Monday, 12 July 2021

Birding Somerset, North Wales & Dorset

As May ended June started with us birding on Dartmoor at Challacombe Farm we had two visits here one with the grandchildren and another in the afternoon on our own. What was strange for us was the Bluebells as we are used to seeing them in woodland here they covered the moor in profusion which looked wonderful.

one of many fields of Bluebells that covered the moor

Bombus lapidarius - Red-tailed Bumblebee

On our walks here we had our Lesser Redpoll with several flying by but never landing in view. We also had our best views of Redstart with a super male which sang from the top of one of the stone walls to one of the sheep paddocks. 

Singing male Redstart Challacombe Farm ©Nick Hull

Singing male Blackbird Callacombe Farm ©Nick Hull

As our holiday with the Grandchildren came to an end the River Warbler turned up on the Somerset Levels at Ham Wall and the lure of this bird was to much. So on the day we were leaving Dartmoor we had a cream tea at Darts Farm and said goodbye to the family and headed for Ham Wall. 

We arrived to a very packed car park but as Jackie can't walk long distances any more the staff directed us to a disabled parking area near to the first viewing area. This was a great help easily halving the distance required to get to the bird.  So off we went along the path to a gathering of birders all very well distanced and behaved.  We found that the bird had been singing very well but had just disappeared into the reed bed. It didn't take long before it reappeared though briefly.  It then took a while before it returned to it's favoured singing perch and gave us fantastic views and sang its little heart out.  I managed to get a few reasonable photographs and a couple of audio recordings of the bird singing.

River Warbler Ham Wall ©Nick Hull
There must be lots of similar photographs going around of this bird with the amount of photographers that were present.  Though very few people were recording it's song and it came to Jackie and myself that the last time we had seen and heard River Warbler was on our honeymoon 25 years ago in Poland.  We also ticked off a few Great White Egret for the year a species that seems to be doing well on the levels.

We were home around two weeks when we headed off to North Wales to do a little birding and to visit Jackie's aunt.

The 19th was our first days birding where we visited a small reserve at Penmaenmawr which was just up the road from our holiday cottage.  It is a small reserve but in the past has been very good for Redstart and flycatchers.  We started well with a Spotted Flycatcher close to where we had parked and our walk through the woodland only added common species and it appeared that the Pied Flycatcher numbers were down on the normal or they had already fledged as we didn't see one.

Spotted Flycatcher - Penmaenmawr ©Nick Hull

After lunch we headed off to Caerhun this is a small church set above the Conwy esturary surrounded by farm fields here we added a few of the commoner species on the estuary such as Curlew, Oystercatcher and many local gulls. We also added Buzzard and Sparrowhawk and I was lucky to see a Hawfinch fly out of a Yew tree in the church yard but unfortunately Jackie wasn't looking the right way and missed it.

On the 20th we visited Holyhead harbour for Black Guillemot and managed to see at least six in the old part of the harbour.
Black Guillemot - Holyhead Harbour © Nick Hull

After Holyhead we headed to South Stack here we managed a brief flyby view of a Chough and we had our first Puffin of the year plus the usual Guillemot, and Razorbill, Kittiwake and other gull species which have colonies on the stack.

On our return to the holiday home we had time to make a visit to Cemlyn Bay tern colony hoping we would be lucky to see Roseate Tern which had been there for a few days but we had timed it wrong and it had flown out to feed, but we had good views of the common and Sandwich Terns which were continuously coming and going to bring in sand eel and small fish to feed their young.

Sandwich Tern leaving Cemlyn colony to go fishing © Nick Hull

Common Tern in a hover Cemlyn Bay © Nick Hull

The next day we visited Bodnant NT gardens and whilst walking the large park area we came across a male Pied Flycatcher which was a bit of a surprise but a very nice addition to our list. The was also a meadow which was allowed to grow unrestricted and was covered in wild native flowers and many Common Spotted Orchids.

Orchid Meadow Bodnant © Nick Hull
On the 22nd we headed off to World's End a grouse moor in the Snowdonia National Park, it's an area we have visited a few time over the years to see Black Grouse but unfortunately this time we failed to see any. Though Jackie did find a couple of Red Grouse and we had several Whinchat and the highlight was a male Merlin that put in an appearance.

The approach up onto World's End with a few local sheep © Nick Hull

Male Whinchat -World's End © Nick Hull

Before we left Wales we visited the Great Orme here we managed to see more Chough but I managed to get a few shots of the now famous Kashmir Goats that live feral on the Orme and at night come down to the town and munch on the flowers and hedges of Llandudno.

Kashmir Goats - Great Orme © Nick Hull

Whilst we were on our last couple of days in Wales news broke that a Melodious Warbler had been found and was singing regularly in and around Tom's Thump a small pine copse at Middlebere. So after arriving home on the Friday we chanced it would stay until the next day and visited Saturday morning. We were not disappointed because as we arrived and joined a couple of local birders that was already watching and listening to the bird we could hear it singing.  It took us a minute or two to locate it with some directions from Gary and Martin and then it was just a case of enjoy the moment.  I managed to get a couple of reasonable shots and an audio recording which brought June to a very nice end with 121 species for the month.

Melodious Warbler - Middlebere © Nick Hull

Wednesday, 16 June 2021

May Highlights

 Well, May was a busy month one way and another and there were a few domestic duties which kept us away from birding and we only managed eight days where we ventured out and about.  This was trying mainly to see birds for our year list and it wasn't until the end of the month we realised that we were short of 100 species but we had seen some quality so there was no complaints.

The first eight days of May were pretty awful the only year tick came with a Cuckoo at Garston Wood and it wasn't until the 9th that we twitched to Longham Lakes to see a Whiskered Tern.  There has been eight records of this species dating back to 1836 with one at Lyme Regis which was shot in late August the next was from Christchurch in June 1875. More recently Stanpit Marsh 1967, Lodmoor 1987, Stanpit Marsh 1987 and again here in 1988, Radipole Lake in 2008, then Swineham GP in 2011 which brings us up to the Longham in 2021 being Dorset's ninth, so a good county year tick.

We had visited Garston Wood in the morning with my daughter and granddaughter and had a good time looking at the orchids, bluebells and wild garlic amongst all the other early woodland plants and it was as we were leaving that the Whiskered Tern came on the info services so we took them on their first twitch. We arrive and walked towards the South Lake and stopped at the corner and had a quick scan the tern was flying around the centre of the lake and there were a handful of other local birders watching it.  

Whiskered Tern © Olly Frampton

We found a convenient place to watch and had good passing view and then it pitched up on one of the lakes depth posts and thanks to Olly Frampton for allowing me to use his shot above of this moulting adult. I have to say our granddaughter really enjoyed seeing it which topped the day.

On the 23rd we met up with friends to have a walk around Lodmoor RSPB and we picked a good day as we had good views of Bearded Tits and then on the West Scrape Jackie picked out a 2cy Bonaparte's Gull that had been around for a few days. There has been nine county records the first back in 1970 and the most recent at Longham Lakes in 2018. 

2cy Bonaparte's Gull Lodmoor RSPB © Nick Hull

We also had good views of a Spoonbill which had arrived in the early morning and it gave a good view as if flew by us as it moved out on the marsh.

Spoonbill - Lodmoor RSPB © NIck Hull

We had very little opportunity to get out again until the 27th when we had a evening drive around the northern chalk area of the Cranborne Chase where we added Barn Owl to our year list always a nice bird to add.  

The end of the month saw us travel out of Dorset down to Devon on a weeks holiday with daughter and her husband and our two grandchildren which should of happened in 2020.  Here on various days out we added Pied Flycatcher at Yarner Wood and Cirl Bunting at Labrador Bay RSPB which ended our month on 91 species just under our 100 target but with some absolute quality birds seen.

Male Pied Flycatcher - Yarner Wood Devon © Nick Hull

Monday, 10 May 2021

April 2021 "Month of Surprises"

Well April started a little windy but continued dry with generally warm days and cold nights with an occasional frosty morning with the wind coming in from the North-Northeast which isn't the best for migration and it was slow going around the harbour but we met our challenge and recorded 105 species for April with a few highlight.

Our first noteable species was on the 6th April when Jackie and I met four friends for a walk around Stanpit Marsh at Christchurch to see if we could find the long staying Glossy Ibis which we failed to find. Nonetheless we had a good morning and it's always nice to catchup with friends now after the lockdown easing.

I took a more scenic route home which took us via Cranborne where we came across a Red Kite as we exited the village, a very nice year tick being we had missed a couple of sightings over the bay at home.
Red Kite © Nick Hull
Our next visit was to Portland Bill on the 11th we hoped we might find the Ring Ouzels at Barleycrate's but had no luck, but the visit wasn't a waste of time because we were short of a few coastal birds and added Guillemot, Razorbill, Gannet and Shag to the year list and it made a nice change to see some different scenery.

We visited Swineham on the 13th this was a warbler hunt and we started as we left home with a Lytchett Bay Willow Warbler and managed to see our first Reed Warbler and only heard Sedge Warbler at Swineham. Two days later we were up early to carry out the second visit of our Woodlark survey. This proved to be a couple or so hours walking an area of heathland and seeing everything other than Woodlark.  We even had views of an Osprey and heard Lesser Spotted Woodpecker which was totally unexpected surprise.

Longham Lakes is always worth a visit particularly when a Garganey has turned up so on the 20th Jackie and I drove to Longham with the hope of catching up with a drake that had turned up a couple of days previous.  Though we walked around the whole of the South lake we never found the Garganey.  But whilst walking along the bottom end of the lake I picked up a Sand Martin crossing the path in front of us and called it to Jackie who looked up and said "What are those bird up there they look like Storks" I looked saw a few gulls then higher and Jackie repeated "they're definitely White Storks", indeed there were five White Storks in a thermal and they slowly moved over us towards the West and later were see still moving west near Dorchester and the next day were on fields near Exmouth in Devon.
Unfortunately by the time I thought about taking a photograph of the birds they were to far away so the shot below is of some I took in Spain on migration a few years ago.

White Stork - Spain © Nick Hull

We also saw our first Common Whitethroat of the year here so not a bad morning after all, but the month wasn't over yet though we had to wait a few more days.

We had a trip out of county on the 27th meeting friends and doing a little birding at Blashford Lakes our old local patch.  I took my recording equipment as I hoped that there would be Garden Warblers on territory or at least singing well as Blashford is a great place for this species.  In fact it is good for Blackcap as well so a good site to go and get your ear into listening for the two species. I managed to get a nice recording and I had a catch-up on Jackie with seeing and hearing Firecrest in the holly along one of the paths. All in all it was another successful trip but we were getting close to the end of the month and wanted to do better that March with our final count and only a few days to go.  So next day we went for a walk at Middlebere which turned out to be very quiet but we added two Lesser Whitethroat to our list.

As we were walking back to the van we had news that a drake Garganey had been found and in of all places Poole Park on the small lake in front of the restaurant, so off we went and it turned out to be a very easy twitch.  We just parked the van hopped out found it took a few shots back in the van and home for lunch perfect.

Drake Gargarney - Poole Park © Nick Hull

The next day and a half was a period of catching up with things at home mainly jobs around the garden but we had reports of a couple of Nightingale that had been heard singing in the harbour area.  So we thought we would try some after dinner birding with the recording equipment and see if we could hear at least one of them.  We did locate one and I managed to get a little recording of it singing unfortunately there is a little vehicle noise in the background but hopefully that will not distract too much.

Saturday, 10 April 2021

A Good Month on the Patch and a Twitch to Weymonth

 Like always you have some luck and some bad luck and this month has been "Swings and Roundabouts", with much of the usual Lytchett Bay species being seen at the start of the month.  We started on the 3rd March out on Higher Hydes Heath at Arne as I was helping RSPB in my volunteer role surveying for reptiles.  At it's early in the month and we didn't expect anything really but it's an opportunity to lift the Artificial Refuges (AR's) and make them more attractive to the reptiles.  Whilst Stewart and I did this Jackie surveyed the birds. The most notable were the number of Crossbill that we saw plus Jackie and Stewart  located a probable nesting site.

Our next birding walk was on the 8th when Jackie and I were walking along towards Turlin Moor and had a very noisy Bearded Tit calling from the reed bed though it refused to show itself.  Otherwise the walk was rather mundane. Next day or rather in the late evening I went into the office to close down my computer and as I was sat at my desk I heard a Coot calling and I rushed to the front door and outside as quickly as I could and heard it call several more times as it headed west towards the fields.  You may think rushing out to hear a coot is odd but they are extremely rare to see in the Lytchett Bay recording area and usually only recorded on Nocturnal Migration (Nocmig) when they fly past my microphone at night. The nocmig recording list I keep separate from the day to day birds we see or hear on the patch hence my rush to the front door to get it on the patch list.  I've had several more over the month migrating past my listening station along with Mediterranean Gull, Little Grebe, Water Rail, Moorhen and Curlew plus a few nights of Redwing and Song Thrush moving back to their breeding grounds in Europe. 

The next highlight of the month was on the 16th when Liz Woodford telephone to say she had a White-tailed Eagle flying towards her over the Lytchett Bay view point. Jackie and I quickly rushed out and down the road the couple of hundred metres and Liz was pointing up above us and yes there it was probably 213m (700ft) above us was an obvious large eagle gliding north.  I took an handful of record shots but didn't expect anything to be good as it was so high.

White-tailed Eagle going north over Lytchett Bay View © Nick Hull

Our next excursion (18th) was to Longham Lakes to see if we could find the Ring-necked Duck and in fact it turned out to be quite easy as we found it on the north lake loosely associating with a few Tufted Duck.  We had good views though it was very active driving regularly but would occasionally rest and preen on the surface between dives.

Female Ring-necked Duck_Longham Lakes © Nick Hull

Two days later we went to Garston Wood for a walk and to see if the wild garlic and bluebells were starting to flower but we were a little early.  We did manage to see 29 Corn Bunting on route and record Marsh Tit singing in the wood so not a bad mornings trip out.

Our next was a short drive around Hartland Moor to see if we could find Wheatear on the fields by the Horse Stud which we managed to do find two very smart individuals.  We met a friend here who asked if we had seen the Little Ringed Plover at Holme gravel pits and we said no we hadn't and he kindly described roughly where to look for them.  So about 15 minutes later we were scanning the bank on the gravel pit and managed to find one of the Little Ringed Plover in almost the place we were told to look.  We also added a good number of Sand Martin and a couple of Swallow to our list here making it a really good stop.

The next day the lockdown eased and that morning a Desert Wheatear was found by Dave Chown behind the the Park & Ride (Covid test centre) at Weymouth so we headed off there after lunch and once we found where it was we didn't take long to locate it and have some very good views.  What was particularly nice  this bird was a first summer female and previous birds we had seen had been males but this was the first we had seen in Dorset which was even better.  We ended the day having fish and chips at the top of Came Down and ticked off Yellowhammer before driving home.

1st/summer female Desert Wheatear - nr. Lodmoor ©

The last day of the month gave us a Lytchett Bay year tick when Shaun telephoned to say he was listening to a Lesser Spotted Woodpecker drumming in the trees by the allotments entrance on Slough Lane. We grabbed our bins and I grabbed my recording kit to and headed off up the road. We both started to hear the bird drumming as we were walking down the lane and I managed to make a reasonable recording of what appeared to be a pair duetting.

The Lesser Spotted Woodpecker brought out month list to 101species for March.  We were lucky as they've not been seen or heard since unfortunately.

Monday, 22 March 2021

Catching up on the Birds

Well since October when we challenged ourselves to see if we could see a hundred species a month throughout the winter I have to say all was going well until we arrived at February in lockdown.  We gave it a try but it was a short month and we failed right at the end of winter with 89 species for the month this was mainly due of course on the lockdown restriction on travel but nonetheless it wasn't bad.

We had a few highlights recording our first Ringed Plover, Golden Plover, Little Gull, Peregrine also a Ruddy Shelduck. More controversial is the sighting of two gulls on the Brownsea Island Webcam, that of a immature Glaucous Gull and the harbour's first Caspian Gull, were they tickable as no one was permitted to go to Brownsea and see them, but we were watching live on the webcam only a mile or two away from the birds. The question was raised if you were watching your own webcam and a rarity popped in onto your feeder would you count it on your garden list and almost everyone said yes they would.  So what is the difference in watching someone else's webcam and ticking off the bird, of course we can't but it was a fun discussion via an internet pub meeting.

Glaucous Gull screen grab off the Brownsea webcam

Caspian Gull screen grab off the Brownsea webcam

I apologise for the quality of the photograph of this immature Caspain Gull, I don't think you can improve much from a screen grab, but full marks has to go to Paul Morton who picked it up when moving the camera searching for the arrival of the Glaucous Gull into the lagoon.

The best of our birding highlights that was a true tick was the Little Gull on the flooded fields at Swineham. They are Jackie and my favourite gull species and we had good views of it hawking across the Piddle River and the flooded meadows in very good light.  Peter Moore was there and he is a excellent photographer and he has kindly allowed me to use a couple of his photographs of the bird here.

cLittle Gull - River Piddle Water Meadows Swineham © Peter Moore

Little Gull - River Piddle Water Meadows Swineham © Peter Moore

The Golden Plover were found by a friend on the field opposite Holton Heath trading estate so Jackie and I took a quick drive the couple of mile up the road and picked them up very easily. They are quite a scarce species in the Poole Harbour basin these days so a very nice sight even if it was only around twenty birds. The Peregrine was seen when we had to pop out to the pharmacy at Asda and picked up the regular birds that sit around on the flats there.  The Ruddy Shelduck was when the van needed a drive to charge up the battery as it hadn't moved a wheel for a few weeks so we decided to do a little circuit.  While out a friend had noticed that there was a Ruddy Shelduck on a local gravel pit and we just happened to be passing so stopped and had a brief look and found it very easily which was a nice end to our little excursion. 

March has started well we have almost equalled February recording 83 species so far and with the slight change in the lockdown rules hopefully we will be able a little more freedom to travel around a bit more locally which should add a few more species plus migration has already started with the first Chiffchaff, Swallow and Sand Martins being seen.  We only had Chiffchaff so far but the overall highlight was seeing a White-tailed Eagle over Lytchett Bay found by Liz Woodford.  Here is another poor photograph this time taken by me as the bird was gliding off to the north.

White-tailed Eagle_Lytchett Bay © Nick Hull

Well the month isn't over yet and lockdown rules are changing so I'll stop here with a total of 120 species for the year so far. At this time in 2020 I was on 155 species so have a little bit to catchup so I'll leave it there and do another blog at the end of the month.

Friday, 19 February 2021

Hedgehogs Upton and Lytchett Minster

For a change instead of telling you about what Jackie and I have been up to which hasn't been much because of lockdown. I thought I'd add an article from the Upton & Lytchett Minster Hedgehog group it's more or less a summary of what has been happening and what's being done to help the hogs of our town.  They are doing great work and need all the support to continue the work they have started so if you would like to help there is a link to their Just giving page at the bottom of the article.

Hedgehogs in Upton and Lytchett Minster.

We started volunteering for the Dorset Mammal Group as hedgehog coordinators in summer 2019 as part a project called Hedgehog Friendly Towns.  The Dorset Mammal Group's main focus is to reverse the decline in hedgehog numbers and this project is just one of the ways in which they wish to achieve this. Sadly hedgehogs are now vulnerable to extinction in the UK and we need to do all we can to save them. 

The Dorset Hedgehog Friendly Towns project now has 33 towns signed up and 4 more have shown an interest. 

The main goals we want to achieve in Upton and Lytchett Minster are:

·       Encouraging people to create hedgehog friendly gardens and cut hedgehog highway holes in their fencing.

·       Educating residents on what food is safe to feed to hogs (not mealworms, peanuts or sunflower hearts!).

·       Explaining about the dangers of slug pellets, steep sided ponds, garden strimmers and rat poison.

·       Work with the allotment association to promote organic growing and creating habitats on the site. 

·       Reducing hedgehog road casualties.

·       To work with local schools and engage with young people.

·       Fundraising for the Dorset Hedgehog Hospital

We quickly realised how popular hedgehogs were in our town, when over 80 people turned up to the first meeting! The second meeting was just as popular and we can't wait to have another one when guidance allows us. 

We have had an amazing 170 hedgehog sightings from residents during 2020, mostly from their gardens. Most of these are from Upton, and the majority are located around Moorland Way and Sandy Lane. We would like to get more residents on board this year to see if there are more hedgehogs across the whole town, or perhaps the hedgehogs are concentrated in that area. We are particularly keen to hear from people in Lytchett Minster, because we haven't had much data from there yet.  

The project is very new and we only have 1 full year of hedgehog sightings, however it appears there is a good population within our town and they are certainly breeding within our gardens and having multiple broods. Our winters are very mild in Dorset and we know that not all hedgehogs will hibernate. We are encouraging people to continue to feed during the winter, because this helps the late broods to fatten up and keep going through the colder months, when there is less natural food around. 

Sightings of Hedgehogs in the town

There are over 100 residents registered to the project already, who have created a hedgehog friendly garden and want to help them. We hope to get more people onboard this coming year. 

 There were 43 hedgehog road casualties reported to us during 2020, we noticed a significant increase, when the initial lockdown was eased. This has given us the data to find the black spot locations, where we would like to install road signs to encourage motorists to slow down. We are hoping to have the signs installed this spring before they awake from hibernation. 

Map showing Hedgehog road casualty locations

As a temporary measure we installed "ghost" hedgehog signs in prominent locations across the town to show people the amount of hedgehog road casualties. This was done across Dorset and promoted by Hugh Warwick hedgehog extraordinaire. 

The following are the worst roads, which happen to be the main roads through the Town. 

·       Sandy Lane

     Moorland Way

·       Blandford Rd North

·       Blandford Rd 

·       Dorchester Road

We have been working closely with Tracy and Jim at Hamworthy Hedgehog Rescue who do an amazing job dedicating all of their time to rescuing hedgehogs. Last year they rescued 698 and released an amazing 523 back to the wild. They still currently have 148 in the care! They explained to us recently that they get most of their intakes from Upton. Without the kind work they are doing, we wouldn't be able to help as many hedgehogs as we have.  

Sadly it would appear there is a growing trend to paint hedgehogs! We are hoping this is due to residents who wish to identify their hedgehogs. However using emulsion paint on a wild animal is cruel and can make them stand out to foxes and other predators. Tracy has had many entries into their rescue which are covered in multiple colours of paint. We have also both had painted hedgehogs within our own gardens. There is no reason to paint or mark a wild animal, we should just enjoy watching them from a safe distance and learning the individuals by their behaviour and subtle differences. 

One of the Dorset Mammal Group's other projects is to fundraise to create a hedgehog hospital in Dorset. This will help hedgehog rescuers and carers across the county, by offering veterinary care 24/7.

Tuesday, 12 January 2021

December Update & Lockdown 100 - 2021

Well Jackie and I managed to get 104 species by the end of the month keeping up are challenge, though it was a little more difficult as we had Christmas to contend with.

Our highlight for the month wasn't anything really rare but still very nice to see Cattle Egret on our home patch first noticed by Shaun flying to roost in Holes Bay, they would fly over Lytchett Bay in the last hour of daylight with accompanying Little Egret.  It was at the end of the month when we had to put a little extra effort in to get to the 100 when we had a surprise male Hen Harrier on the 26th near Bere Regis; Short-eared and Barn Owl on the 27th in the Cranborne Chase; male Merlin at Arne on the 30th and our last species of the year was Bearded Tit on the evening of the 31st, not a bad species to end with at all.

Male Bearded Tit

New Years Eve began with firework everywhere and next morning we walked out to the bay to start our 2021 list and it was hard to find any wildfowl at all. All obviously vacated the bay to go to a quieter part of the harbour once the screeching and bangs started. We gave it a couple of hours and then walked back home for a hot drink and a warm up and then we headed off to see if we could add a few more species to our year list.  

We checked out a few game crops that we had been told about which attracted Linnet, Yellowhammer, Reed Bunting, Chaffinch and Brambling.  The first location produced lots of Linnet and Chaffinch but we also added Nuthatch, Treecreeper and Marsh Tit the latter was a real surprise.  Our next location was two fields that had sunflowers that had not been harvested and a large number of finches, Reed Bunting were amazing with Yellowhammer in smaller numbers I managed to see one maybe two Brambling but unfortunately Jackie couldn't get on to them quick enough before they disappeared into the sunflower crop.  Though Jackie did pick out a Merlin which zoomed off south carrying prey. We spent possibly two hours trying to get Jackie a view of a Brambling without success so we will go back on a sunnier day and try again. 

We eventually moved on and headed for the Lower Frome, on the way got lucky crossing the River Piddle when a redhead Goosander took flight and headed up stream.  At the Frome meadows we drew a blank as there was a shooting party out on the fields.  So we continued on and went around Hartland Moor but added little to our list and we decided as the weather seemed to be closing in we would call it a day and head home.   

A quick count we found that we had seen 62 species not the best we have done but ok there are plenty more species out there and we hopefully will get to a 100 or close to it in the next 7 days.

With the prospect of a New Year Lockdown we took a day's break catching up on things at home then we headed off to Studland and Jerry's Point for a early morning watch of the eastern harbour.  We didn't score a large number of species but we had quality, and several were all new for the year list starting with 2 Slavonian Grebe, 2 Scaup, 2 Goldeneye and 2 Common Scoter and 1 possibly 2 Long-tailed Duck distant off Furzey Island.  We also added a few waders with Turnstone, Dunlin and Bar-tailed godwit but after an hour or so it appeared to be getting busy with lots of people coming off the ferry so we decided to head home.  We took a long way home taking in the Lower Frome Valley, Lane End where we got lucky when Jackie picked up a male Hen Harrier an excellent bit of luck to end the mornings birding.

Treecreeper Quarr Hill © Nick Hull

The Lockdown happened and we were back to birding on our exercise walks on patch so with our 2021 list now standing at 83 species we knew we wouldn't get to a 100 within the first week but thought we might manage it within ten days. Checking what we might get knowing our patch species there was enough that we hadn't seen.  I'm writing this on the 12th January and we have managed to see and add  Great Spotted and Green Woodpecker, Goldcrest, Stonechat, Moorhen, Greenshank, Jay, Shoveler, Water Rail, Little Grebe, Black-tailed Godwit,  Water Rail, Rock Pipit, we also added Greylag Goose, Turnstone, at Baiter Park when in town food shopping.  The best were c60 Barnacle Geese which we had on the 10th whilst on our exercise walk around the bay and fortunately I phoned Shaun, who lives close by the bay as well, and he managed to make a recording of them as the circled over his house a couple of times before doing a few circuits of the bay before disappearing towards the south and the central harbour, not to be seen or heard of again.

Skein of Baracle Geese

Recording of the Barnacle Geese © Shaun Robson