Friday, 22 August 2014

Bunny Meadows and Curbridge - August 2014

The autumn migration is in full swing now and as I had a day off I decided to spend at least parts of the day birding a few local sites in the hope of finding some migrants. I started at Bunny Meadows around mid morning to coincide with the high tide, as this is usually a good site for waders. As I arrived it was just off high tide and a few waders and gulls were taking advantage of the last remaining areas of intertidal, whereas others were already roosting on the vegetated Islands.

Black-headed Gull - Bunny Meadows

Black-headed Gulls were the most numerous gull species with 104 present, Great Black-backed (3) and Herring (7) were also present but only in small numbers. At this time of year the islands are well vegetated and some waders were making the most of this cover, whilst others roosted on patches of bare mud. Black-tailed Godwits were the most numerous wader species present with at least 148 birds present.

Black-tailed Godwits - Bunny Meadows

Most of the godwits present were adults and moulting into their winter plumage but there were also a few juveniles present too. 

Black-tailed Godwits - Juvenile in middle and adults

As well as the godwits there was also a good selection of other waders present. Curlew (2), Redshank (5), Dunlin (1), Turnstone (1), Ringed Plover (24) and a Whimbrel were the species that I found, but some were difficult to identify in the tall vegetation.

Two Ringed Plover and Dunlin - Bunny Meadows 
Whimbrel - Bunny Meadows

I continued past the islands to the remains of the old causeway, another good bird roosting location. There were good numbers of waders here too, with Redshank (60), Black-tailed Godwit (2), Greenshank (2), Oystercatcher (5), Lapwing (5) and Grey Plover (5) present. Two of the Grey Plovers were adults and three were juveniles, one of the adults had colour rings on its legs, and eventually it put both legs down so I could get the combination. The bird was ringed at Hamble Point by Farlington Ringing Group in January 2009, the subsequent sightings are provided below the image.

Grey Plovers - Both adults, with one bird colour-ringed (see inset) - Bunny Meadows

First Ringed        02-Jan-09 Hamble Point, Southampton Water, Hampshire, S England
Resighted           26-Dec-11 Bunny Meadows, Warsash, River Hamble, Hampshire, S England
Resighted           27-Dec-11 Bunny Meadows, Warsash, River Hamble, Hampshire, S England
Resighted           18-Nov-12 Bunny Meadows, Warsash, River Hamble, Hampshire, S England
Resighted           18-Nov-12 River Hamble, Hampshire, S England
Resighted           16-Sep-13 Hook Links scrape, Hook-with-Warsash, Southampton Water, Hampshire, S England
Resighted           04-Feb-14 Bunny Meadows, Warsash, River Hamble, Hampshire, S England
Resighted           22-Aug-14 Bunny Meadows, Warsash, River Hamble, Hampshire, S England

With the tide now dropping fast my next stop was Curbridge, further up the Hamble Estuary. Curbridge has been good to me in recent weeks and today was no exception. I started at the Horse and Jockey pub entrance and immediately picked up three Common Sandpipers and a couple of Kingfishers. There were small numbers of Curlew (2) and Whimbrel (2) and a handful of Little Egrets (5). There were at least 600 gulls present on the intertidal, which is not unusual, but the fact that at least 287 of them were Mediterranean Gulls was astonishing. Flocks of several hundred post breeding Mediterranean Gulls often form on the arable fields around Titchfield Haven, but I have never seen this many at Curbridge before. One of the adult birds had a green colour ring on its left tarsus, but unfortunately it was too far away to see if any letters were on it.

Mediterranean Gulls, Adults and Juveniles and Black-headed Gulls - Curbridge

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