Tuesday, 27 November 2018

Since the last Post

Since our last post I had a few hour to spare and went to Arne and volunteered a few hours which I try to do as regularly as possible. On the way I stopped at a field at Nutcrack Lane and checked if the Cattle Egrets were with the cattle there.  There were nineteen Cattle Egret spread across the field,  so out with the bridge camera for a little shooting and trying out the video mode.  Here's what I managed to get.

Arne had been getting a male Brambling into the feeding station behind the Welcome Hut so whilst helping out I kept an eye open for it to visit.  I was just pointing out the different birds to one of the visitors when I spotted a Brambling but this time it was a female none-the-less a very smart bird and she continued to visit throughout the afternoon though somewhat intermittently to the chagrin of some of the visitors.
Female Brambling Arne © Nick Hull
Next we had a Two Owls group meeting at Blashford Lakes this was on a rather cold damp day but luckily for us it stayed dry right up until we were walking to the cars when it started rain again. None-the-less we had a good mornings birding and seeing many of the regular species that frequents the reserve.  The highlights were Green Sandpiper on the bank and a dozen Goosander from the Goosander hide was most appropriate on Ibsley Water.  Also from the Goosander hide we had really close views of a Snipe which was hunkered down right below the hide amongst trashed willow on the shoreline.
Common Snipe - Goosander Hide, Isbley Water, Blashford © Nick Hull
At the weekend we met at Weymouth to  explore the area for returning wintering species and hopefully to see the Lesser Yellowlegs and the Ring-necked Duck and I have to say we were successful on both counts.  

Before we even started our walk at Lodmoor RSPB reserve we had near to 250 Canada Geese flying in over us to land in the reserve, Cetti's Warbler and Water Rails calling and a Great White Egret flew across the reserve towards Preston cleared Beachdown Way and pitched in out of sight. We walked the reserve anticlockwise in the hope the Lesser Yellowlegs was on the Western Scrape but when we arrived there it wasn't to be seen.  Though there were many Teal, Mallard, Snipe, Black-tailed Godwit, Dunlin and the long staying white headed Ruff and a Marsh Harrier.  We continued on and we had a Peregrine streak across the reserve putting everything up in the sky which was followed shortly after by a Sparrowhawk.  Further on we came across two more Great White Egret and its smaller cousins the Little Egret and a few Little Grebe sheltering from the wind tucked in by one of the tern nesting islands.  I met a couple of friends that watch Lodmoor regularly and they said they had just seen the 'Lesser-legs' in the marsh bit by Beachdown Way.  So with a quick thank you we hurried along the path and scanned the pools and there it was at the back trotting up and down the waters edge feeding and giving nice scope views.
Lesser Yellowlegs - Lodmoor © Nick Hull
From Lodmoor we moved to Sandsfoot Castle, here we added Red-breasted Merganser, Black-necked Grebe and a single Slavonian Grebe plus a handful of passing Brent Geese. Then it was onto Ferrybridge for lunch, there was no sign of very much, too many people walking dogs and digging bait for fishing along the shoreline, but we did see Skylark, Dunlin, Oystercatcher more mergansers and a Kestrel, our fourth raptor of the day. By the time we finished lunch the day was passing and we headed off towards Radipole, parking at the Tennis courts we scanned though the duck and I managed to pick out the Ring-necked Duck without too much problem with a few Tufted and Pochard.  So after watching this small American duck in appalling light and with the temperature dropping as the sun had started to set we headed back to Lodmoor where we said our goodbye's to the group after an excellent day's birding in Weymouth.

Monday, 19 November 2018

Catching Up Again

When I logged in today I couldn't believe it has been so long since I wrote a blog. The main reason is that we have been very busy with a long weekend with a group in East Yorkshire and walks locally at Lodmoor, Durlston, Studland, Holton Lee, Stanpit and Keyhaven which has given our groups a wide variety species.

So instead of a write up on each location I thought to keep this blog to a reasonable length I would pick out a few of the highlights that we've seen in the period starting with East Yorkshire.
Jack Snipe - Spurn Point archive photo
Yorkshire gave us a few highs and one or two lows in that the first two days were pretty wet but we were able to bird from a few hides at Spurn Point which enabled us to see Jack Snipe, Ring Ouzels, Short-eared Owl. On our second visit we added more Ring Ouzel and thrushes, Yellow-browed Warbler and a Barred Warbler Marsh Harrier and Short-eared Owl. We also saw two Jay on our second visit to Spurn which was the first for two and a half years quite the local scarcity.  
Fieldfare coming in off the North Sea at Flamborough © Nick Hull
Our visit to Flamborough Head proved to be, for me the highlight of the trip for one reason only the visual migration was superb with large numbers of thrush species flying in off the North Sea which were followed by good numbers of finches giving the opportunity to see and hear Song, Mistle Thrush, Fieldfare, Ring Ouzel, Redwing, Chaffinch and Brambling moving into Britain for the winter.

We also recorded Great White Egret at Hornsea Mere and lots of Tree Sparrows in various location we visited here they seem to be doing very well in this eastern corner of Yorkshire.
Tree Sparrow - Bempton Cliffs RSPB © Nick Hull
Closer to Home our visit to Lodmoor gave the group good opportunity to become conversant with the identification with Lesser Yellowlegs the North American equivalent to our Redshank which gave amazing good views.  Durlston gave us excellent views of Firecrest on what was a very overcast day as well as some visual migration but unfortunately it wasn't a big migration day.  Studland produced all the usual species and we had nice scope views of a group of returning Black-necked Grebe and good numbers of Mediterranean Gull and really close views of three Jay which were scouring for the churchyard for food.  Holton Lee always produces a variety of woodland species for us when we visit and usually adds a few waders and a bird of prey or two and it didn't disappoint us.  Our highlights were a very nice Kingfisher, male Sparrowhawk, Green Sandpiper and best of all was a Short-eared Owl  being harried over the bay by gulls a real scarcity for the Lytchett Bay recording area.  
Short-eared Owl © Nick Hull
Stanpit marsh produced its usual waterfowl also gave us good views of a couple of Wheatear and our first autumn sightings of recently returning Dark-bellied Brent Geese and we finished with a superb male Marsh Harrier over Priory Marsh.  Keyhaven is always an excellent location to visit at anytime of year though we didn't see anything particularly scarce that's not always what makes a walk memorable. Though the winter sun was a bit of a nuisance being low in the sky and the wind was blowing in from the south, we had good numbers of waterfowl in nearly all the lagoons and they appeared very restless with quite large flocks of Brent, Wigeon, Teal and Pintail constantly lifting off and circling around and landing again giving great views and a good opportunity to compare and see identification features of the different species in flight or on the water.  We also saw Peregrine, Marsh Harrier and Kestrel  and many of the usual wader species out on the marsh.