Guided Tour Of Sturt Pond


Despite the heat today, Jackie continued with planting and weeding. I cut up branches from a tree Aaron had begun removing yesterday, and stuffed them into orange bags,

Late this afternoon Giles collected me and drove me to the bird hide overlooking Sturt Pond at New Milton.

Birds on Sturt Pond and static caravans

There we were able to observe the birdlife on the water between us and the static caravans opposite.

Swans taking off and landing 1Swans taking off and landing 2

This tranquil scene was soon to be disturbed by a pair of swans playing ducks and drakes.

Common tern on rock 1Common tern on rock 2

My friend and I employed quite an interesting arrangement. Giles would spot something of interest through his binoculars. I relied on the naked eye and had to be guided so I could point and click at something I couldn’t see. Take, for example, the common tern on the rock. Starting from the pale blue parasol to the right of the caravans, I would be expected to drop down to the reflected gull immediately below this and turn left at right angles to the next bird along.

Common tern on rock 3

My trust in Giles was rewarded.

The Bill Smith Tern Raft

The Bill Smith Tern Raft floats in the pond.Β After a ten-year development stage, the Milford Conservation Volunteers (MCV) finally launched the Bill Smith Tern Raft at Sturt Pond and the very first bird to land on it was a common tern, which also determinedly removed a herring gull who also took up temporary residence on the craft. Keith Metcalf, Conservation Manager, stated “Bill, with his band of volunteers, was a stalwart for maintaining the Solent Way footpath and this small tribute to Bill will be a lasting memorial to the services he gave so readily to the local community”. Today the raft belonged to the gulls. (See Paul Clarke’s comment below – the bird to the left is a tern)


A pair of young sparrows had popped over from the village in the hope that someone may have filled the empty bird feeders.


In the bottom left corner of this photograph are a pair of shelducks.

Sturt Pond and Hurst Castle

Across the pond lies Hurst Castle with its lighthouse.

Sturt Pond's birds

We left the hide and walked round to the bank of the pond.


An oystercatcher,

Oystercatcher in flight

finding nothing tasty, took flight.

Little terns and black-headed gull 1

Two little terns shared a rock, whilst, behind them a common tern searched for prey;

Little terns and gulls

another gull studiously ignored them;

Little terns and black headed gull 2

and one more went fishing,

Little terns and black headed gull 3

prompting one of the terns to nip off and bring back a fish for his mate.

Cormorants and black tailed godwit 3Cormorants and black tailed godwit 1

Black tailed godwit

With a pair of cormorants on a rail in the background, we watched a black tailed godwit scavenging along the shore. Giles observed that this specimen had been left behind when all its companions had left our waters because it had an injured right leg.

(Any errors of identification are entirely the responsibility of the author.)

This evening we dined on Jackie’s tasty chicken tikka, onion and mushroom rice, and salad. She drank Hoegaarden, and I drank more of Jessie’s superb chablis.



  1. Another lovely day out with you, Derrick. The sparrows are my favourite, but I wouldn’t say no to Jackie’s chicken tikka and the chablis. πŸ™‚ Cheers!

  2. What a lovely place Derrick – teeming with all kinds of bird life! The people living in those static caravans must have a wonderful time keeping an eye on everything! And such a great outcome for the binocular/camera team – that is pretty impressive. πŸ™‚

    1. Very many thanks, Pauline. It worked both ways – I was concentrating on the flying oystercatcher while Giles was informing me that they were terns on the rock – but I’d never have known what I was looking at if he hadn’t guided me.

    1. That was my thought, imitially. Closer isection (purely in the interests of factual accuracy, you understand) reveals the one on the left is wearing a flesh-coloured slip. The one demurely with her back to us MAY indeed be au naturel[le], but understand that the temperatures today (and yesterday), while hardly remarked on by our author, may seem like a passing cool patch to those reading this in Oz, or inland US but, by UK standards, it’s seriously HOT (the hottest of the year so far).

      1. I remember a hot day in England. So there was one, even by Aussie standards. It was about 32’c / 90’F and I was shopping in Canterbury. Inside the smaller shops was stifling with no windows to open and no aircon. Of course, I may have felt overheated because I was wearing winter boots, heavy jeans and a jumper in June πŸ™‚ — In the cause of factual accuracy, I have also enlarged the photos, almost to pixilated stage, and I am thinking the slip wearer is actually a man who has been wearing a singlet while outdoors, and now that he is wearing nothing bar his cap, his lovely English paleskin looks like a beige slip. The other is definitely in the nuddy (English for au naturelle) At least they had the good sense to take off their boots and jumper in the hot weather πŸ™‚

        1. Many thanks, Gwen, That was the temperature we had yesterday – today will be similar. I did take a few more pictures of passers by. You are making be think I should have saved them πŸ™‚

    2. They certainly looked like it, but they were minimally clad. I deliberately didn’t mention them in order to see if anyone would speculate. πŸ™‚ You didn’t let me down. Many thanks Gwen

    1. It may have been discussed before on here: “twitching” is dliberately seing out rare species. When used pejoratively (as it often is), it may imply bird-wacthing to detriment of the individual bird’s own welfare, e.g. causing wind-disorientated/-battered specimens to die of exhaustion trying to escpae the unrelenting attentions of bird-celeb. spotters.
      “Birding” or (less ‘cool’, more traditional) “bird-watching” is what we call it over here (occasionally, the extremely quaint and dated “bird-spotting”, used by those who don’t do it, but mean no disrespect to those who do).

      1. Goodness, there are so many shadings to words, aren’t there? So we use the same terms, except for twitching, which now I know means something not quite nice.

      2. Twitchers also get called “tickers”, the sense being that they’re ticking off very species on a list, in the way a sterotypical tourist visits a place, clicks their camera and moves on. Like “twitcher”, “ticker” also carries a faintly disapproving tone, implying that the pursuer is not appreciating the bird as a wonder of Nature, but as a means of self-aggrandizement.

        1. Thanks a lot, Paul. There is a board in the hide where viewers are expected to list any thing of interest. If there is anything rare or unusual you are asked to phone the organiser. It was very useful having Giles point out what I was looking at.

  3. II’m sure the Bill Smith raft did not entirely “belong to” the gulls today. Unless that red streak angled between 2 and 3 o’clock from the bird on the left is not its bill, that’s got to be a tern: Giles would have been hopping up and down with excitement had any gull with a head THAT black appeared before his lenses. It looks like a very odd stance for a bird to be in, but I’m guessing (unless it’s popped its clogs) it’s lying on its back to aid cooling. JUST possibly, that’s a pose which helps ease an itchy point it can’t otherwise reach. I’ve never witnessed it before.

  4. Forgive all the appalling typos in the above: since I was last on this site, the style has changed, showing posted comments in enormous font-size, but the posting I’m trying to type in a minuscule one. Added to the fact that the cursor doesn’t position ultra-precisely where I want to edit, and the grey font, it’s hard to read! Has anyone else noticed this (a system-introduced change, I presume)?

  5. I love cormorants, Derrick. I like the details you were able to get on your camera of the terns’ fishing and perching activities.
    The luminescent reflections were so detailed and beautiful. I had to go through the pictures once again. πŸ™‚

  6. Those are excellent bird photographs and it looks a great place to birdwatch although those caravans in the background are a little incongruous.

  7. “Static caravan” is a new one to me. It has a lovely oxymoronic ring to it. As for the nudists, can they just run around in the altogether without anyone complaining?

  8. Yes, those sparrows take the prize. They would make a beautiful card or framed photo. Sorry to read it’s hotter than heck. Hope the heat subsides.

  9. Excellent birdwatching. I recently went birdwatching with my brother, who knows the songs – way better than anyone I know – and it was incredible what I got to see, just by him pointing the way. I think two is better than one, like you discovered, Derrick.

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