Wednesday, 28 February 2018

Coldest yet....

Three Golden Plovers low over the A27 were a surprise plus the more usual roadside Kestrels and Buzzards. Very blue and sunny but sub-zero with big windchill  making the hides unusable, doubly so with all the wild area covered in staff raking reeds and hence no birds other than Shelducks. The Water Rail hotspot had a big yellow digger in it which ruled that out and everyone else was sat on the wall trying to get shots of a single Lesser Redpoll. Another case of birds feeding behaviour being affected by people; a sightscreen in front of the feeders would be very welcome here.

At least two Hawfinches were calling along Mill Road before lunch; later in the afternoon it was silent in the increasing wind with just two mewing Buzzards over the castle wind-hanging joined by two Ravens close overhead.

Tuesday, 27 February 2018

Sunday, 25 February 2018

Set off in some discomfort and pretty soon decided  that the Weymouth Ross's Gull was a bird too far so decided to sit up for a while looking at/for Hawfinches and Goshawks. Unfortunately, and unexpectedly, the road was closed and in a senior moment I couldn't remember an appropriate alternative route, so re-circled the roundabout and continued on to Blashford. On the way I remembered the route via J2 and West Wellow but it was too lateby then.

Blashford was very busy on arrival with a particularly noisy group in Ivy South and for the most part was quiet on the bird front although this Goosander wolfing down a Perch was one of over fifty during the day.  The Sprawk surprised me hence the clipped wing!! Four each of Raven, Reed Bunting and Brambling was about it for the south side. The buntings were the first I've seen around the feeders this winter - maybe wild food is finally running out - this week's predicted cold weather may bring more birds to feeders generally.

A long chilly wait in an increasingly packed hide did eventually produce the R-bG thanks to good directions from JL, a Caspian Gull which I found on the west side - with bright sun not sure if this was the 3W bird or possibly a 2W. Both Black-necked Grebes were out towards Lapwing Hide and a Red Kite was off to the west. Eventually, I saw the Thayer's fly in and pitch up but before I could get people on to it all the gulls flushed - some cursing ensued!! Luckily, someone else refound it and after 10 minutes of uncertainty it finally gave itself up before swimming off behind the throng. At least a dozen Med Gulls were in the roost although I didn't find any Y-lGs.

On the bright side, no one who'd visited the Ross' earlier in the day rubbed my nose in it with frame-filling BOC shots!! Quick chat with Tracey before heading back for a late dinner.

Friday, 23 February 2018

After Monday's Bittern excitement today was a little flat although the Marsh Harriers put on a nice display as did a very smart  male Kestrel eating prey; a dozen Avocet were originally on the Frying Pan before being flushed off to south scrape. A single Raven, yet again east to west across the reserve carrying something in its beak  - not sure what its collecting!!

The Teal looked very smart in the bright, clear light and this Dunlin was in amongst about 70 Turnstones. A distant single Stonechat was the only notable passerine

Thursday, 22 February 2018

There's something you don't see everyday....thankfully

At WWT today, nice to be greeted by firstly a Sparrowhawk over the carpark, stirring up the Long-tailed Tits and secondly, Tony and Jean who I've not seen for ages. After a long chat we walked out to Woodland Loop with Terry but saw little. First of two or three Water Rails, one Peregrine in the usual spot, a couple of Snipe, a Red Kite, two Little Egrets and two Hawfinches plus a second Sparrowhawk.

A jaunt along the Mill Stream and Mill Road produced another Hawfinch, two male Bullfinches in the same place as last visit, two or three Lesser Redpolls and 50+ Common Gulls in the roadside day roost. A Water Vole was in the tennis courts access road ditch.

Nice cuppa and fruit cake on a sheltered and sunny bench at Swanbourne Lake.

Back in WWT three Firecrests and two Chiffchaffs, another Water Rail (pictured above), and 60+ Common Gulls. Chat with Geoff and Jez while failing to get a usable Firecrest picture. Whilst packing up in the restaurant the first Marsh Harrier flew in to roost; presumably followed by others.

Finally, just half a mile from home a totally naked jogger running down the pavement was a little bizarre!!

Wednesday, 21 February 2018

Birding bookends...

Chat with Alan on the way down the zigzag hoping that tarrying may produce a perched-up Hawfinch - but no luck. At Westmead slightly better views of the Temminck's today in company of a single Dunlin but still far too far for a picture. Two Peregrines, one coming within inches of snatching a Dunlin, male Marsh Harrier, one Red Kite, four Buzzards and three Kestrels plus four Egyptian Geese  and a few flushed Snipe. On the right hand tree a showy Treecreeper and finally a smart male Reed Bunting on the path heading back.
All of the above bookended by a male Siskin on arrival and a singing Woodlark on departure,

Tuesday, 20 February 2018

PHP, QECP, Broadmarsh

Some more practice with the 1.4mkiii at 'tame' Egyptian Goose and Woodpigeon. Pretty quiet birdwise, although a Treecreeper was particularly strident adjacent to the carpark and later two more were calling from the ivy clump area. Along 'insect alley' a Chiffchaff was moving around with a tit flock.

On the water just singles of Pochard and Shoveler and overhead this underexposed Buzzard went over towards town followed by a Red Kite zipping east with the wind behind it. (Two more Buzzards over the A3, one further south at Broadmarsh and a Kestrel along The Causeway).

Amongst the gulls now very few Commons and this (above) one of three Med Gulls.

At the park, zero until a heard Hawfinch from within the car whilst rolling down from Juniper carpark with the windows down; it slipped off pretty quick.

At Broadmarsh just three noisy Sandwich Terns.

Saturday, 17 February 2018

Gull tutorial

In hindsight a rather wasted morning at Blashford may have been better spent watching Gos. Chatted to Peter Davis whilst photographing this Brambling and Lotti. Later, Raven, Red Kite, Black-necked Grebe and one, possibly two, Water Pipits amongst 20+ M'ipits and ten Pied Wagtails - but still no insects tempted out by the warm and sunny conditions.

Caught up with Barry and Margaret who told me the R-bG was in the roost but I couldn't find it in the ever increasing throng; just four Med Gulls and four Y-lGs. Later, Alan Lewis gave a masterclass in locating, identifying and ageing 1W Yellow-legged Gull and 2W and 3W Caspian Gulls, the latter being the regular broken-footed bird seen here and at Tidpit on previous occasions including today. Sadly, the Thayer's hadn't come in by locking up time but was at Tidpit earlier so presumably was running late tonight.

With a late return and missed dinner a curry from the takeaway was in order - and very nice it was too!!

Friday, 16 February 2018

Flat calm..

Great sunny, winter's day with no wind and a 'millpond-calm' Solent which made finding seaduck easy; two groups of Eider totalling 45+, nine Common Scoters and a Guillemot. Later a Black-throated Diver drifted west from Salterns carpark so presumably would have been visible if I'd bothered to scan from the car!! Sadly, after that, it was a bit dull with twenty Ringed Plovers and seven Snipe on the west side of the reserve plus 40+ Pintails on the frying pan and just the male Marsh Harrier. The three Avocets were still on north scrape. Surprisingly no hovers nor early butterflies.

ca 50 godwits

a classier roost spot

Thursday, 15 February 2018


Finally the PB cherry-crushing ******* gave up hiding from me and provided a minute's worth of very distant views!! Elsewhere on the reserve 350+ godwits, three Ruffs, three Dunlins and a perched Peregrine which eventually slipped of to the west. Being typically 'late on parade' the Hen Harrier had shown to others before my arrival and then headed off the reserve.  A Red Kite, while chatting to CP and MT, was followed by a couple of Buzzards and Kestrels but precious few passerines other than 20+ M'ipits and a few Skylarks.

Earlier a brief visit to WWT was curtailed due to lots of noisy half-term groups. Just 15-20 Snipe, two Raven, a brief Kingfisher and the ridiculously confiding Goldcrest. This LOTTI was one of a group going into meltdown as a Sprawk cruised through. Talk of togs down Mill Road shooting into trees was presumably indication of Hawfinches.
EDIT MJ was one of the Hawfinch togs; if I'd known I would have parked up for a chat.

Wednesday, 14 February 2018

Tea room birding

Lunch and coffee with sis at TH in awful, wet and windy conditions. The front moved through and the tide dropped and everything became a little calmer.
Despite late arrival we had the place to ourselves for a while; very odd for a half-term day. Typical tea-room  waders; Oyk, Redshank, Dunlin, Sanderling, Turnstone and Ringed Plover plus a couple of hundred Brent coming from Brownwich to feed and about 25-30 House Sparrows near the first viewpoint.

Monday, 12 February 2018

A take on 'Hot Birding'...

A return to Hot Walls for some more pictures of Black Redstarts along with Andy and a few others. Sadly, the male was disinclined to pose in the sun; there was a rumour of two males yesterday. Two displaying Oystercatchers were chasing each other well offshore.

Too busy so no parking available at PHP  and then  lunch at QECP, also too busy with half-term 'traffic' to warrant any time here.

A brief one hour visit to Farlington produced 60+ Pintails mostly roosting on the lakeside, a dozen or so sleeping Avocets out on the mud and maybe three Bearded Tits pinging and flying across the reed tops. Above, one of three Dabchicks just under the viewpoint.

Sunday, 11 February 2018

More displaying Goshawks..

A rather large i.e. massive crop of a Peregrine on the new island from Tern Hide.
This bird went off on a hunt flushing best part of 100 Lapwings and a few duck but a heavy squall sent it back to ground quickly although, despite dire conditions( batten down the windows; big waves crashing into the east shore of Ibsley Water), it rose up and headed off maybe to find somewhere more sheltered. Pretty much nothing else bar 20+ Goosanders.

Earlier another 10 Goosanders were on or over Ivy Lake, where still 500 or so mixed wildfowl. Scanning the distance produced 6+ displaying Buzzards, a pair of Sparrowhawks doing the same and two pairs of Ravens.

Probably should have gone to Tidpit to try and catch up on Thayer's/Caspian but ended up with the thrushes at Janesmoor which mostly scattered away from the car so no photos. Lunch in the car at PW was followed by immediate views of two displaying Gos at 12:45 both adults, same size but not sure of gender. Just a couple more distant Buzzards but no Haws, hardly surprising given the eye-watering westerly.

Saturday, 10 February 2018

Quiet couple of days with just Shoveler(10), Pochard(3) and Tufted Duck(10) yesterday at PHP and just the usual ground feeding tits (no finches at all) in QE top carpark along with what seemed like every dog walker in the county!!
Rain and sleet/snow put paid to anything else.

Today usual species including one Grey Heron on its usual roost, a calling Cetti's and this drake Pochard, the first here for a while, swallowed up by all the Tufties, Mallards and gulls, all gorging on birdseed handouts.

Thursday, 8 February 2018

Black and red.. actually grey and orange

A Chiffchaff flitting around the front gardens whilst loading the car headed off back to the pond where I presume it had come from.

 After seeing DR/AR's reports of three Black Redstarts at Hot Walls, Old Portsmouth, it seemed like too good an opportunity to miss not having seen one in 2018 and easier and closer than Andy Johnson's three on Hayling. This part of Old Portsmouth always seems quiet as most of the new Hot Wall shops seem to open late. Parked up and wandered up and down with no sign until one female type was seen perched up on Spinnaker Quays and Dore's Court roofs before sallying into the trees to feed where joined by the male and the other female. Birds came and went and were always active making for difficult photo subjects with twigs in the way and a horrible bright sky background with the inevitable +1ev. May try again tomorrow morning if it stays dry. Two each of Rock Pipit, Cormorant and Blue Tit.

 Usual fare later at Titchfield with three Avocets and a Firecrest plus 32 Pintail in deteriorating weather.