Friday, 7 February 2014


Another brief respite between storms so it was out to see if I could see the female Smew which had been reported on a flooded field at Brading Marshes, just off Laundry Lane. Brading Marshes is an RSPB reserve but birders, even RSPB members, can't visit it and can only bird from public roads and footpaths, such as Laundry Lane (but fishermen can, apparently, go onto the reserve which is totally ridiculous). This makes looking for birds more than a tad awkward at times.

Anyway, despite two hours of searching, there was no sign of the Smew. I did see the RSPB warden, who drove past in his 4x4, and he said it'd been seen on Wednesday and he thought it was still about. I'll give it another go if the weather isn't too atrocious over the weekend.

iPhone photos of the flooded fields.

The Smew-less scenario aside, it was a pleasant morning (apart from my borrowed wellies rubbing my feet) and there were plenty of other birds about, albeit at a considerable distance. A nice male Stonechat greeted me on a fence post by the lane, the flooded fields played host to large numbers of Coot, a few Moorhens plus Med Gulls, Black-headed Gulls - some members of both species were beginning to get their breeding plumage - and Common Gulls. Three Grey Herons sat at the side of one of the fields and were joined by a couple of Little Egrets.
Over on the marshes, there were large numbers of Pochard and Wigeon (I looked for the Smew among them but it wasn't, but I was told that it generally kept itself to itself), plus some Shovelers with their huge bills. There were also very large (hundreds of individuals) flocks of Starlings and Lapwings; always good to see, given that these species have caused concern over the past decade or so because of alarmingly declining numbers. Little Grebes were also around.

Before going to Laundry Lane, I had made a brief visit to Seaview to see if there was anything out on the sea (there wasn't, it was pretty choppy out on the Solent, making it hard to see what was around). There were the usual Gulls (Black-headed, Great Black-backed, Herring, Common and Mediterranean), a few Carrion Crows and some Oystercatchers on the shore, but that was it. A visit to the hide at Hersey produced nothing of note; an elderly couple plus another older bloke were in the hide and the woman saw a Snipe, unfortunately it was gone before I'd even got in there properly! I daresay I'll see one before the winter is out.

Being the honest person I am - and not wanting a ticket because, knowing my luck, a traffic warden parking attendant would probably come along if I hadn't paid - I'd put £1 in the car park ticket machine before going into the little reserve. Luckily no-one from the council had come along, because I would have got a ticket. £1 is supposed to get you parking for up to 1 hour, but looking at the ticket just before I drove off revealed that I'd only got a paltry 20 minutes! Is this a new sharp practice and the latest way of raising revenues? I don't know why they charge during the winter anyway, hardly anyone uses those parking spaces.

The roads have been badly damaged by flooding and it's a similar story right across southern England, with Somerset particularly badly affected. Knighton Road near Newchurch, never up to much at the best of times, now looks like the lunar surface and strips are missing revealing the road bed beneath. Our village is flooded, luckily I live further up the hill out of reach of the Eastern Yar's worst excesses. We still have two more weeks of storms forecast but, on the news earlier, they did say the jet stream is expected to weaken before the end of the month. I bloody well hope so! I think we deserve a good summer after this...

1 comment:

  1. I enjoyed reading this Fay.Good selection of wildfowl.When I visited the marsh a couple of weeks ago the tracks were bad but a walk along the Bembridge harbour track was better.A few birds to be seen on the lagoons,but not up to your sightings.Nice selection of marsh photos with the sky/cloud formations.