Normandy Marsh, Lymington

If coming in by train, don’t bother travelling on to the end of the line at Lymington Quay. Stop at the Town station and try to hug the left bank of the river, heading south. A detour into the High Street will be worthwhile to pick up water and other comestibles; otherwise you’re at the mercy of the mercenaries that follow.

You’ll then pass acres of marina, which have gobbled up the original habitat in the pursuit of Mammon, but Lymington Yacht Haven (as though yachts were endangered!) marks the limit of this. Then you’ll find it was worth persisting because you arrive at scrub and linnets will be your delightful companions as you head to the first of the lagoons. These dot this stretch of coast all the way to Keyhaven. Indeed I lump these two marshes and Pennington in between as the same general area.

By now you should have picked up Mediterranean gull in the right season – that’s to say, summer. Common terns will also fly in off the Solent. Harder to spot will be little terns but one or two are likely to be roosting on the first lagoon for a good addition to any car-free list. Work round the east and south sides of this to cover it. I prefer then to retrace my steps than take a short cut back to Normandy Lane and the station.

Obviously if you’re really energetic, just keep going. Over the years at what must class as one of my top birding sites I’ve logged avocet, little ringed plover, long-billed dowitcher, little stint, arctic tern and golden oriole.

Radipole Lake, Weymouth

This is a short five-minute walk from the station. Just hang a right, skirt round Halfords and B&Q, and head across a car park to the thatched RSPB hut. From here must be the easiest way to put Mediterranean gull on anyone’s car-free list. Mind you, the time of year may be important because previous visits have never yielded it. It wasn’t even on my Dorset list.

In the reed beds that stretch north of the car park, other good summer birds are Continue reading

New Cut, Bristol

I’ve been plying this artificial branch of the River Avon for a year and a half, so it’s interesting to see what’s been ever present. No surprises for herring and lesser black-backed gulls, mallard, feral pigeon, wood pigeon, magpie, crow and wren. With one absence come collared dove (October), blackbird (August), goldfinch (September) and house sparrow. Other mainly common species comprise starling, robin, jackdaw, cormorant and dunnock.

Rarities, at one record apiece, are Continue reading

Mediterranean Gull, Upton Warren

My usual spring visit for avocet and little ringed plover produced scads of the former and four of the latter at the Flashes. On the way in, common terns also skimmed the surface of the sailing pool. Hoping for sedge warbler on my return walk, I then checked the Bittern and Hen Brook Hides; just one reed warbler showed but showed very well, which is unusual.

There was plenty of time to continue to the Moors, so I strolled through the Education Reserve and flushed a Continue reading