The Portland Naturalist

The Portland Naturalist

Sunday, 8 September 2013

Great Spot, Shanks for the Memories

I'm currently 'in transit' in Surrey.  It felt great getting back out onto my old patch at Tice's Meadow, Badshot Lea, near Farnborough this morning for one day only, as there was a Surrey Bird Club walk there.  Not only was the weather kind, but quality birds showed up and in great company as always there.

For those who don't know the site, it's an old gravel quarry that's in the process of being converted to a nature reserve.  I had some wonderful times here in the spring, when the highest water levels ever recorded produced previously only dreamt of species.

Even in the 3 months since I last visited, it's changed massively, with the water level now much lower, revealing the gravel islands.  In addition, the clearly productive growing season for the plants has turned the bushes area almost into a wood!

The workings.

The wintering ducks were already starting to appear with 23 Teal, 7 Gadwall, 2 Wigeon, 4 Shoveler, 20 Tufted Duck, and 3 Pochard.  I have volunteered myself to write the Tice's first ever annual bird report come the end of the year, and I am very aware that a bird report must have photos in it!  So, I did my best today to at least get record shots of stuff (the waterbirds at Tice's are usually pretty distant!).  The best I could achieve of a Teal.

And an eclipse male Shoveler.

When we arrived, there were a couple of Canada Goose present (along with a pair of escaped Chinese Goose!).  I went on a wander down the end of the site, only to have a seemingly never-ending procession of skeins of Canadas coming in from the east.  My total got up to 375, but the latest news is that there are currently 842 present - a site record!  Surprisingly accompanying the Geese was a single Pintail which is a good record for the date, and less surprisingly a single Barnacle Goose.
A Kingfisher put on a bit of a show, as it sat on the fences round the Bike Pool, and one point getting very close to a Grey Heron.  Nice to see together the 'little and large' of the fishermen!  A bit disappointing though that the Heron wasn't looking this way, as I could have got a shot that made it look like the little guy was sitting on the Heron's bill!

Also in and over the workings were 4 Snipe, a Hobby, 100 House Martin, 30 Sand Martin, 2 Green Sandpiper, 1 Common Sandpiper, and 3 Sparrowhawk.  In terms of breeding evidence, there was two juvenile Common Tern present, plus a pair of Egyptian Goose with two well-grown young, which is a first breeding record for the site, as well as these late-breeding Little Grebe.

While we were standing on the mound, we heard some Tree Pipit overhead.  I thought there were two birds, but we only saw one drop down behind the reedbed out of sight.  Only the third site record (and second on-the-deck)!  Later, they're thin calls were heard again, and two birds appeared together overhead, before dropping down onto the fence in front!

After hopping down onto the path for a short while, they were flushed by a dog-walker, and all three birds flew off together to the far side of the meadow, where a Whinchat was present also.

A short while later, Kev Duncan, the Tice's recorder and SBC field meetings organiser, alerted us to a pair of wader that had just dropped in.  The light was disadvantageous, but they appeared to have the leggy and slim jizz of Spotted Redshank.  A stroll to the far end of the path with the light more behind us, confirmed our suspicions.  The second site record!  They were a winter-plumaged adult and a juvenile, but this was the best shot I managed as they were at the far side of the workings.

While we were watching these, a Yellow Wagtail flew over and perched in a tree, and a Clouded Yellow showed.  You genuinely didn't know which way to look!  Patch watching at it's best!
Tice's is always worth a visit if you're in the area.
Sorry to go on about it, but Spurn tomorrow!!

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