Saturday, 30 January 2016

A Walk and Winter Birds at Keyhaven

After so many wet days, we had a drier afternoon on Thursday when we drove down to the coast.
Keyhaven Marshes is an internationally important wildlife reserve to the west of the Lymington River. It is managed by the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Naturalists` Trust.

We walked past the harbour, where small boats sheltered from south westerly winds in the lee of Hurst Spit.

The coastal path eastwards is on the narrow sea wall that divides inland marshes from the Solent sea.

Westwards, across the raised Spit, early storm clouds were rumbling in on the tail of Storm Gertrude, which was already arriving in northern England and Scotland.

Brighter skies still shone across to the Isle of Wight. The lighthouse at Hurst Castle can just be seen.

The salt marshes were still flooded from a high tide. 

A curlew hunted for food on raised marsh near the footpath. It was beautifully camouflaged, but  reflection revealed its presence.

Brent geese landed on water.......

........and pochard sheltered and fed on the edge of the lagoon, on the landward side of the sea wall.

My current point-and-shoot camera doesn`t have a long lens, but the three birds behind the pair of mallard are a male shoveller and two females.

A sun trail from the west.

We walked for forty minutes before turning back. Slate Grey Dog will walk for longer when she has grown up. She was excited by the ever-moving sea, by the biting wind and the calling birds.

Westwards, Hurst Castle guards the entrance to the Solent, against a backdrop of the Island's western chalk cliffs and the Needles.

Eastwards, the sea wall path stretched onwards to Lymington.

Sunlight turned  reeds to gold. They shook and shimmered in a freezing wind. White yacht masts shone on the horizon, moored in the calm of Lymington Harbour.

Walking back past the inland lagoon, we found that flocks of geese and waders had arrived to feed and find evening shelter.

Brent geese, gulls, a flight of dunlin, oystercatchers with their haunting cry........

...and a flock of lapwing too fast to be caught on film.

More flocks and skeins of geese flew towards the shore from inland feeding grounds. 
A cold sky filled with the cries of birds.


Bovey Belle said...

What a lovely walk, and a good selection of wild birds spotted too. I love those distant views across the marshes. I think Slate Grey Dog had FUN! I bet it was perishing though.

Louise said...

Beautiful photos - those golden reeds are lovely and a nice variety of birds too :)

angryparsnip said...

Wonderful photos of the marshes, golden reeds, ocean, sky and bird. But it looks cold.
But for me the best photo was the lovely Slate Grey Dog with the big beautiful tail.

cheers, parsnip and thehamish

SeagullSuzie said...

Great bird watching in a wonderful environment, I hardly saw the curlew until I read the text and saw the reflection. I love the sunlight on the reeds.

Ragged Robin said...

What a lovely walk - you make me wish I lived near the sea! Great photos and you saw some super birds :)

Simon Douglas Thompson said...

Lovely shots. The reflection shots of the curlew work really well.

Pam said...

What beautiful words and pictures!

thelma said...

They are indeed marvellous photos of a watery landscape, spied the curlews, and loved the dog, bet he wanted to run and chase.

Wendy said...

I love visiting the coast and salt marshes in winter to see the geese and ducks and waders. The light is special, too and your photos show all the atmosphere of a winter day by the sea. I especially love the golden reeds. Slate Grey Dog is gorgeous - she looks fascinated by everything going on!

amanda peters said...

I like seeing photos of the sea, so wished I lived a little closer. Lovely photos.
Amanda xx

Jane the Booklady said...

What a lovely piece,I love the reflection of sky on water you have captured so well. Wishing you a very belated happy new year. Jane xx

Countryside Tales said...

I do love keyhaven. Am hoping to see bearded tits this year and I always train the bins on those reedbeds, just in case! Lovely photos x

Crafty Green Poet said...

Lovely to see so many birds

Down by the sea said...

There is such a wonderful light in your lovely images. I'm glad Grey Slate dog enjoyed the first visit to the sea! Sarah x