Sunday, 9 December 2018

In Search of Little Bunting

Jackie and I had a 'twitch' today after the Little Bunting that was found at Chiswell, Portland yesterday.  The only trouble was that my car was in the garage and Jackie's turbo doesn't seem to be working properly, but as it's a county tick and it's been a slight bogey bird in Dorset for us to catch-up with, we made the decision to go for it even if we had to get the breakdown truck out to get home. 

After an hour we arrived and parked up and meeting friends Liz and Terry who had already seen the bird and pointed us in the right direction, which in fact was about four metres away from where we were stood.  So I joined a few photographers to see if I could manage a few memory shots and a little video of the bird.

Little Bunting - Chiswell, Portland © Nick Hull
The above shot was taken just to the rear of a parked car at the edge of the drive to the rear of the buildings.  The one below was taken when it was disturbed by a delivery van and it moved to sit and preen in some dried scrub on the Chesil bank.  I have to say of all the Little Buntings I've seen this was the most confiding 
Little Bunting - Chiswell, Portland © Nick Hull
And the good news is we made it back home without use of a tow truck.

Tuesday, 27 November 2018

Since the last Post

Since our last post I had a few hour to spare and went to Arne and volunteered a few hours which I try to do as regularly as possible. On the way I stopped at a field at Nutcrack Lane and checked if the Cattle Egrets were with the cattle there.  There were nineteen Cattle Egret spread across the field,  so out with the bridge camera for a little shooting and trying out the video mode.  Here's what I managed to get.

Arne had been getting a male Brambling into the feeding station behind the Welcome Hut so whilst helping out I kept an eye open for it to visit.  I was just pointing out the different birds to one of the visitors when I spotted a Brambling but this time it was a female none-the-less a very smart bird and she continued to visit throughout the afternoon though somewhat intermittently to the chagrin of some of the visitors.
Female Brambling Arne © Nick Hull
Next we had a Two Owls group meeting at Blashford Lakes this was on a rather cold damp day but luckily for us it stayed dry right up until we were walking to the cars when it started rain again. None-the-less we had a good mornings birding and seeing many of the regular species that frequents the reserve.  The highlights were Green Sandpiper on the bank and a dozen Goosander from the Goosander hide was most appropriate on Ibsley Water.  Also from the Goosander hide we had really close views of a Snipe which was hunkered down right below the hide amongst trashed willow on the shoreline.
Common Snipe - Goosander Hide, Isbley Water, Blashford © Nick Hull
At the weekend we met at Weymouth to  explore the area for returning wintering species and hopefully to see the Lesser Yellowlegs and the Ring-necked Duck and I have to say we were successful on both counts.  

Before we even started our walk at Lodmoor RSPB reserve we had near to 250 Canada Geese flying in over us to land in the reserve, Cetti's Warbler and Water Rails calling and a Great White Egret flew across the reserve towards Preston cleared Beachdown Way and pitched in out of sight. We walked the reserve anticlockwise in the hope the Lesser Yellowlegs was on the Western Scrape but when we arrived there it wasn't to be seen.  Though there were many Teal, Mallard, Snipe, Black-tailed Godwit, Dunlin and the long staying white headed Ruff and a Marsh Harrier.  We continued on and we had a Peregrine streak across the reserve putting everything up in the sky which was followed shortly after by a Sparrowhawk.  Further on we came across two more Great White Egret and its smaller cousins the Little Egret and a few Little Grebe sheltering from the wind tucked in by one of the tern nesting islands.  I met a couple of friends that watch Lodmoor regularly and they said they had just seen the 'Lesser-legs' in the marsh bit by Beachdown Way.  So with a quick thank you we hurried along the path and scanned the pools and there it was at the back trotting up and down the waters edge feeding and giving nice scope views.
Lesser Yellowlegs - Lodmoor © Nick Hull
From Lodmoor we moved to Sandsfoot Castle, here we added Red-breasted Merganser, Black-necked Grebe and a single Slavonian Grebe plus a handful of passing Brent Geese. Then it was onto Ferrybridge for lunch, there was no sign of very much, too many people walking dogs and digging bait for fishing along the shoreline, but we did see Skylark, Dunlin, Oystercatcher more mergansers and a Kestrel, our fourth raptor of the day. By the time we finished lunch the day was passing and we headed off towards Radipole, parking at the Tennis courts we scanned though the duck and I managed to pick out the Ring-necked Duck without too much problem with a few Tufted and Pochard.  So after watching this small American duck in appalling light and with the temperature dropping as the sun had started to set we headed back to Lodmoor where we said our goodbye's to the group after an excellent day's birding in Weymouth.

Monday, 19 November 2018

Catching Up Again

When I logged in today I couldn't believe it has been so long since I wrote a blog. The main reason is that we have been very busy with a long weekend with a group in East Yorkshire and walks locally at Lodmoor, Durlston, Studland, Holton Lee, Stanpit and Keyhaven which has given our groups a wide variety species.

So instead of a write up on each location I thought to keep this blog to a reasonable length I would pick out a few of the highlights that we've seen in the period starting with East Yorkshire.
Jack Snipe - Spurn Point archive photo
Yorkshire gave us a few highs and one or two lows in that the first two days were pretty wet but we were able to bird from a few hides at Spurn Point which enabled us to see Jack Snipe, Ring Ouzels, Short-eared Owl. On our second visit we added more Ring Ouzel and thrushes, Yellow-browed Warbler and a Barred Warbler Marsh Harrier and Short-eared Owl. We also saw two Jay on our second visit to Spurn which was the first for two and a half years quite the local scarcity.  
Fieldfare coming in off the North Sea at Flamborough © Nick Hull
Our visit to Flamborough Head proved to be, for me the highlight of the trip for one reason only the visual migration was superb with large numbers of thrush species flying in off the North Sea which were followed by good numbers of finches giving the opportunity to see and hear Song, Mistle Thrush, Fieldfare, Ring Ouzel, Redwing, Chaffinch and Brambling moving into Britain for the winter.

We also recorded Great White Egret at Hornsea Mere and lots of Tree Sparrows in various location we visited here they seem to be doing very well in this eastern corner of Yorkshire.
Tree Sparrow - Bempton Cliffs RSPB © Nick Hull
Closer to Home our visit to Lodmoor gave the group good opportunity to become conversant with the identification with Lesser Yellowlegs the North American equivalent to our Redshank which gave amazing good views.  Durlston gave us excellent views of Firecrest on what was a very overcast day as well as some visual migration but unfortunately it wasn't a big migration day.  Studland produced all the usual species and we had nice scope views of a group of returning Black-necked Grebe and good numbers of Mediterranean Gull and really close views of three Jay which were scouring for the churchyard for food.  Holton Lee always produces a variety of woodland species for us when we visit and usually adds a few waders and a bird of prey or two and it didn't disappoint us.  Our highlights were a very nice Kingfisher, male Sparrowhawk, Green Sandpiper and best of all was a Short-eared Owl  being harried over the bay by gulls a real scarcity for the Lytchett Bay recording area.  
Short-eared Owl © Nick Hull
Stanpit marsh produced its usual waterfowl also gave us good views of a couple of Wheatear and our first autumn sightings of recently returning Dark-bellied Brent Geese and we finished with a superb male Marsh Harrier over Priory Marsh.  Keyhaven is always an excellent location to visit at anytime of year though we didn't see anything particularly scarce that's not always what makes a walk memorable. Though the winter sun was a bit of a nuisance being low in the sky and the wind was blowing in from the south, we had good numbers of waterfowl in nearly all the lagoons and they appeared very restless with quite large flocks of Brent, Wigeon, Teal and Pintail constantly lifting off and circling around and landing again giving great views and a good opportunity to compare and see identification features of the different species in flight or on the water.  We also saw Peregrine, Marsh Harrier and Kestrel  and many of the usual wader species out on the marsh.

Thursday, 11 October 2018

Night Sound Surprise

Whilst I record on all nights that promise to stay dry the intention is to record what species are flying over Lytchett bay on migration in spring and autumn, I mostly record species that are what I consider local and can be seen most days in the recording area. (https://www.birdsofpooleharbour.co.uk/sites/default/files//011217%20A%20Guide%20to%20Birding%20Lytchett%20Bay-2.pdf

Unfortunately where I am situated isn't a nocturnal migration hot spot, well not yet anyway, but in saying this I occasionally get a reward like the Golden Plover in our last blog.  I suppose that's why I do it for that odd surprise and when you get a real close contact where it calls above the parabol, that is really rewarding.  It just doesn't happen enough but when it does it makes listening to all those hours of silence worth while and when you get probably one, ie the Golden Plover, you don't expect another soon.  To my surprise and joy as I viewed through my next nights recording I came across what was obviously a loud sound (see sonogram blow).  Usually these sounds normally turn out to be something manmade so as I put the headset on I didn't have great expectations but how wrong was I.  As I heard the sound I let out a loud "Yes" and Jackie asked what is it, I said listen and handed her the headset and replayed the sound she looked puzzled then the realisation of what it was dawned on her Barn Owl! she replied.  

I've only record Barn Owl twice before both times were somewhere near the edge of the bay probably   a hundred metres away or so but this was very close if not over the bungalow or at least the garden.

Barn Owl Sonogram 




Sunday, 7 October 2018

More Nocturnal Sounds over Lytchett Bay

Well, I've had the recorder on over seven nights during September the most productive were the last nights of the month. In total 26 species were recorded many of which can be considered as local species, by that I mean I record them on every night I record.  But a handful I only record in spring or autumn or on the very odd occasion.

Moorhen, Coot, Snipe, Skylark and Dunlin I only recorded a few times, though Moorhen and Coot seem to be on the increase.  Moorhen are in the bay so might be moving around in the dark, Coot are scarce though are recorded in spring and autumn as are Snipe and the latter occasionally on winter nights.

A species that Paul Morton (BoPH) and Nick Hopper (Sound Approach) have both recorded on occasions around Poole Harbour is Golden Plover but they seem to have avoided my listening station here at Lytchett Bay.  Until now as this September I've recorded four individuals flying over and one recording (below) must of been very close or even over our Bungalow.

Below is the Spectrogram/Sonogram and recording of the Golden Plover calling as it passed over close to our Bungalow.

Sonogram of Golden plover and call below

Autumn is all about the winter thrushes moving in from northern Europe and it's alway nice to record the first of the year, but then once the migration get fully underway I spend so much time counting all the contacts on the recording it become a little bit of a labour of love rather than enjoyment.  In saying this September recordings not only produced the first Song Thrush, Blackbird and Redwing the latter flew by on 29th at 05:00hrs in the morning, it also produced Wigeon, Snipe, and the first Skylark also on the morning of the 29th at 02:59hrs.

Below is the sonogram and recording of that first Redwing of the autumn.
Sonogram of Redwing above, Call below


I've recorded a number of animal sounds and in the autumn Sika Stag are always recorded usually a number of time throughout the night, and I've often thought I should compare the bellows to see if there are any differences.  So today I compared two as they sounded obviously different indeed the sonogram backed this up. In fact the first you hear would only bellow once every so often the second animal would always put in a series of three in a row then take a break.  It seems to me that the first may be more senior in rank maybe, so doesn't need to sound off as much? So it could be I can identify individual stags by their sound and get an idea of how many Stags are vying for the doe's in the Lytchett Bay recording area.

Below is the sonogram of the two different stags the first sound is the one I think is possibly the senior animal the second sound is usually giving in a group of three seperate calls.


Below is the recording of both stags


Friday, 14 September 2018

Recent Nocturnal Sound Recording

It has been a while since I have posted any nocturnal sounds recorded from Lytchett Bay.  So I've put together a few of the better recording of recent calls from Curlew flying over my listening station into or from the bay.

The first two are just single calls these were most probably birds moving into the bay to feed at low tide.





The next two are both a series of calls the first is probably two different birds calling one flying slight further away and one a little closer to the microphone (second and third call).


This is what I call the 'Worry Call' this from a bird moving across over the bay.


My last sound for this blog was recorded a week ago and is a sign that the Sika Deer have started the annual rut. This was a stags screaming bellow presuming warning off lesser stags this was his patch. He wasn't to far from the microphone probably just a little way into the wood.



Now I have some new software for processing the recordings I'l try to do more regular blogs to include more of the sounds of Lytchett bays wildlife.

Boating Around Poole Harbour

On Friday 7th Jackie and I were invited out with the Birds of Poole Harbour on the Volunteers Osprey Boat.   Starting at Poole Quay at 8a.m. we set off to sail up the Wareham Channel with Mark and Paul giving us a commentary and updating us on the Osprey translocation project. As we passed the Barfluer dock we had a flyby Mediterranean Gull and then a Sandwich Tern or two.  We passed Rockley and I picked up a flight of thirty one Avocet flying towards the harbour they looked stunning with the blue sky as they flashed black and white as they jostled for position in the air.  When we were adjacent to Holton Lee Paul called Osprey but to be honest it was so far away it was hard to see it flying to our north. 

Avocet over the Wareham Channel © Nick Hull
We continued on searching the skies and the water I managed to point out a Woodlark that flew along the Arne northern shore and disappeared into a pine tree out of sight. We then came across a large flock of Cormorant communally feeding Mark explained that this type of feeding was very typical of the sinensis subspecies which we find in the harbour every year and were probably Dutch breeding birds.  

Cormorant (possibly C. sinensis) - Wareham Channel © Nick Hull
As we reached the mouth of the Frome and the Piddle, the two main rivers that feed the harbour, we had several Sandwich Tern and to the left of the boat a Common Seal surfaced as the boat turned we saw another in the mouth of the Piddle.

Harbour or Common Seal - Wareham Channel © Nick Hull
We returned down the channel and then sailed across to the Wytch Channel past Shipstal to as far as Round Island, where we could observe the release pens off in the distance but no Osprey were on show.  In fact it appeared that most had already left toward the south and Africa.  As we headed back to across the harbour we had a distant view of thirteen Spoonbill on Shipstal Point.

As we crossed the Balls Lake shellfish beds I looked back toward Corfe Castle and there circling in the distance was an Osprey a tad closer than the previous view, so I called it and directed everyone on to it so there was at least two still around at least. 

We cruised on passing between Furzy and Brownsea Islands around to look over the sea wall into Brownsea Lagoon.  As we drifted along the lagoon edge we were able to pick out a number of wildfowl such as Black-tailed Godwit, Spotted Redshank, Redshank, Oystercatcher, Dunlin and I must have been on form as I located a Little Stint feeding on one of the sand bars just over the wall.  We also add more Little Egrets and five more Spoonbill which decided to take off and fly around giving excellent views and a fitting end to a excellent trip around the harbour.

Spoonbill over Brownsea Lagoon © Nick Hull