Despite it being a raw, dull day on Monday, I decided to head down to Farlington Marshes, near Portsmouth.
There is a large salt marsh, managed as a nature reserve by Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust. When the tide is out, there are several square kilometres of mud which attracts significant numbers of birds at all times of the year. Ponds and a lagoon are also well populated with birds, along with the grass and scrub, as the peninsula is carefully managed by the Trust.
The whole area is very exposed with no viewing hides or shelters, so staying in one spot can be a tad chilly!
Unfortunately, I could only be there at low tide when the birds can be spread over a massive area feeding and beyond even telescope range. Nevertheless, a couple of hours of persistence paid off with the following sightings:
Teal (smallest British duck) by the dozens
Dark-Bellied Brent Geese 250 approx.
Kingfisher x 1
Little Egret x 2
Curlew x 8
Redshank x 6
Shelduck x 12
Avocet x 1
Pintail Duck x 1
Oystercatcher x 6
Friendly Welshman x 1
Stonechat (male) x 1
The shining highlight though, was the feeding of a Little Egret about seven metres from where I was stood! This is the closest I’ve ever gotten to one, without it taking fright. In fact, as you can see, I was close enough to have a crack at taking some photos. Admittedly, lack of light and the need to freeze movement has resulted in some ‘noisy’ images, but I’m still pleased with some of my shots!
Sadly, after a couple of hours or so, I was so cold I just had to leave. But what memories I came away with. For most of that time I been completely lost in the moment. I was also able to share the joy with a passing kindred spirit – the friendly Welshman……………