On Sunday 1st November we arrived at Durlston before 7a.m. to meet our group and we may have felt bright but the weather definitely wasn't! So our planned 'vis mig' (visible migration) to watch migrating birds turned into a listening station with Nick using his parabolic reflector to hear the bird migrating overhead as it was so foggy.
Though when we stepped out of our car early on as it was getting light all we could hear were Goldcrests, we seemed to be surrounded by them. A few small flocks of Goldfinch went over and we could hear a few Siskins but that was about it for migrating birds over Long Field. We decided to move on and try for the Hume's Warbler that had been seen the previous day. We met Warren and Hamish and they had not had neither sight or sound of the Hume's, we stopped a while and had super views of Goldcrests but not 'the' bird.
Walking on we had a few Song Thrush fly over the first of several small parties we had migrating over. We walked by the Education Centre as members of the Stour Ringing Group were extracting a few birds from the nets. It was a privilege to be shown a Green Woodpecker, adult Redwing and a Goldcrest in the hand.
Goldcrest with ringer Ian @Jackie Hull
There were Blackbirds and a few Redwing around and towards the end of the walk 4 Fieldfares, though a highlight for many in the group were watching a flock of 9 Bullfinch. Plus the usual resident birds of course.
After we finished Nick and I popped down by the castle again just in case the Hume's Warbler had been seen and though it had not been seen two Sparrowhawks flew over towards the sea and the male was displaying. It was a lovely and very warm day for early November but definitely not Spring!
Meeting up with birding friends Renee and Liz on 3rd November we decided to spend the morning at Blashford Lakes. As we arrived a loose flock of Fieldfare flew over quite low southwards and 4 Skylark. From the hide we had the usual species to be found here, a female Goldeneye and a Goosander added to the mix. The Osprey that has been a regular visitor to Ibsley Water was not its usual perch and many birders that had come to see it were feeling disappointed. Luckily an eagle-eyed (or rather osprey-eyed) observer picked it up flying north along the river in the distance. Through the scope we had fair views as he flew until eventually disappearing.
Walking through the wood to the Lapwing Hide we heard 'chattering', we could see movement and at first only seeing Blackbirds but Liz and I were convinced it was Redwing we could hear. They were obviously just out of our sight though Liz did see one well before they flew off. By the path down to the Goosander hide we found two female Bullfinch and Siskins were flitting around calling as they went.
The highlight of our walk though was being shown the Earthstar fungus, there were several that had already decayed but one was almost perfect and none of us had seen one before, so thank you Jack for bringing it to our attention.
Earthstar © Jackie Hull
On Wednesday, 4th November, I met up with our Wednesday group at Stanpit Marsh, it was a great start with a heavy rain shower but we were in our waterproofs and spent the worst of it in the visitor centre. Venturing out again we had close views of Curlew and Little Egret and on Crouch Hill were the usual Pied Wagtails and Meadow Pipits. Looking over the harbour in the main it was Brent Geese and Wigeon, on the edges Redshank, a few Black-tailed Godwits and a single Grey Plover. A Kestrel, flew across behind us and we watched it land in a tree by the visitor centre, then a second Kestrel appeared.
Then one of the group asked me to look at a bird sat out on the marsh, certainly a bird of prey they said. It was a Sparrowhawk just sitting perhaps eyeing up potential lunch. Then another Sparrowhawk appeared making the Lapwings rise up showing just how many of them there were. We were to see the pair of Sparrowhawks a few time before one flew off over to the houses, possibly to look for prey at the bird feeders.
Moving position we could scope further out into the harbour and we were able to add Ringed Plover and Turnstone, a pair of Shoveler, Oystercatcher and our first Snipe. After this Snipe seemed to be everywhere we walked, obviously close to the path calling as they burst into the air, the numbers we put up could have only been a fraction of what must've been on the marsh that day.