Sunday, April 17, 2005

The big weekend - part 2. 162 species in total

Up at 0545, and swiftly out into the field – as we got my bike out of the garage, a guttural ‘growk’ overhead had us both looking up and calling “Med Gull!” – a garden and Sway tick for Steve – a good start! On the way down to Hurst, in frosty and very calm conditions, I heard a Lesser Spotted Woodpecker drumming – they’re clearly a bit commoner than you imagine sitting in a car!

I was in position at the base of the beach at 0645 on a truly glorious, flat calm morning, and had the place to myself for the best part of an hour, before first Phil Lord & David Thelwell, and later Marc Moody arrived for company and more pairs of eyes! I quickly connected with several flocks of Common Scoter milling about offshore, and there were many Gannets and a few Fulmars drifting past. A tight flock of Eider heading east made a long-anticipated debut on the year list, and we had three Red-throated Divers rapidly east too, though these were easily trumped by a close Black-throated Diver (a Hants tick for me), flagged up in advance by a phone call from Steve up at Barton-on-Sea. Steve also successfully tipped us off on the position of the semi-resident Shag near the yellow buoy!

A very few Common Terns also moved through, along with several Little and Sandwich Terns mooching about in the area, and a hoped-for but not really expected addition was Great Skua, with two migrating strongly east. Another Hampshire (albeit tart’s) tick in the bag! After the first, we phoned Steve, who quickly got onto the second one – a Barton tick for him! Nice to be able to return the favour….

Once things had dried up by about 1100, I headed back to Keyhaven, and stopped by the lagoon, where two birders had their scopes up. Any luck? Yes! The drake Garganey was on show – result! Buoyed up, I headed on to the balancing pond area, where a Gropper had been in song at dawn – no joy, needless to say…. But a Reed Warbler grumbled away in the reedbed, and I heard and glimpsed several Bearded Tits over the Phragmites too, in addition to several quite showy Cetti’s Warblers, and yet more Swallows appearing over the marshes. Finally for the coast, I connected with the singing Whitethroat near the jetty.

A speculative stop in the New Forest on the way home, hoping for Wood Warbler, produced instead a singing Garden Warbler – a fitting end to a very good day and weekend, packed full of quality birds and the thrill of migration time. 18 new species for the weekend!