I joined the Isle of Wight Ornithological Group's (IWOG) walk and seawatch between Ryde and Seaview, led by Derek Hale, who runs a website with the latest Isle of Wight bird sightings.
Here's the route on Google maps. It's good for woodland birds (Appley and Puckpool Parks) as well as seawatching at the right time of year, generally winter, for waders, gulls, grebes, divers and the occasional auk species.
I parked my car in Appley park where you get free parking for 5 hours (the sea front, on the other hand, has got year-round parking charges) and met the others at North Walk. The tide was low, although it was starting to turn, and there were plenty of waders and gulls out on the sandbanks. Unfortunately there were plenty of dogs and their walkers on the sandbanks too, why do they feel the need to go so far out among the birds? There's plenty of room further in. Not only that, they let their mutts chase the birds thus disturbing their feeding activities and their rest. When confronted it's invariably 'But he's not hurting them!' No, but the harm isn't a result of a dog biting or killing the bird, it's the stress caused.
N.B., I am a dog lover, I come from a dog-owning family, I just hate the minority of dog owners who behave like total pricks - birds chased, dog shit uncollected so you step in it, dog shit collected but in plastic bags left hanging from trees because, of course, the Dog Shit Fairy will take them away, letting their uncontrolled dogs jump up at you, etc., it's all totally self-centred and unnecessary.
Anyway, when they were left undisturbed by dogs and ignorant owners, there were c.100 Sanderling, a Bar-tailed Godwit, a Guillemot (there have been a lot of storm victims, some living, others dead, washed up along the south coast recently; happily this one was alive and not in bad shape) and the usual gull species (there were no Little Gulls today, sadly).
Walking past Appley Park, we saw Redwings which had been inadvertently flushed by people, they flew up into the trees, disturbing a singing Song Thrush. I've barely seen a Greenfinch all winter - it's been so mild, the garden has been quiet - but there were a few around today.
Out on the Solent, as seen from Puckpool Park, were a group of Red-breasted Mergansers (3 male, 3 female), at least 2 Great Northern Divers (sorry, but I am NOT going to use the atrocious American term 'loon' which, apparently, we are supposed to call them these days. Apart from the fact I can't stand the word and it's yet another Americanism, it's also a very unpleasant term my nasty-piece-of-work stepfather used for the - very sweet - learning difficulties kids who were passengers on his school bus back in the 80s. Therefore I won't use it!), a Slavonian Grebe and a Great Crested Grebe plus six Shags. Shags used to be a rare sight in the Solent, Bembridge Ledge was as close as they ever got, but these days they're being seen in the Solent more often.
The Chiffchaff mentioned at the beginning of the post was fly-catching in trees behind the beach huts at Puckpool while further along at Springvale, a Grey Wagtail was by a temporary pond on a field on the landward side of the road. A Grey Wagtail isn't out of the ordinary, but I haven't seen one for ages and they are such smart little birds. A group of Curlew were on the fields while a Fox trotted across, well out of camera range unfortunately.
Moving onto Hersey Nature Reserve, there was no sign of the Kingfisher which often sits by or on the sluice gate but we did hear a Water Rail calling, it sounds like a pig someone's attempting to kill. From the hide, we could see at least six Snipe fondly imagining themselves unobserved among the reeds, 25 Teal, a Lapwing, a group of Oystercatchers, a Shelduck, three Greenshank, 4 Buzzards and a Peregrine.
The tide was in by now and Sanderling were gathering on the beach, in the same place I photographed them yesterday, there were no Turnstones today. I thought I'd try and improve on the photos I took yesterday. No chance. Why is it that one day I can take decent shots, but the next day not a damn thing is in focus?!
By now it was time to head back to the car and home. Thanks to Derek Hale for leading the walk.
Here are the photos...
|Grey Wagtail - a massive crop of the only pic which came out|
|Oystercatchers at Hersey NR|
After I got home yesterday, I listened to Southampton's FA Cup match away at Sunderland. It was piss-poor, to say the least. Saints lost and the assistant manager, Jesus Perez, was quoted saying 'We are not disappointed'. No, but the fans are! What was the bloody point, if you're not going to sodding bother??!! There's not much to play for in the league, we're not going down, we won't make the top six so trying to win the FA Cup, a major trophy, should have been a high priority. Our best chance in years to progress and, maybe, get to a final (we were a couple of wins away) and actually win something - for a team of their size, Saints have won practically f-all over the years, with the exception of the FA Cup nearly 40 years ago and the League Trophy in 2010, yet they couldn't be arsed. Insulting for the fans to say the least.