About Two Owls

Wednesday 21 September 2016

Boom! Lesser Yellowlegs at Lytchett Patch

On Sunday 18th September it started much like usual, the weather was overcast and we were meeting our group at 09:30 to lead them around our home patch of Lytchett Fields.  We had just assembled and about to start our walk down to the Lytchett Fields, when a car pulls up and its our friends Paul and Shaun, they announce Ian has just found a Lesser Yellowlegs but it's disappeared.  They left to park their car and we walked down the lane towards the pool field, then up the lane by the Arable Field then over the style across the Purple Heron Field.  We checked off many of the commoner species on the way, and a few migrants like Chiffchaff and Blackcap.

As we approach the Sherford Pools there were a number of birders checking through the waders or watching the actual bird.  I quickly set up the scope and Ian pointed me in the right direction to save time, after all this was a Poole Harbour tick as well as a patch first as I missed the last on Brownsea Island in December 2014.  There was no way you would miss it, it was the only active bird walking around and feeding amongst the Teal and Redshank at the back of the pools.  This small American wader that breeds in Canada through to Alaska and winter along the southern states and South America was stunning.  A little smaller than Redshank looking a little more like a very clean Wood Sandpiper with yellow legs. 

Sorry about the bad digi shot but the distant and heat haze was pretty awful it was much better in the scope which says a lot for my photographic skills.  It's easy when you have a rarity not to look at what else is around.  The high tide was flushing birds off the bay onto the pools, there was good numbers of Redshank, Black-tailed Godwits, a scattering of Dunlin and Snipe, lots of Teal, a Moorhen plus a single Water Rail found by Joe.  Looking over French's Pools there was more of the same and a large flock of gulls mainly Black-headed and a good number of Pied Wagtails with the odd White Wagtail mixed in.  Meadow Pipits, Linnets and Goldfinch were all moving around.   After another view of the Lesser Legs we headed off to Sandy Lane heath, a remnant square of heath between the houses and the bay.  It was here we fell in with Shaun again who was ringing and he allow us to watch him ringing a few birds in the hand.  Our first was a Cetti's Warbler, definitely the best and closest views any of the group have had of this super little warbler.   Our next in hand treat was a Meadow Pipit and our last a Chiffchaff, this brought our walk to an end, but what a excellent morning's birding.

Cetti's Warbler Lytchett Bay © Nick Hull

Thursday 15 September 2016

Blashford/Poole Harbour birding

On Saturday, 10th September, we had the pleasure of taking out Mark and Tish from the United States on a birding day.  It was meant to be around Poole Harbour but the morning turned so wet we had to think again. 

After picking them up from their hotel in Poole we popped into Baiter Park, on the field were gathered good numbers of Oystercatchers, Black-headed Gulls with a few Herring Gulls and Pied Wagtails.  Along the shoreline were a few Turnstones, difficult to spot at first blending in so well with the shoreline seaweed and rocks.  Moving on to Shore Road where there was plenty of disturbance from the kite surfers we did manage to find Curlew and four Sandwich Terns.

Now the rain was too heavy so a quick change of plan and we headed inland to Blashford Lakes and  started with viewing across Ibsley Water from the Tern Hide in the dry.  Before we even got into the hide there were lots of hirundines swooping over the car park and then hundreds of them over the water, with Swallows, House Martins and Sand Martins, a wonderful sight.   Wildfowl on the water included Great Crested and Little Grebes, Tufted, Shoveler, Pochard, Mallard ducks, and of course Coots and Cormorants.  On the islands a few Lapwings and eventually a Common Sandpiper came into view and on the far bank a small flock of Egyptian Geese. Moving over the road and sheltering under the lee of the Education Centre we watched the feeders, with Nuthatch, Coal, Blue and Great Tits and under the feeders as you would expect Chaffinch, Dunnock and Blackbird.  Due to the weather there was not much in song except for Wren and Robins.  Finishing our visit to the reserve with a quick look over Ivy Lake adding Gadwall and a single Pochard.

Nearly lunchtime and we need to return to Poole Harbour, we decided to travel across country via Ibsley where a Buzzard sat on top of a pole by the roadside and a Grey Heron flew across the meadow.  We arrived at Arne perfectly timed for lunch, the new cafe is a "must" visit and highly recommended.  Thankfully the rain had now stopped and the sky was brightening perfectly timed to get back out birding.  Our first sighting of note though was not avian, I spotted it feeding on the flowers by the shop, a beautiful Hummingbird Hawk Moth which quite enthralled Mark and Tish.
Corfe Castle
On the track over Coombe Heath a few Meadow Pipits bounced over the heather and a Grayling butterfly flew up from the path and a Migrant Hawker dragonfly was patrolling along the gorse.  Looking out towards Middlebere we could see Little Egrets, Greenshank, Redshank and many Black-tailed Godwits and heard the "squealing" of a Water Rail.   The Osprey platform was forlornly empty but looking round I found the Osprey sat in the more regular dead tree.  Through the scope we had superb views, we were now drawing a small crowd wanting to see the Osprey and it was a pleasure to help them.  Tish spotted a slightly different wader in with the Dunlin, a Curlew Sandpiper and a nice addition to our list.  Nick found a group of 10 Knot and a Spotted Redshank before a a Sparrowhawk cruised across causing the usual movement of waders which had a quick fly around.

Driving by Hartland Moor a bird flew up and onto to some short heath, I was certain it was a Woodlark.  Stopping the car and looking across we eventually found three together, also a flock of Linnets nearby.  At Norden sewerage works we found a small family party of Grey Wagtails, a few Chiffchaffs were flitting through the Holme Oaks, one even starting singing briefly.  A Pheasant called and Rook and Jackdaws flew over.  Our species list for the day was now 63 and we weren't finished yet.  We drove around to Soldier Road, here we added Kestrel from the car and once parked we could hear Raven "cronking" Nick found it atop a silver birch as they walk up the hill to view over the Wareham Channel and Arne Moors.  I stayed by the car hoping to find a Dartford Warbler of a Stonechat. After a short while with us all back together finally a few Stonechats started to appear and we finished our day watching a small flock Long-tailed Tits.

Our final tally for our day was 69 species, which considering the weather seemed a very good tally, some great birds for Mark and Tish and it was such a pleasure to take them out.

Monday 5 September 2016

Birding Seaton Wetlands, Devon

Though Jackie and I have visited Black Hole Marsh and Seaton on several occasions we have never brought a group so we thought it was about time to change that.  So this morning, Sunday 4th September, we found ourselves meeting in the car park behind Colyford Road cemetery.  While we waited for everyone to arrive we checked a few commoner species off like Robin and Goldfinch.  Then Jackie found a Kestrel perched and Mick picked out a falcon soaring over the marsh, which then turned into two a couple of hunting Peregrines and shortly after we had Buzzard, three birds of prey in short succession, not bad.

Once we were all gathered and introductions completed we headed off to look over Black Hole Marsh, we had to decide which hide to go to first and decided on the Island Hide as the tide was in.  Looking through the screen before walking down the boardwalk to the hide we had our first Common Sandpiper and a superb Ruff.  From the hide we had a good selection of waders with Ringed Plover, Common Sandpipers, Oystercatcher, Lapwings and a small roost of Dunlin.  Jess picked out a Little Stint among the roosting birds, a very smart juvenile.

Dunlin and Little Stint Black Hole Marsh © Nick Hull
Justin picked up a Kingfisher zooming by as they do and we picked out a couple of Curlew and a small flock of Black-tailed Godwits with a few Redshanks.  Two of the godwits were coloured ringed, I recognised one of them as being an Axe rung bird as it has Orange Red Orange on its right leg but the other we could only see the colours on the left, so I took a digi-scope shot to record the sighting and we headed off towards Colyford Common.  The hedgerows were fairly quiet with the usual resident birds and a few calling Chiffchaffs.  By the Discovery Centre we had Swallows with a small number of House Martins swooping round us, one almost flew into Jackie!  A single Sedge Warbler gave brief views in the reeds and Linnets were in the bushes behind the Sand Martin wall.

CR Black-tailed Godwits Black Hole Marsh © Nick Hull
Out on Colyford Common and on the meadows were Little Egrets, Grey Heron and a few Mallard. From the hide we added Pheasant on the distant fields, on the marsh a single Stock Dove and more Curlew and Redshank.  Apart from a Green Sandpiper taking flight with a start our fourth bird of prey, a Sparrowhawk, went cruising through so fast not a single other bird on the marsh twitched.  We also checked off the usual gull species.  At the far end of the Common we found the local Axe Ringing Group and were shown a immature Swallow in the hand and how we could tell it from an adult at this time of year. 

After Lunch we visited Seaton Marsh starting with looking around Borrow Pit where we added a family of Mute Swans, closer views of Little Grebe, a small flock of Long-tailed Tits and several Moorhen.  Walking out to the Seaton Marsh Hide on route we had a Wheatear, from the hide we added little until as we walked back to our car we heard a Yellow Wagtail call but we just couldn't find it amongst the cattle as the grass was too long.

Our group throughly enjoyed Seaton Wetlands and I don't think it will be long before they return, if you have not visited it is highly recommended.