• Sim Elliott

Farlington Marshes; Barnacle Geese and overwintering ducks, geese and waders 29.11.21

For more information about the history and landscape of the Farlington Marshes reserve see my post Farlington Marshes; a winter home for migratory geese, ducks & waders; threats to waders. 15.11.21 and Farlington Marshes Nature Reserve | Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust (hiwwt.org.uk)


This post is a photographic log of the birds that I saw, with little commentary - except for some words on the Barnacle Geese, which were a new life list bird for me, and a few notes, from other sources, on things of interest about Langstone Harbour's history and landscape. Sometimes I make mistakes with bird ID; let me know if I have got something wrong! I don't aim for great wildlife photography but to record what I see, so that I can use the photos to trigger and savour my memories of a great visit later; and to interest other people, hopefully encouraging readers to visit new places to them. All my photos are designed to be "record shots"; some turn out better than others photographically!


The images in this post alternate between birds on the reserve; birds in the harbour next to the reserve, and views from the reserve across Langstone Harbour. Rather than group the bird photos into species, I have presented the photos in the order which I noted things; my intention being to try and communicate the experience of being there, with birds located not just with a nature reserve but also within an harbour fringed by the industrialisation and urbanisation of Portsea and Havant. It is the contrast between the marshes, and Farlington/Havant and Portsea, that makes Farlington Marshes such an interesting location. Farlington Marshes feels like liminal space between urbanisation and 'wild' landscape; somewhat similar to he experience of visiting RSPB Rainham Marsh in the Thames Estuary; you may find my post Birding in the Thames Estuary on the site of a former Rifle Range: RSPB Rainham Marshes. 20.11.21 interesting - or you might not!


It was a perishingly cold day, and I choose to return to Farlington Marshes for this week's Monday bird outing, as I thought it would be interesting to see if the very cold weather in the UK and Europe had resulted in more unusual birds turning up at Farlington; they hadn't; but what was there was still magical.


These are the species that I saw: Oystercatchers. Black Headed Gulls, Herring Gulls, Robbins, Redshanks, Grey Plovers, Lapwings, Dunlin, Black Tailed Godwits, Curlew, Barnacle Geese, Brent Geese, Canada Geese, Coots, Moorhens, Teal, Shelducks, Shovelers, Wigeon, Pintails, Mallards, a Red Breasted Merganser (or a Goosander), Grey Herons, Little Egrets, Stonechat, a Blackbird, a Great Tit, Carrion Crows, Magpies, a Meadow Pipit, and, as always, Wood Pigeons; and a brief appearance of a Peregrine Falcon (not photographed).


I walked from the bus stop in Walton Road, crossing the busy A27/A2020 junction roundabout, to the west entrance of the reserve, south of the A27. After walking a little way along the coast path that borders the marshes, I walked along the path by the Lake and Reed Bed to the coast path on the east side of the reserve. When I reached the coast path, I first walked to the far east end of the path, then walked all the coast path clockwise. Walking the path I took photographs looking into the marsh and looking out to the harbour. At dusk I re-walked the areas close to the west entrance, overlooking the top of Langstone Harbour

Mural in a carpark next to the bus station in Havant, where I took the bus 21 from Havant Station to Walton Road, Farlington.


Before entering the reserve (from the path to the west entrance)


Redshank


Oystercatcher


Black Headed Gull


Brent Geese in the channel by the the Kendall Bros aggregates quay at the top of Langstone Harbour. For information about Brent Geese Migration see my post: Langstone Harbour & Hayling Island: Brent Geese 23.10.21


Robin


Inside the reserve


The Bushes


Moorhen


Mallard. The pool in which this Mallard was was completely frozen.


The Lake and Reed Bed


Pintails and other ducks standing on the ice


Lapwing and Teal


Teal and Pintails on the bank and Pintails on one leg on the ice


Lapwing


Pintails and Teal standing and walking on the ice


Female Wigeon foraging


Little Grebes


This Little Grebe is in the part of the Reed Bed that is not frozen


Ice


Little Egret


Pintails and Teal


Moorhen


Wood Pigeons


Great Tit; well hidden


Various gulls (Herring Gulls and Black Headed Gulls) and lots of Coots by the Reed Bed pool


Frozen Reed Beds


Stonechat


Robin


Canada Geese, a Moorhen and Black Tailed Godwits in flight


A female Blackbird


Black Tailed Godwits around the "white house" (Farlington Marshes information centre)


A Black-Tailed Godwit foraging - you can hear the roar of the nearby A27. So may beautiful birds so close to such a busy road!



Female Teal


Path past the Hay Field to the coast path


Robin


Curlew and Brent Geese


Brent Geese


Curlews


Magpie


Looking west from the path: Spinnaker Tower and Portsmouth's waste incineration plant (2018 "Portsmouth's incinerator is facing claims it is exceeding pollution targets and not being monitored by those in charge, according to a report Incineration going '˜unchecked' as report highlights Portsmouth pollution | The News Extinction Rebellion take action September 2021 Extinction Rebellion 'blockade' Portsmouth incinerator run by Veolia with children's shoes and pushchairs | The News


Robin


Brent Geese


Barnacle Geese (probably feral rather than "wild" overwintering geese) - in amongst a flock of Canada Geese


Wild Barnacle Geese are found in the UK only in the winter (they nest in Greenland and Svalbard). They overwinter mostly in Scotland, northern England and Ireland. There are small numbers of feral birds that nest in the UK; considering there were only three Barnacle Geese at Farlington Marshes, and they were with Canada Geese, they are probably feral, and fairly stationary, like Canada Geese in the UK.


The barnacle goose is a medium-sized, sociable goose, with black head, neck and breast with creamy-white face. This contrasts with the white belly, blue-grey barred back and black tail. It flies in packs and long lines, with a noisy chorus of barking or yapping sounds


Population: UK breeding: 900 pairs; UK wintering: 58,000 from the Greenland breeding population, 33,000 from Svalbard in northern Russia and 3,000 from the feral UK populations Europe: >390,000 Barnacle Goose Facts | Branta Leucopsis - The RSPB


The black-and-white barnacle goose flies here for the 'warmer' winter from Greenland and Svalbard. This epic journey was once a mystery to people, who thought it hatched from the goose barnacle at sea! Wild birds are only found here in the winter. They nest in Greenland and Svalbard and spend the winter in Scotland, northern England and Ireland. Small numbers of feral birds nest on gravel pits and park lakes. Barnacle goose | The Wildlife Trusts


How barnacle geese adjust their migratory habits in the face of climate change (theconversation.com) Thomas Oudman 2019:


The climate is changing at an unprecedented rate, and so are the environments of many plant and animal species. Populations die out in places that become intolerable, and thrive in other places that have become more benign.


But for many species, population growth in new places does not keep up with the decline elsewhere. For some species, such as polar bears, such benign places do not even exist. And even if they do, species still face a significant problem: they need to find them.


This problem is perhaps more serious for migratory animals, which have to adjust to not one, but several changing environments that they visit throughout the year. Even after finding a new habitat one year, they must find it again the next, and every year after that. How on earth do these creatures know where to go?


This question is not trivial: many migratory populations are declining. What seems to be killing them is their inability to adjust to multiple changing habitats at once. The problem might be that it is hard for them to learn new migratory habits.


Geese lead the way


But a few migratory species are thriving. Among them are barnacle geese, a small-sized goose that winters in Europe and traditionally breeds on the Arctic tundras of Siberia, Svalbard and Greenland. So, how are they doing so well? - see the weblink to read more: How barnacle geese adjust their migratory habits in the face of climate change (theconversation.com)



Walking along the coast path, in circular direction (view over the marsh on one side and the Langstone Harbour mud on the other)


Redshank


Canada Geese


Robins on the path - unusual to see two so close as they are very territorial


A nearly all white goose with Barnacle Goose and Canada Geese; it appears to have some shadow Canada Goose markings. It was in a the flock of Canada Geese with the Barnacle. Possibly a leucistic Canada Goose but probably a hybrid Canada Goose with Domestic (greylag) goose