Sunday, May 15, 2005

Norfolk pulls ahead, but Hampshire gets one back. 175 species in total

Chris had been scoring very heavily this weekend up in Norfolk (Garganey, Montagu's Harrier, Woodchat Shrike and Stilt Sandpiper, no less!), so there was nothing for it but a bit of blind optimism, and the hope that the two Roseate Terns at Hill Head would extend their spring stopover to three days. So 1.5 hours of pedalling on a chilly morning saw me in place on the seafront by 0900, at low tide. Plenty of Common and Sandwich Terns about, and a single Little Tern flew past, plus about 40 Eider offshore, but an early scan of the distant shingle banks produced just a 'possible' Rosie which quickly got lost in a tern dread. Pinning my hopes on the rising tide, Julia (who had joined me by car) and I worked the reserve - plenty to see, including 2 Peregrines, several Buzzards and Sparrowhawks, four Avocets, a few migrant Dunlin, the plastic Egyptian Goose and a completely wild and genuine Red-crested Pochard (the same one I saw at Curbridge, AND AM HAVING - it was still hanging out with two Shelducks). Many Whitethroats, Cetti's, Sedgies and Reed Warblers too, plus a quick Hairy Dragonfly fly-by.

Back to the shore - a check of some 30 Common Terns on a small island, and there they were - 2 Roseate Terns safely on the list. Much harder to pick out in strong sunlight than on a grey autumn day, but quite distinctive, and easiest to relocate when all the Common Terns displayed, and they sat there doing nothing!

Buoyed up, the ride home in warm spring sunshine was a genuine pleasure.