About Two Owls

Sunday 5 December 2021

Back to Patch and Good Birds

I'm starting this monthly blog at the end of October from when we returned from our holiday in Yorkshire.  We arrived back and the Lytchett Patch still held the Pectoral Sandpiper which was found on the fields on the 12th October and we managed to catch up with it on the 20th with distant views as it was at the back of the Sherford Pools Field, a little too far away to get a photograph. So our purple patch was still running and then on the 23rd a call from fellow patch watcher Shaun Robson to say there was a Hoopoe in the allotments off Slough Lane.  So it was into the car and up the road, a few minutes later we were watching a Hoopoe feeding along the allotment drive with no concern for us.

Hoopoe Upton © Nick Hull

It stayed till the end of the month and was seen by many visitors.

October hadn't stopped giving as on the 23rd a Common Rosefinch turned up on Portland but then wasn't seen again and presumed to have left but on the 28th it or another appeared so Jackie and I headed off to Portland Bill.  When we arrived in the lane next to the Obs there was maybe six people waiting for the bird to reappear.  We patiently joined the others and waited, it didn't take too long before the bird flew in. and perched in an elder and was partially obscured by a branch but I took a few shots as you don't know if you will get a better chance.  As it happened I needn't of worried as it crossed the lane and perched on top of a bramble right in the open and took a few more shots before it moved again this time even closer giving amazing views.

Common Rosefinch Portland Bill © Nick Hull

After watching the Rosefinch for quite sometime we went and looked over the strips and managed to add the ringtail Hen Harrier which was quartering the fields near the old upper lighthouse, which was great to see as it was a catchup species we missed in the early part of the year because of lockdown.

We then had a wander over to the Obs Quarry and to our amazement the Little Owl was sat in its usual slot in the rocks, I was able to get a few shots of this this super small owl.  In fact it must be one of the most photographed birds in the county but again another year tick under the belt and brought Octobers birding to a very suitable end.

Little Owl Portland Bill © Nick Hull
The first eight days of November was fairly normal with us just seeing the birds that we would expect to see at the various location we visited. On the 9th we went off to Studland as two Snow Bunting had been found on Redhorn Quay and they aren't that common in Dorset.  When we arrived we walked across the heath checking off a few Meadow Pipit and a Dartford or two, but as we approached the quay we moved very carefully and watched for movement.  I managed to find one in the grass area feeding on the various seeds and as I moved around to get a clearer shot with the camera I noticed movement on the beach and there was the second bird, which eventually moved and joined the other on the strand-line.

Snow Bunting Redhorn Quay © Nick Hull

Our next trip was more of a local twitch as a message came that there was a Red-necked Grebe near the harbour mouth so Jackie and I headed for the Haven car park at Sandbanks.  Shortly after arriving and scanning around the harbour mouth I picked it up out in the middle of the harbour towards Goathorn. We managed good scope views of the bird but it was some way off but none-the-less a good year tick.

It was back to Weymouth for our next trip out for the Little Auk in Weymouth Harbour which had been seen on and off for a few days but was very elusive at times.  We arrived and parked near the harbour a short walk to the RNLI boat mooring where the bird had last been seen, but we were told that it had dived ten minutes before and disappeared.  When I was parking up the van I had caught movement in the corner of my eye of a bird diving underwater but when we started to walk towards the RNLI all we could see was a Cormorant, but what I saw was just a small plop not the ripples of a Cormorant but I kind of passed it off.  We watched for a while with the others and Brett arrived and we chatted for a bit and caught up on what birding we had been doing etc as we waited.  I then mentioned to him about what I saw and he answered well it might have been the auk as it likes that area, Brett and I walked back towards the town bridge scanning the water for movement.  We had walked perhaps a hundred metres or so when scanning towards the boats moored, by where I had parked, I saw a small black and white blob in the water.  Viewing through my bins there it was I quickly walked back and whistled to Jackie and the others that I had found it and rejoined Brett by the boat where the Little Auk was just having a preen.  It put on a great show only a few metres away it was definitely the closest views I have ever had of this super small auk species.

Little Auk Weymouth Harbour © Nick Hull

After having our fill of the Little Auk Jackie and I popped up to Portland Bill in the hope of catching up with Purple Sandpiper which we managed but just a single bird on the rock near the Obelisk with a couple of Oystercatcher.  After which we went off and treated ourselves to a fish and chip lunch before heading home.

On the 21st we met friends for a walk in Bolderwood in the New Forest, we saw lots of Redwing and had a flyover Hawfinch otherwise it was fairly quiet.  On our way home we called into Eyeworth Pond to see if we could find Mardarin but they didn't seem to be at home at least not while we were there.  We did though have a consolation with a drake Goosander which seemed to be oblivious of any people and just busied itself with feeding.

Drake Goosander - Eyeworth Pond New Forest © Nick Hull

Our next trip out was down into West Dorset to visit friends we hadn't seen since before the first Lockdown visiting Seaton Wetlands and Lyme Regis.  We started with a walk along the Lim in search of Dipper and we were successful finding two birds which gave us good views and on our return walk we saw a Kingfisher before heading off to Seaton which turned out to be very quiet.

Dipper River Lim © Nick Hull

At the end of the month Jackie and I decided to have another look around Studland as there had been Velvet Scoter out in the bay which is always nice to get on the harbour year list.   As we arrived in the middle beach car park we heard the squawking of Ring-necked Parakeets and there flying towards us were four birds being typically noisy and they perched up in one of the trees in the car park.  Amazingly we have looked for these birds a number of times, well, almost every time we have visited Studland and couldn't find them, then today they found us.

Ring-necked Parakeet Studland © Nick Hull

After viewing the parakeets we set up the scope and scanned the bay and almost right away found a group of four Velvet Scoter along with fourteen Common Scoter a few hundred metres off shore.  We then moved down to look over Bramble Bush Bay hoping for Sanderling and we weren't disappointed with 15 on the shoreline.  As we looked over the bay and shoreline we had a good variety of waders flying in including 30 Ringed Plover, 45 Dunlin, a single Greenshank and 2 Grey Plover and a good number of Brent Geese.

We crossed on the ferry to go home via Shore Road, Sandbanks with the tide being perfect for the Bar-tailed Godwit to be feeding and we had a count of 66 and 86 oystercatcher with a few Turnstone and Mediterranean Gulls.  A great end to our birding in November.