I had been out the previous night at a gig in London and was due to meet up with my friend the next morning for a seawatch and walk around the coast here.
It was strangely exciting to walk around the spit here at this unearthly hour even though I was so exhausted. I wish I had the energy to spend a little while longer while no soul was about...
Rather than go home first I thought it best to travel straight down here to the destination so I could be up early to greet my friend. I must be mad!
My alarm sounded, so I hurried to put the kettle on for coffee and breakfast....
Although it was now 6am, the sun was fairly high in the sky already.
Chris was punctual as ever so we gathered our gear and headed down to the base of Hurst Castle spit, set up our scopes and see what was passing through.
This time of year is excellent for migrating birds through the English Channel and Solent if the wind is favourable. Normally an easterly is best.
It was still a north easterly but we had hopes of good sightings through the narrow gap here.
As we settled down over the bank and out of the wind looking west our first views were of Little Terns fishing just offshore ahead of us...
I had made one sojourn to the van for another brew in this time. Whilst doing so Chris had some rare Black Throated Diver pass by. They would do that as I was gone wouldn't they?!
One of the birds coveted on a seawatch are Skuas, either Pomarine, Arctic or Great Skuas and they are prevalent at this time, chasing and catching Terns for a tasty meal. Thanks to social media, reports of them heading east towards us came through so we waited to see if they would pass down the Solent or head south around The Isle of Wight. We waited with baited breath but they failed to show so we decided to move on, only latterly hearing they did eventually make it past the point at which we had sat. Such is life!
We packed up and drove a mile east to Keyhaven for a walk along the coastal reserve here with inland lakes and pools so favoured by the migratory wildlife.
We parked up and walked the path along the seawall from the harbour to the marsh and pools and heathland.
Warblers are a very common species here in Spring and one is more common than others, the Whitethroat...
The Lapwing made constant passes directly at the huge corvid.
The Raven will take any opportunities of a meal, it's just trying to survive like the Lapwing
We could hear it calling and noticed the webs of the moth caterpillars it loves to eat in the gorse. Surely it would show?
Chris spotted it first but I couldn't get on it and it disappeared into the gorse.
Eventually it showed...What a creature and boy can it fly !
The Cuckoo is one of those iconic birds that always makes the heart race when it is heard and seen. Others I put in the same bracket are the Kingfisher, Barn Owl and Swift amongst others...
This was a male so is of no immediate threat to lay eggs in any nests but it didn't stop the Linnets chasing it from the scrub in quite a comedic fashion. I've seen raptors mobbed by other birds before but to be chased in such a way was bizarre! I think they know exactly what the bird is all about.
We could hear it every now and then as we carried on with our walk. I do love hearing its onomatopoeic sound. Let's hope we are able to keep listening. Cuckoo numbers have declined by 65% since the 1980's...
They are our smallest Tern to breed here and their numbers have been helped by conservation efforts locally but their numbers are still a concern.
Out on the adjacent inland pools we noted some Tern rafts put out to encourage them to nest upon. Decoy birds had been placed on them to try to encourage breeding too.
The beautiful duck, the Pintail was feeding up, no doubt getting ready to leave soon to head north.
Now a common sight, even in spring is the Marsh Harrier. This was distant and looked like a juvenile male
Probably my favourite Tern. So diminutive but full of character.
I love nature in all it's glory and over the last few years Butterlies have created their own little niche inside my heart. I have ventured far to capture glimpses of one of our most beautiful species and today was to cement my love for these enigmatic creatures even more so.
Chris and I had happened across a fellow who can be best described as The Butterfly Whisperer. We have seen him on occasion at various places as he searched for what is clearly his passion and he wanders about calmly and sedately without a care in the world.
He is a font of knowledge too and upon greeting him, he led us to the first sighting this year of a Small Copper and one of my favourites...
It didn't stay for long and we parted company and went on our way.
Just out of shot is the chap's hand. Green Hairstreaks are very accomodating and can be great to get close to...
I indulged myself in their exquisite beauty....
Back at the car park a red admiral showed it's hand on the shrubbery there despite the shade.
The title of this post is a line taken from the poem 'To the Cuckoo' by William Wordsworth