Monday, 10 May 2021

April 2021 "Month of Surprises"


Well April started a little windy but continued dry with generally warm days and cold nights with an occasional frosty morning with the wind coming in from the North-Northeast which isn't the best for migration and it was slow going around the harbour but we met our challenge and recorded 105 species for April with a few highlight.

Our first noteable species was on the 6th April when Jackie and I met four friends for a walk around Stanpit Marsh at Christchurch to see if we could find the long staying Glossy Ibis which we failed to find. Nonetheless we had a good morning and it's always nice to catchup with friends now after the lockdown easing.

I took a more scenic route home which took us via Cranborne where we came across a Red Kite as we exited the village, a very nice year tick being we had missed a couple of sightings over the bay at home.
Red Kite © Nick Hull
Our next visit was to Portland Bill on the 11th we hoped we might find the Ring Ouzels at Barleycrate's but had no luck, but the visit wasn't a waste of time because we were short of a few coastal birds and added Guillemot, Razorbill, Gannet and Shag to the year list and it made a nice change to see some different scenery.

We visited Swineham on the 13th this was a warbler hunt and we started as we left home with a Lytchett Bay Willow Warbler and managed to see our first Reed Warbler and only heard Sedge Warbler at Swineham. Two days later we were up early to carry out the second visit of our Woodlark survey. This proved to be a couple or so hours walking an area of heathland and seeing everything other than Woodlark.  We even had views of an Osprey and heard Lesser Spotted Woodpecker which was totally unexpected surprise.

Longham Lakes is always worth a visit particularly when a Garganey has turned up so on the 20th Jackie and I drove to Longham with the hope of catching up with a drake that had turned up a couple of days previous.  Though we walked around the whole of the South lake we never found the Garganey.  But whilst walking along the bottom end of the lake I picked up a Sand Martin crossing the path in front of us and called it to Jackie who looked up and said "What are those bird up there they look like Storks" I looked saw a few gulls then higher and Jackie repeated "they're definitely White Storks", indeed there were five White Storks in a thermal and they slowly moved over us towards the West and later were see still moving west near Dorchester and the next day were on fields near Exmouth in Devon.
Unfortunately by the time I thought about taking a photograph of the birds they were to far away so the shot below is of some I took in Spain on migration a few years ago.

White Stork - Spain © Nick Hull

We also saw our first Common Whitethroat of the year here so not a bad morning after all, but the month wasn't over yet though we had to wait a few more days.

We had a trip out of county on the 27th meeting friends and doing a little birding at Blashford Lakes our old local patch.  I took my recording equipment as I hoped that there would be Garden Warblers on territory or at least singing well as Blashford is a great place for this species.  In fact it is good for Blackcap as well so a good site to go and get your ear into listening for the two species. I managed to get a nice recording and I had a catch-up on Jackie with seeing and hearing Firecrest in the holly along one of the paths. All in all it was another successful trip but we were getting close to the end of the month and wanted to do better that March with our final count and only a few days to go.  So next day we went for a walk at Middlebere which turned out to be very quiet but we added two Lesser Whitethroat to our list.

As we were walking back to the van we had news that a drake Garganey had been found and in of all places Poole Park on the small lake in front of the restaurant, so off we went and it turned out to be a very easy twitch.  We just parked the van hopped out found it took a few shots back in the van and home for lunch perfect.

Drake Gargarney - Poole Park © Nick Hull

The next day and a half was a period of catching up with things at home mainly jobs around the garden but we had reports of a couple of Nightingale that had been heard singing in the harbour area.  So we thought we would try some after dinner birding with the recording equipment and see if we could hear at least one of them.  We did locate one and I managed to get a little recording of it singing unfortunately there is a little vehicle noise in the background but hopefully that will not distract too much.

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