You know that winter is just around the corner on the Hampshire coast when the numbers of Brent Geese build up. Right now, flocks numbering hundreds of birds – sometimes thousands – are present along the margins of The Solent.


Earlier in the week we visited one particular group that is favouring Sturt Pond and adjacent areas of grassland and saltmarsh, at the base of Hurst Spit near Lymington. In the main the flock comprises individuals of the dark-bellied race of Brent Goose Branta bernicla bernicla. But at the moment they are accompanied by an unusual cousin of theirs, a Red-breasted Goose Branta ruficollis; this is a rare visitor to Britain that by rights should be wintering in Romania or Bulgaria. It seems quite at home amongst its more sombre cousins, despite the occasional squabble with a grazing neighbour.


While observing and photographing this colourful and striking bird in flight, we were also able to take images of a range of other coastal species, including Little Egret Egretta garzetta, Mediterranean Gull Larus melanocephalus, and Redshank Tringa totanus.