With the weather being a little blustery of late I postponed my trip to Hampshire to see the Greater Yellowlegs multiple times during the week. On Wednesday night I finally decided to make my move. I set off on the coach at 1.00 on Thursday morning. I then arrived in London at 6.00 in the morning for my coach to Southampton. I kept my eyes open for Ring-Necked Parakeets but only saw 5 in a single flock on the south side of London. I spent the rest of the journey asleep but arrived in Southampton for 9.00. Next stage was to grab a train to Fakenham which arrived swiftly. Once in Fakenham I went to the bus station to grab a bus to Hill Head, which was about a 5 min walk from Tichfield. And with that I arrived on site at half 11 in the morning.
There had been no news on the bird all morning and by the time I arrived at the reserve I was pretty convinced that I had made a mistake and that the bird would not be seen today. However, just as I arrived at the reserve it came in from the Suffren Hide, so I quickly made my way there.
It was on the mud at the far side of the lake in front of the hide, feeding on its own. I got to watch it for around an hour before it took off and we lost it. In that time it showed really well, just not especially close. The legs were far more distinctively yellow than I had expected. I had expected a bird that looked very similar to greenshank, but it was distincively different. The legs were much brighter yellow than I had expected, and the bill far strighter. As it was on its own there was nothing much to compare it to size wise, but you could still see that it was a about the same size of a Greenshank.
I grabbed some shots, but they were all digiscoped due to the distance. I got a few reasonable ones though, enough for me at any rate. I also tried to get some video, but as per its quite shaky, and my best effort (the one below) the bird is largely obscured by a Little Egret. But when the egret moves you can get a reasonable view of the bird, so its not too bad.
Whilst enjoying the Yellowlegs we were also treated to a couple of other bits. The guys I was chatting to in the hide picked out a Cuckoo at the back of the hide, Though distant I still managed to grab a record shot, though its far from any good.
As I said, the bird then took off but did not appear to go far, down the river towards the road. As a result the small number of birders rushed down that way to see if we could pick it up. At the road there were a few Black-Tailed Godwits, the birds that the Yellowlegs often associates with, but sadly he was not there. A pity as the godwits were really close to the road. There were about 20 godwits already, but these were then joined by another 50 maybe, but the additional birds did not stay long before flying back upriver to where they had come from.
-Black Tailed Godwits and Little Egret
After about an hour searching the river I decided my time on the reserve was too limited to be spent waiting for it to reappear so decided to go for a wander round the reserve in the hope of encountering it or at least seeing some other good stuff.
I went into the first hide I came to, which was very busy with birds around, though these mainly consisted of Black-Headed Gulls and their chicks. There were reasonable numbers of waders too, such as families of Avocets and Lapwings, as well as Wildfowl including Canada Geese, Shoveler and Shelduck. Sadly I could see no shoveler chicks, but they would have been something to see.
On the far raft one of the birders in the hide picked out a summer plumage Mediterranean Gull, but it was distant and add to that the fact that it kept its head down for the large part and was not overly active I could manage no more than a couple of record shots.
-Black Headed Gull
By now I only had an hour left before I would have to go so I decided to head back to the main entrance to see what had been seen, see if I could see it in the time I had, and also take a look at the ducks in the harbor.
On my way in I had seen a Black Swan with the ducks. Despite not being tickable I wanted to get a good look at it as its been a while since I last saw one. Sadly when I arrived it was asleep which was something of a bummer, but never mind. Can't beat an escaped bird.
I went back to the visitor center to have a look at the sightings, only to find out that the Yellowlegs had been found again in Pumfret hide. This was a trek but I had a little time so decided to go for it just in case it was showing better than previously.
Sadly it was not! If anything it was showing much worse. It took a while for it to come out of the reeds before it then moved through the assembled sleeping godwits before it too settled down to sleep, but behind a godwit. I took a photo just for the sake of it to be honest, all you can see is the birds spangly back and nothing else. I could not stay long but I now knew that it was not showing any closer from the new location than it had been from the original, giving me peace of mind.
One of the other birders in the hide pick out a Grass Snake on the far bank. When I first managed to get on it, the snake had stopped moving and I was unsure if I had even got the right thing, but then it slithered off into the reeds. All this was through the scope so no photos, but it's my first reptile this year and with a family holiday to Dorset coming up, who knows? Maybe I will get them all this year!
-Greater Yellowlegs currently Obscured by Black-Tailed Godwits
Sadly I had no time spare and had to get back pretty sharpish to the bus stop or have to endure a uncomforatbly close journey home with marginal connection times. On the way back I even got a mammal tick for the day when I spotted this rat feeding in the duck area in the harbour. I could not be bothere getting the DSLR out of my bag so I only grabbed a couple of compact shots. It is a rat after all...
On the way back all the connections ran smoothly up to the coach, but out of Southampton the coach was running very late. Good thing I slept through it as I ended up having to absolutely pelt it to make my transfer in London, a transfer that I was supposed to have had 40 mins to wait with. Never mind, I made it and was back in Sheffield at 2.00 on Friday morning, job well done; Greater Yellowlegs seen.
Coach Journey: Starling, Collard Dove, Lesser Black-Backed Gull, Woodpigeon, Ring-Necked Parakeet, Common Buzzard, Goldfinch, Feral Pigeon, Swift, Swallow, Magpie, Carrion Crow, Jackdaw,
Titchfield Haven NNR: Blue Tit, Greater Yellowlegs, Moorhen, Coot, Little Egret, Canada Goose, Black-Headed Gull, Woodpigeon, Lesser Black-Backed Gull, Mallard, Gadwall, Great Black-Backed Gull, Mute Swan, Jay, Cuckoo, Common Tern, Great Crested Grebe, Robin, Dunnock, Black-Tailed Godwit, Pheasant, Oystercatcher, Cormorant, Whitethroat, Avocet, Shelduck, Lapwing, Shoveler, Mediterranean Gull, Sedge Warbler, Linnet, Wren, Reed Bunting, Great Tit, Common Buzzard, Brown Rat, Grass Snake, Speckled Wood, Common Blue, Common Blue Damselfly,