On Sunday I spent the day at the Lymington and Keyhaven Nature Reserve open day. This annual event is run jointly by the Wildlife Trust, Hampshire County Council and the New Forest National Park. The marshes are famous for their wildlife and have been nature reserves for many years. The grazed marshes and fields are a county council owned reserve and the saltmarshes outside the seawall are a Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust reserve, together making a huge protected area.
The Open Day gives us a chance to promote the protection of the area with local people, many of whom walk around the reserve regularly without necessarily knowing just how important they are for wildlife. As usual there was a good turn out of local conservation groups, a range of walks and activities for younger visitors.
Bird ringing demonstrations are always popular and if you can catch a kingfisher to show people, all the more so!
I actually spent most of the day manning a telescope set up overlooking Normandy lagoon, allowing people to see a wide range of birds. In total we saw 58 species from the one spot during the day. It would have been a good few more if the wind had not got up making smaller birds stay low and out of sight. Species we did see ranged from little stint and curlew sandpiper to yellow wagtail, gannet and wheatear. I saw every species but one, and this was the bird of the day, a marsh harrier which flew over when I went to get a cup of tea! Perhaps the most unexpected sighting was a common seal that spent several hours just off the seawall and was seen by most who stopped to look.