Tuesday, 5 June 2012

The twites do Pennington

"Fancy a bit of Night Heron action, topped off with Black-winged Stilt, and a side order of Dartford Warbler and maybe a dessert of Nightjar?", I said to Mr "Melodious" Fisher.  "That would be most agreeable", he replied. So we did.

Off to Pennington Marshes then, down south of the New Forest and a return to childhood haunts for Mr F, and a new site for me. Blimey, Lymington, you'd have to be posh to live round there, even the litter was top class. The marshes were brilliant, the walk from the town idyllic.  We were in no hurry so meandered along the sea wall, stopping repeatedly to scan the Solent and while Stu got his home-made recording studio up and running.

Mr F soon picked up the scratchy song of a Dartford Warbler, which surprised me - I thought we would find these later in the New Forest - as it sang in a few bits of gorse by the path.  Even better I caught it flying in with food to a nest just yards from the busy  route. If it hadn't been for a pesky twig, I could have got some reasonable shots.

While we listened and waited, tern action around us included a close fly-by, hovering and plunging Little Tern (best views I've had of them).

Mr F picked out 6 Grey Plover flying in for the falling tide and a couple of Dunlin. Two late Whimbrel flew east and a Curlew called somewhere in the fresh water marsh. Moving on we checked all the terns just in case the Roseate, which had been reported that morning put in another appearance.  No luck with that, but another close fly of a Sandwich Tern fishing just off the beach just about made up for it.

We picked up another singing Dartford further on in among the constant trilling and twittering of Linnet and Greenfinch.  Egrets bloody everywhere. We made our way to where the stilts were to be rewarded with closest view of one of the birds, beautifully mirrored in the still water of a lagoon.

Off then for the Night Heron and soon caught up with it looking decidedly dejected as only herons can, as he roosted in a tree.  Cue digital horror. As the soporific bird wasn't doing much we didn't linger too long deciding to make full use of the amenities of the nearby pub.  Excellent!

 Following a rather large dinner we took our increased weight back to Lymington, pausing briefly for a showing Nuthatch working an oak branch.  Mr F had a plan.  The plan required more alcohol.  Fair enough.

A quick train trip back to Brockenhurst and a return to Mr F's youth. As we walked along the road, a noisy group of revellers followed us, they nipped into a field by the footpath we had intended to use, stripped off and cavorted naked through the grass.  We hurried on, not quite the nature we had wanted to see.

Off the road and into the forest, I picked up a male Redstart immediately as it fed around the base of the trees.  Further on Stu got a Spotted Flycatcher, the day list grew steadily.

The plan was to find an open sapce of clear fell where in year's gone by Stu nad his father had seen Nightjar feeding and roding Woodcock.  That would be good.  The trouble was in the intervening years the forest had flourished somewhat and the paths and rides had changed from what Stu remembered.  No matter, the calls of Siskin, Marsh and Coal Tit and singing Song Thrush and the lack of traffic noise meant I didn't care.  Peace you can't beat it.

We somehow managed to find the open area that Stu remembered and waited while providing a feast for the billions of small flies that lived there.  While Mr F did things with his umbrella contraption, I wandered off up the hill to look for Pied Fly.  Didn't find any of them, but picked up another Redstart male carrying food, which later Stu made into a family.

Now we would just wait. The alcohol helped that.  As the time slipped away it didn't sound like the thrushes were ever going to cease singing, but one by one they fell silent. It got darker. We had a bit of a problem, the last train back to home at 10:40, but we wanted to get Nightjar so we would, probably be cutting it fine.

At about 9:30 we picked up a first grunt, grunt hic and as neither of us admitted to making the noise we presumed it a bird, looking up we caught sight of a roding Woodcock silhouetted against the skies over the pines, it did a few circuits and then another came in from the east.  No Nightjar. Sadly we packed our stuff and wandered back into the forest. Even without Nightjar it had been a cracking day. 

Sticking to the wider rides just in case, our only companions were the small bats enjoying the midge feast. I could have done with one stuck to a piece of string and tied to my hat.

Tawny Owls were now hooting and kewicking all around us, but we still managed to hear the click of a Nightjar and a brief view as it came close to investigate us before disappearing over the dark conifers. Sw-eet!

While Mr F relieved himself in a bush a Barn Owl grunted nearby, a fine denouement to a splendid day (just shy of 90 species).  We even managed the train, sw-eeeet!

We both agreed that Pennington was worth a return some day, while for me the New Forest needs some serious time to get to grips with, next time though I'll take a mosquito net.

Hopefully Mr F willl add some stuff about the flora 'cos he knows his stuff, oh yes!

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