About Two Owls

Tuesday 12 January 2021

December Update & Lockdown 100 - 2021

Well Jackie and I managed to get 104 species by the end of the month keeping up are challenge, though it was a little more difficult as we had Christmas to contend with.

Our highlight for the month wasn't anything really rare but still very nice to see Cattle Egret on our home patch first noticed by Shaun flying to roost in Holes Bay, they would fly over Lytchett Bay in the last hour of daylight with accompanying Little Egret.  It was at the end of the month when we had to put a little extra effort in to get to the 100 when we had a surprise male Hen Harrier on the 26th near Bere Regis; Short-eared and Barn Owl on the 27th in the Cranborne Chase; male Merlin at Arne on the 30th and our last species of the year was Bearded Tit on the evening of the 31st, not a bad species to end with at all.

Male Bearded Tit

New Years Eve began with firework everywhere and next morning we walked out to the bay to start our 2021 list and it was hard to find any wildfowl at all. All obviously vacated the bay to go to a quieter part of the harbour once the screeching and bangs started. We gave it a couple of hours and then walked back home for a hot drink and a warm up and then we headed off to see if we could add a few more species to our year list.  

We checked out a few game crops that we had been told about which attracted Linnet, Yellowhammer, Reed Bunting, Chaffinch and Brambling.  The first location produced lots of Linnet and Chaffinch but we also added Nuthatch, Treecreeper and Marsh Tit the latter was a real surprise.  Our next location was two fields that had sunflowers that had not been harvested and a large number of finches, Reed Bunting were amazing with Yellowhammer in smaller numbers I managed to see one maybe two Brambling but unfortunately Jackie couldn't get on to them quick enough before they disappeared into the sunflower crop.  Though Jackie did pick out a Merlin which zoomed off south carrying prey. We spent possibly two hours trying to get Jackie a view of a Brambling without success so we will go back on a sunnier day and try again. 

We eventually moved on and headed for the Lower Frome, on the way got lucky crossing the River Piddle when a redhead Goosander took flight and headed up stream.  At the Frome meadows we drew a blank as there was a shooting party out on the fields.  So we continued on and went around Hartland Moor but added little to our list and we decided as the weather seemed to be closing in we would call it a day and head home.   

A quick count we found that we had seen 62 species not the best we have done but ok there are plenty more species out there and we hopefully will get to a 100 or close to it in the next 7 days.

With the prospect of a New Year Lockdown we took a day's break catching up on things at home then we headed off to Studland and Jerry's Point for a early morning watch of the eastern harbour.  We didn't score a large number of species but we had quality, and several were all new for the year list starting with 2 Slavonian Grebe, 2 Scaup, 2 Goldeneye and 2 Common Scoter and 1 possibly 2 Long-tailed Duck distant off Furzey Island.  We also added a few waders with Turnstone, Dunlin and Bar-tailed godwit but after an hour or so it appeared to be getting busy with lots of people coming off the ferry so we decided to head home.  We took a long way home taking in the Lower Frome Valley, Lane End where we got lucky when Jackie picked up a male Hen Harrier an excellent bit of luck to end the mornings birding.

Treecreeper Quarr Hill © Nick Hull

The Lockdown happened and we were back to birding on our exercise walks on patch so with our 2021 list now standing at 83 species we knew we wouldn't get to a 100 within the first week but thought we might manage it within ten days. Checking what we might get knowing our patch species there was enough that we hadn't seen.  I'm writing this on the 12th January and we have managed to see and add  Great Spotted and Green Woodpecker, Goldcrest, Stonechat, Moorhen, Greenshank, Jay, Shoveler, Water Rail, Little Grebe, Black-tailed Godwit,  Water Rail, Rock Pipit, we also added Greylag Goose, Turnstone, at Baiter Park when in town food shopping.  The best were c60 Barnacle Geese which we had on the 10th whilst on our exercise walk around the bay and fortunately I phoned Shaun, who lives close by the bay as well, and he managed to make a recording of them as the circled over his house a couple of times before doing a few circuits of the bay before disappearing towards the south and the central harbour, not to be seen or heard of again.

Skein of Baracle Geese

Recording of the Barnacle Geese © Shaun Robson