Sunday, 31 May 2015

Birding in black and white at Titchfield Haven

Over the course of the weekend I have made a couple of visits to the Haven, for no other reason than to enjoy the present spectacle of breeding gulls and waders. There is also the long-staying Greater Yellowlegs which is always worth a look if its showing, but I don't tend to seek it out if its not. As well as the breeding birds there are always plenty of other species on hand and this weekend there were Dunlin, Black-tailed Godwit, Oystercatcher, Redshank and a couple of marauding Lesser Black-backed Gulls. Single Curlew Sandpiper and Little Stint have also been seen this week and over the weekend, but I didn't manage to catch up with either.

Whilst walking around it was evident that the majority of the birds I was watching were mainly black and white, well at least it appeared like that, so I thought I would theme this post on them. My first species is Pied Avocet. This year is providing to be a good one for Avocets, with at least 14 nests on the south scrape. This species has to be a favourite of many a birder; they are elegant and very distinctive with their black and white markings. The upturned bill is perhaps the most distinctive feature, perfectly designed for sweeping from left to right as they feed. They are often feeding just in front of the hides giving excellent views and the first chicks of they year on the south scrape were a welcome sight, let's hope the evade the Lesser Black-backs.

Pied Avocet - There are at least 14 pairs on the scrape this year and truly black and white bird
Another Pied Avocet

The Black-headed Gull colony at the Haven is doing very well, I haven't bothered to count them but there are loads. Within the colony there are a couple of pairs of Mediterranean Gulls and it is this species that is my next black and white species. The hood on a Med gull is jet black and contrasts with the white neck and underparts, there is of course the light grey back/mantle, but I won't dwell on that. The image below clearly shows the brown hood of the Black-headed Gull in comparison with the black hood of the Med, somebody clearly got it wrong when they named Black-headed Gull.

Adult Mediterranean Gulls (one sitting on the nest behind the other). Its jet black hood contrasts with the white neck and underparts as opposed to the Black-headed Gulls with their brown hoods - who on earth came up with Black-headed for this species

A Northern Lapwing was feeding, whilst protecting its two chicks just in front of the hide on the north scrape. Another distinctive species with its dark olive green back but black bib, crown and face mask, so this is my next black and white species. Its crest is also black and curls up in the opposite direction to the Avocet and is longer on the male. 

Lapwing - ok not really black and white, but more dark olive green and white, but it does have black on it!

My next species was Greater Yellowlegs, not a black and white species at all really, more grey and white, but has showed so well this weekend that I just had to include some images. Now that it has come into some plumage there are some black centres to some of the feathers on the back, so I think I can just about get away with including it. The bird seems to have got into a bit of a pattern now, when the river is high it moves up to the Posbrook flood, but as more mud becomes exposed on the river it moves back down. Occasionally it visits the scrapes but those visits are more sporadic.

Greater Yellowlegs - Definitely not black and white, more grey and white, but is its summer plumage it does have black centres to feathers on the mantle
Greater Yellowlegs

As I left the reserve and headed back to my car I noticed the almost resident Black Swan in the harbour. An all black bird, except that is for the red bill, but when sat next to a Mute Swan there was a very black and white scene. There were two Black Swans when I was at the Haven the other day, I don't think anyone has any idea where they have come from but they are an interesting addition to the harbours avifauna.

Two Swans, one Black and one White (Black Swan and Mute Swan)

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