The Pennington Marsh Mysteries

Tuesday morning at this Hampshire Wildlife Trust reserve threw up some enigmas. First, I was lazy and didn’t fully identify the godwits. They looked like black-tailed but on reflection they were colourful and patterned enough to be bar-tailed. A quick Web search for sightings at the reserve has thrown up nothing, except for Hampshire Ornithological Society, about which Google is emitting dire warnings. (Perhaps they should know this?)

It seems an odd omission for such an important site not to have a regular observations page, or at least be part of a wider reporting website. That caused further introspection. This blog is stuffed with sightings yet doesn’t key into either that word or observations. (Ha-ha! Now it does!)

My stroll to Keyhaven and back produced the expected 150th year bird of one little tern, and unexpected site ticks of common sandpipers and little ringed plover.

Then the second puzzle was how half a dozen grey plovers in winter plumage got to be roosting on the saltmarsh. This is seven weeks earlier than my previous earliest autumn record. The Collins Bird Guide says that they shouldn’t be here till next month when some will moult out of their summer finery. Juveniles will follow even later.

My visit ended with a calling… if I’d been in the Highlands, I’d have said red grouse. Clearly on the south coast this was not an option. The trusty old iPod Touch got some use and my recording there of red-legged partridge matched the sound best. Oddly, this was only the second time I’ve been aware of these birds making any noise, the first being just the week before across Salisbury Plain.

So heard-only gamebirds bookend these last two posts, except to say that my route across Hampshire took me past St Mary’s in Southampton. (I love to cut through cities.) It prompted the poll here. Don’t let me influence your answer!

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