Saturday, 22 November 2014

Golden Plovers at Bunny Meadows - November 2014

The weather forecast for this weekend was for rain, rain and more rain and so I didn’t make any arrangements for ringing on Saturday, instead I thought I would venture out and play with my new Canon 7D MK2. My initial plan was to go to Blashford Lakes, but I ended up staying local, birding at Bunny Meadows before heading down to the sea front at Hillhead.

It was a dull and overcast day with light drizzle, and so not ideal light conditions for trying out your new camera, but at least it wasn’t the predicted heavy rain. The tide was high so I headed down to the old wooden jetty, the best place for roosting birds. There was a good selection of wetland birds present, with a scattering along the main causeway en-route to the causeway. Eurasian Wigeon, Eurasian Teal, Mallard and Dark-bellied Brent Geese were present in small numbers and a lone Little Egret fed on the tide line. A single roosting Eurasian Curlew was the only wader present along the main causeway.

The wader roost at the old jetty was as expected with a fine selection of waders present. The totals included over 400 Dunlin, nine Greenshank, 38 Grey Plover, 32 Redshank, 16 Black-tailed Godwit, four Grey Plover and 10 Golden Plover. The Golden Plovers were roosting on the end of the small spit on the main causeway side, making them very susceptible to disturbance, but at the same time very close. They were nestled down in the vegetation and therefore could not be easily seen, in fact I only picked them up because a slight movement caught my eye.

Golden Plovers - Bunny Meadows
Golden Plovers hidden amongst Sea Purslane - their gold spangled plumage providing the perfect camouflage

Unfortunately, disturbance levels on this stretch of the Hamble estuary are very high and today was no exception, despite the bad weather. Numerous dogs were running out of control off the lead, as were many children, although admittedly they are not normally kept on a lead. I spent a good 30 minutes with the goldies but as I was watching them, a man with three children came along the causeway. The children immediately began throwing sticks and stones into the water near me and shouting loudly and I had to bite my tongue so I didn't tell them to shut up. The commotion unsettled the goldies and they moved from the shelter of the vegetation to the water’s edge, whilst I scowled with disapproval. The man eventually told them to be quiet but they paid little attention, fortunately they gradually moved off, allowing the goldies to settle back down.

Golden Plovers, Bunny Meadows
Golden Plovers, Bunny Meadows
Golden Plovers, Bunny Meadows
Golden Plover, Bunny Meadows
Golden Plover, Bunny Meadows - This shot was digiscoped with my Panasonic Lumix GF2 and Swarovski scope. I enjoyed photographing these birds so much that I thought I would make the most of it.

After Bunny Meadows, I headed to Hillhead; I didn’t go into the Haven but spent my time scanning offshore. There was nothing of note out there but in the harbour the Turnstones were feeding on the tideline and roosting on the groynes. A further opportunity to test out my new camera, so I took it.

Ruddy Turnstone, Hillhead
Ruddy Turnstone, Hillhead

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