As part of Food Week, The first bird walk at Sturt Pond nature reserve took place this morning and was led by Milford Conservation Volunteers Keith Metcalf (Wildlife Recorder) and Emily Slade (Youth Leader).
The walk started at Sea Road car park where 18 youngsters, their parents and grandparents listened attentively to their guides. An impressive 30 different bird species were seen on the walk, including lots of common species; house sparrow (who said that they were in decline - we saw plenty), a Pied Wagtail and for those with quick eyes, we saw a Great Spotted Woodpecker flying over the reserve.
Further along the Solent Way footpath, we saw a pair of Canada Geese and a pair of Shelduck in the pond along with lots of Black Headed Gulls (they actually have brown heads!), Herring Gulls, a single Great Black-backed Gull, Common Gull and a pair of Mediterranean Gulls (who have black heads just to confuse us birdwatchers!) and were seen and heard flying over the reserve. At Cut Bridge, a single male Red-breasted Merganser was seen flying off the pond towards Keyhaven. The children fed the 13 Mute Swans who had congregated at this spot. Further around the southern end of the pond, the youngsters saw over 40 Turnstones (a small wading bird often seen at close quarters along the Quay wall at Keyhaven).
The walkers were then invited into the Bird Hide (open all year round between 9am and dusk) in smaller groups to hear about the birds that have been seen at the reserve. The children were also entertained by recordings of some of the more common birds, including the Cuckoo, Chiffchaff, Mallard and Rooks in a rookery. Keith and Emily then handed RSPB lapel badges to all the children of the Brent Goose, a well-travelled who has become synonymous with Sturt Pond. This bird annually travels from Russia to spend their winters with us. About 500 to 600 Brent Geese regularly visit the reserve.
Tomorrow, Wednesday 11th April, a second walk will be led by Keith, Emily and Tony Locke and will be looking at birds of the woodlands and common. Meet at 10am at the bottom of Barnes Lane. Bring Wellies and a bottle of water. Parents, children and grandparents are reminded that there are no WC facilities en route.
A small contribution towards the bird food, which will be handed out to children would be very much appreciated. All proceeds will be given towards Food Week.