The visit to Farlington Marshes near Portsmouth occurred on a warm still day in October which made for a very pleasant walk.
On the downside, the mild weather meant that many of the autumn migrating birds had yet to arrive but there is always something to see at Farlington Marshes and quite early in the walk, a Field Vole was seen in the vegetation at the side of the path.
Although it looked healthy it did not scurry away but remained rooted to the spot moving only its head and front feet.
The reason for this behaviour was unclear but it may have been attacked by a predator which dropped the Vole from a height before giving up the chase.
Field Voles, however, need a constant supply of food to keep active and it may simply have been unable to feed.
Nevertheless, it was a good opportunity to see the creature at close quarters.
A low tide exposed mud flats along the shore and revealed islands in Langstone Harbour.
The tide receded even further during the walk which meant that many birds could feed further from the shore out of sight of the bird watchers on the sea wall.
Four Little Egrets feeding in a pond on the landward side of the seawall gave a picture postcard reflection in the still water.
Canada Geese are among the first birds to arrive for the winter and could be seen in groups on the meadows.
There was a large flock of Black Tailed Godwits on one of the islands which produced an impressive sight when they all took to the air at once.
When birds get disturbed they often fly in a flock before settling down again and this gives an opportunity to see birds that otherwise lie hidden on the meadows.
Lapwing and Starlings show this effect and often fly together.
Other birds were flying erratically over the sea wall towards the mudflats narrowly missing walkers.
They were flying too fast to identify but could have been Turnstones.
A few Teal and Wigeon had arrived on the reserve but not in any great numbers.
A list of birds recently sighted was posted at the entrance to the reserve and most of them were seen during the walk.
Some time was spent trying to identify what turned out to be a Common Sandpiper.
The Ruff mentioned on the list was however seen and proved to be a striking bird in its winter plumage.
The indoor meeting for October was an illustrated talk on ‘Brazil, The Pantanal’ by Jill Bascombe.
A description of the wildlife holiday taken just before the rainy season was accompanied by photographs of birds and animals in the area.
The tour was called ‘Harpy Eagles and Cougars’ referring to the main attractions.
Unfortunately, the pair of Harpy Eagles which had been in the area for ten years had disappeared shortly before the visit.
The Cougars, on the other hand, were unafraid to show themselves and photographs of this magnificent animal were the star of the evening.
Giant Anteaters, Armadillos and Capybaras also appeared together with Hyacinth Macaws and many other creatures.
The rich variety of wildlife amid the glorious scenery of the Pantanal allowed the audience to escape from a dull rainy evening.
A member’s only meeting was held after the presentation to discuss the closure of the Waterside Natural History Society at the end of the year.
The reason for the closure is the lack of members willing to take on the running of the society.
A formal EGM will be held in December to implement the closure procedures.