Thursday, 11 October 2018

Night Sound Surprise

Whilst I record on all nights that promise to stay dry the intention is to record what species are flying over Lytchett bay on migration in spring and autumn, I mostly record species that are what I consider local and can be seen most days in the recording area. (

Unfortunately where I am situated isn't a nocturnal migration hot spot, well not yet anyway, but in saying this I occasionally get a reward like the Golden Plover in our last blog.  I suppose that's why I do it for that odd surprise and when you get a real close contact where it calls above the parabol, that is really rewarding.  It just doesn't happen enough but when it does it makes listening to all those hours of silence worth while and when you get probably one, ie the Golden Plover, you don't expect another soon.  To my surprise and joy as I viewed through my next nights recording I came across what was obviously a loud sound (see sonogram blow).  Usually these sounds normally turn out to be something manmade so as I put the headset on I didn't have great expectations but how wrong was I.  As I heard the sound I let out a loud "Yes" and Jackie asked what is it, I said listen and handed her the headset and replayed the sound she looked puzzled then the realisation of what it was dawned on her Barn Owl! she replied.  

I've only record Barn Owl twice before both times were somewhere near the edge of the bay probably   a hundred metres away or so but this was very close if not over the bungalow or at least the garden.

Barn Owl Sonogram 

Sunday, 7 October 2018

More Nocturnal Sounds over Lytchett Bay

Well, I've had the recorder on over seven nights during September the most productive were the last nights of the month. In total 26 species were recorded many of which can be considered as local species, by that I mean I record them on every night I record.  But a handful I only record in spring or autumn or on the very odd occasion.

Moorhen, Coot, Snipe, Skylark and Dunlin I only recorded a few times, though Moorhen and Coot seem to be on the increase.  Moorhen are in the bay so might be moving around in the dark, Coot are scarce though are recorded in spring and autumn as are Snipe and the latter occasionally on winter nights.

A species that Paul Morton (BoPH) and Nick Hopper (Sound Approach) have both recorded on occasions around Poole Harbour is Golden Plover but they seem to have avoided my listening station here at Lytchett Bay.  Until now as this September I've recorded four individuals flying over and one recording (below) must of been very close or even over our Bungalow.

Below is the Spectrogram/Sonogram and recording of the Golden Plover calling as it passed over close to our Bungalow.

Sonogram of Golden plover and call below

Autumn is all about the winter thrushes moving in from northern Europe and it's alway nice to record the first of the year, but then once the migration get fully underway I spend so much time counting all the contacts on the recording it become a little bit of a labour of love rather than enjoyment.  In saying this September recordings not only produced the first Song Thrush, Blackbird and Redwing the latter flew by on 29th at 05:00hrs in the morning, it also produced Wigeon, Snipe, and the first Skylark also on the morning of the 29th at 02:59hrs.

Below is the sonogram and recording of that first Redwing of the autumn.
Sonogram of Redwing above, Call below

I've recorded a number of animal sounds and in the autumn Sika Stag are always recorded usually a number of time throughout the night, and I've often thought I should compare the bellows to see if there are any differences.  So today I compared two as they sounded obviously different indeed the sonogram backed this up. In fact the first you hear would only bellow once every so often the second animal would always put in a series of three in a row then take a break.  It seems to me that the first may be more senior in rank maybe, so doesn't need to sound off as much? So it could be I can identify individual stags by their sound and get an idea of how many Stags are vying for the doe's in the Lytchett Bay recording area.

Below is the sonogram of the two different stags the first sound is the one I think is possibly the senior animal the second sound is usually giving in a group of three seperate calls.

Below is the recording of both stags

Friday, 14 September 2018

Recent Nocturnal Sound Recording

It has been a while since I have posted any nocturnal sounds recorded from Lytchett Bay.  So I've put together a few of the better recording of recent calls from Curlew flying over my listening station into or from the bay.

The first two are just single calls these were most probably birds moving into the bay to feed at low tide.

The next two are both a series of calls the first is probably two different birds calling one flying slight further away and one a little closer to the microphone (second and third call).

This is what I call the 'Worry Call' this from a bird moving across over the bay.

My last sound for this blog was recorded a week ago and is a sign that the Sika Deer have started the annual rut. This was a stags screaming bellow presuming warning off lesser stags this was his patch. He wasn't to far from the microphone probably just a little way into the wood.

Now I have some new software for processing the recordings I'l try to do more regular blogs to include more of the sounds of Lytchett bays wildlife.

Boating Around Poole Harbour

On Friday 7th Jackie and I were invited out with the Birds of Poole Harbour on the Volunteers Osprey Boat.   Starting at Poole Quay at 8a.m. we set off to sail up the Wareham Channel with Mark and Paul giving us a commentary and updating us on the Osprey translocation project. As we passed the Barfluer dock we had a flyby Mediterranean Gull and then a Sandwich Tern or two.  We passed Rockley and I picked up a flight of thirty one Avocet flying towards the harbour they looked stunning with the blue sky as they flashed black and white as they jostled for position in the air.  When we were adjacent to Holton Lee Paul called Osprey but to be honest it was so far away it was hard to see it flying to our north. 

Avocet over the Wareham Channel © Nick Hull
We continued on searching the skies and the water I managed to point out a Woodlark that flew along the Arne northern shore and disappeared into a pine tree out of sight. We then came across a large flock of Cormorant communally feeding Mark explained that this type of feeding was very typical of the sinensis subspecies which we find in the harbour every year and were probably Dutch breeding birds.  

Cormorant (possibly C. sinensis) - Wareham Channel © Nick Hull
As we reached the mouth of the Frome and the Piddle, the two main rivers that feed the harbour, we had several Sandwich Tern and to the left of the boat a Common Seal surfaced as the boat turned we saw another in the mouth of the Piddle.

Harbour or Common Seal - Wareham Channel © Nick Hull
We returned down the channel and then sailed across to the Wytch Channel past Shipstal to as far as Round Island, where we could observe the release pens off in the distance but no Osprey were on show.  In fact it appeared that most had already left toward the south and Africa.  As we headed back to across the harbour we had a distant view of thirteen Spoonbill on Shipstal Point.

As we crossed the Balls Lake shellfish beds I looked back toward Corfe Castle and there circling in the distance was an Osprey a tad closer than the previous view, so I called it and directed everyone on to it so there was at least two still around at least. 

We cruised on passing between Furzy and Brownsea Islands around to look over the sea wall into Brownsea Lagoon.  As we drifted along the lagoon edge we were able to pick out a number of wildfowl such as Black-tailed Godwit, Spotted Redshank, Redshank, Oystercatcher, Dunlin and I must have been on form as I located a Little Stint feeding on one of the sand bars just over the wall.  We also add more Little Egrets and five more Spoonbill which decided to take off and fly around giving excellent views and a fitting end to a excellent trip around the harbour.

Spoonbill over Brownsea Lagoon © Nick Hull

Tuesday, 11 September 2018

Twitching Longham & visit to Middlebere

Jackie and I had a quick twitching visit to Longham Lakes for a Juvenile Black Tern in late August and had good views but when we returned with the group a couple days later it had left.  Though we still saw a good number of birds on the water and in the hedgerows around the lakes.  The highlights for most were watching Yellow Wagtails dodging around the feet of the cattle as they fed on the various diptera and Pauline picked up a high gliding Hobby that carried on south obviously starting its migration.

Juvenile Black Tern - Longham Lakes © Nick Hull
Juvenile Black Tern - Longham Lakes © Nick Hull
Though our walks are primarily for birds we never walk past anything that might catch our eyes and one of such things was a beautiful Hoverfly which was found sun bathing. So a quick photo shoot and  I id'ed it later as Myathropa florea a wasp mimic.  
Hoverfly - Myathropa florea © Nick Hull
We had almost completed our walk when Jackie called "Swift"and hawking above us with the Swallows and martins was a single Swift we took great care, as it was a late individual, that it wasn't something more rare but alas it wasn't but nice to see none-the-less.
Sand Martin over Longham Lakes © Nick Hull
Our Two Owls walk at Middlebere on the 5th September was successful in that we saw all the usual common species one would expect and added a handful of migrants.  Our highlights here were again Yellow Wagtails, which Chris saw first flitting around the cattle out in the bog on Hartland Moor as we were looking for Marsh Gentian.
Marsh Gentian - Hartland Moor © Nick Hull
As we walked down to the hide along the track we had a brief view of a female Bullfinch crossing the track and then heard more Yellow Wagtail calls, we all looked up and a group of 28 flew over heading south.  We also had a splattering of Meadow Pipits, a real sign that autumn is here when the pipits are starting to move. A family group of Mistle Thrush were in the Rowan a species that aren't common in the harbour area but one that likes Sika copse at Middlebere.  From the NT hide we were able to get distant views of a young Osprey sat in one of the favoured dead trees, tucking into a fish, unfortunately too far away to get a photograph.

Tuesday, 21 August 2018

Dorset with creatures that buzz, fly, slither and flutter

Catching up with a selection of highlights from various walk and wildlife monitoring that Two Owls have been involved with.

Since our last blog I've had a little volunteer time helping out the RSPB with reptile monitoring, one we did about eight weeks ago during the hot weather we only found three Slow Worm, one Smooth Snake and a single Sand Lizard.   Our more recent survey was just as the hot weather broke and we had the first of the cooler days.  We went through the day recording five species of of the six reptiles found on the RSPB reserves but Adder was not found all day.  We recorded several Sand Lizard, a single Common Lizard, several Grass Snake and an immature female Smooth Snake with very individual marking which will certainly help identify her again.  We always photograph the Smooth Snakes as the patterns are like a fingerprints unique to the individual and helps when catching them again to track their movements.
Female Smooth Snake © Nick Hull
Female Sand Lizard © Nick Hull
Our Wednesday monthly walk at Durlston Country Park, where we hoped for a few early migrants, was a little dashed by the weather conditions on the morning but highlights were a pair of Gannet that cruised by close to the cliffs and butterflies seemed to be everywhere in all the sunny sheltered spots.
Two Gannets passing Anvil Point © Nick Hull
Female Common Blue © Nick Hull
Wall Brown © Nick Hull
Our Portland and Lodmoor walk found birding a little hard with south westerly winds not being ideal but an hour of seawatching produced a couple of Manx Shearwater, three Fulmar, a possible Sooty Shearwater but it was just to far out to be 100% but the "jizz" looked good for this species. Unfortunately only myself and Angus caught sight of a pale phase Arctic Skua that dodged by the Pulpit Rock.  Our lunch break at Ferrybridge gave us a few extra waders with a count of 75+ Ringed Plover, single Knot and Sanderling and many summer plumaged adult Dunlin with a few young birds scattered over the shoreline.

Lodmoor was somewhat more productive with a good selection of the usual waterfowl with the added bonus of two Great White Egret, three Common Sandpiper, five Sandwich Tern a good number of different aged Mediterranean Gull and a single juvenile Yellow-legged Gull which was pointed out by birding friend Brett Spencer, a real gull enthusiast which enabled us to go through and see many of the features in direct comparison to the immature Herring and Great Black-backed Gulls nearby.
Great White Egret - Lodmoor © Nick Hull
Occasionally I help out with the Bat box monitoring at Arne when I have a chance it's a great way of learning more and getting up close with these super flying mammals. Last Saturday I was able to join Chris Dieck and a small number of Dorset Bat Group.  Checking the RSPB Bat boxes specifically for the Natterer's Bat project.  By the end of the day we had processed 110 Natterer's Bats (a new Arne record), 19 of these had not been ringed before which hopefully adds to the knowledge of the population movement around the reserve.  We also recorded three Soprano Pipistrelle bats and was able to show one or two to the public which was very appreciated particularly by one lady who had always wanted to see a bat up close.
One of the ringed Natterer's Bats © Nick Hull
Jackie also found a Wasp Spider a week or two ago in the lavender in the Arne wildlife garden and yesterday lunchtime we visited to top up on our Hedgehog food and checked to find she was still there. 
Female Wasp Spider - Arne Wildlife Garden © Nick Hull
The Wildlife garden has been an amazing attraction to an enormous amount of insect life if you visit it's always worth a look around there are some amazing creatures to be found feeding on the flowers or feeding on the insects that visit.  Below The Crucifer Shieldbug was a first for me as was the Median Wasp a species which was first recorded in the 1980's and has spread slowly and now has been recorded in Scotland.  They are a large wasp but not as large as the Hornet but like there bigger relative they will catch other insect to take back to the nest to feed the queen.

Crucifer Shieldbug-Eurydema ornata © Nick Hull
Dolichovespula media - worker Median Wasp
We also had a quick check at the new scrape at Sunnyside Farm and what an improvement and it enabled Jackie to catch up on Wood Sandpiper.  There was also Little Ringed Plover and Snipe plus a Hobby came over but with much of the autumn migration left to go this could be a very good place to see passing waders and more.
Distant shot of Wood Sandpiper- Sunnyside Farm © Nick Hull

Sunday, 22 July 2018

Lytchett Bay & a Dorset First

Its not a bird but yesterday at around 14:14hrs, I received a text from fellow patch watcher Ian Ballam that he had just found three dragonflies hawking over the dried up ponds to the left of Footpath 12.  He also added that he thought they might be Southern Migrant Hawker Aeshna affinis a very rare species, and could I pop over and give a second opinion.  So I grabbed my camera and walked the hundred metres or so to the ponds and found Ian and the dragonflies.  After a lot of missed and blurred shots I managed a series of three photograph of one in a hover.  So we then quickly walked back home and put them up on the computer and checked the features with the reference book.  It didn't take long for us to confirm that they were indeed Southern Migrant Hawker.  So we put out the news on Twitter and other social media and rang around friends that we knew would be interested in seeing them.  We later checked with the Dorset Dragonfly Group and it appears that these three were the first records for the whole of Dorset.
The two above shot were the two which we were able to confirm the identity that they were indeed
Southern Migrant Hawker Aeshna affinis - © Nick Hull
This species quoting from The British Dragonflies Society; "This is a rare migrant but appears to becoming more frequent in the UK, and is a potential colonist. There was a single confirmed record during the twentieth century.  Four were observed in southern England in 2006.  During 2010 many individuals were seen in South Essex and North Kent and with ovipositing being noted at two sites".

This species is usually found in southern and central Europe and all around the Mediterranean, in North Africa, The Middle East and across Asia to China.  It is a migratory species and therefore can be found in some years further north of its usual distribution.

Top view- Southern Migrant Hawker Aeshna affinis - © Nick Hull
Side View - Southern Migrant Hawker Aeshna affinis - © Nick Hull
At the time of writing they were still hawking the same dried ponds as yesterday when they were first found. In fact reading the habitat requirement for this species it says "prefers standing water bodies that has dried up over the course of summer, often overgrown with low rushes, bulrushes or reed" which perfectly describes the area in which we found them.