About Two Owls

Sunday 17 January 2016

Upton Country Park

Waking this morning and finding a grey wet morning I have to say didn't inspire me that it would be a good day for our walk at Upton Park and the northern shore of Holes Bay, but now that I've returned after the walk I can say how wrong those thoughts were.
Jay planting an acorn © Nick Hull
We started from the car park by the main gate walking the cycle path to the north west shore and we started with the common woodland birds Robin, Wren, Great, Blue and Coal Tits.  We also had a som tantalising views of a few thrushes which I was sure were Redwing flying out the back of the tree-line.  As we exited the trees the first birds seen were a pair of Bullfinch, then three Jay were busy planting acorns so still expecting winter to come, eventually we had five of each. In the alder a few metres away from the bullies a small flock of Siskin worked their way through the hanging seed heads and a couple of Goldcrest entertained us.  On the field were Mistle and Song Thrush and a scattering of Redwing.
male Siskin © Nick Hull

Stood by the stone bench viewing the north western bay which was packed with waterfowl with good numbers of Teal and Wigeon and lesser numbers of Gadwall, Pintail, Shelduck, Redshank, Avocet, Oystercatcher and Black-tailed Godwit.  There were a pair of distant Mute Swan, and three Little Grebe under the bridge.  
Gadwall - Holes Bay © Nick Hull
Walking the path to the north east part of the bay we had a a very large feeding flock of Canada Geese  some two hundred were grazing in the field.  As we arrived to look over the northeast section the tide was just started to turn and it enabled us to scan much of the wildfowl at fairly close range.  Here we had a repeat of many of the species already seen but in greater numbers.  We scanned all the Wigeon and Teal to see if there was an american equivalent amongst them but no such luck and no Smew.  Checking the PC World drain we added a couple of distant Chiffchaff, Moorhen and Sarah picked up a single Grey Wagtail.  Along the edge of the railway embankment we had Grey heron and several Little Egret and two Goldeneye were spotted under the bridge.  It was just as we were taking our last look around at the last of the birds, the tide was almost in and they were flying off to the high tide roosts.  We had a blue streak of a Kingfisher fly by that Liz then spotted the redhead Smew paddling between the gaps of the railway bridge and we all had a brief view before it was hidden from sight again, a very suitable bird to finish on.
Little Egret NE Holes Bay © Nick Hull

Saturday 9 January 2016

Poole Harbour

Partial sum/plumage Mediterranean Gull with adult & 2nd/winter at Shell Bay © Nick Hull
Started at South Haven this morning looking out over the bay the usual Shags and Cormorants were quickly seen.  We were early enough to be in place before too many people were out walking the coastal path and there was a good number of Brent, Oystercatcher with the odd Grey Plover and 23 Sanderling on the beach.  Close to the shore a Great Northern Diver surfaced and gave great scope views. A little further out a small grebe was found by Tony, was first thought to be a Slavonian but once good views were had the high crown and slightly upturned bill and rounded bum confirmed it was a Black-necked Grebe.  Another Great Northern Diver off Pilot's Point and there was a good scattering of Mediterranean Gull all along the beach.  Viewing the groins in front of the Haven Hotel and we managed to see Rock Pipits and a small group of birds roosting on one of the groins.  Zooming up the scope it was easy to pick up the Ringed Plovers and as we scanned over the rocks nearby Purple Sandpiper and Dunlin came into view a nice spot though a little distant. 

As we moved to look over the inner harbour one of the group called Linnet but when I got on to it I could see the black face it was Lesser Redpoll which was looking stunning on such a grey day.  

Looking towards Brownsea Quay in the hope that yesterday's Black Guillemot was still in the area,  unfortunately no Guille but from our viewpoint we had 4 more Great Northern Diver,  a scattering of Red-breasted Mergansers, the odd Great Crested Grebe and another Black-necked Grebe.  Looking from the House Boats we didn't add very much except, whilst I was checking out the fourth GND, a small falcon flew through my scope heading low from Brownsea towards Brand's Bay our first BOP and a Merlin at that, great start.  

We moved to the Brand's Bay hide but with the tide being very high the birds were few but we did have good numbers of Common Gull, Shelduck, Wigeon and Curlew, fewer numbers of Redshank, Pintail and a single Yellow-legged Gull.  Then it was off up the road to look over Middle & South Beach, where we added Common Scoter which Tony found out in the middle of the bay, our second BOP with Common Buzzard and a few common woodland species.  We broke for lunch at the NT car park at Corfe Castle and watch the bird feeders.  Here we added Great, Blue, Long-tailed, Coal and our target Marsh Tit.  A slight bonus for a few was one of the visiting Coal Tits had a slaty grey backed resembling P. after - Continental Coal Tit. We also added Great Spotted Woodpecker which popped in just before we left. 
female Great Spotted Woodpecker Corfe Castle © Nick Hull
At the sewage works we did really well for a quick stop, Goldcrest was our first followed quickly by a flock of thirty or so Siskin.  Then a speeding grey flash darted across from right to left and all the Pied Wagtails, some thirty odd birds, scattered in all directions the cause was a Sparrowhawk, a very nippy male which headed off without any prey to harass other birds somewhere else. But before we left Jess picked up a Firecrest which gave brief views and then Jackie found a female Grey Wagtail.   It was at this point the weather began to look really threatening and we headed for Slepe Heath to see if we could add any more bird of prey to our growing list, but by the time we reach our viewpoint the rain was thundering down and very unpleasant and any BOP in its right mind would be in a sheltered spot sitting the weather out, so we called it a day.

Thursday 7 January 2016

Birding Normandy Marshes, Lymington

It was good to be back out with our first group meeting of 2016 yesterday, 6 January.  Our first Wednesday group met at Normandy Marshes, with a bit of sunshine and hardly a breath of wind it was ideal.   

The morning started nicely with a Kingfisher, sat out on a branch below a Little Egret in the same tree, and a Sparrowhawk over 8 acre pond, also Tufted Duck, Redshank, Mallard and Little Grebe.  Looking along the edge of the field we had at least six Bullfinches, two Song Thrush, Greenfinch and Blackbirds.   Our first Stonechat sat up on the gorse and a few Meadow Pipits in the rough grass.  I heard a Greenshank call and watched two fly out to the smallest piece of ground showing in Oxey Lake.  A female Red-breasted Merganser and Great Crested Grebe were seen further out.

Robin © Nick Hull
With our first look over Normandy Lagoon we had Wigeon, Teal, Lapwing, Pintail, Shelduck and a single Avocet and a superb Spotted Redshank.  Brent Geese were flying in large number to and fro the field and lagoon and unlike the noisy Canada Geese give a softer and more soothing call.  Moving down and looking over Oxey Lake again we had two Slavonian Grebe and a little later another Slav flew in.  Jess pointed out a Common Seal by the salt marsh spit and then called our attention to some Eider duck sat out on the marsh which included a beautiful adult drake.  Also on the spit was a Spoonbill being quite active feeding on the marsh, plus Grey Plover and a single Bar-tailed Godwit. 

Back to the Lagoon where we had a good number of Dunlin and Ringed Plover, a female Goldeneye was diving along with Little Grebes.  A single Oystercatcher flew noisily in, then to add to the list was Snipe and Shoveler.  A Reed Bunting briefly showed, we had Stonechat again, then a little flock of Long-tailed Tits and with them was a Goldcrest and Chiffchaff.  We also had three sighting of Dartford Warbler though it may have been just two individual. 

On the walk back to the cars along Normandy Lane one of the fields held a large flock of Curlews, also a Roe Deer.  A Green Woodpecker called and some of the group saw another Sparrowhawk and a Buzzard.  

Our new programme for Spring and Summer is now on our website www.twoowlsbirding.co.uk why not join us on one of our walks.

Saturday 2 January 2016

New Year Day's Birding round Poole Harbour

1st January 2016
Our day started with looking over Lytchett Bay from footpath no. 12, with Song Thrush and Robins singing and House Sparrows chirping we walked down the path.  We could hear Curlew calling and a Pheasant and of course the very noisy Jays, plus the usual woodland birds were seen including Coal Tit.

As we came out to the bay there was enough mud exposed for Oystercatchers, Redshank, Curlew and a Greenshank, the latter flew off immediately.  Wigeon were close in though many drifted slowly round the point.  I picked up 8 Shoveler on the far side, not common in the bay, a single male Goldeneye nearby.  We heard there were 3 Spoonbills on the Turlin side so we walked on to the salt marsh for a look, disturbing a Water Pipit and several Rock Pipits but they soon settled again and we did see the Spoonies.
Guillemot off Brownsea Lagoon © Nick Hull
It was time to get down to Poole Quay for the Poole Harbour birdboat and catch up with fellow birders, a great social occasion as well as getting plenty of good birds.  Soon we were finding Great Northern Divers, 10 were seen in total during the 2 hour trip.   On Brownsea Lagoon where we had the usual Avocets, 3 Spoonbill, Grey Plover, Black-tailed and Bar-tailed Godwits, Dunlin and a few Knot.  More unusual were 3 Pintail, along with Gadwall, Wigeon, Teal and Shoveler.  A Kingfisher sat on a post by the cottages and on the cottage feeder was a Red Squirrel and just off the quay was a Guillemot.  Around the rest of the harbour were the usual Black-necked and Great Crested Grebe, Brent Geese, Goldeneye and Red-breasted Mergansers.  It had started to rain fairly heavily and it was downstairs in the dry for soup and cake and a good natter.

In the afternoon we drove round to Middle Beach car park to look over Studland Bay.  Another Great Northern Diver offshore and a Red-necked Grebe, of course the usual Black-necked and Great Crested Grebes were scattered around.  A few Mediterranean Gulls and a Common Gull flew by but the show was then stolen by a Firecrest.  It called which drew our attention to this diminutive beautiful bird right under our noses in the brambles.  We watched him for quite a while working all the brambles, quite delightful.
Great Northern Diver Poole Harbour © Nick Hull
Moving on to Norden sewerage works we had Chiffchaff, Goldcrest, Chaffinch and our first raptor of the day with a Common Buzzard.  A quick stop at  Middlebere and Liz picked up a very distant Marsh Harrier, raptor no. 2.  Then on to Soldiers Road and a look across the heath towards Corfe Castle as dusk fell, a Kestrel hovered but then a ring-tailed Hen Harrier came across, raptor no. 4 and saving the best till last.