About Two Owls

Sunday 29 December 2013

Sunday 29th December 2013

Our visit to the Weymouth area today proved to be pretty good not surprising really with the quality birds that were around.  We started at Lodmoor as planned and checked off most of the common waterfowl our highlight here was Marsh Harrier and views of Cetti's Warbler.  There was good numbers of wintering Lapwing and Snipe scattered around the reserve.

In the end all the group wanted to do was go to Portland Harbour not surprising, so off we went.  On arrival it was obvious that the bird was on view by the gathered crowd of birders intently watching the water in the marina.  Stopping at a convenient spot we scanned the water but it had gone in behind the boats.  Whilst we waited for it to reappear I found the white blob that was the wintering Black Guillemot out in the harbour and got everyone on to it, one down.  Then the Brunnich's came out and slowly dived and surfaced and dived it's way towards us.  It performed better than it had for Jackie and I just two days ago.  We had fabulous views and were able to compare it with a couple of Razorbills feeding in the same area.  Other species seen out in the harbour of note were a single Black-throated Diver and Great Northern Diver.

We finished the day again having a quick look at the Glossy Ibis and Radipole Park which was still feeding on the football pitch.  We said goodby to everyone and on the way to drop Jess off popped into Radipole car park and had a look through the gulls.  We found a number of Black-headed and Mediterranean Gulls with rings so had a ring reading session so hopefully will get some news back soon on where they came from and where they have been.  

I've added a couple of my shot of the Brunnich's can't have too many of a good bird can you?

BrĂ¼nnich's Guillemot - Portland Harbour © Nick Hull

BrĂ¼nnich's Guillemot - Portland Harbour © Nick Hull

Saturday 28 December 2013

Saturday 28th December 2013

I thought I would delve into the records and see how rare Brunnich's Guillemot is, well there has been 43 accepted records up till the end of 2012.  All but one of these records have been from Scotland and the northern isles. The only English record came from Lancashire of a bird found dead near Morcombe in 1960, and a bird on the Farnes Islands in 1977, so other than these and a very brief sighting from Filey Brigg in East Yorkshire this Autumn which didn't stay very long, this Portland bird is the only mainland English bird to really be twitchable.  Estimates are that over a thousand birders have visited so far and I'm sure that this is under the true number. As we are leading a group in Weymouth tomorrow I'm sure there will be a few more having a look at this high arctic vagrant.

Friday 27 December 2013

Friday 27th December 2013

After the news breaking yesterday when Debbie & Pete Saunders posted on twitter that they had what they thought was a Brunnich's Guillemot at Osprey Quay Portland Harbour and Jackie and I were stuck entertaining family. We had a suprisingly good nights rest and this morning whilst having breakfast Sean Foote posted that it was still present, we couldn't exit the door fast enough.

On arriving not surprising there were a good few birders already present stretched from the Marina along to Portland Castle.  We started by the castle and shortly after picked up the Black Guillemot out amongst the bouys off the Mulberry Cassons.   
Winer plumaged Black Guillemot Portland Harbour

All the Birders stretched all the way to the marina viewing the Brunnich's

After sometime we decided to move towards the Marina to get a different view over the harbour, after scanning from here for sometime a guy came running up and said the Brunnich's had just flown in and landed over by the cassons.  Quickly scoping the area I had a brief view of a Guillemot but it dived almost as soon as I got on to it.  This was what happened for the next ten minutes with the bird diving and popping up further away.  Then as quickly as it moved away it appeared right in front of us maybe sixty metres away giving great views it then moved along the breakwater towards the marina.  Where it gave really close views before settling in sheltered water to the rear of a boat and started to preen. 

Brunnich's Guillemot Portland Harbour

After having our fill of the Brunnich's we popped down to Radipole Park and found the Glossy Ibis feeding on the football pitch giving good views.

Glossy Ibis - Radipole Park, Weymouth

Thursday 26 December 2013

Thursday 26th December 2013

Well just had to the a message via twitter that a Brunnich's Guilemot can be seen off of Osprey Quay Portland Harbour, It has been showing very well.  This is a Dorset first a real Mega bird and we cannot go until tomorrow. Hope it stays. 

Tuesday 24 December 2013

Tuesday 24th December 2013

All at TwO Owls Birding would like to wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a very successful birding New Year.

Sunday 22 December 2013

Sunday 22nd December 2013

Leading up to the festive season Dorset birding has been fairly good for the time of year. With the immature Surf Scoter still being seen in Brand's Bay and the two juvenile Common Cranes are still being seen near Cheselbourne though they seem to go missing at times.  A Ring-billed Gull has been putting in appearances at various locations around Poole Harbour and there has been sightings at Radipole which was probably a different bird. The Black Brant remains on the Fleet with it's Northern European counterparts and also being joined with a couple of Pale-bellied Brent as well.  There has been several records of Great Grey Shrike, two around the Morden Bog area with sightings at Hartland Moor, Middlebere and another on private land at Milborne St Andrew.  There has been good numbers of Divers being recorded passing Hengistbury and Portland, all three species visiting Poole harbour.  There has been good numbers of birds of prey being recorded around the Poole harbour, Merlin, Peregrine, Marsh and Hen Harriers all being represented.

As the weather became stormy recently this brought sightings of Little Auk of Hengistbury and Black Guillimot at Portland in the last couple of days.  There has been up to four Snow Bunting being seen at West Bexington though the last report there was only two seen. Also in the west a small flock of Barnacle Geese have arrived in the Rodden Hive area of the Fleet, hard to tell if these are genuine wild birds or from a British feral population but they are still nice birds to see.  Bittern have been seen on and off at both Radipole and Lodmoor so there is plenty of variety out there to be seen so get out there over the holiday period and work that Christmas dinner off,  you could join us at Lodmoor on the 29th there are still a couple of places availible.

Great Northern Diver - Poole Harbour © Nick Hull

Saturday 14 December 2013

Saturday 14th December 2013

Today Jackie and led a group from the local Poole RSPB group around Longham Lakes.  After we gathered at the Bridge house hotel  we headed off to the lakes.  At this time of year waterfowl and gulls are the main species to look at and of course there was always the chance that the Penduline Tit may be still hanging around.  

As we had a large group we split into two Jackie headed off counterclockwise I went clockwise.  I started with looking through the closest group of duck Wigeon, Teal, Mallard and Gadwall.  Moving on and scanning as we go we added many of the more common species like Robin, Blackbird and Dunnock.  Looking back over the south lake Black-headed, Common and Herrings were also present and someone picked up a small group of four Little Grebe.  Further round Tufted Duck, Shoveler a couple of Grey Heron and a single Little Egret and a few Blue Tits and a Meadow Pipit or two over.  We had a good look around the two small ponds at the south end but found little then a small flock of small finch's with yellow wing bars flew across the high pitched calls identified them as Siskin.  Half way around we met up the Jackie and her group and found they had seen much the same as we had but had found one or two that we hadn't so game on.  I concentrated on the gulls and found the first of these a smart winter plumaged adult Mediterranean Gull in fact I'm pretty sure there were two everyone had good views and we moved on.  On the North lake another we hadn't seen a small group of Pochard and better views of Great Crested Grebes.

We also had good views of Reed Bunting, Buzzard and when we met up with Jackie's group again they added Long-tailed Tits and Green Woodpecker to the list.

Our return to the Bridge House only produced Starlings and the common corvid's but by now we were all looking forward to our Christmas lunch in the restaurant.  In fact we had a side room and a very nice meal a fitting end to a very nice morning.  

Sunday 8 December 2013

Sunday 8th December 2013

After putting the moth trap out last night (7th) and checking it this morning hoping for a December Moth and drawing a blank, I was thinking I hope the RSPB BirdBoat wouldn't be the same.  Well I have to say that we had lovely weather and a super cruise up the Wareham Channel and back around the harbour's island finishing with views over Brownsea Lagoon.  

As we left Poole Quay and headed towards the Wareham channel amongst the gulls roosting on the marina pontoons were a handful of Turnstone.  There was very little else to see other than a few Cormorants and occasional Brent along the shoreline until we were well up channel.  Here I spotted a distant Marsh Harrier soaring over the forest towards Arne and within minutes a Peregrine came on the scene and then a pair of Raven.  The Peregrine took a dislike to the Harrier and we saw an aerial scrap with full tallons drawn before the harrier moved off.  The Peregrine then made a move on one of the Raven before soaring off high.  Wareham meadows held Lapwing, Greylag Geese, Mute Swan and a few Little Grebe popped up along the reed bed edge, even Bearded Tit appeared for a few flitting across the reedbeds.

Our return back to the harbour added another two Marsh Harrier, a small flock of Black-tailed Godwit, a few Mallard and Wigeon and several flocks of Curlew flew overhead.  As we passed Gold Point and entered the harbour our fourth Marsh Harrier crossed the channel behind and the peacefully roosting Oystercatchers decided to take evasive action and took flight.  Mark called "diver" which turned out to be a Great Northern our only one of the trip.  We crossed what is known to the local fisherman as Balls Lake towards the central harbour.  Here we found Goldeneye, Great Crested and Black-necked Grebe and our first real numbers of Red-breasted Mergansers.

Around the back Green Island we had a large flock of Mergansers and more Goldeneye.  Brand's Bay produced Grebes and at least three Eider but no one found the Surf Scoter so it was around to Brownsea Lagoon it  was crammed full of birds, with over a 1000 Avocets, hundreds of Black-tailed Godwit, Dunlin, Grey Plover and Bar-tailed Godwits.  Stonechat was on the wall, and much further round on the lagoon were 8 Spoonbill and several Grey Herons a great end to the trip and it was back to the Quay.

After a spot of late lunch we headed off towards Cheselbourne to look for the 2 juvenile Common Cranes that have been spending time in a stubble field for a few days.  We found them quite easily in the end as there were a few birders already watching them.  Such beautiful and graceful birds they were delightful to watch, at one time standing together like two very smart garden ornaments!  A brilliant way to finish our day's birding.

Tuesday 3 December 2013

Tuesday 3rd December 2013

Great start to a superb day's birding today, taking Tom and Lynfa around the Poole Harbour and ending at Blashford.  Starting at Studland we walked out to Jerry's Point and scoped across the harbour mouth and Brand's Bay.   Here we had good numbers of Red-breasted Mergansers, Goldeneye and Great Crested Grebe and in mid-harbour were five Eider one at least was an immature drake.  Searching the water off Goathorn I found the immature Surf Scoter our target here and a lifer for our guests, though distant you could see the whitish patches on the face.  Our next location was Knoll beach, scanning the bay we found several groups of Black-necked Grebe counting forty in all, also a couple of Common Scoter.  Then it was off to Middlebere with a leisurely lunch at Corfe Castle on the way.  

Middlebere produced the goods with excellent views of an immature ringtail Hen Harrier quartering the marsh then descending into the cord grass not to reapear again, well at least while we were there.  Just before the hide three male Bullfinch brightened a grey day as they fed together in the thorn bush.  A Stonechat also put in an appearance along the same hedgeline and several Little Egrets were moving around the marsh.  From the hide a male Kestrel was acting as sentinel on a hawthorn out to the left.   Shortly after while we were watching the Avocets, Teal and Wigeon out in the channel a large raptor flew in from the left, this time it was a female Marsh Harrier.   Not long after we had a second bird this time an immature off to the right which crossed heading towards Arne.  During the short time we were in the hide we watched large numbers of Black-tailed Godwits flying over towards the Frome. The usual Yellow-legged Gull sat out on the mud, also a single Grey Plover.  Walking back to the car we had our fourth raptor for the day with a Buzzard.

Time was moving on and we had planed to finish the day at Blashford Lakes and what a good decision    this turned out to be.  Jackie and Lynfa reached the Ivy north hide before myself and Tom and as we arrived they were at the door saying hurry up there's a Bittern showing.  In a channel to the right of the hide was indeed a Bittern looking for it's evening meal and it was on view for maybe fifteen minutes, and it turn out to be another lifer for Tom and Lynfa, a great way to finish a day's birding.

I apologies for the poor photographs but I didn't want to use flash and I couldn't get the speed in the dull light conditions.

Bittern swaying body keeping head motionless

Bittern sneaking away into the reeds

Sunday 1 December 2013

Sunday 1st december 2013

The start of a new month saw us leading a group around Upton Country Park this afternoon. We knew we wouldn't see anything scarce or rare but it was just nice to get out and see what was around locally.  Walking through the park down to the bay we saw many of the usual parkland birds, Robin, Dunnock, Blackbird, Coal Tit and Goldcrest.  Approaching the site of the old hide we had a Jay one of five seen in the park all very busy burying acorns for the harder months to come. Over the north west part of Holes Bay there were good numbers of waterfowl the most common were Teal and Wigeon with fewer Mallard, Pintail. A single Avocet, several Black-tailed Godwit, Redshank, Curlew, Little Egret and Grey Heron. 

Moving on we passed the pond, where we had close views of an immature drake Shoveler.  From the stone bench we had closer views of the Teal, with a few Pintail.  Following the woodland path through to the north east section of Holes Bay, despite the very low tide we found plenty more waterfowl.  In the distance we could see some white backs moving back and forth in the main channel, Spoonbills.  We moved further round to gain better views and to our surprise there were eleven of them, not just the usual heads tucked under wing motionless, they were actively feeding and preening. On the mud were a large number of Common Redshanks, with a fewer number of Dunlin and Black-tailed Godwits.

On the way back along the path a few Starlings caught our attention, then we found a few Redwings nearby as two Mistle Thrush flew noisly over us.  

Immature drake Shoveler on the park Pond

Lucky to get a digi shot of these three Spoonbill they were so distant