Best Day’s Birding, Ever!

by A warbler a day

Today I headed back down to the coast, this time to Titchfield Haven. Again the websites had promised Spoonbill. Would I found some this? Oh yes! And more!

When I arrived at Titchfield Haven the tide was in and so I decided to visit the Meon Shore hide to get a look at the scrapes where there was a noisy mass of Black-headed Gulls. There were hundreds of them. However on closer inspection I was also able to find several pairs of Mediterranean Gulls which unlike the Black-headed’s actually have black heads not chocolate-brown ones! Also feeding in the water were some Black-tailed Godwits, many of which were resplendent in their coppery summer plumage. One of the birders informed me that there were some bar-tailed Godwits to be seen from the Pomfret Hide, so I headed there and lo and behold there they were dozing on one of the islands

After a quick sandwich I walked up the east side of the reserve to Knight’s Bank Hide. This gives a distant view of the stretch of water known as the Frying Pan which is where the Spoonbills have most often been seen. Settling down in the hide I could clearly see some Cormorants and Canada Geese as well as the resident Barnacle Geese and of the course the omnipresent Black-headed Gulls. However I eventually found some white bird-like shapes huddled down below a fence line. Could these be the Spoonbill? They didn’t look like swans but were too big to be Egrets. Finally one of them lifted its neck and I saw the characteristic tufty crest. It was a Spoonbill. A few minutes later I even managed to see the bill that gave it’s name.

Walking back towards the visitor centre I found several signs of spring coming, a Brimstone butterfly, some Chiffchaffs and Cetti’s Warblers in full song, Coltsfoot and Marsh Marigolds flowering.

By now the tide was much lower so I decided to revisit the Meon Shore Hide. There I spotted a small flock of Ruff feeding on the bank of the scrape, for once needing no help to identify them. One of them even looked as though he was about to develop the extraordinary head plumes that give them their name. Visiting the other hides I saw 4 Avocets and 2 Snipe.

I returned to the car via a stroll along the shore line where I found a small flock of Sanderling. Whilst putting my bag back in the car I spotted a bird swimming out at sea. It was a Great Crested grebe, so nice but not special. But as I looked I spotted 2 dark shapes swimming just beyond. Surely they had to be Common Scoter, a sea duck.

As It was still only 4 o’clock I decided to drive on to Hook with Warsash another nature reserve only 10 minutes drive away. I spent an hour or so there and found more waders (Redshank, Dunlin, Ringed Plover, Curlew), another duck (Pintail) plus a skylark heading upwards. Best of all though I saw my first Swallow of the year. Spring truly is coming.

Well what a fabulous day topped off by achieving a personal best for number of species seen – 67!