About Two Owls

Tuesday 7 March 2023

February 2023 Roundup

January finished with a credible 114 species on our list though a handful of these were not local or in the county but according to my BirdTrack summary I entered 602 records and completed 34 lists from 36 location.  With highlight of three American rarities at Ham Wall it wasn't a bad start to the year's birding, but would February be as good?

We began February with a visit to Acres Down in the New Forest joined by friends. It was cold and overcast and it wasn't a great morning for birding but we persisted with very little gain although we managed to add Stock Dove and bird of the morning was two super Firecrest.  In the afternoon Jackie and I went on to Hurst Spit to try for the Shorelark unfortunately as we were walking out towards where the bird was being viewed a dog walker walked along the shoreline and flushed it out into the marsh and we missed it, though I doubt it will be our last dip of the year.  So overall not a memorable day.

pair Stock Dove - New Forest 

We were back on the 10km patch on the 5th Feb and spent a couple of hours around Middlebere adding Dartford Warbler to our list. Next day it was birding on the Lytchett patch whilst doing a little volunteering at the same time.  My little bit of litter picking and trimming back of gorse and brambles overhanging the footpath was to be rewarded with sightings of Red Kite and White-tailed Eagle. The same night, just as I was off to bed, the Tawny Owl called from the wood across the road  which made a nice end to the day.

On the 14th we managed to add Barn Owl to the 10km patch, which is a very good bird as there aren't many pairs that can be found in the harbour area now.  Our next outing was with friends to Radipole Lake RSPB adding our first Cetti's Warbler and for me only Bearded Tit fortunately I just happened to be looking in the right place when two flew across a gap in the reed bed calling and disappeared straight away.

Drake Pochard photographed at Radipole Lake  Nick Hull

We added Yellow-legged Gull at Longham Lakes on the 21st and had what must be our largest flock of Pochard we have seen in a few years of 118 mostly males.  It's odd that this species has declined as a wintering visitor to East Dorset once Little Sea and Poole Park would see large numbers in winter but sadly not the case anymore. Looking back over the years Poole Harbour counts would be around 350 wintering birds annually.  The most recent report states the peak counts in Dorset were 500 on the Fleet & Wey combined, 60 for Longham and 21 for Silverlake.
The Poole Harbour record for Pochard was in February 1963 when 2,801 were counted in Poole Harbour as a whole.

On the 22nd just after having a late lunch we received a message from Shaun Robson to inform us that there was two Common Crane soaring over Lytchett Minster so we quickly grabbed our bins and we were off heading towards the the Upton Flyover when we received a second message to say they were drifting towards Lytchett Fields.  So we headed to the bottom of Slough Lane and quickly jumped out of the car and started scanning the sky over the fields.  I quickly picked them up as they drifted towards the south and disappeared out of sight.

On the 24th I was up early and out to Holton Lee on a Woodlark Survey unfortunately it was a little cold for ideal conditions but none-the-less we walked the heathland areas but no Woodlark were found or heard but there is still time. The only consolation was I heard Green Woodpecker which is getting harder to find around the Lytchett Bay area these days.  

After getting home and joining Jackie for breakfast we headed off to Studland to see if we could find the reported Velvet Scoter out in the bay but another dip but we did see the 'Studland Three' Ring-necked Parakeets noisily flying around near the Pig by the Beach Hotel.

Rose-ringed Parakeet (The Studland Three) 

We ended the month back at Acres Down with our two Godsons who have recently gotten into birding.  They particularly wanted Lesser Spotted Woodpecker and Hawfinch.  We tried for the lesser spot first but only had it drumming distantly but we had brief views of two Crossbill flying over.  Moving up to the raptor view point it soon became obvious it wasn't the weather for birds of prey. In fact there wasn't a buzzard to be seen let alone anything else. We went to over towards the east and here we had some luck 4 Hawfinch flew in and perched up on the top a Silver Birch and I managed to get one of them in the scope and had good views.  As we started back to the cars I caught sight of a flock of approx 25 birds flying in and as they crossed our path I realised they were also Hawfinch but they didn't stop.

We had lunch at Eyeworth Pond in the hope of seeing Mandarin but couldn't find them but had good views of Marsh Tit which were year ticks for us and lifers for Nat and Frank, so a good end to the mornings birding.

Blue Tit and Marsh Tit - Eyeworth Pond © Nick Hull

So by the end of February we stand at 127 species from 1004 records having visited  51 location. So we added 13 species to our year list in February.

What will March bring first Sand Martin, Osprey, Wheatear and towards the end on the month Tree Pipit and perhaps an early Redstart.