Monday 30 January 2023

Westward Travel to Weston Super Mare

Monday 30 January

Off from home just after 8 to drive westwards to Weston Super Mare in Somerset for four nights.  In theory it is to attend a dance theme stay at Pontins but at the silly price of £75 for four nights full board why waste the opportunity to try and discover some Somerset birding sites; both for this week and possible future visits.  Again, why take the motorway when good sites to visit on the way and birds to find before the end of the month.

First stop Fishlake Meadows for a quick walk through the site, approximately three kms.  One species needed to male it a century for the month so the real possibilities would be Cetti's Warbler, Fieldfare, Pheasant and Red Kite.  However, no luck at the first stop albeit a lovely Buzzard and no less than three Wrens along with both Greylag and Canada Geese, Mute Swan, Pochard and Teal.

Buzzard Buteo buteo

One hour's driving by another to take me to Langford Nature Reserve west of Salisbury on the A36.  Most surprised to see the amount of flooding still in evidence, not just the meadows but many minor roads through beautiful old fashion villages.  A number of birders present but limited birds apart from the scores of Canada Geese.  A couple of Chaffinches then the usual Blue and Great Tits, Robin and Wren before finding both Tufted Duck and Gadwall.

Female Tufted Duck Aythya fuligula

Sitting in the hide and looking at the resting Cormorants in the tops of the trees on the opposite bank I was delighted to see a Red Kite drift over the hill behind the birds. Most of the corvids recorded here including Magpie, Jackdaw, Rook and Carrion Crow and then, as I made my way back to the car, not just the calling but the very brief sighting of a single Cetti's Warbler. So, two of the potential target birds seen and things were to get even better five minutes after leaving the site.  No sooner back on the A36 and driving westwards when, not a Pheasant but a lone Grey Partridge, pit in an appearance on the left as it casually strolled along the verge.  Now that was most unexpected.

Another hour's driving brought me to Chew Valley and its very large lake.  The first stop at Herring Bridge bought numerous Mute Swans and Mallards along with Black-headed Gulls and a Moorhen.  No shortage of Tufted Ducks and on the far side of the water I was in time to see the (true) pair of Goosander swim in front of the reed bed before disappearing out of sight.

Distant record shot of Goosander pair Mergus merganser

Moving round in a clockwise direction I next stopped at the bottom of Stratford Lane and the small spinney here produced both Blue and Great Tit along with a Tree-creeper.  But even more impressive were the two Cetti's Warblers going about their business and quite undeterred by my presence. Continuing on to the causeway over the water at Herons Green Bay I stopped to find even more Mute Swans and Mallards resting below me.  Out on the water more Tufted Duck along with Pochard and a few Pintails.  Also present a couple of pairs of Great Crested Grebes.

Birds seen:

Greylag Goose, Canada Goose, Mute Swan, Gadwall, Mallard, Teal, Pintail, Pochard, Goosander, Grey Partridge, Great Crested Grebe, Cormorant, Red Kite, Buzzard, Moorhen, Coot, Lapwing, Black-headed Gull, Herring Gull, Woodpigeon, Wren, Dunnock, Robin, Blackbird, Cetti's Warbler, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Tree-creeper, Magpie, Jackdaw, Rook, Carrion Crow, Starling, Chaffinch.

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Sunday 29 January 2023

Farlington marsh & Hayling Island

Mediterranean Gull Larus melanocephalus

 Sunday 29 January

The intention was to join the HOS meeting at Farlington Marshes but having arrived over thirty minutes early I decided to start off on the anti-clockwise circuit before catching cold and whilst there were also less people about.  If it was not for the hundreds of Brent (mainly) and Canada Geese then, especially with the tide almost fully out, there were relatively few birds about.  Dry, calm and overcast with a distinct chill in the air as I set off having already recorded both Magpie and Buzzard as I approached the reserve.  Very quickly a handful of Woodpigeons were observed and walking to the sea wall both a Blue Tit and five Greenfinches.  Once on the sea wall a few Carrion Crows, the first of very many Moorhen and a couple of Teal.  Continuing on I soon found a pair of Mallard along with a Coot and off on the mudflats  the first Curlew of the morning.

The pool to my left held not only Brent Geese but scores of resting Pintail and then dozens of Lapwing on the opposite side of the water. It was whilst I was counting the Shelduck that I saw the passing, the hovering Kestrel, and two more were to be seen ere my visit ended.  Naturally, always a few Black-headed Gulls to be seen but no Herring Gulls until I reached the far side of the peninsular.

Male Kestrel Falco tinnunculus

Continuing o I came across another flock of Canada Geese and this group also included the long-staying Barnacle Goose.  Whilst checking the group a Stonechat arrive to perch on a small twig below me on the opposite side on the dyke. A few more Mallards and the first of many Wigeon were next recorded. Once on the far side near the small pools I found more lapwing, Wigeon and Pintails along with the Shoveler contingent whilst on the shore a Redshank and Turnstone plus over a hundred foraging Dunlin.  On the running water a trio of Great Crested Grebes and more Oystercatchers and Shelduck. A Little Egret was feeding on the far bank.

Male Pintail Anas acuta

So on to the always closed Visitors Centre passing more Canada and Brent Geese and once arrived a pair of Mute Swans were observed on the water in front.  A Robin was singing and posing in the tree next to the building and also found in the area were Great Tit, Starling and Blackbird.

Having finished earlier than anticipated I drove on over to Hayling Island to check the entrance to the oyster beds behind the Esso petrol station.  A walk along the shore revealed more Brent Geese along with a number of Carrion Crows and Oystercatchers.  A single Little Egret was feeding near the sea bank and in front of me a couple of Rock Pipits were disturbed by a dog running loose along the shore and under no control from its accompanying owners.  Moving on to the main pool I found a trio of Black-heeded and single Herring, Great Black-backed and Mediterranean Gulls.  At the back of the water three Little Grebes were observed.  Looking out into the main channel I was fortunate to be able to locate the presently resident trio of Red-breasted Mergansers, a female and two males.

Great black-backed Gull Larus marinus

Finally, a drive down to the end of the island and along the shore road to the ferry terminal produced Woodpigeons, Starlings and House Sparrows in addition to the many Black-headed Gulls on the water itself.

Male and female Pintail Anas acuta with male Teal Anas crecca in background

Birds seen:

Canada Goose, Barnacle Goose, Brent Goose, Mute Swan, Shelduck, Wigeon, Mallard, Shoveler, Teal, Pintail, Red-breasted Merganser, Little Grebe, Great Crested Grebe, Little Egret, Marsh Harrier, Buzzard, Kestrel, Moorhen, Coot, Oystercatcher, Lapwing, Dunlin, Curlew, Redshank, Turnstone, Mediterranean Gull, Black-headed Gull, Great Black-backed Gull, Herring Gull, Woodpigeon, Rock Pipit, Robin, Stonechat, Blackbird, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Magpie, Carrion Crow, Starling, House Sparrow, Greenfinch.

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Friday 27 January 2023

Eyeworth and Blashord Lakes

Robin Erithacus rubecula

Friday 27 January

A little on the overcast side as, with friend Richard Osman, we set off for the New Forest.  No rain, very still and signs that the sun would break through once we had started birding.  With Richard new to our birding world I hope for a range of ducks with target bird for Eyeworth being the "flashy" Mandarin Duck and the hope that we would find Goldeneye along with Brambling and Siskin at Blashford. Well, I suppose 1 out of three is better than none out of three!

The big surprise at Eyeworth was nevermind no Mandarin, there was not even one of the usual score or more Mallard on site as a result of the water still being frozen solid; now that was certainly not expected, the temperature having risen in these past two or three days. However, with distant Carrion Crows and Woodpigeons resting in the tops of the bae trees opposite we did manage to find the usual crop of small birds.  Lovely, for a change, to see so many House Sparrows and a handful of Blackbirds rather than the usual one or less.  Lots of Blue and Great Tits plus a single Marsh Tit accompanied by a good number of Chaffinches before the lone Nuthatch arrived on site.  Similarly, no shortage of either Robin or Dunnock along with a couple of Pied Wagtail and a skating Moorhen.

Nuthatch Sitta europaea

So on to Blashford Lakes picking up both Magpie and Rook as we approached the last turn off the main road onto the site entrance.  Immediately it was evident that numbers on Ibsley Water seemed to be down on last week's visit albeit still many Coots to be seen.  Much fewer Tufted Duck on the open water but well over a hundred Pintail which was certainly the dominant species of the morning.  Still lots of Wigeon and a good number of Shoveler along with many Gadwall and a handful of Pochard.  Just the eight Canada Geese and neither Mute Swan nor Egyptian Goose.  Yes, plenty of Herring and a couple of Lesser Black-backed Gulls along with a dozen Cormorant but much searching to find the pair of Goosander.

Female Tufted Duck Aythya fuligula

Noting both Carrion Crow and Jackdaw as we moved across the road to the main reserve to discover that the preferred path from the entrance car park was closed due to the remaining ice.  Reaching Ivy North Hide we found the northern end still ice bound upon which rested scores of both Wigeon and Teal.  On the open water more of the same, but fewer in number, along with a few Herring Gulls, Cormorant and Gadwall. A Great White Egret flew past the pair of Mute Swans immediately in front of the hide and well-spotted by Richard.   On the far side a lone Green Sandpiper was foraging along the water's edge.

Male Gadwall Anas strepera

Moving off through the trees to the Woodland Hide we quickly encountered both Blackbird and Blue Tit and once inside the hide the immediate appearance of a Nuthatch.  Very many Blue and Great Tits but just the one, male, Siskin.  The usual supply of Chaffinches, Robins and Dunnocks but many more Blackbirds than usually seen here.  However, always good to see the arrival of those lovely little Long-tailed Tits.

Male Siskin Carduelis spinus

Finally, off down to the Ivy South Hide where the duck population was mainly the very large flock of Wigeon and much closer to the hide itself.  Also a good number of both Shoveler and Teal and then more Gadwall.  Just the one Great Crested Grebe observed and only a handful of Black-headed but a few more Herring Gulls.  Just before our departure a Heron flew over the reeds to our left and we also found a single male Pochard.  Meanwhile, on the trees to our left, resting Cormorants with more looking for resting places on the floating platforms.

Wigeon Anas penelope

Making our way back to the car we stopped to look at the Kingfisher well concealed in the branches of a low bush on the opposite side of the pool to our left and, calling in for a final look from the Woodland Hide, discovered a couple of foraging Redwing working their way through the ground leaves.  Even a ting Bank Vole had come out to see what all the activity was about as it made short, darted runs to where it might find food.

Spot the Kingfisher Alcedo atthis

No sooner had we left the main site than we found a large flock of passing Rooks and a couple more Magpies. Then, out of the New Forest and passing the flooded River Test, a Buzzard crossed the motorway and there were a few Starlings resting on the wires too our right, so giving a final total of 42 species of the morning.

Dunnock Prunella modularis

Birds seen:

Canada Goose, Mute Swan, Wigeon, Gadwall, Shoveler, Teal, Pintail, Pochard, Tufted Duck, Goosander, Great Crested Grebe, Cormorant, Great White Egret, Heron, Buzzard, Moorhen, Coot, Green Sandpiper, Black-headed Gull, Lesser black-backed Gull, Herring Gull, Woodpigeon, Kingfisher, Pied Wagtail, Dunnock, Robin, Blackbird, Redwing, Long-tailed Tit, Marsh Tit, Coal Tit, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Nuthatch, Magpie, Jackdaw, Rook, Carrion Crow, Starling, House Sparrow, Chaffinch, Siskin.

Female Blackbird Turdus merula

Long-tailed Tit 

This Robin Erithacus rubecula is checking all is OK above!

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Caba de Gata with the Arboleas Birding Group

 Wednesday 25 January

So, the Arboleas Birding Group meets again at one of my favourite Almeria sites and get to meet the severe cold weather; just like being back in Britain!  Not many birds in terms of quantity but quality certainly provided by the Stone Curlews and Golden Plover.  Indeed, many back here in the UK would have been delighted to add both Kentish Plover and White-headed Duck to the their day's listing.  It seems, if not too careful, we take so much for granted in our birding. Like you and your group Dave, you just have to enjoy what you see.

Cabo de Gata & Rambla Morales: Wednesday 25th January

Boy, was it cold this morning!  I had to scrape the ice off the truck and detach the windscreen wipers that were frozen on to the glass!  I only just made it in time to pick Peter up from the Overa hotel before heading south towards Cabo de Gata.  There was snow on Mojacar's Cabrera mountains as well as the mountains to the north of Almeria city, which we could see when we egressed the truck by the first hide.

Snow on the mountains behind Almeria city (PHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)

As Kevin had reported last week, the water has returned but unfortunately the avian masses had not received the news!  I scanned the shallow salina in front of us and all I could see on the vast expanse was a single Shelduck and a Yellow-legged Gull.  There was a Kentish Plover on the muddy beach to our right.  We were joined by Trevor and Kevin.  In the far distance I could see a small flock of Greater Flamingos.  We'd get a better view of them from the second hide.  The first of numerous Stonechats was spotted alternating between shrub perching and chasing insects along the ground.  A flight of Mallard flew over.  A chattering female Sardinian Warbler eventually showed herself below us.  Kevin had already seen Northern Starling and White Wagtail near to the Guardia Civil tower plus some Jackdaws. The latter were still flying around there as we passed by after our warming cup of coffee in Cabo village.

We parked up opposite the second hide and did a scan over the sea.  Not a chorizo!  We walked towards the hide, seeing more Stonechats. We were closer to the Greater Flamingos. They were all adults in a tight group.  I estimated there were about 60, which is 59 more than had been present last week when Kevin was here.  The only other birds on or around the water were numerous Yellow-legged Gulls.  I scanned the savannah to the left and was pleased to spot two sunbathing Stone Curlews.  They were joined by another pair.  As we were walking back to the vehicles I spotted a hovering Kestrel to our right.  Also seen was a Thekla Lark.

Sunbathing Stone Curlews Burhinus oedicnemus (PHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)

We drove to the public hide, checking the savannah for wintering Dotterels as we went along, but to no avail.  We only added some four Cormorants visible from the hide.  On the far side we saw more Mallard and Shelduck.  The salina to the right was still not full of water.

We then drove along the track to the church only seeing the odd Stonechat.  As we made our way back along the beach straight a wader flew across the road in front of us.  A Grey Plover showing off its black wing pits.  Kevin who was following behind Trevor and I spotted 5 Eurasian Curlews on the savannah.

We drove along the beach side track towards the Rambla Morales.  I spotted movement on the ground to our right.  It was a mixed flock of feeding birds.  There were 5 Golden Plovers,  Northern Starlings and some Skylarks.  One Kentish Plover was amongst them.  Kevin was first out of his vehicle at the Morales "car park".  He spotted a Coot by the "estuary".  I found a single Audouin's Gull.  We headed for the hump.  From there we added Little Egret, a Shoveler and a female White-headed Duck.  We made our way back to the vehicles, said our goodbyes and headed home.  I stopped by the Golden Plovers to get a record shot.  En route to the motorway we added two Iberian Grey Shrikes, one on a power line, the other in the plastic greenhouse area going along the short cut.

Golden Plover Pluvialis apricaria (PHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)

We ended up with 25 species.  Not yet up to Cabo's usual amount but the numbers are progressively getting better after the enforced "drought"!  A lovely morning's birding albeit somewhat chilly.  Good to be out and about with friends.

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Tuesday 24 January 2023

Meon Shore, Hill Head

 Tuesday 24 January

Eider Ducks Somateria mollissima with a lone Great Black-backed Gull Larus marinus

After all the recent frost and bitterly cold weather this morning was frost free but still cold and requiring a number of layers as, although no wind, the temperature felt like at least 1C and with a "murky" look the light was somewhat poor after the recent bright days.  Arriving on the cliff top overlooking the Solent at Hill Head just after 9.30 I was greeted by both Robin and Blackbird, quickly followed by Woodpigeon and Dunnock.  I then spent some time scoping the water and eventually found a yet-to-be flooded gravel island awaiting the incoming tide which was playing host to over twenty Eiders, mainly drakes, plus a Great Black-backed Gull and a few other species.  Also in the area a number of gulls and on this occasion more Herring than Black-headed Gulls

Ringed Plovers Charadrius hiaticula with a trio of Black-headed Gulls Larus ridibundus

Moving down the steps the coastal path I found more Black-headed Gulls but also very many waders.  The initial sighting of Oystercatchers and Redshank quickly gave way to over fifty Turnstone along with thirty Ringed Plovers, a number of Dunlin and a couple of Sanderling.

Sanderling Calidris alba (centre)

Then it was on to the Meon harbour itself where I found another forty plus Turnstone along with more than a score of Mallard plus the five Gadwall in the approach channel. Up on the pavement where a few Turnstones were foraging for dropped food a single, male Pied Wagtail was going about its business.

Pied Wagtail Motacilla alba

Across the road to check the Titchfield Haven Nature Reserve from the bridge I found the resident Kingfisher once again resting in the bushes below me.

Kingfisher Alcedo atthis

Away to the far right within the reserve a lone Marsh Harrier was quartering the site and nearer to me a couple of Shoveler. A better sighting from the the nearby viewing point confirmed more Canada Geese along with very many Teal and a handful of Lapwing.  A pair of both Moorhen and Coot ventured across the water in front of me whist the lone Heron remained posed on the opposite in front of the reeds.  Overhead with the tide approaching its summit a flock of forty plus Brent Geese flew in from the sea and headed up river into the reserve, no doubt making their way towards the upper Titchfield canal where I find so many.

Canada Geese Branta canadensis with (mainly) Teal Anas crecca and a few Lapwing Vanellus vanellus

Making my way back to the car I stopped to check the small area at the back of the Visitors Centre and found a number of both Blue and Great Tits along with Robin, Dunnock, MagpiesHouse Sparrow and a single female Greenfinch.  As I departed the area I cam across a flock of twenty Starlings.

Dunnock Prunella modularis

Time to spare so took the few hundred yards detour to check the area behind Titchfield canal car park.  No Yellow-browed Warbler or Chiffchaffs on this occasion but a number of Blue and Great Tits plus Robin and Blackbirds were seen.  Also present many of the ducks, waders and corvids already recorded plus a trio of Mute Swans, a handful of Cormorant and four Jackdaws.  Even the resident Barn Owl was still guarding its roost/nest site.  Finally, as I made my way from the village a Collared Dove.  The last is most strange as so very few are seen in the area compared to many towns and villages.  So a most eventful morning producing 40 species in about two hours.

Barn Owl Tyto alba

Birds seen:

Canada Goose, Brent Goose, Mute Swan, Wigeon, Gadwall, Mallard, Shoveler, Teal, Cormorant, Heron, Marsh Harrier, Moorhen, Coot, Oystercatcher, Ringed Plover, Lapwing, Sanderling, Dunlin, Redshank, Turnstone, Black-headed Gull, Great Black-backed Gull, Herring Gull, Rock Dove, Woodpigeon, Collared Dove, Barn Owl, Kingfisher, Pied Wagtail, Dunnock, Robin, Blackbird, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Magpie, Jackdaw, Carrion Crow, Starling, House Sparrow, Greenfinch.

Eider Ducks Somateria mollissima

Eider Ducks Somateria mollissima

Grey Heron Ardea cinerea

Black-headed Gulls with Turnstones Arenaria interpres and Ringed Plover
Black-headed Gull Larus ridibundus

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Monday 23 January 2023

Back on the Lower Hamble River

Wigeon Anas penelope

 Monday 23 January

Following yesterday's enjoyable mid-morning walk up the Hamble River in Warsash I decided to make a rerun visit first thing this morning but on this occasion taking my camera in the hope that the wintering Rock Pipit would be just as obliging. (It was not!)  The ground was still white from the overnight heavy frost and certainly cold despite the clear blue skies, brilliant sunshine and not a breath of wind.  Once again, thank goodness for many layers even if my hands were quickly getting colder and colder despite wearing gloves!

With the tide half-way in and on site by just after 9 the low sun was casting a dull orange glow over the water and waders.  But, no sooner in sight, than first a Mute Swan alongside a lone Herring Gull as a Cormorant flew upriver and a Carrion Crow was seen behind me on the meadow side.  Also seen in the meadow amongst the tall, yellow reeds a couple of female Roe Deer. Ere long I was amongst the usual waders including Curlew, Redshank, and Turnstone plus the fist score or more of the over 100 Dunlin in the  area. 

Curlew Numenius arquata

It not take a lot of searching before I also recorded both Grey Plover and a Greenshank feeing alongside a Little Egret in a channel on the land side of the path.  Just a few Black-headed Gulls as most seemed to be already congregating up in the conservation area.  However, it was whilst observing these first Dunlin that I realised there were three "bigger" Dunlin resting a couple of feet off shore and realised I was looking at a trio of Knot; a most pleasing sight.

Sleeping Knot Calidris canutus

Continuing n my slow walk upstream I found the first of the Teal along with a small number of Ringed Plovers.  These birds seemed to be well spaced out along the mudflats and often with a Grey Plover or two.  Just the one Oystercatcher seen this morning and eventually reaching the large overspill area on the inland side of the path I found not only many more Ringed Plovers, Redshanks and Dunlins but also a dozen Shelduck.  Again, this particular site also provided the first Brent Geese and it seemed that most this morning were feeding on the opposite bank of the main river.

Grey Plover Pluvialis squatarola with Dunlin Calidris alpina

Seventeen Canada Geese were noted on the bottom of one of the large gardens at the back of Bunny Meadow along with more than fifty foraging Woodpigeons. On the main river opposite the first of three Little Grebe and then my first Rock Pipit which landed in thick weeds below me but completely disappeared from sight.  I was to see two more Rock Pipits but on this occasion they were very flighty and wanted to move away a hundred metres or more rather than a quick hop to the next bush or rock.

Ringed Plover Charadrius hiaticula

Lots of resting Wigeon and Black-headed Gulls at the conservation area plus a few Redshank and Teal and this morning I continued on up the river past the hump-backed bridge for an other 500 metres or so.  Nothing new apart from a quartet of Jackdaws in the trees and then back to the conservation area which revealed a single Lapwing along with a quartet of Black-tailed Godwits.

Black-tailed Godwit Limosa limosa

So back to the village with the tide now well up and pushing the great majority of waders up to their preferred resting spots on the meadow.  A Magpie was recorded on a fence at the back and, once again, the last bird observed was a singing Blue Tit at the top of the highest tree adjacent to the car park. A most enjoyable couple of hours covering almost 5km which finally recorded 30 species.

The singing Blue Tit Parus caeruleus

Birds seen:

Canada Goose, Brent Goose, Mute Swan, Shelduck, Wigeon, Teal, Little Grebe, Cormorant, Little Egret, Oystercatcher, Ringed Plover, Grey Plover, Lapwing, Knot, Dunlin, Black-tailed Godwit, Curlew, Redshank, Greenshank, Turnstone, Black-headed Gull, Herring Gull, Rock Dove, Woodpigeon, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Rock Pipit, Blue Tit, Magpie, Jackdaw, Carrion Crow.

Greenshank Tringa nebularia

Redshank Tringa totanus

Feeding Dunlin Calidrus alpina

Grey Plover P.squatarola with Teal Anas crecca and Dunlin C.alpina

Little Egret Egretta garzetta

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Sunday 22 January 2023

Lower Hamble River, Warsash

Sunday 22 January

What a beautiful winter's morning with clear blue skies, a shining sun and heavy frost on the ground as, with week-end guests Barrie and Jan Avis, we walked up the Hamble River to the conservation area and back.  With high tide during the walk most birds had already moved to the shelter of the now flooded Bunny Meadow to our right but still much to be seen.  Only the occasional Redshank on the shoreline but a score or more Wigeon and the occasional Black-headed Gull along with a trio of Brent Geese.

As we continued up the river to accompaniment of the whistling Wigeon, we soon added a Great Crested Grebe before the remaining tops of the grassy islands revealed a variety of waders including, mainly, Dunlin and both Grey and Ringed Plover.  Just  the three Curlew noted but also a single lack-tailed Godwit.   On the shore a quartet of foraging Turnstone. The next, smaller, grassy remains held thirty resting Ringed Plovers.  Perhaps the odd ones out were trio of Feral Pigeons.

Meanwhile on the inland side of the path, first more Redshank then a lone Greenshank before finding a dozen Shelduck.  On the field at the back a dozen Canada Geese and scores of Woodpigeons.  By now most of the small waders had joined the additional Brent Geese on the shallow water along with the Curlew.  Overhead a regular passage of occasional Carrion Crows and then we found four resting Herons but not a single Little Egret.  Amongst the two dozen Black-headed was a handful of Herring Gulls.  Also here was the main flock of Teal totalling just over two dozen.

Perhaps the bird of the morning was the Rock Pipit that we found half-way up the path to the conservation area and the bird even rested atop the low vegetation not two metres away.  Perfectly positioned with the sun behind us for close up photography - but none of us had brought a camera to complete the operation.  On the return walk we were once again to find the pipit which seemed to accompany us most of the way back.  I winder if it will still be about if I return to the riverside in the morning?

Rock Pipit Anthus petrosus

Whilst at the conservation area we finally found the only Oystercatcher of the morning and then on the return walk we came across a single male Blackbird in a tree at the back of the meadow followed by a trio of foraging Magpies in one of the large gardens at the back.  Approaching the end of the path a couple of Dunnock were, presumably, picking up grit and the the last tree of the morning held a singing Blue Tit on one its top branches.  A beautiful couple of hours in which duly produced 28 species.

Birds seen:

Canada Goose, Brent Goose, Shelduck, Wigeon, Teal, Little Grebe, Great Crested Grebe, Cormorant, Heron, Oystercatcher, Ringed Plover, Grey Plover, Dunlin, Black-tailed Godwit, Curlew, Redshank, Greenshank, Turnstone, Black-headed Gull, Herring Gull, Rock Dove, Woodpigeon, Rock Pipit, Dunnock, Blackbird, Blue Tit, Magpie, Carrion Crow.

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Friday 20 January 2023

Titchfield Canal

Wren Troglodytes troglodytes

Friday 20 January

Beautiful morning for birding with clear blue skies and full sunshine even if very cold with a heavy frost as no breeze to worry about; just a question of applying many layers!  Along with dancing friend Richard Osman - not the tall fellow earning a fortune on BBC whose father was at school with me but the shorter and more handsome and active chap who lives nearby in Warsash!  Anyway, just after 9.30 we were at Titchfield canal car park in readiness for my usual walk, but first check out the spinney behind the waterboard's buildings.  Both Woodpigeon and Carrion Crow had already been seen and plenty of singing Great Tits but there on the track, once we had turned round to have the sun behind us, a first of the year Yellow-browed Warbler along with a couple of Chiffchaff.  Wonderful; what away to start the morning.

Yellow-browed Warbler Phylloscopus inornatus

Moving back to the main path along side the canal we immediately recorded our first Magpies of the morning as we moved down to the viewing point to check the nesting Barn Owls in the old, rotten tree at the back of the field on our right.  Amazingly, a trio of Stock Doves seemed to be using the immediate area as a resting point, almost like meals on wings for the owls.  And as we watched the Barn Owls a quartet of Long-tailed Tits were foraging in the bush immediately in front of us.

The nesting Barn Owls Tyto alba

Moving on along the path we added a pair of Reed Buntings before stopping, with the sun now almost behind us, to check out the birds on the water and flooded neighbourhood.  Lots of Black-headed and a few Herring Gulls pus the first of the very many Canada and a pair of Egyptian Geese.  Mainly Wigeon on the waters but also a lot of Teal along with Mallard, Shoveler and Pintail.  It was also on this first stretch of water that we found the small number of Lapwing.

Egyptian Goose 

The next, larger, lake produced even more Canada Geese and ducks along with some Coot.  Three Mute Swans were observed and it was near here that we looked across the water at the scattering ducks, etc that we found the passing Peregrine Falcon and the first of a number of Jackdaws. Moving on down the footpath through the trees we found a pair of Great Spotted Woodpeckers and the first Blue Tits.  More Great Tits were also seen and then, as we eventually started on our return walk, both a Redwing and a Blackbird on the same tree and more Long-tailed Tits.  On the meadow opposite we finally saw a couple of Snipe whereas the quintet undertaking their monthly survey of the area had noted no less than 130 in the area.

Blue Tit Parus caeruleus

Almost back to the car park and we stopped to watch a Wren in the small bush on the far side of the canal and six Meadow Pipits resting on the wires above us.  The pair of Barn Owls were still posing just inside their nesting hole and below them a stag Roe Deer along with his harem of three does were quietly grazing.  At one point we had der, owls and Stock Doves all in the same frame!

Roe Deer Capreolus capreolus (doe above and stag below)

Back at the car it was obvious that news of the Yellow-browed Warbler had already been circulated as it seemed more and more birders (or where they simply "twitchers") were appearing on the scene.  Unfortunately for them, I suspect the bird had already been disturbed enough and had move further away - just shows how fortunate Richard and I had been.  However, one birder informed us that he had seen a mixed handful of Redwing and Fieldfare in the "horse field" from near the bridge so back we went to re-check the site.  No luck for us as we only found a Blackbird but a lone Cormorant did pass overhead.  So back to the carpark again and we lucky enough to find a single female Siskin feeding in a an Alder tree at the side of the canal.  But you try and find the bid in the photograph!!!  The last bird of the visit was the single House Sparrow that flew across the road as we drove out of the car park so giving a final tally of 36 species.  Many thanks to Richard for his excellent and pleasant company ( and also the coffee and Kit-kat) and now look forward to our next birding expedition.

Find the Siskin Carduelis spinus

Birds seen:

Canada Goose, Mute Swan, Egyptian Goose, Wigeon, Mallard, Shoveler, Teal, Pintail, Cormorant, Peregrine Falcon, Coot, Lapwing, Snipe, Black-headed Gull, Herring Gull, Stock Dove, Woodpigeon, Barn Owl, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Meadow Pipit, Pied Wagtail, Wren, Robin, Blackbird, Redwing, Yellow-browed Warbler, Chiffchaff, Long-tailed Tit, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Magpie, Jackdaw, Carrion Crow, House Sparrow, Siskin, Reed Bunting.

Female Siskin Carduelis spinus
Meadow Pipit Anthus pratensis

Record shot of distant Reed Bunting Emberiza schoeniclus

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