About Two Owls

Wednesday 19 August 2015

Oxey Lake & Pennington Marsh

Sunday saw the group meet at Maiden Lane near Lymington for a walk around Oxey and Pennington. As we waited for everyone to arrive the early few managed to see Swallows and a Bullfinch put in a very brief appearance.  As soon as we were all gathered we all headed off along the footpath towards the sea.  As we passed Oxey Lake we checked it out and found that there were around eight Little Grebe, a pair of Oystercatcher, a small gathering of Canada Geese and Mallard, also a couple of Redshank.  As we walked across the rough grass field towards the coastal footpath we recorded Meadow Pipit, Dunnock and Reed Bunting.  An immature Dartford Warbler performed pretty well for us before moving off across the field into a large scrub area.  

The warmth of the day was just rising as did six Buzzard that had found the first thermal of the day and soared moving towards their favoured feeding area. As we almost reached the coastal path a Greenshank lifted off and gave its characteristic "Choo Choo Choo" call as it flew over us.  Liz then picked up a Wheatear on top of a gorse bush unfortunately only a few at the front saw it before it flew off west and out of sight. 

As we walked towards Pennington we could see Sandwich and Common Terns fishing out in the Solent and a raft of Common Eider were loafing off shore.  On the shingle islets off shore were a group of mainly summer plumaged Grey Plover which were looking really smart with their black fronts and bellies. On a closer island a nice size flock of Ringed Plover and a few Dunlin were roosting but they soon took off calling towards Keyhaven.  We also found Small and Common Blue and Wall butterflies as we walked the seawall towards Pennington.  On the old rusty piling by the jetty there were a number of smart Turnstones roosting along with three Common Terns. 

Curlew Sandpiper - Jetty Lagoon © Nick Hull
As we came to the Jetty lagoon at Pennington there were a number of waders feeding.  Black-tailed Godwits with most showing signs of moult, along with several black-bellied Dunlin feeding in the shallower water on the muddy edge.  A little further out on it's own was a nice Curlew Sandpiper, an adult moulting out of summer plumage and we had very good scope views of the individual and good comparison with the Dunlin nearby.  

Our return to the cars was fairly uneventful adding little to our day list that we hadn't already seen.  But we had an enjoyable morning with some very nice birds.

Tuesday 11 August 2015

Alners Gorse & Butterflies

Sunday 9th August
Today or rather this morning our group met at Alners Gorse, this has to be one of the best Butterfly Conservation Reserves in Dorset or possible the South of England. Our targets were Hairstreaks but we were out to see as many butterfly species this reserve had to offer.

So we headed off in the warmth of the sun with high expectation cameras poised for what we hoped to see.  Shortly after walking through the gate we started with Green-veined, Small and Large White, Meadow Brown and many Gatekeepers.  We were also distracted by a dragonfly which very obligingly landed and proved to be a Southern Hawker.
male Southern Hawker Aeshna cyanea - © Nick Hull
It was further into the reserve when Jess with her eagle eyes spotted a small butterfly high up on top of a leaf.  It took a little direction from Jess before all of us were onto this butterfly, but as you can see in the below photograph from the view we had it was only just possible to id it as a Brown Hairstreak.  
male Brown Hairstreak © Nick Hull
Continuing on and keeping a keen eye on the tree tops three or four other small butterflies were seen high in an oak.  It was Tim who found one perched on a small branch just over halfway up in the canopy.  After some direction I managed to get on to it, it was our second species of hairstreak this time a Purple.
Purple Hairstreak - © Nick Hull
I think I was lucky to get as good a shot as I did, though not the best view, it was our second species of hairstreak, one more to go. We were only just saying it would be nice to get better views perhaps even a closer one.  When Jess announced "I've a Brown Hairstreak on the bramble here".
female Brown Hairstreak - © Nick Hull
Sure enough there was one and the cameras were clicking away. We eventually moved on and and we saw our second dragonfly this time a Common Darter.  We continued adding butterflies and even a few moths were found such as a Brimstone moth, Vapourer, Treble-bar and Silver Y. Other butterflies of note were Silver-washed Fritillary, Small Copper, Brown Argus, Painted Lady and Clouded Yellow.  
Clouded Yellow - © Nick Hull
In all we recorded eighteen species, but I think if the sun had held out longer it would have been possible to have recorded another four species as we didn't see White-letter Hairstreak, Peacock, Red Admiral or Small Tortoiseshell.

We also recorded another of the larger dragonflies a Migrant Hawker which at the time I called Common Hawker Aeshna juncea.  It just goes to show you should take better notice sometime and not get distracted taking photographs. As it wasn't until writing this blog that I noticed my mistake, so apologies to all who was there for my error, corrected now.
male Migrant Hawker Aeshna mixta © Nick Hull

Wednesday 5 August 2015

Keyhaven & Pennington Marshes

Our Wednesday group started from Keyhaven this morning with look from the bridge over Avon Water.  With a low tide it was easy to see a Water Rail picking it's way along the reed edge and a Common Tern flew over our heads into the harbour.  

We then walked along the back lane which was fairly quiet until we got to the pool at the end of the lane.  Here we had a variety of gulls with Lesser Black-backed and Great Black-backed, Herring and Black-headed Gulls loafing about.  The inevitable Canada Geese were on the bank and on the waters edge a Common Sandpiper picked it's way along, over the water were hawking House Martins and Swallows, then Jess brought our attention to a few Swifts above us.   On the other side of the pool we found two Little Ringed Plovers, a second Common Sandpiper and an Oystercatcher.  On the water was a female Tufted Duck with 6 ducklings, a couple of Great Crested Grebes and several Little Grebes.  A passing birder then brought our attention to a Buzzard flying behind us which then flew round and perched up on a post in the field.
Little Ringed Plover © Nick Hull
At last tearing ourselves away we walked on towards Fishtail Lagoon, on the way we stopped to watch several small birds in the bushes with Goldfinch, Greenfinches, Linnets, Great and Blue Tits, Chiffchaff, Whitethroat and a male Stonechat.  As we looked down on Fishtail lagoon there was a Grey Heron with some prey, our reptile expert Chris identified it as a Grass Snake, it put up a good fight but finally we watched it being wriggled down the Heron's throat.  Also on the lagoon were Black-tailed Godwits and a few Lapwing.

On Keyhaven Lagoon were two Greenshank while on the salt marsh there were good numbers of both adult and juvenile Dunlin, also Ringed Plover and another Little Ringed Plover, a single Whimbrel and a few Curlew.  We found a single Grey Plover in stunning summer plumage.  Approaching the car park we had a number of Turnstones on the waters edge and a  fly by Sandwich Tern.  An excellent morning.