Sunday, March 06, 2005

Big ride, big dips, but seven new birds. 120 species in total

An 0730 start, flippin’ cold once more, but dry and beautifully sunny by 0800. Not that my feet noticed – they were like blocks of ice all day. It was head down and ride for the coast – 28 km/h average speed all the way to Hayling Island. Good going on the new wheels....

I added an easy new species at Hayling Bridge – lots of Black-tailed Godwits feeding on the falling tide. But the real targets were down at Sandy Point, so I didn’t hang about, shot straight down there, and was birding by the sea at 0930. I saw a Razorbill pretty much immediately (don’t need it....), plus three Sandwich Terns and several Gannets (unbelievably, a Hampshire crypto-tick for me - surely I've seen one before [haven't I? you start to question your sanity...], but my 'official list didn't have it on!). Better still was a Red-throated Diver flying east....but that was about it! Apart from about a dozen Great Crested Grebes, there was bugger all on the sea, and certainly no sign of the Red-necked Grebe that had been showing most days in the week. Grrrr. I gave it a good three hours, and let the tide fall pretty low, but no good. Also, and just as frustrating, no sign of the regular Black Redstart either – for the second time!

I did meet some new people, however (no bold type for human ticks) – Barry and Margaret Collins (Thorney Island), and Marcus and Zoe Ward (Lymington).

Once I was satisfied that I had dipped utterly, I bought lunch, and cycled up to the west end of the island to wait for the ferry at 1350. No Shag – again! But there were two or three Med Gulls there. Once over to the Portsmouth side, I rode northwards to Baffins Pond (right up there with Anton Lakes for scenic value), and saw one of the feral resident Barnacle Geese – they’re in the main list of the Hampshire Bird Report, so I’m having it! (More dubiously, it was accompanied by a Chiloe Wigeon – I won’t count that....)

Onwards to Farlington Marshes. I totally didn’t fancy leaving my bike by the gate, so I wheeled it all the way round the sea-wall! Three new ones here – Turnstone, Rock Pipit and Knot, but no sign of the Water Pipits which have been hanging about, nor of Bearded Tit or anything still more exciting! Lots of commoner waders, of course, plus more Med Gulls, Little Egret, Stonechat and stacks of Brents and Pintail, plus other wildfowl. Also two human ticks - John Shillitoe and Jason Crook - thanks for your help, guys!

It was now nearly 1600, so it was time to head home – I used the flatter but longer route via Curbridge – is it a good idea? It took almost a full two hours – I might try the more direct but hillier way next time! 117km covered in total, in just over four hours pedalling - taking me over 35 hours and 800km/500 miles!