About Two Owls

Tuesday 28 November 2023

October / November back Birding Dorset

After travelling back from Yorkshire on the 23rd October we made a stop to break our journey at Wyke Down in the hope the Pallid Harrier was perhaps still around.  Unfortunately it wasn't but as the light faded we were lucky enough to see a  Short-eared Owl before we left for home.

Short-eared Owl - Wyke Down © Nick Hull

I think I was lucky as it passed by very close to get a resonable shot in the light condition.

Our next opportunity to get out came on the 31st when Jackie and I popped over to Longham Lakes for a short walk around the north lake.  The only bird of real interest was a single Black-necked Grebe which came close enough to be papped and I also managed a shot of an Egyptian Goose banking to come into land over the meadows.

Black-necked Grebe - Longham Lakes © Nick Hull

Egyptian Goose - Longham Water Meadow © Nick Hull

After Longham Jackie wanted to pick up some more bird feed so we headed for Arne had a bight to eat in the cafe and on our way home went via Holmebridge to see what was on the meadows.  Amongst the Little Egret was a single Cattle Egret, Lapwing and Black-tailed Godwit and a few Curlew were present but little else so we made our way home.

Black-headed Gull, Little Egret & Cattle Egret © Nick Hull

On the 3rd November Jackie and I had a little lay-in and we were just thinking of getting breakfast when I get a call from Shaun Robson saying "I've just caught a Great Grey Shrike in the net come to the Whimbrel Field as quickly as you can, and could you put the news out".  So we did as instructed and a few minutes later was in the Whimbrel Field where we were soon joined by a few other local birders.  Once Shaun and Ian had processed the shrike they brought it over for us to see and take a few quick photographs before he released it.  When it flew up into a nearby oak trees before it just disappeared.  A few days later it reappeared in Wareham Forest and seems to be settled in the area now, perhaps for the winter.  Before we left he also caught a Water Pipit which we were also allowed to see close up in the hand before it to was released with a colour-ring to identify it without the need of catching it again.

1st/Winter Great Grey Shrike - Lytchett Fields RSPB © Nick Hull

Water Pipit - Lytchett Field's RSPB © Nick Hull

On the 5th November Jackie and I thought we would visit Studland South Beach and have a look along the Ballard track in the hope we might find a Yellow-browed or even a Pallas's Warbler. We had just parked up and got the parking ticket when my phone pinged and the message read 'Spotted Sandpiper by the house boats in Bramble Bush Bay'.  So it was a quick about turn and head down the road towards the ferry.  We stopped by the houseboat track and there was no one present.  Then I noticed a couple of birders in the corner of the bay, so we had to retrace our steps and headed to the Jerry's Point path.  As we were about to walk out on to the beach we were beckoned to walk to our right and as we were doing so a bird flew up from our left passed us and landed with some Dunlin behind the group of birders. I realised by it's call that it was the Spotted Sandpiper so we quickly joined the the others and watched the bird for quite some time feeding on around the shoreline around 30m away.

Spotted Sandpiper on right with Dunlin of left- Studland © Nick Hull

Spotted Sandpiper & Redshank - Studalnd © Nick Hull

This was the first record for Poole Harbour of this American wader and the 9th for the County the last being at the Langton Herring 2019.

Otherwise the rest of the mouth we birded locally and managed to pickup a couple of patch ticks with a Great Northern Diver in Lytchett Bay on the 8th November along with a Common Scoter both of which are still visiting the bay.

Great Northern Diver - Lytchett Bay  © Nick Hull

Common Scoter Archive photograph
We ended the month with a visit to Lodmoor in an attempt to see the American Golden Plover, unfortunately the plover flock had been disturbed just before we had arrived and were all up in the air.  We waited nearly three hours before they settled again and we scrutinised them all without any luck of finding the bird in question.  But I did manage a few shots of the very nice European Golden Plover which there were many (700).

Golden Plover losing height Lodmoor © Nick Hull

Golden Plover coming into Land © Nick Hull

Golden Plover landing © Nick Hull

Golden Plover - Lodmoor © Nick Hull

There is approx 650 Golden Plover in this shot above, there is a few more which landed on the west scrape and a few out of shot so at least 700 Golden Plover were present on the reserve. And yet we didn't fine the American Golden Plover but it was there again the next morning. Hopefully we will next another chance to go a have another look for it next week as long as the cold weather doesn't move the flock on.  We did as a consolation have good views of a couple of Bearded Tit which evaded the camera and a distant view of a Bittern flying over the reed bed and a Great White Egret was seen briefly.

So a pretty good month on the whole with three Lytchett Bay patch ticks a Poole Harbour tick which bring us to 207 species for the year with still a month to go.