Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Two more - when will it ever stop? 213 species in total

Today I was due to go flying with a colleague, to gather some photos for the Geography Department, but sadly we had to cancel on account of low cloud.

So I took the opportunity to get back on the bike, and again to ride south to Hill Head/Brownwich, on the eastern shore of Southampton Water. I completed the ride in record time – 1 hour and 22 minutes.

But even by 1455, when I arrived, it was getting dark and gloomy, and it was clear I wouldn’t have much time to search the sea for my target species. So I lay down (prone) on the beach with my scope, and started scanning.

After about ten minutes, a distant dot swam a bit closer, and resolved itself into a smart Red-necked Grebe. These north-east European breeders are only scarce winter migrants to Britain, and have become rather rare in Hampshire in recent years – although I had already missed at least two earlier in the year!

Pretty happy with that, I continued enjoying the Eider flock, several Red-breasted Mergansers and lots of Great Crested Grebes. But then my eye was drawn to a lumbering bird flying south past Fawley refinery, very distantly towards Lepe. Brent Goose? Cormorant? No – Great Northern Diver! I knew one had been in this area earlier in the week, but I didn’t really expect to see it.

Thinking my luck was in, I cycled down to Titchfield Haven for a dusk vigil at the reedbed, in the vain hope that a Bittern might fly by – one didn’t!

A Kingfisher brightened up the gathering gloom, and a Cetti’s Warbler sang briefly from dense cover. But it was now well and truly dark, and I set off for the now familiar ride home, in absolute blackness. The Nightrider has returned!