On Saturday, 10th September, we had the pleasure of taking out Mark and Tish from the United States on a birding day. It was meant to be around Poole Harbour but the morning turned so wet we had to think again.
After picking them up from their hotel in Poole we popped into Baiter Park, on the field were gathered good numbers of Oystercatchers, Black-headed Gulls with a few Herring Gulls and Pied Wagtails. Along the shoreline were a few Turnstones, difficult to spot at first blending in so well with the shoreline seaweed and rocks. Moving on to Shore Road where there was plenty of disturbance from the kite surfers we did manage to find Curlew and four Sandwich Terns.
Now the rain was too heavy so a quick change of plan and we headed inland to Blashford Lakes and started with viewing across Ibsley Water from the Tern Hide in the dry. Before we even got into the hide there were lots of hirundines swooping over the car park and then hundreds of them over the water, with Swallows, House Martins and Sand Martins, a wonderful sight. Wildfowl on the water included Great Crested and Little Grebes, Tufted, Shoveler, Pochard, Mallard ducks, and of course Coots and Cormorants. On the islands a few Lapwings and eventually a Common Sandpiper came into view and on the far bank a small flock of Egyptian Geese. Moving over the road and sheltering under the lee of the Education Centre we watched the feeders, with Nuthatch, Coal, Blue and Great Tits and under the feeders as you would expect Chaffinch, Dunnock and Blackbird. Due to the weather there was not much in song except for Wren and Robins. Finishing our visit to the reserve with a quick look over Ivy Lake adding Gadwall and a single Pochard.
Nearly lunchtime and we need to return to Poole Harbour, we decided to travel across country via Ibsley where a Buzzard sat on top of a pole by the roadside and a Grey Heron flew across the meadow. We arrived at Arne perfectly timed for lunch, the new cafe is a "must" visit and highly recommended. Thankfully the rain had now stopped and the sky was brightening perfectly timed to get back out birding. Our first sighting of note though was not avian, I spotted it feeding on the flowers by the shop, a beautiful Hummingbird Hawk Moth which quite enthralled Mark and Tish.
On the track over Coombe Heath a few Meadow Pipits bounced over the heather and a Grayling butterfly flew up from the path and a Migrant Hawker dragonfly was patrolling along the gorse. Looking out towards Middlebere we could see Little Egrets, Greenshank, Redshank and many Black-tailed Godwits and heard the "squealing" of a Water Rail. The Osprey platform was forlornly empty but looking round I found the Osprey sat in the more regular dead tree. Through the scope we had superb views, we were now drawing a small crowd wanting to see the Osprey and it was a pleasure to help them. Tish spotted a slightly different wader in with the Dunlin, a Curlew Sandpiper and a nice addition to our list. Nick found a group of 10 Knot and a Spotted Redshank before a a Sparrowhawk cruised across causing the usual movement of waders which had a quick fly around.
Driving by Hartland Moor a bird flew up and onto to some short heath, I was certain it was a Woodlark. Stopping the car and looking across we eventually found three together, also a flock of Linnets nearby. At Norden sewerage works we found a small family party of Grey Wagtails, a few Chiffchaffs were flitting through the Holme Oaks, one even starting singing briefly. A Pheasant called and Rook and Jackdaws flew over. Our species list for the day was now 63 and we weren't finished yet. We drove around to Soldier Road, here we added Kestrel from the car and once parked we could hear Raven "cronking" Nick found it atop a silver birch as they walk up the hill to view over the Wareham Channel and Arne Moors. I stayed by the car hoping to find a Dartford Warbler of a Stonechat. After a short while with us all back together finally a few Stonechats started to appear and we finished our day watching a small flock Long-tailed Tits.
Our final tally for our day was 69 species, which considering the weather seemed a very good tally, some great birds for Mark and Tish and it was such a pleasure to take them out.