Monday, 21 January 2019

January Challenge continues

Since our last blog Jackie and I have continued to add to our list and help our groups to add to theirs.  So we have had walks at Hengistbury Head, a day's birding around Poole Harbour and a walk round Radipole Lake RSPB.

Hengistbury Head walk was on a sunny but cold morning birds seemed to be keeping a low profile with little visible out in Christchurch Harbour just a few Wigeon, Teal and three Little Grebe could be found.  Then we spotted a Marsh Harrier a nice sub adult male which performed well for us, giving great views.
Sub/adult male Marsh Harrier Hengistbury Head © Nick Hull
Another of the highlights was a good number of Snipe and a single Water Rail in one of the marshy areas near to the pond behind the beach huts and a small group of eight Common Scoter resting on the sea.

Poole Harbour
We started at South Haven looking out across Poole Bay and quickly picked up a small group of Black-necked Grebes, a handful of Shag and the usual comings and going of the commoner species of gulls.  What was a little odd we had a Great Spotted Woodpecker which lifted off the Alder and head high towards Sandbanks.  We then moved to look over the inner harbour and found our first Red-breasted Merganser, Goldeneye and a Great Northern Diver.  We also added a nice flock of Dark-bellied Brent Geese and a flock of 21 Sanderling which ran about the shoreline right in front of us. We also added Turnstone, Meadow Pipit and a male Kestrel which headed out over the harbour towards Brownsea Island.
Sanderling- Bramble Bush Bay- Poole Harbour © Jon Mercer
Ring-neccked Parakeet - Studland © Nick Hull
We called into Middle Beach and walked on to South Beach we added little other than the commoner species though we found more Black-necked Grebe and of course Ring-necked Parakeets.

After a well earned lunch we continued our tour next was a small sewage works which always produces something for a day list and it didn't disappoint, we had a number of Chiffchaff feeding on the filter beds along with Pied Wagtails, a couple of Goldcrest and Grey Wagtails and Jackie found a Siskin in an Alder.
Grey Wagtail - Norden Sewage works © Jon Mercer
We soon moved on driving across Scotland Heath to Middlebere we had a Merlin flash across in front of the cars.  At Middlebere hide we added the usual wader and an immature Marsh Harrier and a single Spoonbill.  We finished our day still in the western harbour area waiting for Hen Harrier to come into roost unfortunately we only heard Dartford Warbler, Raven and had a distant Buzzard obviously the weather condition weren't correct and the birds had used a different roost, you can't always get it right but we had a good day in good company.

Radipole Lake
Our visit to Radipole RSPB this Sunday gave us a good morning's birding at this Weymouth reserve and saw a good selection of what the reserve could produce.  Starting at the Centre I was able to take the group through ageing of Mediterranean Gull as there were first and second winter birds mixed in with the adults some of which were already showing some quite dark heads.  We continued on around the reserve around the Buddleia loop to the concrete bridge then on to the North screens and then back to the car park.

We saw a good number of waterfowl with Teal and Shoveler, Tufted Duck, Pochard, Mallard, Little Grebe, Moorhen and Coots all being seen in good numbers.  From the concrete bridge I could hear the pinging of Bearded Tits and after a patient wait a male bird came out of hiding and showed well for us.  From the North screen we had good views of the male Marsh Harrier, lots of Teal and our only pair of Shelduck and Wigeon. We ended the day looking for the Ring-necked Duck which was seen briefly though it was playing hard to see, keeping in to the edge of the reeds in the water channel opposite the Aldi supermarket.
Male Bearded Tit - Radipole Lake RSPB © Nick Hull
Jackie, Margaret and I continued birding after lunch which we had at Sandsfoot Castle overlooking Portland Harbour.  Here we added Red-necked Grebe to the year list which we had missed twice before and then headed across to Abbotsbury in an attempt to try for the Long-tailed Duck and Whooper Swan again, but we failed to find either mainly because we were looking into the late afternoon sun.  Though we did get a reward for our effort. We were just about to leave when I spotted a largish bird glide across the road and dip behind the hedge, I recognised it immediately it was a Short-eared Owl and shortly after we saw a second bird further up the hill to our right.  As we watched patiently one of the owls came along the road edge towards us and them perched on top of the hedge, though the light wasn't good but I managed a couple of shots.  We ended the day with two Cattle Egret in with Little Egrets near home at Lytchett Minster, finishing a pretty good days birding.

This brings "Two Owls" January new year list up to 123 species not at all bad for county birding and there is still a few species still to get.
Short-eared Owl - Abbotsbury © Nick Hull

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