Sunday, 18 October 2015

Marsh Harrier & Bittern at Lodmoor

We had a fairly good morning meeting the group along Southdown Avenue at the back of Lodmoor. Whilst we waited for everyone to arrive, we listened to Bearded Tits moving out in the reedbed and a very cream headed and shouldered Marsh Harrier quartered the reserve then dropped in out of sight. A pretty good start so we headed off counter clockwise and scanned for what else was around and we quickly picked up Little Grebe, Gadwall and Pochard plus of course Coot and Moorhen.  As we rounded the corner to walk towards the recycling centre Goldcrest and Chiffchaff were heard and Chaffinch went over.  As we made the second turn to walk between the old tip and the reserve I was at the back with a few of the group listening to Gadwall gentle quack and the squeal of Water Rails in the reed.  I happened to look up behind us and there flying across behind us was a Bittern, I quickly called to everyone and most got onto the bird before it dropped into the reed in the central marsh.  

From there on it was checking off the routine birds that one would expect at Lodmoor, Lapwing, Teal, Mallard, Snipe and Black-headed Gulls a single Dunlin and Shoveler.  Until Sarah found the Marsh Harrier perched on a post out in the middle giving everyone a good scope view once we had all found it.
Snipe & Black-headed Gull and a very distant Marsh Harrier - Lodmoor
We turned again now walking along parallel to the Preston beach road and walked into a small feeding flock of Long-tailed, Blue and Great Tits which were accompanied by several Chiffchaff and a couple of Blackcap.  From the viewing shelter Grey Heron and two gleaming white Spoonbills.
Sparrowhawk and Spoonbill Lodmoor
It was nice to see the Spoonbills showing some signs of life instead of having there bills tucked under their wings. Jackie led the group on along the path and I took a couple of last shots of the Spoonbill and then chased after to catchup, as I turned the corner to see the last member of the group disappear  a Sparrowhawk dropped onto a bush but quickly realised I was only a few feet away. It flew up the path towards the main group then flicked up over the hedge.  I found what was most certainly the same bird a few minutes later, sat on a fence post along the halfway track and then all the group got to see it.  Our walk back to the cars produced Siskins, Greenfinch and Goldfinch flying over, Cetti's Warbler and a sudden influx of Swallow feeding in a big ball as the moved across the reserve.  Not a bad morning.

After the meeting Jackie and I has lunch looking over the Fleet in the hope we might see one of the many Short-eared Owls that had been around but had no luck.  So headed out to the Portland as they had reported that there were five been seen at the Bill.  We popped into Portland Obs to get any recent gen and was told that the Red-backed Shrike that was in Suckthumb Quarry had re-emerged.  So as our time was running out we quickly stopped at the quarry to see if we could find it. We met up with a few other birders we knew and one of them showed us where he had seen it a little while ago.  After a very short wait a bird flew in and landed on a buddlia and Jackie called it but they couldn't see it from their position.  However, it was straight in front of me so I beckoned them to me and over the next ten minutes or so it performed very well and gave us tremendous views.  A great end to our day.
juv. red-backed Shrike - Suckthumb Quarry Portland © Nick Hull

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