Both Ends of the Test Way

by A warbler a day

Thankfully I appeared to miss the rain that was forecast this weekend and was able to take some nice nature walks. On Saturday I went up to Coombe Gibbet, where the Test way starts, in search of Ring Ouzel and Wheatear, neither of which were around. Fortunately there were plenty of Red Kites flying low over the downland, giving excellent views. A couple of Ravens flew over the southern slope. All along the ridge there were singing Skylarks and some Meadow Pipits, Yellowhammers and Linnets were also seen . After lunch I went in to Hungerford and walked to Freemen’s Marsh. This was alive with singing warblers such as Blackcap and Chiffchaff. I got my first brief glimpse of a Sedge warbler for this year but the best was a Lesser Whitethroat. I was alerted to its presence but its rattling trill and after 5 minutes of searching finally spotted it as it flew between bushes.

Yesterday was not so great for birds, mostly seeing the usuals. However I did find an interesting moth at the security light of my flat. My first ever Streamer, a very attractive Geometrid moth.

Today I went to the other end of the Test Way in Totton. I started off at Goatee Beach, Eling where in amongst a distant group of Mute Swans there was a Black Swan. The bushes and trees around the picnic area held plenty of warblers including my first Whitethroats of the year. I next headed to the Lower Test Marshes Nature Reserve. Walking along the southern boardwalk to the hide I saw very little but coming back there were some little beauties. From one of the viewing screens I saw a Cetti’s Warbler flying into a bush. My best view this year clearly seeing its russet back and rounded tail. This was surpassed a few minutes later as I spotted a bird landing on one of the rails along the boardwalk. I got it in my binoculars to find it was only a House Sparrow but then immediately a second landed next to it, which was unmistakeably a male Whinchat. Lovely! My route round the reserve then took me to the Northern boardwalk where I got a nice view of a singing Sedge Warbler before walking back though the woods where I spotted a Jay, a Nuthatch and a Treecreeper as well as a getting a glimpse of either a Stoat or a Weasel. I ended the day a Testwood Lakes where I saw several Sand Martins and my first Little Ringed Plover of the year. It was also a good day for butterflies with plenty of Orange Tips flying as well as all 3 species of Cabbage White, Brimstones, Peacocks and Small Tortoiseshells.