This wheatear was seen feeding along the strand line on the beach at Titchfield Haven in Hampshire. Perhaps it was also having a last look around before flying across the water to mainland Europe and beyond. It was one of the first birds that we saw after our, much shorter, coach journey from Gravesend. Titchfield Haven National Nature Reserve proved to be a wonderful mix of wet woodland, freshwater pools and scrapes, and flood meadows. Good paths and boardwalks led to seven hides and the visitor centre and cafe were excellent. None of us had been there before – so everything was new.
Chiffchaffs seemed to be calling from every bush and tree but they were very elusive, so well done to Chris for managing to photograph one of them! Goldcrests, long tailed tits, robins, dunnocks and wrens, however, made searching the bushes and trees worthwhile. Much easier to see were the waders and waterfowl on the scrapes, and many of us also managed to see a water rail skulking amongst the reeds fringing one of the pools.
Some of the group ate lunch in a hide while viewing buzzard and stonechats, others returned to the visitor centre to choose from the cafe menu, and some ate “alfresco” while listening to the unseen chiffchaffs!
After lunch, marsh harrier, kestrel, another wheatear, grey herons, little egret and more black tailed godwits were added to our growing list of birds seen – the list eventually getting to “about” 55 species.
On our return to the visitor centre and after tea and cake, I spent some time trying to persuade the reserve warden that several of us had seen a great white egret – but evidently this is an extremely rare bird on the reserve.
Thanks to Sally for organising the trip and thanks to the visitor centre staff for being so welcoming (but it really was a great white egret!). Also thanks to Steve, Chris and Julie for the photographs. Apologies to other birders when our group invaded the hides.