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  • Writer's pictureSim Elliott

A sufficiency of Brent Geese & Pintails in Langstone Harbour on a dark, rainy February day. 15.02.22

I visit the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust's Farlington Marshes (top of Langstone Harbour) Farlington Marshes Nature Reserve | Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust ( and the Langstone Harbour Oyster Beds RSPB Nature Reserve Langstone Harbour Nature Reserve, Hampshire - The RSPB (west of Hayling Island) frequently, as a love their landscape and ecology, and their rich array of overwintering geese, ducks and waders. but I have never walked between the two along the Langstone Harbour Waterside walk (which hugs the shore), Coastal Footpath | Langstone Harbour which I did part of yesterday (15.02.21).

Birds seen: Black-Headed Gulls, Herring Gulls, Great Black-Backed Gulls, Blackbirds, Starlings, Grey Heron, Little Egrets, Mallards, Wigeon, Teal, Gadwall, Shelducks, Shovelers, Pintails, Red-Breasted Mergansers, Little Grebes, Mute Swans, Coot, Moorhens, Marsh Harriers, Brent Geese, Canada Geese, Greylag Geese, Curlew, Lapwings, Sanderlings, Avocets, Redshanks, Carrion Crows, Rooks, Robin

The weather forecast for yesterday (15.02.22) was for lots of rain, but easing up at 14.00. I am not adverse to rain on birding outings, as I have good waterproof clothes. My main camera, which I use for most bird shots (a Panasonic Lumix G9 with a Panasonic Lecia DG Vario-Elmar 100-400mm lens) is water resistant, as long a its kept in a case between shots; and I have a compact camera that can be used underwater, an Olympus Tough TG-6, which I use mostly for macro photography of insects and flowers, and landscapes.

I took the train to Haven from Brighton, and then took a 21 bus 21 Bus Route & Timetable: Havant - Portsmouth | Stagecoach ( from Havant Bus station to Farlington (the stop just north of the A27 junction for Farlington). I got a 30 bus 30 Bus Route & Timetable: Havant - Hayling Island | Stagecoach ( back from Langstone Bridge to Havant

I got to Farlington Marshes at 12.45 and walked around the marshes paths until 13.00, when I had lunch in the visitor centre (which is unstaffed but has a roofed seating area.) I decided then that I would walk around the reserve until the rain cleared up and then walk to the Oysterbeds. It didn't stop raining until 15.00; I set off then along the Langstone Harbour Waterside Path, and reached the Langstone Bridge (connecting the mainland to Hayling Island) at 16.30. I looked at the birds in the bay between the road bridge and the old rail bridge (just north of the Oystersbeds reserve), and then got the bus back to Havant.

All of the photos are in chronological order. It was very dark but I have left the photographs unprocessed. to depict the feeling of the day, except for a few photos where I have lightened the image electronically in order to make the birds more visible (noted in text).

Walking into the reserve: a mail Pintail duck at high tide


Avocets and a Pintail on the Lake

Widgeon by the Lake

Avocets and Pintail on the Lake

Lots of Brent Geese on point field

Brent Geese (?) flying over

The Lake

Huge flocks of Brent Geese. The Brent Geese eat as much as they can, as in a few weeks they'll be off back to Siberia. They'll stop off along the Baltic coast before reaching the Arctic in early June, just as the snow and ice is beginning to thaw - an area of land of very few humans, and almost no housing and industry. Brent geese migrate in family groups, flying in wavering lines or flocking in loose groups. These groups stay together from one breeding season to the next. On the wat back they search for marshland, coastal grassland or farmland to rest each day, and feed on, before pushing on at dusk. In places where the grazing is good they may linger for a week at a time. Brent Goose Facts | Branta Bernicla - The RSPB

Canada Geese

A Mute Swan

A Shelduck in The Stream

A male Tuftted Duck in The Stream

Lapwings in flight.

Curlew (?) and Brent Geese (?) in flight

When I had lunch I looked at the Met Office weather app; Farlington seemed to be under one of the heaviest rain the front passing over!

Posters in the visitors centre shelter

A Great-Crested Grebe in the harbour

Female and Male Shovelers in the Harbour

Pintails in the Harbour (as the tide recedes the mud of Langstone becomes a web of tine pools and rifes)

Looking south from Farlington Marshes and the huge expanse of mud at low tide; not dissimilar to the Wash at low tide

Looking west toward Portsea form Farlington Marshes

A female and male Mallard on the mud

A Brent Goose eating Eelgrass, Zostera marina, Common eelgrass | The Wildlife Trusts its principle source of calories in the winter

A Curlew. The Curlew looked as if it had a leg injury but actually the mud at the top of the harbour was so sticky moving each of its legs was very effortful.

A male Stonechat

Female Stonechat behind the fence

Widgeon and Canada Goose (eating grass) beyond the fence the Stonechat was sitting on



Sanderlings foraging on the Harbour Mud

(electronically lightened)

The Deeps

Brent Geese and Starlings by yhe Deeps

An Oystercatcher

Brent Geese and Canada Geese on the marshes beyond the Deeps

Brent Geese and an Oystercatcher on the Harbour Mud

Three Curlews

One Curlew.


Pintails in flight

Curlew in flight

Canada Geese

one munching bgras

Redshank on the harbour mud

Walking along the Langstone Harbour Way

Map fro : Facebook

Lapwings (photo electronically brightened so the Lapwings can be seen) - harbour mud

A pair of Pintails

Pintails and Brent Geese gather in the rifes that appear at low tide; presumably they contain rich forage opportunities

Close up:

Looking put to the Langstone Islands, managed by the RSPB as a protected site for nesting birds.

In the summer the Islands hold breeding gulls and terns including Mediterranean Gulls and Little Terns. In the winter they are roost sites for waders and wildfowl - up to two thirds of the Harbour's waterfowl roost on the Islands. Sometimes they are disturbed e.g. by raptors, and then there can be spectacular displays as thousands of birds whirl overhead.

The little tern colony has held over 100 pairs but in the last two summers there have not been this number of birds - possible causes being the huge numbers of gulls and the movement of some of the terns to the Oyster Beds. The reserve is probably the major site in the UK for breeding Mediterranean Gulls.

Access, by boat, is limited to a designated area at the south eastern end of Long Island. But you do not really need access to the Island to see the birds which feed on surrounding mud and over Farlington Marshes. A walk along the Broadmarsh shore and down the Eastern bank of the Marshes will give good views of the bird life. Portsmouth Local Group - The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (

The harbour north of the Islands is called Challdock Lake

More Brent Geese and Pintails

Redshank in flight

Brent Geese in front of the Langstone islands

Looking toward Portsmouth from the path

The top of Hayling Island

A ruined boat and geese.

Mute Swans

A wigeon

A Little Grebe

Bedhampton Wharf

Langstone harbour supports a busy trade in sea-dredged aggregates through Kendall’s Wharf on the western side of the harbour and Bedhampton Wharf in the north of the harbour. Vessels of up to 80 metres overall length can be accommodated and cargoes other than marine aggregate may be accepted by arrangement with berth operators. Over half a million tonnes of marine aggregate are imported annually through Langstone Harbour. In the year to April 2002 the two commercial wharves handled some 470 vessels.

Power transformer next to the aggregate depot

The aggregate depot

Pleasure boats in Bedhampton Wharf

The rife that the boats use to get into the wharf (low tide)

The old trestle rail bridge; for photos of it before its closure see: Remembering Hayling Island’s lost railway – 21 photos of the Billy line | The News (

Its owners also changed over the years – the railway was originally built by London, Brighton and South Coast Railway but was later sold to Southern Railway in 1923 and British Railways in 1948. Despite the ownership change the railway struggled to maintain a profit, and when a timber swing bridge over Langstone Harbour needed to be replaced in 1962 it was decided that the line had become unfeasible. The final normal service train operated in November 1963 – nearly a century after it first opened.

The breach in the Langstone Harbour Way footpath, resulting in a diversion!

Langstone MIll: Langstone Mill sits on the edge of Chichester Harbour, where the waters between Langstone Harbour to the west and Chichester to the east mingle and a thousand years of industry and activity have given way to a beautiful bird and nature reserve.

The harbours of Langstone and Chichester wrap themselves around Hayling Island, with Portsea Island to the west and Thorney Island to the east, both of them, areas of considerable historical activity. The shallow, sheltered harbour is a flooded river valley peppered with channels and islands and perfect for bird watching, two thirds of the harbour is now an RSPB nature reserve but the harbour was once a thriving commercial area, evidenced by the beautiful old mill.

The old mill, now a private residence, was a working mill until WWI. It is made up of three distinct parts, the mill itself built across a creek, built in 1800 – 1832, the mill store, built in 1800 – 1832 on brick piers and the oldest part, an attached windmill, built in 1720 – 1740. Barges could be brought up to the mill for transporting the milled goods away around the coast.

The mill operated two ten foot wheels, one set higher than the other to make full use of the stream feed and the tide, which was kept behind tide gates.

The black windmill is a distinctive feature of the landscape, its tarred outer skin resilient to the full force of the coastal weather. Langstone Mill on the south coast of Hampshire (

Brent Geese just south of the mill

Teal between the bridges (road and old rail bridges)

Curlew and Oystercatcher

Fluffed-up Curlew

Red-Breasted Mergansers



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