On Sunday (18th) after the overnight snow I took a small and hardy group out around Wareham Forest, fortunately it was sunny though the wind was cold. I wasn't expecting a large number of species but hoped we would find a few and with the cold snowy weather get some good views. We started the walk from Sherford Bridge where we had some close views of Stonechat, we were to see several pairs over the next couple of hours. We soon checked off many of the common woodland species and had a few small flocks of Redwing and Fieldfare going over. A few Siskin also passed over and a Sparrowhawk was seen cruising low across the heath hoping to spook a Meadow Pipit no doubt. We eventually arrived out in the open near to the Decoy Pond and almost immediately I picked up a bird flying towards us and I quickly realised it was our target, a Great Grey Shrike. I hoped it was going to land close by but no it carried on right over us and continued out of sight, cursing under my breath as I hoped for better views.
|Great Grey Shrike from the archive|
I turned to walk on and saw something at the top of a pine about thirty metres away and to my surprise it was another shrike I managed to get a few of the group straight on to it before it flew further back where it perched up again. It then took off and Mathew saw it take a small bird possibly a tit or a crest species and disappear behind a line of pines. We hung around for a while hoping one of them might reappear but they didn't, though we had a couple of pairs of Mallard a pair of Greylag Geese and seven Snipe flew over.
Today, 20th March, we had our Tuesday group out at Thorncombe Wood LNR, this mixed woodland lies at the Dorchester end of Puddletown Forest. We began with a few tits coming down to pickup seed that someone had placed on the fence posts with Coal, Blue and Great and then a pair Marsh Tits. As we moved off a Song Thrush was in the ivy on the side of an Oak and we were bring serenaded by not just one but two Mistle Thrush, one we eventually found singing high up top of a beech tree.
|Mistle Thrush Thorncombe Wood © Nick Hull|
We had good views of a couple Treecreeper and had several Nuthatch singing and a number of Coal and Great Tit were in good voice. Moving out onto the heath and the top of the reserve I led the group to a vantage point that looks out over the Frome valley and watched from here for a while. Three birds flew over and one perched up top a tree then moved and sat in an oak to our left and started to sing, a beautiful male Yellowhammer, a Stonechat could be heard distantly singing. A small group of thrushes passed four Redwing, five Fieldfare and a Mistle Thrush then a few minutes later as I was still describing the difference with their flight calls a very large flock of thrush's, mostly Fieldfare with a few Redwing, came directly over us. Seconds later we saw the reason for this exodus a Peregrine cruised through and continued towards the east.
|Redwing - Thorncombe Wood © Nick Hull|
We had three drumming Great Spotted Woodpeckers and we had a pair fly into some pines giving us brief views. Our return walk back to the car park produced more of what we had already seen and heard and added Stock Dove with a pair doing a display flight.