Ferry Terminal for coffee. Here you can sit out with good views of the shallows and surrounding mudflats. Many Wigeon here, along with excellent numbers of Pintail. A couple of Grey Wagtails and several small flocks of Sanderling and Dunlin, plus the odd Grey Plover but the highlight was a Spoonbill which dropped in and began skimming in a nearby shallow as the light faded.

Spoonbill at Keyhaven
Sunday was spent at a busy Keyhaven and Lymington but with friends the priority the birding was hit and miss. There was no sign this year of any Dartford Warblers, perhaps too busy with cyclists and walkers, or just a little early in the year for much activity but another view of Spoonbill, likely the same bird as yesterday as it flew along the shoreline. A couple of Marsh Harriers during the visit and Water Pipit and Rock Pipit made for good finds considering the lack of effort. An adult drake Long-tailed Duck offshore was a nice find, along with Eider and more Red-breasted Mergansers but the weekend will be remembered for the horrible journey down!

More Images Of The Weekend....

Marsh Harrier


Little Egret