Saturday 18 March
Meeting at Durhill car park just outside Burley in the New Forest we dozen members of the Hampshire Ornithological Society (HOS) set off on a three mile circuit of the moorland but also taking in some pine enclosures. Following continuous overnight rain it was dull and damp as we crossed the main road to start our tour under the leadership of Tina and Brian Vaughan. Whilst it remained dry and eventually quite sunny and war, there was one short period of a heavy shower but, fortunately we just happened be under cover of the pine trees at the time. As we waited for the off, those already present had managed to record Robin, Great Tit and Wren.
No sooner amongst the heather and gorse we were soon recording numerous Stonechats, eventually ending up with a tally of no less than fifteen. Early recordings also included Dunnock and Meadow Pipit plus a pair of Goldfinches flying low over the ground. A pond in front of us held a short-visiting Mallard and then the Sky Lark was up in the sky serenading us with its beautiful and melodious song. However, the real excitement was when we all watched the magnificent Goshawk flying relatively close over us and, at that point, nobody had a camera to hand!
Continuing up and down dale we were soon recording at least three displaying Wood Lark and a somewhat surprising sight of a Siskin well away from the trees amongst the gorse. Woodpigeons and Carrion Crows passed over and then a Meadow Pipit right in front of us. Continuing on we stopped to watch a distant Red Kite and few of the party also found a couple of Long-tailed Tits in the trees below. At this point a line Heron flew across and on the other side of the valley we could hear, and then briefly see, a pair of Canada Geese.
|Red Kite Milvus milvus
having continued to see Stonechats at regular intervals we eventually reached the designated pine trees and, as expected, found many Goldcrest plus Coal Tits, a couple of Tree-creepers and both Robin and Chaffinches - but none of the hoped for Crossbill. A couple of Mistle Thrushes were in full voice as we made our way out to the accompanying call of a Green Woodpecker and, for a very short period, into the diminishing light rain following a very heavy shower.
|Mistle Thrush Turdus viscivorus
No sooner back on our way and recording more Stonechats than we disturbed a couple of resting Red-legged Partridges at the side of the path. An isolated tree to our left held a Blackbird near its canopy and in front a second Red Kite of the morning. Working our way away from the flooded paths and up to the higher ground we could hear relatively close Pheasants and our leader also heard a Lapwing whilst we recoded a couple of foraging Blue Tits. A Song Thrush was also seen by a few and then, circling above the trees atop the hill, a distant Buzzard.
|Buzzard Butio butio
And so ended our little tour in lovely surroundings, in the end very pleasant weather conditions and excellent company well led by Tina. Whilst the others decided whether to return home or find a local refreshment stop, I took my leave and headed over to nearby Blashford Lakes, just a few miles norfh of Ringwood, to continue birding whilst already in the New Forest.
Canada Goose, Mallard, Red-legged Partridge, Pheasant, Heron, Red Kite, Goshawk, Buzzard, Lapwing, Woodpigeon, Green Woodpecker, Wood Lark, Sky Lark, Meadow Pipit, Wren, Dunnock, Robin, Stonechat, Blackbird, Song Thrush, Mistle Thrush, Chiffchaff, Goldcrest, Long-tailed Tit, Coal Tit, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Tree-creeper, Magpie, Carrion Crow, Chaffinch, Goldfinch, Siskin