About Two Owls

Sunday 31 May 2020

Semi Lockdown, Whatever That Means Post?

Hi everyone like many we are still trying to adopt a sensible easing of lockdown process and trying to keep safe as possible.  Though it does appear many have suddenly thrown their common sense out of the window and "I'm going to have a holiday even if it means I die at the end of it".

Over the last weeks since the easing I've become slightly disheartened with many groups of people who do not think that a nature reserve or a forest or open heathland should be treated with respect. Dumped rubbish, full dog poo bags, plastic bottles picnic waste just where they like for someone else to come behind them and pick it up.  Also while I'm having a rant, some people have a total disregard for signs they read them then disregard what they say and when challenged deny they read it or even saw it in the first place.  It suddenly appears that private property, closed nature reserves are ok to walk over and turn into a tip because it's not theirs.  It was thought that Lockdown would help wildlife I'm sure in some cases it has, but in many cases it hasn't because it's been a chance for those that haven't taken notice of the lockdown to go and do what every they want.

Anyway sorry for the rant but I think after searching over many hectares of burnt Wareham Forest, being glad I wasn't in the fire service any more, looking for surviving reptiles and then reading that there has been thirty other incidents all caused by camp fires and portable BBQ's and people still ignoring signs and warnings not to have them has slightly P****d me off.

Right down to more cheery things, Jackie and I have had a few outings around the harbour for various wildlife just to cheer ourselves up and reset the mind and our wellbeing.  

NocMig has now petered out so I'm finishing night recording night of 31st May for a while and start again probably late July August time.  Saying this I do have one or two recording to share with you and a little video which some of you may have seen if you follow us on Facebook or Twitter.

My first trip out was to help with the recovery of reptiles that survived the Wareham Forest fire and that recovery is still happening the next search is on Monday, it is mostly a joyless task but there are lizards and snakes which survived and now at risk from predation from corvids and buzzards as there isn't any cover for them when they emerge from their holes. It was amazing how walking over the area only 24hrs after the main burn had been put out and finding that various speccies of spider and beetle and other insects were already doing their thing.  I've also heard since that there is grass already shooting proving nature is very resilient.

Our next trip was an late afternoon to Martin Down where we failed to hear or see Turtle Dove though we know they are back but we can visit again.  We did see a few butterfly species and were treated by a Skylark singing right by us totally unperturbed by us being where we were stood.

This is the sonogram of the Skylark song.

Next I went off doing a Sand Lizard survey this being the only essential survey that will be carried out this year by RSPB for Back from the Brink.  We found a few test burrows at various location and Jackie and I have found a few on our local patch to where the Sand Lizards seem to be in better numbers this year which is a great to see. 

Jackie and I went off to Badbury Rings to search for butterflies and orchids but when we arrived from the car park was rammed and people everywhere so we didn't stop and headed off to Sherford Bridge where things were shall we say surprisingly lonely.  We did our usual walk though going clockwise for a change, which turned out very advantageous for reasons I will reveal.  We were ticking off the bird species as we went and then got distracted by a few flies and a couple of ruby-tailed wasps which I decide to see if I could get a photo of when I heard Jackie shout "SNAKE, SNAKE".  I jumped up and joined up the track and there just a few feet away was a superb adult Smooth Snake Britain rarest and it froze in the track then decided it would go back to cover. I was tempted as I'm licensed to pick it up so Jackie could get a real close view but it does stress the animal and I felt that it was best just to let it go on it's way.

Later we went out to our local heathland for Nightjar which was very successful and I managed to get a couple of reasonable recordings of churring bird and the kwick calls unfortunately not the wing clapping something for another time.
This sonogram of the Nightjar churring shows how rapid it is and how consistent it is in pitch.

They say things come in three's well if the Smooth Snake was the first the second had to be the Marsh Warbler which was found by Peter Moore near to East Walls at Wareham.  This is a species Jackie and I know pretty well from hearing and seeing in France where they are more common. We headed out on the 30th but a little late in the morning than we would have liked and spent a hour or so waiting for it to sing or show itself but it didn't.  So we went home and returned in the evening and as we walked up to the area both Jackie and I went "there it is singing" and we listened to this superb mimic singing various snatches of different bird sounds and it only showed itself very occasionally and then only briefly.  In the hour or so we were there is it mimed Blackbird, Cetti's, Blackcap, Robin, Reed Warbler Blue Tit and Wren and I'm sure there are others that I've forgotten.
Sonogram of Marsh Warbler song

Thursday 14 May 2020

Lockdown Nocturnal Migration Continues

Since the 25th of March I've recorded every night and had some success in recording some very interesting birds flying over my home next to Lytchett Bay, Poole Harbour.  Since my last blog on the subject we have had short cold spells with wind coming in from the north and a few nights of heavy wind which isn't very conducive to recording birds at night.  Putting the weather aside there were a number of night which added more species to this year's NocMig list.

Its quite odd that you can live under 200m from the nearest water of the bay yet you hardly every see waders flying over our house during the day time.  Ok you can certainly hear them so you know they are out there somewhere not too far away. Where I'm situated to the north of the bay most of the wader traffic during daylight hours moves between the fields in the west and to and from Holes Bay to the east which takes them south of my home the other side of the wood which I think kind of acts like a barrier.

Then comes migration time and I then get the waders over at night some can be very close and not that high.  Some of these species are not commonly seen in Lytchett Bay others are regular in the winter in varying numbers. My first sound is one of them, Oystercatcher, which at this time of year are at minimum numbers throughout the harbour.

The following recording are probably fine to listen to without a headset as they were all close to the recorder but you might need to adjust your volume to suit the recordings.

On the night of the 28th/29th April the wind changed and there must have been a good migration night as I added three new species for the year to my nocturnal recording list. The first was this Ringed Plover on the 28th which I had several going over during the night but this one passed by the closest. (You might need to up your volume for this one).

The follow two species both flew over in the early morning of the 29th April. The first of these was a Dunlin, a species that I have recorded a number of times since I started recording birds at night in 2012 but none have every come so close before.

The next species is one that we may see occasionally in the winter out in Lytchett bay but it certainly isn't guaranteed and I recorded at least three passing over in a couple of nights and all three were fairly close but the one you're going to hear is one that called twice or maybe it was two different individuals.  They sound a little Whimbrel like but have the 'tip tip tip' before the trill Whimbrel just trill.

The last species I'm going to share with you in this blog was a total surprise in that I hadn't expected to record them as Avocet had already left the harbour and migrated to their breeding grounds.  So where these birds had come from and where they were going is a bit of a mystery.

Hope you have enjoyed listening to the sounds and finding out about a few of the waders and nocturnal birds that pass over Lytchett Bay at night.