Wednesday 30 November 2022

Titchfield Canal

Male Pintail Anas acuta

 Wednesday 30 December

An early morning visit to the main Honda dealer in Eastleigh this morning to have a broken mirror glass replaced meant that I could be back nearer home and down at the Titchfield Canal car park by shortly after 9.30.  Another calm and cloudy morning butat least some signs of a break even if no sun.  Basically, all very quiet and with the trees still to shed their leaves no exposed view of the Barn Owl's nesting site, so not sure whether or not the pair have been successful this year or even used the traditional nesting hole.

Looking over to the now full flooded lake a good number of both Black-headed Gulls and Wigeon along with a few Coot.  A Magpie was floating around near me and then both Carrion Crows and Wood Pigeons.  Back to the water and using the scope able to find a single Egyptian Goose along with a few Teal and Gadwall.  Meanwhile, a Buzzard was feeding on the adjacent grassy bank and, I suspect, looking for worms.

Record shot of the distant Buzzard Buteo buteo

Further on down the path I was able to take a look at the far lake where I found about 100 Canada Geese along with Wigeon, Mallard, Teal and Shoveler pus a dozen Pintail.  On the other hand, it seemed out of place to discover just a quartet of Brent Geese having seen such large flocks yesterday.  Near to the water's edge a couple of Black-tailed Godwit and then a small number of Blackbirds feeding around the edge of the path through the trees.

Pintails Anas acuta

Moving through the trees I recorded a number of Blue and Long-tailed Tits before a couple of Jay flew across in front of me.  More Carrion Crows and a small flock of Jackdaw before discovering another pair of Egyptian Geese at the very far end of the big lake.

Very distant Egyptian Geese Alopochen aegyptiaca

Making my way back to the car park I did find a Herring Gull amongst all the Black-headed Gulls and there was a resting Kestrel on the wires.  Once the scope was back in the car I took a leisurely stroll through the small spinney behind the car park.  A Cormorant flew overhead and a Robin was posing at the top of a large bush.  More Blue Tits before the "Bird of the Day."  At the back of the spinney near the (what is it?) brick building I saw a movement in the shrubbery growing over the fence and raised my bins expecting to find a Dunnock or even a Wren.  Much to my surprise I was rewarded with a Chiffchaff, a great way to end my short visit.

Birds seen:

Brent Goose, Canada Goose, Egyptian Goose, Gadwall, Wigeon, Mallard, Shoveler, Teal, Pintail, Cormorant. Buzzard, Kestrel, Coot, Black-tailed Godwit, Black-headed Gull, Herring Gull, Wood Pigeon, Robin, Blackbird, Chiffchaff, Long-tailed Tit, Blue Tit, Jay, Magpie, Jackdaw, Carrion Crow.

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 Wednesday 30 November 2022

Whilst Dave and I crossed over between Speen and the UK I even managed to miss him whist relatively close in the UK as Jenny and I took a month-long clockwise cruise round the Med.  But at least Dave, like me, is now back amongst the birds and surprised to see reference to "ice" as I thought I was now the one living in the cold and rainy place! Just like me on the south coast of Britain you seem to have found some good birds and almost completely different to me, especially as I recorded 38 local species yesterday and a further 26 this morning along Titchfield Canal which is at the back of the Titchfield Haven bird reserve near the Solent.  So, now that Dave is back in his beloved Spain we can look forward to more reports from the Arboleas Birding Group and wish them all a very successful winter season.

Sierra de Maria  -  Wednesday 30th November

Well it's good to be back in the sun after two months in the UK!

As arranged by Alan, Juda and I headed to the Sierra de Maria.  En route we only clocked a White Wagtail before we reached the cafe in Maria town.  We were joined by Alan, Trevor, Peter, Richard and slightly stressed Kevin.  He'd stayed overnight in his camper van and now had a flat battery. Obviously he needed to get that sorted, so we said our goodbyes and made our way to the chapel.  On the way up we saw Black Redstart, Chaffinch and Mistle Thrush.  We had a short wander around the car park and surrounds.  Two Blackbirds flew between trees in the fields below.  Richard thought one of them might have been a Ring Ouzel.  Also seen were Serin, Great Tit and a single Crossbill high up in a tree.  I spotted a Cirl Bunting.  A scan of the mountain ridge proved birdless.

     We then convoyed around the "loop".  Nothing of note was seen in the forest zone, but we had better luck driving through the agricultural fields.  We saw small flocks of Thekla Lark, but larger ones of Rock Sparrow.   Also seen were Carrion Crow, Magpie, Stonechat and Corn Buntings.

     We stopped just prior to the village to have a scan.  Apart from some Collared Doves, Alan found an Iberian Grey Shrike and Trevor spotted a Sardinian Warbler.  We carried on along the track seeing more Black Redstarts, Stonechats and Thekla Larks.  Juda and I missed the Dartford Warblers found by Alan and Trevor in the car behind us.  We saw more Carrion Crows.  One corvid group I checked turned out to be about half a dozen Red-billed Chough.  There were large flocks of Woodpigeon.  Juda then spotted a Sparrowhawk flying over.  Richard meanwhile in the rear car spotted a Zitting Cisticola.  A pair of Kestrel flew over.  The cliff face was devoid of birdlife, but we did flush a covey of Red-legged Partridge on the far side.  Trevor spotted a Great Tit in the shrubs.  Carrying on Juda spotted two Iberian Green Woodpeckers on an avenue of trees.  We flushed a Hoopoe and saw a small flock of Northern Starlings.  A Little Owl was briefly perched atop a traffic sign and Alan identified a Skylark.

Little Owl Athene noctua (PHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)

We were pleased to see Kevin at the hamlet with an engine running camper van.  He'd been there about 40 minutes waiting for us.  He'd seen two Little Owls plus Thekla Larks and Black Redstarts.  After a fruitless scan we headed along the plain see two more Little Owls.  Nothing new was seen at the water troughs so we headed for the La Piza forest cafe.  As we egressed our vehicles two Griffon Vultures flew over.  Unfortunately, the pool was iced up and there were no nuts in the feeders so we only added Coal Tit, Robin, Chiffchaff and Jay.  Also seen were more Chaffinches and another Crossbill.
We ended up with 37 species. Lovely sunny day but a bit chilly. Great to be back!

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Warsash Shores

Brent Goose Branta bernica

Tuesday 29 November

A dry, calm day but severely overcast, dull and cold!  Time to keep warm as I undertook a double walk along the local shores.  First, southwards along the front of the village and on down to the spit where I picked up Southampton Water and continued on down to the Meandering Pool before returning to the harbour to take the footpath access to the Hamble River so that I could make a return walk up to the conservation area.  In total a distance of just about five miles in the three hours since leaving home at 9.30 to coincide with the low tide a few minutes after 8.

Starting at the yacht club very few birds about other than a number of Black-headed Gulls but no sooner down towards the School of Navigation than scores of feeding Brent Geese to be seen along with a good number of Redshank and a few Ringed Plovers.  Just the one, initial, Curlew observed and a handful of Carrion Crows.  A small party of Feral Pigeons made their way inland along with about a score of Common Starling.  

A few of the many Brent Geese Branta bernica

Once round towards the spit more and more Brent Geese and large numbers of Dunlin along with a couple of Grey Plover

Distant Grey Plover Pluvialis squatarola

 A few more Redshank and Ring Plovers and, behind me, a steady movement of Wood Pigeons.  A single Pied Wagtail and a calling Blackbird on the inland side of the path and then the first Oystercatcher of the morning on the mud.  By the time I had passed the spit I had recorded well over a hundred Brent Geese and twice that number of Dunlin.  A single Great Black-backed and a handful of Herring Gulls gave a little relief from all the Black-headed Gulls.  Whilst there were a few Mallards about and a handful of Teal, the inland stream in front of the spit contained the usual high numbers of Wigeon along with more Black-headed Gulls.  On the sea side of the spit, numerous Dunlin, very many Oystercatchers and a lone Little Egret.

A few of the very many Dunlin Calidris alpina seen during the morning

On to the Scrape where I was delighted to find a group of nineteen Pintails along with a dozen Canada Geese and a couple of Little Grebe.  A lone Mute Swan was resting in the brook between the shore and the fields.  In addition, a single Shelduck and a quartet of Gadwall to make up the numbers.  

Male and two female Pintail Anas acuta

Very little on the Meandering Pool other than a few Teal and a pair of Shoveler and the path alongside the fence proved to be very disappointing with just the occasional Magpie.  However, on the far side a flock of approaching 200 Wood Pigeons was moving between the trees. The return walk along this path provided a half-dozen Pied Wagtails and seven Meadow Pipits in the burnt area just before I re-joined the grassy edge of the bank.  Nothing new on the Scrape but a Moorhen was feeding in the brook near the Mute Swan.

Happily feeding Meadow Pipits Anthus pratensis

Once back towards the School of Navigation still plenty of Brent Geese and Ringed Plovers to be seen along with a handful of Turnstone.  A Great Crested Grebe was in the midst of the channel and working my way back towards the harbour I was able to add both a Heron and pair of Black-tailed Godwits.  On the path itself a trio of Dunnock and almost at the end of the walk a couple of Great Tits.

Sheltering Teal Anas crecca

And so on to the River Hamble.  The tide still had a few hours to go before reaching its peak and initially just a couple of Black-tailed Godwits and a Curlew as I head up towards the ferry crossing and the fist inland pool.  Soon I had added both Turnstone and Black-headed Gulls and the first of a handful of Carrion Crows to be seen.

Black-tailed Godwits Limosa limosa

Then hundreds of Dunlin and, maybe, two score of Ringed Plover along with a single Oystercatcher and more Curlews and Redshanks. There were many Wigeon on the river near the shore and the first of a few Herring Gulls.  A Cormorant flew down stream across the meadows and then I found a feeding Great Black-backed GullRinged Plovers were feeding/resting on the grassy meadows before the tide reached the area and the small bay opposite held a fishing Little Grebe.

Great Black-backed Gull Larus marinus

Once up at the conservation area two score of resting Teal along with double that number of Wigeon.  Two Greenshank and a Little Egret made up the numbers whilst a Carrion Crow posed on a post watching all that was going on.  Just the one, lonely Heron and then back to start and return home.  Moving down the river I added both Magpie and Starlings in the gardens beyond the meadows and, again, a huge hundred plus flock of Wood Pigeons moving about along with a few more Curlew.

Carrion Crow Corvus corone

Birds seen:

Brent Goose, Canada Goose, Mute Swan, Shelduck, Gadwall, Wigeon, Mallard, Shoveler, Teal, Pintail, Little Grebe, Great Crested Grebe, Cormorant, Little Egret, Heron, Moorhen, Oystercatcher, Ringed Plover, Grey Plover, Dunlin, Black-tailed Godwit, Curlew, Redshank, Greenshank, Turnstone, Black-headed Gull, Herring Gull, Great Black-backed Gull, Rock Dove, Wood Pigeon, Meadow Pipit, Pied Wagtail, Dunnock, Robin, Blackbird, Great Tit, Magpie, Carrion Crow, Starling, 

Curlew Numenius arquata

Greenshank Tringa nebularia

Little Egret Egretta garzetta

Redshank Tringa totanus in front of Dunlin C.alpina

Wigeon Anas penelope

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Sunday 27 November 2022

New Forest Birding

 Saturday 26 November

With the forecast suggesting dry and cloudy for the morning I decided to visit my three regular sites in the New Forest but, on this occasion, leaving Fishlake Meadow till last on the way home in case I had already found all the expected birds at this site.  That was, indeed, to be the outcome so first to Eyeworth Pond near Fritham followed by Blashford Lakes just outside Ringwood.

Female Goosander Mergus merganser
Goosanders Mergus merganser with the male on right

Arriving at Eyeworth just after 8.30 I had already recorded Starling, Wood Pigeon and Carrion Crow as I approached the water.  Then, driving along the waterside track to park the I followed the pair of Goosander that were making their way to the far end.   Only just in time to get a shot of the drake as it disappeared behind the reeds but the "Redhead" was more obliging delaying her departure for a few more minutes.  All around over thirty Mallards looking forward to visitors to throw food and at the water's edge in front of me numerous Blue Tits along with a smaller number of Great and a couple of Marsh Tits.  Just the one Nuthatch noted but plenty of Chaffinches along with occasional House Sparrow, Dunnock and Robin.  Lots of Blackbirds about this morning.  In the distance a calling Pheasant and then a pair of Moorhen climbed out of the water to forage in front of me.  Time to drive across the open forest to Fordingbridge and on down to Blashford lakes finding a small flock of Jackdaws as I left and then a couple of Magpies.

Marsh Tit Parus palustris
Blue Tit Parus caeruleus
Dunnock Prunella modularis

Arriving at Blashford Lakes straight to the Tern Hide overlooking Ibsley Water.  All seemed relatively quiet at this end of the water albeit hundreds of Coot but not a single wader or small bird.  A few Pochard were feeding relatively close by and once checking the water I found a ready supply of Tufted Duck.  It took the scope to find the very distant pair of Goldeneye and a lone Great Crested Grebe.

Male Tufted Duck Aythya fuligula

Once concentrating on the far end I found a large flock of Canada and maybe a score of Greylag Geese.  Whereas usually I find scores of Egyptian Geese on this occasion just a handful.  Behind the islands which held many resting Cormorant a few Mute Swans and plenty of Wigeon and Shoveler along with more Coots and Tufted Ducks.  

Mainly Canada Geese Branta canadensis (left) and Cormorants Phalacrocorax carbo

Also present a couple of Herring and a large number of resting Lesser Black-backed Gulls.  Finally, just as I was about to move across to the main section of the reserve a Great White Egret flew across the water to my right.

Passing Great White Egret Egretta alba

Once parked in the main car park I headed over to the Ivy North Hide but no sign of the recently arrived Bittern.  A handful of Long-tailed Tits were feeding n the neighbouring trees and the first Carrion Crow drifted over the trees in front of me. Very little on the water save a few Mallard and the occasional passing Black-headed Gull so off through the woods, noting both Blackbird and Blue Tit, to the Woodland Hide.  Again, most disappointing with very few birds about albeit no shortage of either Blue or Great Tit.  A number of feeding Chaffinches and a couple of Dunnock plus a Robin just about summed it up.

Walking down to the Ivy South Hide a quartet of Mallard on the small pool to my right and a Marsh Harrier drifted southwards above me.  Once at the hide evidence of the very many Wigeon along with more Tufted Duck and a few Cormorants.  More Black-headed Gulls to be seen and at the far end a trio of Little Egrets accompanying another Great White Egret.

Tufted Duck Aythya fuligula

Time to make my way back plus revisiting the three previous hides. The Woodand Hide produced a Marsh Tit feeding on the approach feeder and a third Great White Egret was resting opposite the Ivy North Hide.  More Wood Pigeons moving about as I made my way back to the car for a final look at the Tern Hide.  Nothing to add but informed if I had remained in this hide a further thirty minutes, I would have seen the White-tailed Eagle that flew across the water putting up every bird in sight!  Such is birding.

Distant Great White Egret Egretta alba

Birds seen:

Greylag Goose, Brent Goose, Canada Goose, Mute Swan, Egyptian Goose, Gadwall, Wigeon, Mallard, Shoveler, Pochard, Teal, Tufted Duck, Goldeneye, Goosander, Pheasant, Great Crested Grebe, Cormorant, Little Egret, Great White Egret, Heron, Marsh Harrier, Moorhen, Coot, Black-headed Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Herring Gull, Wood Pigeon, Dunnock, Robin, Blackbird, Long-tailed Tit, Marsh Tit, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Nuthatch, Magpie, Jackdaw, Carrion Crow, Starling, House Sparrow, Chaffinch.

Blue Tit Parus caeruleus

Female House Sparrow Passer domesticus with Blue Tit above and female Chaffinch Fringilla coelebs below

Moorhen Galinula chloropus

Tufted Duck Aythya fuligula

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Redshank Tringa totanus

 Friday 25 November

First day back home after our 32 day clockwise cruise around the Mediterranean Sea with the last stop at Gibraltar last Sunday morning followed by three days of storm and tempest as we made our way north along the Iberian coast then across the Bay of Biscay and finally up the English Channel and round the corner to take the Thames up to our docking at Tilbury in London.  Today had the promise of sun and clear blue skies but the wrong time for low tide so the morning was pent walking Workmans Lane down to the shore, then a couple of hundred metres along the clifftop path before turning inland and back to Workmans Lane.  A quick stop to check nothing was missed on the horse fields before finally returning to my parked car at the top of the lane.  But, being a glutton for punishment, I then ventured out to walk up the Hamble River mid-afternoon on a fast emptying tide - and what a potential mistake that was, but more of that later.

Blackbird Turdus torquatua

Starting the walk with a Blackbird foraging at the side of the road and a Kestrel arriving to perch immediately in front of me in an almost bare tree, I slowly commenced my journey and could already hear, then see, the many feeding Carrion Crows. Wood Pigeons passing overhead and then amongst the Crows a 15 strong flock of feeding Oystercatchers along with a single Pied WagtailMagpies were seen on both sides of the road and in the field to my right, resting near a flooded dip in the land, seventeen Black-tailed Godwits.  These waders were then joined by a lone Stock Dove which only remained a few minutes or less.  Meantime, overhead, a small flock of departing Starlings.

Oystercatchers Haematopus ostralegus with single Pied Wagtail Motacilla alba and Carrion Crows Corvus corone

At the end of the lane the ornamental pool held a quartet of Mallard and looking out to Southampton Water as I walked along the cliff top a couple of Great Black-backed and a single Herring Gull.  Six Brent Geese were flying down water towards the isle of Wight. To my right a female Stonechat alighted on a small bush.  Working my way back up to Workmans Lane  I came across a very obliging Song Thrush then a pair of Meadow Pipits plus another Pied Wagtail. Also present in the area a handful of Chaffinches.

Song Thrush Turdus philomelos

A short walk along the muddy track into the horse fields produced many more Carrion Crow and at least a dozen Pied Wagtails. Lovely to also find a small number of feeding Rooks.  Smaller birds included a Dunnock and Wren plus a pair of Linnet.  Finally, walking back up the lane I next recorded a Great Tit and above me a number of Jackdaws moving from the distant trees to the field on my left.  A total of 26 species for my morning walk.

Meadow Pipit Anthus pratensis
Female Stonechat Saxicola torquatus

The double tide we have in Southampton ate is most strange.  Get your timing right and you can swim for hours but the reverse is the case when you want a low tide.  High tide just after lunch and low tide les then three, rather than about six, hours later.  I left the house at 3.30 and should have been gone at least thirty minutes earlier.  Just before 4 o'clock the sun was setting and the light disappearing - which also meant a rapid drop in temperature.  Easy to say very little about but, in the end, I was pleased to record seventeen species starting, unusually, with a handful of Starling and a single Black-tailed Godwit as I approached the river at the start of the walk up the conservation area and back.

Curlews Numenius arquata

With water absolutely gushing out of the meadow pools It made sense that no birds were to be found sheltering in these bays.  But along the shore a few Redshank, a handful of Curlew and upwards of 50 or more Dunlin.  A special treat to also find a couple of Grey Plover, all now appearing almost golden in colour as sun dipped below the horizon.

Grey Plover Pluvialis squatarola
Most of the Dunlin Calidris alpina flock feeding at low tide

No shortage of Brent Geese as I made my way upstream and then the flocks of (many) Wigeon and a smaller number of Teal.  A couple of dozen of Black-headed Gulls spread out along the walk.  A single Cormorant flew downstream over the meadows and then, on the no longer flooded path over the meadow, a lovely Greenshank.

Greenshank Tringa nebularia

Once at the conservation area time to check out the many Wigeon and a few Redshank including the sudden arrival and departure of a Kingfisher.  No Little Egrets today but I did finally find the lone Heron resting in the grasses at the back.  In a dead tree at the back a "lump" in the tree looked very suspicious but required me enlarging the record shot to confirm a Buzzard.  The return walk home produced another Carrion Crow and a Blackbird.

Record shot of the resting Buzzard Buteo buteo

Birds seen during the day:

Brent Goose, Mallard, Wigeon, Teal, Cormorant, Heron, Buzzard, Kestrel, Oystercatcher, Grey Plover, Dunlin, Curlew, Black-tailed Godwit, Redshank, Greenshank, Black-headed Gull, Herring Gull, Great Black-backed Gull, Stock Dove, Wood Pigeon, Kingfisher, Meadow Pipit, Pied Wagtail, Wren, Dunnock, Robin, Stonechat, Blackbird, Song Thrush, Great Tit, Magpie, Jackdaw, Rook, Carrion Crow, Starling, Chaffinch, Linnet.

Brent Geese Branta bernicla at rest and on the move as the sun goes down

Male Teal Anas crecca

Wigeon Anas penelope

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