Thursday, 14 May 2020

Lockdown Nocturnal Migration Continues

Since the 25th of March I've recorded every night and had some success in recording some very interesting birds flying over my home next to Lytchett Bay, Poole Harbour.  Since my last blog on the subject we have had short cold spells with wind coming in from the north and a few nights of heavy wind which isn't very conducive to recording birds at night.  Putting the weather aside there were a number of night which added more species to this year's NocMig list.

Its quite odd that you can live under 200m from the nearest water of the bay yet you hardly every see waders flying over our house during the day time.  Ok you can certainly hear them so you know they are out there somewhere not too far away. Where I'm situated to the north of the bay most of the wader traffic during daylight hours moves between the fields in the west and to and from Holes Bay to the east which takes them south of my home the other side of the wood which I think kind of acts like a barrier.

Then comes migration time and I then get the waders over at night some can be very close and not that high.  Some of these species are not commonly seen in Lytchett Bay others are regular in the winter in varying numbers. My first sound is one of them, Oystercatcher, which at this time of year are at minimum numbers throughout the harbour.

The following recording are probably fine to listen to without a headset as they were all close to the recorder but you might need to adjust your volume to suit the recordings.

On the night of the 28th/29th April the wind changed and there must have been a good migration night as I added three new species for the year to my nocturnal recording list. The first was this Ringed Plover on the 28th which I had several going over during the night but this one passed by the closest. (You might need to up your volume for this one).



The follow two species both flew over in the early morning of the 29th April. The first of these was a Dunlin, a species that I have recorded a number of times since I started recording birds at night in 2012 but none have every come so close before.



The next species is one that we may see occasionally in the winter out in Lytchett bay but it certainly isn't guaranteed and I recorded at least three passing over in a couple of nights and all three were fairly close but the one you're going to hear is one that called twice or maybe it was two different individuals.  They sound a little Whimbrel like but have the 'tip tip tip' before the trill Whimbrel just trill.



The last species I'm going to share with you in this blog was a total surprise in that I hadn't expected to record them as Avocet had already left the harbour and migrated to their breeding grounds.  So where these birds had come from and where they were going is a bit of a mystery.


Hope you have enjoyed listening to the sounds and finding out about a few of the waders and nocturnal birds that pass over Lytchett Bay at night.

Sunday, 26 April 2020

Lockdown Blog Day 33

Well we are still on lockdown and I thought it was time to do another blog our Lockdown birding list is improved a little we are up to 71 species on our exercise walk list and the garden list is at 48 species.  The NocMig list has also gone up and now stands at 40 species obviously this includes common resident species but they have to call or sing during the night.  So I've put together a few more sound tracks which are pretty reasonable sound quality for you to have a listen to.  It might be best to ware a headset to listen or turn up the volume as you see appropriate when listening.

This track of Whimbrel lasts 2.23 minutes this is in real time as it was recorded it shows the dilemma when reviewing recordings on how many birds are involved.  I've kept the track length so you can make up your mind, as to me it seems a long time for a single bird like a Whimbrel to take to pass by. So is it different birds calling to keep in contact with each other in the dark as they move in or away from the bay?



Green Sandpiper are regularly seen in Lytchett Fields RSPB during migration periods and particularly in autumn when number on the pools climb into the twenties. You can also see the odd wintering individual on the pools, it is nice when they fly over and call even if it's only once as is passes over.


As with the previous species Common Sandpiper pass through the bay, though in smaller numbers. I see one or two each year out on the edge of the bay but this year is the first where I've recorded them passing over at night on three occasions so far this year.


Spotted Redshank is another species we have pass through and one or two often over winter in the harbour and are seen fairly regularly on the pools in the fields.  Though saying this it is the first time I've recorded one flying over near my listening station.



Mediterranean Gull are a part of our summer here and we can go out in the garden and around the Lytchett recording area almost at any time of day and hear them calling.  Saying this, this is the first time I have recorded the species moving over at night.



I suppose the Cuckoo is the harbinger of summer and on the Lytchett Bay patch we see one or two most years but in this last week I have recorder two individuals passing over on migration. I've assumed this as they haven't been seen or heard on the patch the next day. This is the first time that I've recorded Cuckoo at night on migration from my listening station.


Thursday, 16 April 2020

Lockdown Blog Day 25

Hi everyone I hope you have all been keeping busy and watching the wildlife around your gardens and on your exercise walk. Jackie and I have been continuing to keep an out out the best we can to add species to our lockdown  garden and walk lists.  It's not going to badly our garden list is up to 44 species and our walk list is now on 60 species.

Our garden list does include species seen and heard from the garden, we have a few summer migrants  but still very limited with no hirundines yet though Swallow has been seen by others around us.  Blackcap and Chiffchaff are in good voice and its been great to have to Chiffchaff back as we had a blank year in 2019, the first time since we moved here 8 years ago.  The Cetti's is also breeding again and there are two males singing opposite us and one near the Lytchett Bay view point.

We have Greenfinch back but rarely coming into the garden, even the Goldfinch aren't as regular to the feeders at the moment but the male sings from one of the oaks opposite.  We had a Goldcrest singing for just one day and occasionally a Bullfinch will sit over the road and flying over our garden but not coming in.  A pair of Long-tailed Tits were foraging for nest material and a pair of Blue Tits we think are nesting in our "House Sparrow" terrace box but it's gone quiet, maybe she is now sitting.

We've had some excitement with Osprey and Red Kite over the house but apart from Buzzard we've recorded no other raptors.  In the evening from the garden we have heard Tawny Owl, Snipe, Moorhen and Water Rail.

Nocturnal Migration or NocMig is still continuing and I've recorded 37 species overnight most are local species that have been singing during the night around the bungalow or further out in the bay.  The most interesting for me are those species that are passing over as most of these are migrants moving over heading of to their breeding grounds.

I've included a few of the better recording of those species that have flown over very close over our garden. First is a Water Rail a species we have in the reed beds opposite our bungalow but rarely see them flying or even record them in flight.  So I think this is a bird that is moving to breed somewhere else.



The next is a rather long recording of a Sandwich Tern or terns as their is possible more than one involved but it is hard to tell for sure.  It is the first time I've recorded them flying over at night though we do see them in the day time out fishing in the bay during the summer but even then the aren't a daily occurrence. 


This is Mute Swans out in the bay being territorial probably because another pair or another swan has entered the territory and they are seeing them off.  In the recording you can hear a bird takeoff land and prove they aren't mute.  The nearest water is 250m away so it shows I think how loud the wing beating is also how sensitive my new microphones are.



This is a nice recording in that I've never recorded them flying so close over home usually distantly over the bay then not that often. In fact they aren't a common visitor to Lytchett Bay unlike the Canada Geese.  This must of been quite a large skein which was split up possibly into three groups.



Though we can get large numbers of Oystercatcher feeding on the Turlin sports fields and spread out over the bay feeding at low tide, as soon as the breeding season comes they move out and this is probably what this bird or birds were doing.  As in the eight years we have lived here I think I've only seen Oystercatcher flying over the bungalow once.  With this recording you can hear the doppler effect as it starts faint and increases in volume and then decreases as the bird then moves away to the north.



This recording os a Blackcap I made on my iPhone just this morning as we were taking our early exercise walk to the view point.  There are two Blackcaps that have territories more or less opposite our bungalow and they were having a bit of a sing off this morning so I recorded the closest one as his song was a little more interesting than the other as it was doing a little mimicking within it's  repertoire.  It also shows how good the mobile phones are as its made a pretty good recording.



This last recording isn't a bird but it's quite interesting as it's one of our local Fox or Fox's as I think this involve two animals.  Though I have a number of recording of the local foxes I've never heard or recorded the rapid "hu hu hu hup" that comes before the screaming bark.



Hope you have enjoyed listening to the night sound of Lytchett Bay Keep Safe. Nick and Jackie.


Monday, 6 April 2020

Lockdown Birding

Hope your are all well and keeping safe and watching wildlife from close to home as Jackie and I are doing.  

The thing is what to do, well I think birders adapt well and Jackie is keeping a day garden lockdown list and I'm keeping a night time (or NocMig) list and we take our exercise walk around the local Lytchett patch. I've also been writing a daily species of the day on the Friends of Lytchett Bay Facebook page, though it's getting harder to find new species in the garden each day but just about managing it at present. 

The patch lockdown walk list stands at 45 species the Lockdown Garden List at 39 species and I've recorded 33 species between 21:00hrs and 05:00hrs overnight.  We have had some nice highlights and quality birds, Osprey, Red Kite for the garden and Arctic Tern for the Bay with Coot a patch rarity and Common Scoter as migrants over night on NocMig recordings.

Some of you may know that my trusty parabolic reflector microphone after many years of service stopped working last year and I've been undecided about what to replace it with.  Talking to Paul Morton of Birds of Poole Harbour and Sound Approach guys I made the decision to purchase a SM4 Song Meter from Wildlife Acoustics.  Though quite expensive it is waterproof and can be setup to record continually and saves to one or two SD cards.  I'm using 2 x 16Gb cards which has enough memory for four nights of recording.  So far it's proved to be very good and the recording quality is high, when you think that we're in a semi-urban area with a lot of town background noise to contend with.

Below is a couple of the better recordings, one of the three scoter flocks I've recorded over the last week and one of several coot passing overhead and the third is a migrating Moorhen and finishing with Redwing.

This is one of three recording of Common Scoter passing over Lytchett Bay in this past week.



This is one of five Coot that I've recorded over the last week a real rarity in Lytchett bay but I record them every year on NocMig. The thing is you only record the calling birds so you have no real idea of how many there are unless you get multiple calls all at once which sometimes you do.



Now you have heard Coot I thought I would add a migrating Moorhen for comparison. This is a nice recording though early in the night as there was quite a bit of background traffic interference but at around 19 seconds in you will also here one of the local female Water Rail calling from the reed bed opposite our bungalow, also a male at the end.


We also had a unprecedented Redwing passage on the night of the 1st/2nd April when I recorded 282 calling going over the majority being recorded between 03:00hrs and 04:30hrs in the morning.  This movement is possibly to do with the change from the cold northerlies which held the birds up and when the wind changed back to the south they moved and it appears this was a widespread movement across the south of England.  

Just to remind you of what they sound like I've included a recording below.



Our last Birding highlight was from this mornings walk along the east of the bay towards Turlin Moor where we were hoping to see a Swallow but ended up seeing an 'Arctic Swallow'.  

As when we reached the Lytchett View Point I spotted a tern species dipping in the bay as we watched it, both Jackie and I said "think that's an Arctic" I watched as it quartered the bay and Jackie called Shaun who unfortunately had gone to the other side of the bay for his morning exercise. It eventually came close enough so we were able to confirm it was an Arctic Tern.  This was a life species for our Lytchett Bay list and one we might not see until the autumn depending on how long this emergency restriction last.  Unfortunately I didn't manage a photograph so I've added one from a trip we had to the Farne Islands in 2017 coming on an attack.

Arctic Tern coming in to see me off the path - Inner Farne © Nick Hull

Sunday, 15 March 2020

North Wales, Anglesey & Holy Island

Hi everyone,

Jackie and I ventured off to North Wales, we had booked to stay at a Warners hotel at Bodelwyddan Castle as it was convenient to be able to visit Jackie's Aunt who lives in Llandudno and good access to a few birding sites and the coast.  I have to say the service we had and the food was excellent and the lodge we stayed in was comfortable and all one needed for a holiday I should say it is an adults only hotel.

We arrived late afternoon on the Monday so our first day for birding was Tuesday and we decided that a trip to Holy Island and South Stack would get us, with a little luck, Black Guillemot and Chough and perhaps a Rose-coloured Starling which seems to have taken up residence in a small village.

We headed off to Holyhead harbour it's a good location for Black Guillemot and other sea birds.  When we arrived we managed with a little luck to find a small parking area that overlooked the harbour and almost immediately I saw a Black Guillemot diving and feeding in the harbour.  I grabbed the camera and went to the edge of the shore in the hope it would come close enough to get a decent shot but didn't really have any luck, as you can see it is in summer plumage.
Black Guillemot - Holyhead Harbour © Nick Hull
From here it was on to South Stack our target here was to have lunch at the RSPB centre and to see Chough.  Well, the seeing of Chough went ok we saw nine flying over The Range which headed off out of sight.  The lunch didn't happen at the centre as it appears the RSPB are having it refurbished and had the builders in, we presume it will be completed for the breeding season.
Chough flying over South Stack Holy Island Wales
So we snacked and had a cuppa hoping the Chough would reappear but no such luck and the wind was increasing. Our next location was the small village of Llanfaethu as a first winter Rose-coloured Starling or as some now call them Rosy Starling had taken up residence with the local Starlings.  Instructions on the bird news said the bird could be found on the feeders in the garden behind the post box.  We parked up just a few metres down the road from the post box and walked back up the road.  We hadn't gone twenty metres and I could see the bird perched in a tree preening. It gave great close views and enable me to get some ok photographs.
Rose-coloured Starling - Llanfaethu, Anglesey Wales
It was a pretty scruffy individual and was obviously starting it's moult and it just shows if you see a pale bird in a winter flock of Starling take a closer look it's probably a Rose-coloured Starling.

On Wednesday we visited Jackie's aunt it was extremely windy day we had a drive up to the cafe on the Great Orme and saw one or two Fulmar which had returned to the cliffs to get ready for the new breeding season.  Unfortunately due to a cliff fall we couldn't travel all the way around so headed back to Jackie's aunts apartment for tea & coffee.  Whilst there I noticed a flight of Chough four birds which flew along the cliff top of the Great Orme and on around out of sight.

Thursday was going to be our last full day and we wanted to see if we could see Black Grouse so we had breakfast as early as we could and headed out to the World's End an area of grouse moor where we have been successful in the past.  We had a little difficulty finding the right area but once we had found the correct road we drove up onto the moor and slowly worked our way across the top.  Around halfway across I spotted something at the edge of the heather and juncus, stopping and getting the bins onto it, it revealed itself as a Red Grouse.
Head of the Red Grouse © Nick Hull
Over the next thirty minutes or so we had several calling and managed to locate around six individuals scattered over the moor.
Red Grouse returning out into the open © Nick Hull
Shortly after we saw a Black Grouse fly across and then land disappearing into long heather, a little  while after another flew across and kept going.  We moved down the road and I had a look over a rise and as I did Jackie saw another Black Grouse fly towards us, I was looking in the wrong direction. Jackie was shouting at me but the wind was taking her voice away, oddly I panned back to the left and caught sight of a Black Grouse just landing in the heather some 150m away Jackie's bird. I saw another distant bird but Jackie came away with the best view of us both.
Black Grouse - Archive photograph
We left happy with what we had seen and lunch at the Rhug Estate Organic Farm, Shop & Cafe which was very nice and well worth a visit if your ever passing.  After lunch we headed to Conwy RSPB reserve, here we managed to dodge the rain but not the wind but we managed to get around three of the reserves hides and saw many of the resident species, the highlight here was a pair of Goosander that flew in whilst we were there and gave us some pretty good views.
pair Goosander - Conwy RSPB © Nick Hull
The Goosander were a very nice end to our week in North Wales and it will be nice to return in the late spring to be able to catch up with some of the areas breeding species.

Monday, 24 February 2020

Norfolk neck-collared Pink-footed Goose

Those of you that follow our blog might remember I mentioned a neck collared Pink-footed Goose that we saw in Norfolk.  I contacted  Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust WWT with the details and Kane Brides replied with the following history of the bird.




As you can see it is a well travelled bird and particularly likes Norfolk to winter as do so many of this species.

Tuesday, 18 February 2020

Lytchett Bay Report

Hi all,

This is going to be a short blog just to make you all aware that the 2019 Lytchett Bay Report has been completed and is now on line on the Birds of Poole Harbour website survey page or you can follow this link for a PDF version.


Wryneck © Terry Elborne

The report gives you a summary of the birds, mammals,  invertebrates and botany recorded in 2019 in the Lytchett Bay survey area.

Shaun and myself would like to thank particularly Ian Ballam for his continuous recording in the area and all those that have contributed by sending in their records and photographs either by entering them on BirdTrack, e-Bird, Twitter or directly by e-mail it all adds to our knowledge of the patch.

So a Big Thank You All

Nick, Jackie and Shaun