About Two Owls

Sunday 8 May 2022

Back on the 10km challenge

April I think is the month when you know you're going to get the migrants coming through in pretty good numbers and its a case of catching up with them, particularly those that do not breed locally.  We were also still missing a few seabird species, so on the 3rd we headed up to Durlston to see if we could put that right plus there was the added bonus of seeing a few orchids.  It was a very nice sunny day and we were accompanied by our daughter and granddaughter. Out to sea was quiet though the cliffs were busy with the odd pair of Fulmar and the auks resting on the water and crowding the nesting ledge all were new for the 10km list.
Northern Fulmar - Durlston CP © Nick Hull

Razorbill & Guillemot on the sea Durlston CP © Nick Hull

On the 5th we had a a walk with friends at Arne and added Osprey and a couple of Swallow. As we were leaving we had news that Ian Ballam had found a Green-winged Teal on the fields from the Sherford VP.  We rushed back to the patch and when we arrived the bird promptly went out of view but a little while later it reappeared a little further away, but we had good scope views and it couldn't be mistaken for anything else. We also added Wheatear and White Wagtail to the patch list both seen in the Arable Field.

Video grab of the Lytchett Fields Green-winged Teal © Nick Hull

On the 14th Jackie and I had our morning walk at Middlebere and when we got to the NT hide looking over the Middlebere channel there was very little viewable and the tide was out but with a small group of Grey Plover was a lonesome Knot a species which we had been missing since the beginning of the year.

On the 15th April Jackie and I helped out on one of the Birds of Poole Harbour bird boats which went from Poole Quay to Ridge up the Wareham Channel. It was a very nice and sunny warm morning though a little fresh at the start. It didn't take long for us to pick up our first Sandwich Terns which more or less followed the boat all the way to the mouth of the Frome.  Though the trip was a good one with lots of birds which included two Osprey. Marsh Harrier, Sparrowhawk, Buzzard, it didn't add very much to our personal list.

The next day in the afternoon a few of the Poole birders had a small gathering to catch-up on lost time over the last couple of years and it was good to see everyone and find out what everyone had been seeing and finding out how the Osprey project was doing etc. It also turned out to be fairly productive as we added Sand and House Martin and Sparrowhawk to our 10km list.  We also received news that a Blue-headed Wagtail had been found at Sunnyside Farm by Jol, so after our catchup a few of us headed for Sunnyside to see if we could find the wagtail.  When Jackie and I arrived Ian and Trevor were already searching without any luck though there were a few things to see Gadwall, Mallard, Lapwing and a Wheatear, also Pied Wagtail.  We also picked up a Tree Pipit which had flown in to drink at the pools. 

We were all just thinking that the wagtail had moved on and we were thinking of going when all of us heard the high pitched 'tslee' as a Yellow Wagtail flew over us and landed in with the cattle in the next field.  We all got on to it quickly and yes it was the Blue-headed Wagtail, this is a colour form of Yellow Wagtail which is mainly found in Central Europe, and it gave stunning views.

Blue-headed Wagtail _ Sunnyside Farm © Nick Hull

A cracking looking bird to finish the day on.

On the 17th as it was Easter Sunday we had a family picnic and walk at Arne including our three grandchildren, it was fairly quiet but they enjoyed see the Black-tailed Godwits from the new Lookout hide, also a Red Kite circling over Coombe Heath.  On the way home we drove via Soldiers Road and stopped where we usually hear Willow Warbler on Slepe Heath.  As soon as we stopped we both could hear one singing and a little further on we had four Egyptian Geese grazing on the campsite field.

On the 19th we were back at Durlston mainly to see if the orchids were in flower as our last trip they were only leafed spikes.  After leaving the car park we soon had our first Whitethroat singing and displaying and eventually we probably had at least eleven on our walk.  When we arrived at the area for the orchids we found large number in flower all looking fresh and pristine. The Early Spider Orchid in very good numbers and the Early Purple were scattered in little groups around the down.

Common Whitethroat - Durlston © Nick Hull

Early Purple Orchid © Nick Hull

Early Spider Orchid - Durlston © Nick Hull

On our walk back to the car we went via the Cowslip field which looked wonderful.

Cowslip Field Durlston © Nick Hull

On the 24th we had a walk over to Morden Bog where we heard our first Cuckoo of the year but unfortunately unseen and displaying Tree Pipits.  A Peregrine flew over and a few Swallows passed through and we had at least four Dartford Warblers. 

At the end of the month I did my heathland bird survey at Holton Lee and added Whimbrel, Reed and a Garden Warbler and we had a quick trip to Sandbanks and saw our first Common Tern for the year passing through the harbour mouth. This brought the month's species count to 103 with 22 species being added to the 10km checklist which now stand at 141 species with many more still to get.