• Sim Elliott

Birds at Farlington Marshes NR, Langstone Harbour. Brent Geeses and winter Ducks & Waders. 12.10.22


Farlington Marshes, at the top of Langstone Harbour, is a reserve I like to visit in Winter as it is a superb place to see overwintering waders, geese and ducks; and it is the one of the most important locations for overwintering Brent Geese in the UK. The water of Langstone Harbour supporting around 30% of the UK’s entire population [of Brent Geese] when they head here from Siberia. Birdwatching - Portsmouth (visitportsmouth.co.uk). Up to 6,500 [Brent] geese use Langstone Harbour, and about 2,700 use Portsmouth Harbour (Source : BTO in Brent Goose Strategy). The first arrivals for the winter are mainly in mid September, although this date is becoming earlier as the population increases. Geese have proved to be adaptable and are able to feed on a wide range of plants. Brent Geese (plus.com)


I reached Farlington from Brighton by train and bus. After alighting at Havant railway station, I took the Stagecoach 21 bus to Portsmouth from the nearby bus station, see: 21 Bus Route & Timetable: Portsmouth - Havant | Stagecoach (stagecoachbus.com). The bus goes every 30 minutes and takes about 40 minutes from Havant; alight at Walton Road, Farlington; then walk south to the reserve (15 minutes walk); you need to cross the roundabout that forms the junction of the A27 and the A2030, but this is easy as there are traffic-light controlled pedestrian crossings.


I had last visited Farlington Marshes in January of this year, see: Birds in Langstone Harbour: the old Oyster Beds & Farlington Marshes Reserves. 23.01.22 (simelliott.net)


This reserve offers wonderful walks all year round, but during the winter it really comes to life, playing host to a staggering number of migratory, overwintering wildfowl.


Dark bellied brent geese, wigeons, teals, avocets, redshanks and dunlins flock to Farlington Marshes in their thousands, creating unrivalled bird watching opportunities. The winter also sees the return of the ever popular short eared owls, which hunt over the Point Field and southern end of the main marsh. Farlington Marshes Nature Reserve | Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust (hiwwt.org.uk)


Birds seen: Grey Plovers, Ringed Plovers, Redshanks, Black-Winged Godwits, Avocets, Lapwings, Little Egrets, Cattle Egrets, Grey Herons, Teal, Pintails, Shelducks, Mallards, Brent Geese, Canada Geeses, Starlings, Magpies, Kestrel, Stonechats, Meadow Pipits, Dunnocks


When I reached the path to Farlington Marsh from the roundabout crossing the first birds I saw were Brnet Geese.


It was high tide when I arrived so the resident and overwintering waders and ducks that are typically dispersed across Langstone Harbour (on the harbour silt feeding or on the water) were mostly concentrated into flocks on the lake, the stream and the meadows of the reserve and on the little islands around the reserve, except the Brent Geese who were mostly on the water of the Langstone Harbour or flying around in skeins. I saw flocks of Grey Plovers, Ringed Plovers, Lapwings, Pintails, Little Egrets, Brent Geese, Shelducks, Curlew and Canada Geese; and some smaller groups (Cattle Egret) and a lot of individual Stonechats and Meadow Pipits.

Map: Farlington-map-web.pdf (hiwwt.org.uk), from Farlington Marshes Nature Reserve | Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust (hiwwt.org.uk)


The Lake


Mainly Grey Plovers (I think)


Shelducks and Little Egret


Black Tailed Godwits and Grey Plovers


Mostly Black-Tailed Godwits; with other waders at the back (inc. Dunlin)


Pintail Ducks


Little Egret and Grey Heron


Pintail and juvenile Moorhen


Pintail Ducks and a Moorhen


Little Egret


Grey Heron and Pintails


Pintail Duck


Mostly Ringed Plovers


A lone Avocet with Pintail ducks, a Grey Plover and a Black-Headed (?) Gull


Mostly Gey Plovers (?)


Brent Geese flying in


Round the perimeter path


Meadow Pipit


Dunnock


Brent Geese in the Harbour


Stonechat


Stonechat taking a drink


Meadow Pipit


Brent Geeses (Portsea Island in background)


An island of Curlews, with Brent geese in front.


Wreck and Brent Geese


Main Marsh


Cattle and Catte Egret


Little Egrets on the island to the east of the Marshes


Grey Heron on the island


Grey Herons and Little Egret


Common Darter on the rails of a fence


Black-Tailed Godwits on The Stream


Canada Geese by the Stream


Lapwings, and Black-Headed Gulls by The Stream


Lapwing


Back at the Lake


Black-Tailed Godwits and Grey Plovers?


Little Egrets


Ringed Plovers


Teal


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