East from Titchfield and you’ll soon come to Portsmouth Harbour. Another big port, with substantial naval interest – and birds too. This is my last post for this year’s #30Days Wild. Remind me not to give myself so much work next year – the hands and neck can’t take it!

Portsmouth Harbour

The whole of this area I find mystifying. This is despite my youngest brother’s daughter and her family all living in the neighbourhood. I think it’s because when you’re driving, you leave a stretch of water, go in a straight line, and discover you’re about to fall into another stretch of water. The area is complex, with many inlets, and built up all around the edge, from mediaeval times onwards. It’s no Poole Harbour for wildlife, but it has its highlights.

Portsmouth Harbour from the south east (UK_Defence_Imagery_Naval_Bases_image_12.jpg)

But some good points:

If you’re birdwatching and your companions aren’t they can do lots of other things: the Historic Naval Dockyard (HMS Victory, Mary Rose); eating, entertainment and shopping (yuk).

You can even combine sightseeing the castles (Portchester and Southsea, on opposite sides of the harbour) with seawatching for birds!

Where the area is not built up, it gives way to extensive tidal marshes, which are in themselves a very valuable habitat, and one reason this area is a major refuge for wintering seabirds and geese. But the best place for these species is the next natural harbour along…

Langstone Harbour and Farlington Marshes

Langstone Harbour is RSPB owned, Farlington Marshes is a Wildlife Trust-managed Nature Reserve owned by Portsmouth City Council. We now have Portsmouth Harbour to the west, and Hayling Island looming up on the east. And although a little bit of Hayling Island is in Hampshire, most of it is in West Sussex. It’s also a major holiday destination for those enjoying family holidays with bucket, spade and nightly entertainment. But Farlington Marshes sticks out into the north of the harbour like a nice peninsular.

Farlington Marshes HIWWT

The more I read about Farlington Marshes, the more petrified I am that I’ll be (a) overwhelmed with birds and (b) overwhelmed by extremely knowledgeable birdwatchers who havent forgotten how to tell a bar-tailed godwit from a black-tailed one. But since I get on just fine at Titchfield Haven, why am I worried? I just need to go there at a reasonable time (not when all the pros go). With 5000+ Dark-Bellied Brent Geese over-wintering, it’s on a par with the North Norfolk coast, after all. Although they have Light-Bellied Brent Geese, which confused me mightily when I first came here. The populations are the opposite.

And despite thinking that it’s a long way away, it’s probably no more than ten minutes further than Titchfield. I must get my act together and visit, soon.

… and the Isle of Wight

It seems wrong of me to dismiss the whole of the Isle of Wight in one small section, but that’s really all I’ve room for. I’ve never been birding, or even general nature watching on the island. We used to go for walks, across from Yarmouth (where we arrived on the ferry from Lymington) to Freshwater Bay and Tennyson Down.

I’d love to go there again, but the cliff-top cottage I’ve spotted would only really fit in me and two guinea pigs, provided they lived together. Ideal for Fred & George, or Roscoe & Neville, but not this lot. I have spotted a cottage not far away, but with no views, which I really like in a cottage. However, if the price of birding and wildlifing on the island is no views in the evening, I’ll just have to live with it. It’s big enough for the piggies and it’s got nice-looking grass, which is what they care about.

And with Rebecca and the whole of Seattle area in a tizz about wild beavers settling in locally, I’d love to see some of the beavers (or even their evidence) introduced as a rewilding initiative. And the sea eagles ditto, although they have been spotted flying over our road on their way to visit their friends in Mull.

Wildlife on the Isle of Wight? Loads of it. The Island has committed itself to rewilding wherever possible, and there are lots of sites that are brilliant for birds, butterflies, wildflowers… but you if you don’t hike extensive distances, you need a bike. Or in my case, the car. Or the excellent bus timetable from Southern Vectis. But it makes makes a daytrip out of the question, really. Although there are several WTWB sites within reach of the other ferry ports, Brading marshes (RSPB) on the east side in particular.

If you’re planning a wildlife trip to the Isle of Wight, you’ll need a copy of Where to Watch Birds in Dorset, Hampshire and the Isle of Wight. Just go and get it.

Brading Marshes RSPB

Portsmouth Harbour, Isle of Wight #30DaysWild

3 thoughts on “Portsmouth Harbour, Isle of Wight #30DaysWild

  • 29 June, 2023 at 2:33 pm

    I’m looking forward to news about your vacation on the Isle of Wight. It sounds perfect except for the view, but you can always sit by the ocean. The air will be wonderful!

  • 29 June, 2023 at 2:50 pm

    Love Portsmouth and the Isle of Wight so much to see and do 💜💜

  • 29 June, 2023 at 6:02 pm

    I could mix castles with a bit of bird-watching, since I don’t really know anything from anything. I did finally download an app to ID their calls, due to a barred owl sounding off in my back yard a couple of nights ago.

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