Tuesday, 18 April 2017

New Forest & Coastal Birding

On Saturday (15th) we met up once again with Steve and Helena for a day's birding in the New Forest. After watching Marsh Tit, among the many birds feeding in Helena's beautiful garden, while having a cup of tea we drove to Pig's Bush/Bishop's Dyke area for our first walk of the day.  

Driving there we saw a Red-legged Partridge perched on top of a gate which started our list off nicely.  Arriving in Pig Bush car park we stopped to listen to the birdsong with Robin Blackbird, Stock Dove, Wren, Mistle Thrush, Nuthatch and Chaffinch.  Walking out on to the heath a superb male Redstart hopped on to a branch then flew down to the ground then back up and stopped long enough to get even closer views in the scope.  We then heard the first of at least 10 Willow Warblers on our walk and a few Swallow flew over.  Meadow Pipits were displaying and a Buzzard was soaring over the far wood.

Coming into the marshy area of the dyke we had our first Stonechat, a splendid male and singing Willow Warbler.  We came into close contact with several Meadow Pipits flitting around this area, coming down on the path and almost dancing across the heather and landing back on the path, quite fascinating to watch them.  Reed Buntings as usual here and a Grey Heron flew across, then we heard a Cuckoo. Maybe it was Selborne, the first satellite tagged Cuckoo to return to UK, go to  https://www.bto.org/science/migration/tracking-studies/cuckoo-tracking/selborne for more info.

In their usual spot were three Lapwings as we moved into the wood with another male Redstart to greet us.  We added Chiffchaff, Green Woodpecker and Dunnock to our list, as well as watching three Mallard fly over.  Further on Siskins flew over and we stopped to watch a Greenfinch singing and displaying. Little further on Nick noticed a Treecreeper collecting nesting material.  We watched him going in and out of where he had obviously chosen to nest behind some loosened bark on an old Oak tree.  He was happy with us as we kept a very respectful distance but Nick was still able to get a nice series of photos.  
A sequence of shot of the Treecreeper moving around the tree to disappear under the bark to its nest. © Nick Hull
After lunch we went on to Lower Pennington, looking over Pennington Marsh as usual plenty of Canada Geese and more unusually two Barnacle Geese.  Also Lapwing, Redshank and a few Wigeon still.  A few Swallows flew by as we crossed over to look over the old landfill pool with the usual assortment of gulls, plus Tufted Duck and Coots.  On the grass I picked up four Wheatears in the scope also lazing Shelduck, then a few Sand Martins appeared hawking over the pool but disappeared almost as quickly.  A Buzzard over the distant woods and a Meadow Pipit started displaying.  The warm sunshine brought out a few butterflies with Peacock and Red Admiral noted here.

Walking on to look over Fishtail Lagoon we had Skylark and the loud blast of Cetti's Warbler singing.
At the lagoon we had Little Grebe, Gadwall, Teal and Little Egret, along with Redshanks but otherwise it was fairly quiet.  Looking out to the Solent we found a pair of Eider, also a Ringed Plover but in the heat haze it was difficult and a much closer Great Crested Grebe.  Looking behind Butts Lagoon we heard the "ping" call and watched a Bearded Tit briefly fly over the reeds before diving back into the reedbed.  Further on a few winter plumaged Black-tailed Godwits, a Reed Warbler sang from the reeds while a Whitethroat piped up behind us.

We ended our day at Tanner's Lane, rather busy with holiday makers so we didn't linger long but we were very pleased to see our first Little Tern of the year, while listening to the Mediterranean Gulls calling and in the scrubby area Blackcap and Chiffchaff sang.  A good end to a glorious day and thanks to Steve and Helena for being such great company.

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