About Two Owls

Wednesday 25 November 2015

Birding at Normandy Marshes, Lymington

As we walked the path to look over the main lagoon we had the usual little birds though we could only hear a Bullfinch and not see it.  There were quite a few Meadow Pipits in the adjacent field along with a Song Thrush, Pied Wagtails and a Stonechat.  Moving on we looked over Oxey Lake, the light was dismal but we could see three ducks diving in the main channel along with a Great Crested Grebe.  Even with 'scopes it was awkward but by the head shape and compactness of the duck I knew they were three female Goldeneye.

Turning our attention to the lagoon in the marshy edges Teal and Wigeon grazed and Redshank picked around as well as many Lapwings.  Black-tailed Godwits flew over our heads into the lagoon and on to the fields.  Lesley brought my attention to four waders further right, they were all Spotted Redshanks and just as I was running through the differences to Common Redshank they flew up.  In fact everything went up but we could not find the culprit though I suspect it was the local Peregrine.   Most of the birds returned but not the Spotted Redshanks so we moved a little further along.  

A Kingfisher flew out close from where we stopped and flew across the lagoon landing on a distant post.  I picked up a smart drake Goldeneye a little way out and several Pintails, there were five Avocets and our first of at least six Greenshank.  Clive pointed out some Dunlin that were quite difficult to pick out as they blended in so well with the stony patch they were on along with Turnstones.
Avocet from Two Owls photo archive © Nick Hull
Looking out into the Solent we saw several Great Crested Grebes and one splendid Black-necked Grebe.  I looked over the bank for the Peregrine that regularly sits out here and I was not disappointed with a female preening and though distant we had nice views.   Back into the lagoon we added a few more to the wildfowl list with Gadwall, Tufted duck, Shelduck and a female Red-breasted Merganser.

We were now at the end of the lagoon wall and I mentioned that Dartford Warbler is sometimes seen here and one popped up and flew across to a gorse bush giving an all to short view.  We walked the footpath from the boat yard to Normandy Lane when we heard Song Thrush singing and stood to watch it in the tree.  I turned round to see a Firecrest sat out next to me, what a delightful surprise and a great end to our walk.

Monday 23 November 2015

Vis Mig at Lytchett Bay

After a large movement of Woodpigeons seen over the last few day moving over Poole Harbour but just a few hundred seen going over Lytchett Bay this morning saw a slight change in direction. Between 7.15 and 8.45 a.m. over 17500 moved over our little watch point breaking the patch record of 14,131 set by Nick and myself on the 10th November 2013.   The main passage was between 7.45 and 8.15 with 16500 in just 30 minutes.  

We also recorded a few small flocks of Mistle and Song Thrush, Redwing and Fieldfares and a few small groups of Starlings all moving west.

This is a section of one of the largest flocks which was estimated at around 3000 birds there is 517 in this shot.

Wednesday 18 November 2015

Studland Bay birding

Our Wednesday group met at Middle Beach, Studland this morning, very windy but at least dry and a flock of Long-tailed Tits entertained us as we gathered together.  We started by looking over Studland Bay, where we had four Common Scoter, Great Crested Grebes and Black-necked Grebes but views were not great, plus a lone Brent Goose.   As always the resident Robin came round our feet hoping for a titbit or that we would disturb something tasty.  

We moved on towards Fort Henry, where Sir Winston Churchill watched his troops prepare for the D-Day landings in Studland Bay.  On the way we had a Red Admiral, still on the wing in mid-November.  The first bird I saw as I put my 'binos up was a Great Northern Diver about half way out, we soon got scopes on to it and had great views.  Then we re-found the Common Scoters, closer and with excellent light on them, a fine drake and three females.   Nearby a Black-throated Diver looking very smart and even the Black-necked Grebes were showing much better.  To add to this we had a winter plumage Razorbill.
Archive photo of Great Northern Diver at Studland © Jess Evens
We next went to the churchyard which was sheltered from the wind, Meadow Pipits lined up on the fence line and Pied Wagtails strutted over the grass.  A Mistle Thrush flew across, then we noticed a Redwing sat up in a tree.   In the scrubby area next to us were House Sparrow, Goldfinch, Greenfinch, Great and Blue Tits, four Blackbirds flew up into a small tree followed by Song Thrush.  Would we find a Fieldfare to make up the foursome of thrushes, unfortunately not.  Though we did have even closer views of a Mistle Thrush when we walked back to our cars.

Thursday 5 November 2015

Round-up 1-4 November

On Sunday 1st November we arrived at Durlston before 7a.m. to meet our group and we may have felt bright but the weather definitely wasn't!  So our planned 'vis mig' (visible migration) to watch migrating birds turned into a listening station with Nick using his parabolic reflector to hear the bird migrating overhead as it was so foggy.  

Though when we stepped out of our car early on as it was getting light all we could hear were Goldcrests, we seemed to be surrounded by them.  A few small flocks of Goldfinch went over and we could hear a few Siskins but that was about it for migrating birds over Long Field.  We decided to move on and try for the Hume's Warbler that had been seen the previous day.  We met Warren and Hamish and they had not had neither sight or sound of the Hume's, we stopped a while and had super views of Goldcrests but not 'the' bird.

Walking on we had a few Song Thrush fly over the first of several small parties we had migrating over.  We walked by the Education Centre as members of the Stour Ringing Group were extracting a few birds from the nets.  It was a privilege to be shown a Green Woodpecker, adult Redwing and a Goldcrest in the hand.  

Goldcrest with ringer Ian  @Jackie Hull

There were Blackbirds and a few Redwing around and towards the end of the walk 4 Fieldfares, though a highlight for many in the group were watching a flock of 9 Bullfinch.  Plus the usual resident birds of course.  

After we finished Nick and I popped down by the castle again just in case the Hume's Warbler had been seen and though it had not been seen two Sparrowhawks flew over towards the sea and the male was displaying.  It was a lovely and very warm day for early November but definitely not Spring!

Meeting up with birding friends Renee and Liz on 3rd November we decided to spend the morning at Blashford Lakes.  As we arrived a loose flock of Fieldfare flew over quite low southwards and 4 Skylark.  From the hide we had the usual species to be found here, a female Goldeneye and a Goosander added to the mix.  The Osprey that has been a regular visitor to Ibsley Water was not its usual perch and many birders that had come to see it were feeling disappointed.  Luckily an eagle-eyed (or rather osprey-eyed) observer picked it up flying north along the river in the distance.  Through the scope we had fair views as he flew until eventually disappearing.

Walking through the wood to the Lapwing Hide we heard 'chattering', we could see movement and at first only seeing Blackbirds but Liz and I were convinced it was Redwing we could hear.  They were obviously just out of our sight though Liz did see one well before they flew off.  By the path down to the Goosander hide we found two female Bullfinch and Siskins were flitting around calling as they went.

The highlight of our walk though was being shown the Earthstar fungus, there were several that had already decayed but one was almost perfect and none of us had seen one before, so thank you Jack for bringing it to our attention.
Earthstar © Jackie Hull

On Wednesday, 4th November, I met up with our Wednesday group at Stanpit Marsh, it was a great start with a heavy rain shower but we were in our waterproofs and spent the worst of it in the visitor centre.  Venturing out again we had close views of Curlew and Little Egret and on Crouch Hill were the usual Pied Wagtails and Meadow Pipits.  Looking over the harbour in the main it was Brent Geese and Wigeon, on the edges Redshank, a few Black-tailed Godwits and a single Grey Plover.  A Kestrel, flew across behind us and we watched it land in a tree by the visitor centre, then a second Kestrel appeared. 

Then one of the group asked me to look at a bird sat out on the marsh, certainly a bird of prey they said.  It was a Sparrowhawk just sitting perhaps eyeing up potential lunch.  Then another Sparrowhawk appeared making the Lapwings rise up showing just how many of them there were.  We were to see the pair of Sparrowhawks a few time before one flew off over to the houses, possibly to look for prey at the bird feeders.

Moving position we could scope further out into the harbour and we were able to add Ringed Plover and Turnstone, a pair of Shoveler, Oystercatcher and our first Snipe.  After this Snipe seemed to be everywhere we walked, obviously close to the path calling as they burst into the air, the numbers we put up could have only been a fraction of what must've been on the marsh that day.

Sunday 1 November 2015

As promised here are a couple of calls that I've recorded over the nights of 11th and 12th of October. The first is probably three Song Thrush passing over, I'm sorry about the mush of the background noise it's one of the problems with urban recording.  

On the 11th Oct, Other then the usual waders and mammal noises at least 42 Redwing and 36 Song Thrush, contacts were recorded at pretty regular intervals which indicated a fairly heavy passage overhead. Also I recorded 3 Bullfinch calls though possibly local birds one was definitely in flight. 1 Fieldfare, 2 Grey Heron, and a Moorhen possibly a local.  There was also a call I didn't recognise  but after sending it to a friend turned out to be a Knot. The recording ended at 06.26 hrs with a Greylag Goose calling from somewhere over the bay. 

Below is a sonogram of the above calls.

This next sound is of a migrating Redwing, one of the main problems with recording overnight and only being able to hear the birds contact calls, it's impossible to know how many there are. On the night 12th October which was much quieter I recorded 10 Song Thrush, 5 Redwing, 1 Blackbird, 1 Grey Heron contacts. Plus the usual waders and gull and animals you would expect living by Lytchett Bay.

 Below is a sonogram of the above recording.