Friday, 2 October 2015

Birds and Blackberries: an afternoon at Keyhaven

Rob and I both had a day off today so we decided to go somewhere different for a change and head down to Pennington, near Lymington and explore the Keyhaven Nature Reserve. I had never been there before, in fact my only knowledge of Keyhaven was that it was the grassy bit where all the bird watchers stand on the right hand side as you leave Lymington on the ferry to the Isle of Wight.

It was much more than I expected! The nature reserve is huge; made up of extensive saltmarsh, brackish lagoons and mudflats. The sea wall enables great views over these lagoons and provides a very scenic stroll. As you would imagine there were a lot of wading birds and ducks here! Tens of Black-tailed godwits, Ringed plover, Wigeon and Teal were enjoying the sunshine in the shallow waters. Lapwing, Dunlin and Starling periodically took to the sky, showing off their impressive formations, and Eider ducks bobbed around peacefully in the sea. Amongst all of these there were also some birds I have rarely, if ever, seen before - Little stint, Snipe, Greenshank, and Spotted redshank were also enjoying the lagoons.

Lapwing and Starling take to the sky


After a spot of blackberry picking (I really want to make my own jam this year) we headed over to Fish tail lake on the other side of the reserve. The sun was low in the sky by this point so we thought we'd just walk and see what we could find. Within a few minutes we had spotted a Hen harrier hunting over the scrub, a Kingfisher, and most surprisingly two Water rail having a scrap on the path just below us! 

Heron in the sunset


A (very blurry) Water rail scrap
Overall I think we must have spotted around 40 species of bird! Not bad for a blackberry picking afternoon :)