Thursday, 26 May 2016

Pied Flys & Cirl Buntings

Our group met in Yarner Wood and while waiting for everyone to arrive popped into the hide conveniently next to car park.   A pair of Mandarin Ducks were feeding outside, though the drake did fly to other end of the pond shortly after.  On the feeders in front of us were a constant stream of Coal, Blue and Great Tits, a Marsh Tit popped in intermittently but never lingered.  A male Great Spotted Woodpecker became a regular as did Nuthatch and Siskin.   Under the feeders Chaffinch picked about and a pair of Grey Wagtail fed along the stream.
Nuthatch Yarner Wood Devon © Nick Hull
Back out in the car park the Siskins were constantly calling and chattering in the tree tops as we set off.  We had Robin, Wren and heard Wood Warbler, though the latter was unseen.  We heard a Pied Flycatcher singing and while looking for him found a pair of Spotted Flycatchers.  It wasn't long before we saw the Pied Flycatcher, our first of many round the reserve, the males in fine song.
Pied Flycatcher Yarner Wood Devon © Nick Hull
Moving on a little further we heard Chiffchaff and Willow Warbler and a few of the group saw a Treecreeper briefly.  Dotted all along our walk were Pied Flycatchers with Robin, Wren, Song Thrush, Jay, Long-tailed Tits and Blackbird seen.  At the Observation Hide the many feeders outside were very busy and we saw Raven fly over but more usual was hearing a Tawny Owl calling.

After lunch we walked up for a short walk on the heathland, as we walked up we passed a noisy brood of Great Spotted Woodpeckers waiting for their parents to return.  Stepping out on to the heath we had beautiful views across the valley we heard several Willow Warblers and Swifts overhead.  A Whitethroat was called but kept low in the bushes whilst a Tree Pipit sang briefly but too distantly for us.  However a Stonechat and Yellowhammer were much more obliging and a couple of Linnets flew by.  As we re-entered the wood we heard a Redstart, a male flew down to the path and gave us stunning views and then female joined him, both busy finding food for their young.  Now on the path back to the car park another brood of Great Spotted Woodpeckers was found and then the Wood Warbler sang.  This time Scott, Nick and I spotted him singing and getting the rest of the group on to him we all had good views before he flew on to sing in another part of his territory.
Great Spotted Woodpecker Yarner Wood Devon © Nick Hull
Our next stop was Labrador Bay overlooking part of Lyme bay and as soon as we left the car park we connected with a party of Cirl Buntings in a field.  Walking on we could hear a few singing and as we reached the end of the path we had a male sitting on a wire fence and a Chiffchaff singing.  Then we could hear two singing males and found one of them sitting out giving good views and first photo opportunity.  A Shelduck flew across the bay and a Kestrel hovered nearby then a Peregrine was seen flying towards before going into a fast stoop.  Jess saw a seal but it disappeared before the rest of us could see it and then we noticed the Gannets plunging into the bay.
Girl Bunting Labrador Bay Devon © Nick Hull
As we moved back to the path a Common Blue butterfly caused us to stop and then a Skylark sang above us.  The Chiffchaff had dropped on to the wire fence and Swallows dashed through and we could still hear the Cirl Buntings and a Red Admiral butterfly fluttered by.  Time to celebrate an amazing day with an ice cream before driving home.

Friday, 20 May 2016

Soggy Birding at Holt Heath

Our Wednesday group met on 18th May at Holt Heath near Wimborne, it started so well, the rain had stopped the birds were singing!  We had Coal Tit and Goldcrest singing in the car park and as we walked through to the open heath the sun came out.  A Song Thrush stopped for a while with a bill full of food as a Jay flew through and a Blackbird alarmed.  Then the first three of Great Spotted Woodpeckers came in and started tapping loudly on a tree.

On the heath a Swift flew overhead, then a flyby drake Mallard!  A few Linnets and Stonechat were seen and then a Dartford Warbler.  Further on a Blackcap and Chaffinch were singing, then I heard a Tree Pipit.  Moving a few steps further and we found the Tree Pipit perched on top of a tree, opposite we had our first Yellowhammer and then a Whitethroat sat up.

We stopped to watch a pair of Stonechats then heard a Cuckoo and more surprisingly a Nightjar churred briefly, then we heard our first Willow Warbler.  A Curlew gave his beautiful bubbling call, such a wonderful sound and pleased to know they are still here.  An impressive male Greenfinch sat up singing and a Chiffchaff sat out on top of a thin bare tree singing his heart out.  Moving on I heard Siskin, I saw a female briefly and found a male feeding nearby.

By now we had had a few showers but now the rain was persistent and heavy and really it was time to head back to our cars.  However it was a great morning and certainly plenty of summer migrants and worth getting wet for.

Stonechat (library photo) © Nick Hull

Sunday, 1 May 2016

Stunning Morning with Great Birds

National Dawn Chorus day usually sees us out very very early but this mornings walk started at seven o'clock from the Canadian Memorial in the New Forest.  Now after the event I doubt if we could have picked a better location.  Whilst everyone gathered and arrived we had the usual woodland species Robin, Chaffinch, Mistle and Song Thrush and then Jackie picked up a pair of Woodlark feeding along the road edge.  Jackie decided to take a slightly different route than we usually do and headed across the heath along the edge of the Holly coppice which turned out to be a good decision.  Crossing the road we had our first pair of Stonechat, Blackbirds, Dunnock and a pair of Siskin flew over.  A little further on Julie picked up our first Redstart a super male we went on to see several more including a couple of females too.  Next was a pair of Bullfinch and then someone called Whitethroat, when I got eyes on the bird I quickly realised in was actually a Lesser Whitethroat a species I wouldn't usually expect to find in a Holly coppice but it showed very well for us.  

Whilst listening to a Redstart singing from somewhere in the Hollies, there was a sharp "Tsik" "tsik" close overhead looking up a Hawfinch flew out from behind us right out into the open then turned and flew back into cover again.  We were just thinking how lucky we were when our luck immediately became better when checking out another bird in flight coming towards us and thinking thats a small woodpecker when it pitched up at the top of a holly tree on bare branches and called, my instinct was proved correct a Lesser Spotted Woodpecker.  It gave good though brief views and turned out to be a lifer species for a number of the group.

Back down to earth we continued checking off the commoner species, Greenfinch, Wrens, then another Pair of Woodlark flew out of the bracken and away but then Joe found two more feeding on the ground which were much closer than the earlier birds and more features could been seen.  Our next used to be common, but as you'll know has suffered a major decline in recent years, so it was very nice to hear then see a Cuckoo found calling from the top of any oak then flying down into the valley past us excellent. As we walked towards Bolderwood we came across a small Buck party around six Fallow buck were grazing out in the open.
Fallow Deer bucks - Bolder Wood © Nick Hull
Entering Bolderwood we waited for those that needed to visit the loo at the deer view point, from here we watched hawking Swallows, a very smart male Pied Wagtail and several feeding Song Thrush.    When the others joined us a pair of Siskin flew in and and drank at a triple of water right in front of us.  We also had our only raptor a 2nd calendar year Peregrine, showing a very brown back which soared over us and headed off east.  Walking around the wood we added many common species including Nuthatch and Blackcap, and the chance to compare Goldcrest and Firecrest song, as well as brief views of them. We were able to compare Stock Dove to Woodpigeon and see Jay before our morning was over and we had to head back to the cars.

As I've mentioned above we had the opportunity to be able to listen to both Goldcrest and Firecrest and I said I'd look out some recordings and place them here for you all to listen to, so you can compare the sounds and see the difference in the sonograms of both species.

You'll note that the Goldcrest has a more up and down rhythm which gives it a more spiraling like sound.

Where the Firecrest is more of a trill that quickens towards the end and comes to an abrupt stop.