Wednesday, 16 December 2015

Raptor spectacle at Lytchett Bay

Our Wednesday group visited Lytchett Fields this morning, what a treat was in store for us!  We started by walking down Slough Lane to look over the pools.  Walking down the lane we had a small flock of Long-tailed Tits, several Great Tits and a Great Spotted Woodpecker, also Goldfinch, Chaffinch and Greenfinch.

Looking over the pools we counted seven Curlew and two Shelduck and through her scope Jess found a Stonechat perched on top of some reeds.  Looking over the bay through the scopes we could see Brent Geese and Oystercatchers.  Moving down to the viewpoint by the water works we had our first sighting of a Marsh Harrier quartering the reeds and then a Buzzard flew across over our heads.  Jess was on form again picking up a Green Sandpiper in the pools field and a Little Egret flew in.  

Walking back up and joining the back lane we had a quick look over the cottage pond with several Mallards lounging about.  Looking over one of the gates I heard a Bullfinch, then a stunning male appeared and perched briefly before flying off over the field.  Climbing over the stile we walked  across what is known as the Purple Heron field towards the narrow bridge, along the way we had another flock of Long-tailed Tits and Fran found a Goldcrest amongst them.  

It was then that we saw a huge flock of waders, mostly Lapwings with a count of at least 150 and about 50 Dunlin with them.  The culprit was soon found, a Peregrine but we lost it to view, however the waders just kept swirling round.  We continued to watch them flying and never seeming to be happy to land again, we walked on to the viewpoint, all the while the waders were in the air.  At times they went in to a "ball" of birds, then became strung out again, Dunlin and Lapwing dancing in the air for most of the time we were there.  

Approaching the Sherford Pools viewpoint a Green Sandpiper flew up noisily calling and flew further down the field.  The group counted just nine Redshank, four Little Egret, four Shelduck, one Greenshank tucked up close to the reeds and 71 Teal.   A Marsh Harrier came across and a Peregrine and even the Teal then took flight.

Some were now watching over Frenches Viewpoint, here there were 32 Sheldcuk and a few Little Egret but then Fran called our attention to a Peregrine.  We stood and watched this Peregrine chasing a lone Dunlin, they twisted and turned, going up very high and then coming back down again, the Peregrine seemed to be right on the Dunlin's tail but it got away again.  Then finally it was seen to catch the Dunlin and then went down behind the trees.  

To add to the raptors we had a Kestrel hovering behind us along the tree line of the lane, but it wasn't long before we were drawn back to the reedbeds towards Holten Lee.  A second Marsh Harrier appeared and then another Peregrine, it was amazing to watch these two birds together.  By now Ian Ballam had joined us enjoying the spectacle and we watched them for ages and for the most part seemed to be happily tolerant of the other's company.  Though we didn't think there could be any prey left for them.   The bay was still being disturbed too as we could see the flock of about 40 Avocet flying up.  Though we left at this point Ian later saw the Peregrine successfully taking prey and flying over towards Holten Lee.  Below are a couple of photo's from this morning taken by Ian Ballam.

Marsh Harrier and Peregrine © Ian Ballam
Marsh Harrier with prey (Reshank) © Ian Ballam

Monday, 14 December 2015

Wildfowl Bonanza at Normandy

Normandy Marsh at Lymington is alway a great place to go in winter to see wildfowl, you aways get a good variety and nearly always in good scope range. As we walked out to Oxey Lake we found our first species of the day with a couple of Reed Bunting, a Brambling flew off into the tree behind us not to be seen again. On the lake we found Mallard, Gadwall, Teal, Redshank, Little Grebe, Mute Swan and a distant Kingfisher.  Viewing across Oxey Lake I picked up a superb male Goldeneye, then Bob picked up a diver.  Initially was thought to be a Black-throated but once it had turned around the high forehead, a flat crown and then a dark collar was seen confirming it to be a Great Northern Diver.  There was also a scattering of Great Crested Grebe but little else was found. 
Little Grebe - Oxey Lake © Nick Hull 
Now we were looking over Normandy Marsh and here there were large numbers of Teal and Wigeon and a small group of elegant Pintail in the corner of the first pool and more could be seen further out across the marsh.
Pintail - Normandy Marsh © Nick Hull
Closer there was a nice flock of Dunlin busy feeding in the shallows, a scattering of Redshank and good numbers of Lapwing.  As we moved along to get better views over the water we found Tufted Duck, Shoveler, Greenshanks, a nice large roost of Dunlin and Ringed Plover. As we walked around the marsh small skeins of Brent Geese would fly in and bathe in the fresh water, others went on to the fields to feed until the tide become low and they moved back out onto the outer marsh.
Dark-bellied Brent Geese Normandy Marsh © Nick Hull
Other wildfowl found here were Avocet, Red-breasted Merganser, Turnstone, Black-tailed Godwit, Snipe. Shelduck.  As we continued around the shoreline path the islands of cord grass that were just high enough to form roosts with the high tide were covered in Dunlin, Grey Plover and with the odd Curlew amongst them. 
Little Egret - Normandy Marsh © Nick Hull
There were a number of Little Egret which didn't settle and kept moving around, another species that wouldn't settle were Reed Buntings we saw several all along the fence line to the marsh.  During our walk we had several Skylark moving over in one and twos but as we were walking towards Lymington a flock of no less than 38 Skylark lifted off the marsh and headed off east. From this corner of the shoreline path we had a good number of Meadow Pipits a small group of Linnet our third sighting of Kingfisher, Black-tailed Godwit and good numbers of Turnstone.
Song Thrush - Normandy Lane © Nick Hull
We walked on through the boat yard out onto Normandy Lane and we had close views of a Song Thrush in full song and continued to do so as we left.  Walking the lane we came across a small mixed tit flock and a few Goldfinch.  Out in the fields Canada and Brent Geese grazed along with a number of corvids mostly Rook.  The other species seen were Goldcrest, Robin, Dunnock, House Sparrow, Blackbird, Greenfinch and Chaffinch and the various common tit species which completed our walk for the day.

Wednesday, 2 December 2015

Birding Blashford Lakes

Our group met at Blashford Lakes, the New Forest Bird Group were also birding the reserve today.  It was great to see some old friends but to avoid a crush in the hides we chose to bird away from Ibsley Water.  So we walked across the road and started by watching the feeders by the visitor centre, Coal, Great and Blue Tits dashed to and fro along with Nuthatch.  We went on to the Ivy North Hide and a Jay flew across our path.  We did hope to see the Bittern that has been reported regularly recently but if it was there it was hidden from view.   

Next we went into the Woodland Hide, at first it was very quiet, we suspected that a Sparrowhawk had probably flown through and the birds were still hiding.  With some patience gradually the birds reappeared first with a male Great Spotted Woodpecker, followed by the usual tit species.  Then a Redpoll came to the niger feeder, then another one until we had four busily eating the seed and a Goldfinch joined them.  The Chaffinches started coming back in and then a Brambling arrived, eventually we had four feeding together on the ground and a Greenfinch joined the party.  The resident Bank Vole came out running round a couple of Dunnocks.
Lesser Redpoll Blashford Lakes HWT Reserve © Nick Hull
We went on to the South Ivy Hide next with Wigeon, Gadwall, Tufted ducks, a couple of drake Pochard and three drake Shoveler.  A Grey Heron flew in and the ducks took flight, even the Cormorants in the trees lifted off, they really didn't like this low flying heron which disappeared in the same direction it had come from and they all settled again.  Walking on the path towards the A338 we came across several large Alder trees a great favourite with Siskins and we were not disappointed with a good number feeding.  

As we walked up Ivy Lane I heard Grey Wagtail and it was found in the garden by a stabled horse, it was very busy and soon lost to view.  Looking over Rockford Lake Joe watched a few Goldeneye fly in, we had nice views of four drakes and two females.  Then a Little Egret flew up and then another egret but this time it was the Great White Egret.  Fortunately it quickly landed again and we had superb views and the Little Egret came back giving a great comparison before they both flew off towards Mockbeggar Lake.  Moving on we watched into the wood whilst watching a Song Thrush as a Goldcrest flitted by and showed well. We ended our walk at the Tern hide parking area one or two had a last look over Ibsley Water but only Egyptain Goose was added to our list.