2024 Hampshire & IOW Nature Notes Blog
Titchfield Haven Monday 19th February 2024
Another visit to see the Spoonbills of which there were two of them, not doing very much, but it would seem they feed mainly at night so they were trying to get some rest, however with up to three Marsh Harriers in the area there was a lot of noise mainly from the Black-Headed Gulls and Mediterranean Gulls. Plenty of other birds to see along the shore line but I do like a Shoveller!
Titchfield Haven/Canal Friday 16th February 2024
A visit to Titchfield Haven today in sunny weather, although there always seemed to be the threat of wet weather on the horizon. Very wet and muddy underfoot, in fact part of the footpath was closed off so I had to turn around. In fact this was a good omen as I had passed the site of the Glossy Ibis and got a good look at them feeding in the River Meon floodplain. There were at least three of them and they looked quite at home there. In the craggy trees of mossy lined Oaks there were lots of Blue, Great, and Long Tailed Tits flying in and out of the branches. No butterflies today as it wasn’t that warm, but the bird life was great, and I was glad to get my quarry.
Milton Thursday 15th February 2024
Just out for a short walk out in the sunshine and it’s the warmest day of the year, and out came the butterflies. Two male Brimstones were seen along a footpath leading up to Milton Road in Portsmouth. Both males briefly interacted, but went their separate ways. They had probably been hibernating in some Ivy which covers a lot of the fencing along the path. In the main road a Red Admiral was seen flying about and briefly settled on a van parked by the side of the road. In Southampton a very very early Speckled Wood was seen by Nic Burns.
West Meon Sunday 11th February 2024
Another good day well the afternoon anyway, as the rain seems to be with us again after a blank few weeks. Looking around West Meon today normally turns up several butterflies but today I drew a blank on the downland. The raptors were in good numbers with Red Kites spiralling and locking talons as they drift upwards on the thermals. Other birds seen today were several Dabchicks or Little Grebes, and these are delightful birds with their distinctive calls on the ‘Meon Fly Fishing’ Lake. Wildflowers are very slow at the moment good showing of Snowdrops everywhere, but the Primroses are lagging behind.
Farlington Marshes Thursday 1st February 2024
A perfect day with lots of winter sunshine and no wind, which is always a bonus in anybody’s book. Decided to visit Farlington Marshes again for the elusive Bearded Tits and in the first hour it looked like there wasn’t going to be any showing, although several people had said they had seen them. In the meantime around mid-day I was entertained by multitudes of Lapwings flying in and around the site. There were lots of Canada Geese and Brent Geese on the lake. There were plenty of ducks and waders but they were a long way off. Suddenly here were some familiar twittering amongst the reeds and sure enough a couple of Bearded Tits showed up, they were at a distance but they did eventually come right down to the ‘wire’ as it were. Fantastic acrobats, as they fed on the seed from the reeds. In no time at all there were at least 20 odd males and females all feeding and interacting. They were a joy to watch and the males were avidly feeding on the seed heads with a few had looked as if they had paired up. Meanwhile on the butterfly front several Red Admirals have been seen in the New Forest, plus Peacocks have been seen dotted around Hampshire along with a Painted Lady on the Island
Milton Foreshore Friday 26th January 2024
Went to my local patch today to see the Black Swans, which seemed to have attracted a lot of attention at Eastney Lake. I was pleasantly surprised how many birds there were along the low tide shoreline, must have been hundreds. They were feeding avidly, mostly Brent Geese, but there were other shorebirds, like Dunlin, Redshank, Oystercatcher, and Turnstones. Very close to where I live I came across a couple of Curlews, and all the time I’ve been visiting this site I have never seen them this close to where I live.
I didn’t have to go walk very far, as the Black Swans had espied me and they obviously thought I had some food, and they came right over to me less than a few yards, making these small ‘purring noises’. The Mute Swans were around but whether they will tolerate these Black Swans on their patch only time will tell.
In the garden the Honey bees were starting to get active and my small patch of Bell Heather breaking into bloom was frequented by several bees gathering nectar. Unfortunately I still haven’t seen any butterflies yet.
Isle of Wight: Yarmouth/Tennyson Down/Cranmore 22nd /23rd/ 24th January 2024
It was good to get out and about over this few days which I do when it’s around my birthday, and I always favour the Isle of Wight. Yarmouth always has a good variety of birdlife in the estuary and on the 22nd January just before the storm hit, there were plenty of wading birds to be seen. There were Godwits, Sanderlings, Turnstones, Oystercatchers, and Redshanks, all plying their trade along the shoreline. There was also Tufted Ducks and Mallard, and on the shore Shorelarks busied themselves to finding that tasty morsel. I didn’t see the Kingfisher which I saw here last year, although I’ve no doubt they were around.
On the 24th January after the storm I decided to get some walking in on Tennyson Down although wildlife wise it was a bit barren however I did see a couple of Kestrels, and a Peregrine Falcon close to the monument. In the afternoon I visited a friend who has Red Squirrels in her garden. It took about 20 minutes before one turned up and they were about twenty yards away so good for some telephoto pictures. The bird feeder had shed some of its content after the Blue and Great Tits and to a lesser degree the Great Spotted Woodpecker had dropped lots of seed on the ground. Several Reds turned up and it was quite comical to watch them chasing each other, and boy they don’t hang around either. It was a joy to see and several of the Reds had slightly different colour fur, whether these were immature animals I wouldn’t know.
Back home and in the morning it was unusual to see a lot of Fox activity opposite where I live, but good for photos. A female has built a den on the banks of the allotment, and they were probably trying to get extra rations as the foxes give birth shortly. On the butterfly front Red Admirals and Commas have been seen in the New Forest and on the Island
Milton Lock and Foreshore 18th January 2024
It’s now bitterly cold with temperatures overnight at about -8c and with sharp frosts in the mornings. There is very little bird life in the garden despite putting up fat balls and two nut dispensers; I think the ever present pigeons are putting off the Blue Tits and other birds I would love to see in the garden. Along Milton Lock the Brent Geese are ever present, with Dunlin and Redshank feeding along the shoreline. Along Milton Common and Foreshore the Oystercatchers are growing in number and so are the Curlews with their distinctive calls.
In the hedgerows the Robins and Hedge Sparrows are present but are not showing themselves, along with Blue and Great Tits. Other birds of note are the lovely Teals all paired up along with a few Shelducks. On the Lakes the Mute Swans seem to have paired up again from last year, and Mallard, Tufted Duck Coot and Moorhens are present. The Kingfisher I saw a few weeks ago seems to have disappeared.
Milton Lock and Farlington Marshes 10th January 2024
January is now in the grip of an icy wind blowing in from the North-East and has kept the temperatures down to around freezing. On the Lakes the birds are probably finding it difficult to feed as they quickly see somebody observing them they are soon almost under your feet wanting food. Along the shoreline the tide and many Turnstones and Oystercatchers were feeding, and on the University grounds the Brent Geese were feeding on the grass in there hundreds.
Out on Farlington Marshes the Cold wind soon kept the observers down to a small number, most of us were there to see the Bearded Tits. In the wind they were not showing very well, but we did manage to catch several of them brave enough to stick their heads up in the cool temperatures. There were lots of Teal, Gadwall, Mallard, Black Headed Gulls, on the large lake but it was frozen in places which didn’t help the birds when they wanted to feed. There weren’t many other birds to see as this temperature keeps them down. The Short Eared Owls seem to have left the area, I’m just hoping they will come back one day.
Milton Lock and Foreshore 05th January 2024
A blank December with mainly storms and torrential rain and windy conditions hardly weather to conduct observations in the field. Starting 2024 with a local walk along the foreshore at Milton Lock, the Brent Geese were busy with the tide being out and they feeding in the mud, along with Redshank, Curlew, and Mediterranean Gulls, Black Backed Gulls and Black headed Gulls. In the hedgerows and bramble, there were plenty of Sparrows, Goldfinches, Blue Tits, with the odd Long-Tailed tits.
On the Swan Lake there were several Cormorants, Tufted Ducks, Moorhens, and the Great Grey Heron, being very close for observation, he or she was eyeing up some Grey Squirrels scrambling in and around the dead Elms. Further down towards the War Memorial, the Oystercatchers were busy and making their distinct calls, interacting with the Redshank, a pair of Shelducks and Teal