Tuesday, 11 March 2014

Birding in Early March

The past week has seen us in the New Forest a couple of times and to Hengistbury Head.  Considering this time of year is rather a transitionary period, with wintering birds leaving us and our summer visitors not arrived yet, we did well.
On 5th March, our Wednesday monthly group met at Hengistbury Head on a beautifully sunny warm morning.  Before we left the car park we had Skylarks singing and a hovering Kestrel, soon after we added Greenfinch and Stonechat.  Looking over towards Stanpit we could see Brent Geese, Wigeon and Teal.  In the woodland we had Jay and a pair of Reed Buntings, also a Grey Heron flying back into the nest.  A Pheasant looked out of place here, but Stock Dove was more expected as well as common woodland birds including a smart little Goldcrest.  
As we reached the beach huts in the small pond we were pleased to see a Water Rail walking along the edge of the water eventually disappearing in the vegetation. It was very quiet offshore but we did find 16 Purple Sandpipers on one of groynes.  Friends told us that the Black Redstart was showing round the Head but unfortunately we never did catch up with that one.  
On Sunday (9th) we had a group at Acres Down, a warm day with not a cloud in the blue sky.  We went up to the viewpoint to watch for Goshawks, on the way we could hear Mistle Thrush singing and then the beautiful call of Wood Lark.  Eventually we did see three Wood Lark flying around but never giving brilliant views, we also found another pair later on. A pair of Stonechats were more obliging and as we approached our viewpoint we had a short display by a Meadow Pipit.  Almost immediately we had a Goshawk, followed by a pair, Buzzards were also soaring and easily in double figures, such a perfect day for them to be soaring.  Walking back towards the car park we stopped once more to watch another Goshawk making at least four birds seen this morning.
In the woodland we had a couple of Jays, Siskins calling as they flew over and Great Spotted Woodpecker drumming.  In one area we could hear Goldcrest and Firecrest eventually giving some views.  There seemed be quite a squabble going on and a lot of chasing around with both species involved, making them hard to keep up with.  On such a beautiful day we also had lots of Brimstone butterflies, also Comma, Peacock and Small Tortoiseshell.  This photo of a Treecreeper was taken near Ringwood where we stopped on our way home.
Treecreeper © Nick Hull

We returned again today (11th) with our Tuesday group to Acres Down, a much cooler and cloudy day, not a good day for watching raptors.  We started in the woodland with a brilliant little Firecrest flitting around in the holly, in the next tree a Coal Tit hung upside down over the path.  Once again drumming Great Spotted Woodpecker though we only saw him as he flew away.  As we watched Stock Doves we heard the “buzzing” call of Redpoll as they flew overhead, soon after Siskins came over.  Walking back to where we had the Firecrest earlier we then had a Marsh Tit and Long-tailed Tit, this brought the number of tit species seen up to five.  Walking up the hill a male Bullfinch called attention to it’s presence as it flew to the top of a holly.  Carrying on we had Meadow Pipit and a pair of Wood Lark, the latter singing it’s beautiful and distinctive song.  At the pond we found a huge amount of frog spawn, the most I think I’ve ever seen in one area.  We finished our walk with a Goldcrest, another superb walk.

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