Tuesday, 19 April 2016

Birding Catch-up

I visited Wareham Forest, Dorset twice last week, on Tuesday 12th April with a friend and then with our Sunday group yesterday (17th).  Both days the sun shone and though bit of a chill in the air it was good to bring the birds out.

Of course on both days we had many of the same birds, spring migrants Chiffchaffs and Blackcap were quite vocal but it wasn't until Sunday that I heard the Willow Warbler.  On each occasion finding Tree Pipit was difficult, we did see one but quite briefly.  Swallows yesterday were flying over in small numbers all morning.
Peregrine Falcon © Nick Hull
On Tuesday, a pair of Peregrines were creating such a noise, the male was flying round calling while the female, also very vocal, was sat on the pylon.  We scoped the female and then watched the male fly in and then they copulated. When we went back on Sunday only the male was seen. On the heath it was good to see so many Stonechats and of course several Dartford Warblers, plus a few Linnets.

The star of the show had to go to the Lesser Spotted Woodpecker, on Tuesday we were watching Marsh Tit and Treecreeper when I heard it call first.  I then heard it call again very close by but we could not find the bird and then heard it more distantly, quite frustrating not being able to see it.  When we returned on Sunday, we heard it drumming but only saw it as it flew.  Each time we heard it drumming it moved, on one occasion it was really close but on the wrong side of the oak!  So only some of the group saw it fly back across to the tree line by the stream.  So frustrating but that was the best we managed, but it was still good to hear it call and drum, never an easy species. As for other species we managed our first Speckled Wood of the year and a couple of Peacock butterflies.
Speckled Wood 1st of the year Wareham Forest ©Nick Hull
On the 13th April I met a friend and we chose Pennington Marshes, on the Hampshire coast and it was a great choice.  Starting at Lower Pennington Lane and looking over the pool on the old landfill  site, with a pair of splendid adult Mediterranean Gulls and you could hear others flying around.  A 1st summer Little Gull was sat on the water with Black-headed Gulls when two Spoonbills flew in and started preening.  Looking back for the Little Gull we found it was now hawking delicately over the water. A small flock of Black-tailed Godwits flew over, a Kestrel started hovering and Skylarks were displaying.

Moving on we watched a Peacock butterfly enjoying the warm sunshine and a couple of Roe Deer were feeding in the marsh.  Then we heard a Whitethroat so turned round to watch him singing and flying up and down to the next bush.  A Dartford Warbler turned us back to the marsh and it was on top of a gorse bush.  A short burst of song from Reed Warbler took our attention away again and we stood waiting for him to show, though he did it was all too brief.  All the time Cetti's Warblers were very loud and there were 4 or 5 in a quite small area.   Then it was Stonechats and Linnets, we'd barely walked more than a 200 yards and there was just so much to see and hear.
Cetti's Warbler © Nick Hull 
At last we had reached Fishtail Lagoon and a pair of Reed Buntings were down amongst debris swept over the coast path by the recent storms.  Oh, if only I had my camera with me they were so close!  On the salt marsh were several Dunlin now attaining their black bellies, also Grey Plover, Ringed Plover and Turnstones.  Renee saw something in the reeds and up popped a superb pair of Bearded Tits and this time even closer than the Reed Buntings - I really needed a camera!  We just stood quietly and watched them for ages until eventually they flew over to a more distant reed bed.

It didn't stop there with another photo opportunity on the next lagoon, a summer plumaged Spotted Redshank just below us.  I turned round as I heard the rasping call of a Sandwich Tern and watched it fly past.  Our day finished with two Swallows as we arrived back at our cars.  One of those brilliant birding days to remember.

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