With some time off over the Easter Weekend I got the chance to get back down to the South Coast to Pennington & Keyhaven Marshes hoping to catch up with a few species that I had missed throughout the winter on my year list.
The first big surprise was spotting a Little Egret feeding not to far from the main car park with a bigger white heron like bird next to it, a second look and a scramble for the camera confirmed it as a Spoonbill, a stunning bird not all to common in these parts, and one I have never had the luxury of seeing in closish proximity.
After managing to walk further down the path to get level with the bird some disruption caused it to take flight, circling the marsh and flying back straight over top or our heads. Definitely well worth the 40 mile drive alone.
Plenty of other Little Egrets could be seen all along the marsh, with feeding birds close to the sea wall every 200-300 yards or so.
A fair few Brent Geese remained close in off of the sea wall, and were occasionally joined by the odd group of incoming Wigeon. Oystercatchers drawing our attention with their loud alarm calls, regularly skimmed over top of the waves as we made our way down the seawall path towards Lymington.
On route from the English channel Pennington proved a good spot to see some spring migrants, with Chiffchaff's galore feeding at the waters edge alongside each and every pool around the reserve.
Another surprise whilst watching a Great Crested Grebe feeding off of the sea wall was the emergence of a lone Slavonian Grebe starting to loose its winter plumage.
The Red-breasted Mergansers still appeared paired up in the same spot as where I saw them on my last visit in January, although this time the male took flight from the small spit of land where the female sat. A stunning duck and really streamlined.
As always a small area of pebble and beach was left from the incoming tide and 20+ Turnstone waddled up and down the shoreline feeding.
A species I was keen to catch up with this visit was the Spotted Redshank, having somehow missed the wintering group earlier in January, this time however I was soon comfortable I hadn't miss identified the bird for the common Redshank. And even managed some relatively close photographs as 6 or 7 birds fed on the small shallow lagoon.
Throughout the winter I had been desperate to get close to some or our gorgeous wintering duck species. Usually feeding in large flocks on the flooded ground, getting close without disturbing the group had proved quite tricky and unsuccessful. However I found myself able to view a small group of Wigeon and a couple of pairs of Teal at fairly close proximity.
All winter I have had a fairly good success rate on seeing Goldcrests and also seeing them close up. Today was no exception as we spotted a pair in a isolated bush right next to the footpath. A couple of minutes wait and they both showed them self for some photos.
With some great birds in the bag at Pennington, we headed back across the New Forest to Blashford Lakes a slight detour on the route home. Straight away picking up another new migrant species for the year as 5 Sand Martin hurried across the large expanse of Ibsley Water.
A brief pit stop in the woodland hide showed all the usual resident woodland species and also a couple of rosy looking Common Redpoll, a lone male Brambling and some very smart looking Siskin.
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