Saturday 29 April 2023

Titchfield Canal

Saturday 29 April

Lovely warm start to the day with a little cloud but no wind as I drove over to nearby Titchfield Canal.  No sooner out of the car and, not so much the singing Blackbirds, Robins, Chiffchaffs, Greenfinches and both Blue and Great Tits, but the handful or more Common Swifts up above me.  And before heading of down the canal to the Barn Owl viewing point I had also added both Carrion Crow and Woodpigeons.

Arriving at the viewing point having also added Wren to the daily list, I discovered that the Barn Owls were not to be seen but about three metres away from their nest hold a pair of resting Stock Doves.  On the wires above me a singing Whitethroat.  Off at the bottom of the meadow at the Bridge Street Floods a few Canada Geese were to be seen along with Gadwall and Coot then a pair of Shelduck.

Whitethroat Sylvia communis

Only a few Black-headed Gulls at first but then I noticed the Lesser Black-backed Gull resting on top of a gate in the water and alongside it a Yellow-legged Gull. Continuing on the first of many Cetti's Warblers along with both Wren and Robin and stopping just before the bridge I noticed the first heron of the morning. Lovely to see the recently completed Long-tailed Tits' nest and, come the return walk, fortunate enough to see one of the adults returning to the site.  In the meadow to my left  a departing Magpie and a couple of Mallard.  So on to the Posbrook Floods where I discovered more Canada Geese and a good number of Tufted Duck.  Also on the water a number of Mallard along with a pair of both Teal and Mute Swans.  A few more Coots before continuing on to the end of the hard track.

Tufted Ducks Aythya fuligula 

At the end of this section of the walk a scope of the meadow and water in front of me produced another pair of Mute Swans along with Mallards on the water and both Woodpigeon and a cock Pheasant in the meadow.  Around me a number of both Robins and Blackcaps before making my way back.  Two more Herons were at the water's edge and in the horse field to my left both Jackdaw and Starling.

Male Kestrel Falco tinnunculus

Having noted the Long-tailed Tit I stopped to admire the male Kestrel resting on the wire above me and then back to the car, passing once more the resting Stock Doves, for the return drive to Warsash.

Long-tailed Tit Aegithalos caudatus

Birds seen:

Canada Goose, Mute Swan, Shelduck, Gadwall, Mallard, Teal, Tufted Duck, Pheasant, Heron, Kestrel, Coot, Black-headed Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Herring Gull, Yellow-legged Gull, Stock Dove, Woodpigeon, Common Swift, Wren, Robin, Blackbird, Song Thrush, Cetti's Warbler, Whitethroat, Blackcap, Chiffchaff, Long-tailed Tit, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Magpie, Jackdaw, Carrion Crow, Starling, Greenfinch.

Grey Heron Ardea cinerea

Stock Doves Columba oenas

 For the latest news follow the Axarquia Birds and Wildlife Facebook page for more photos and comments and the opportunity to share with the wider birding world.

Hook with Warsash Nature Reserve

Song Thrush Turdus philomelos

Friday 28 April

Local sites for this week's birding visit with friend, Richard Osman.  A short dive up to the top of Workmans Lane at the eastern end of  the village where, once changed into suitable footwear, we set off on our grand circuit down the lane, with a detour to walk along the southern end of the main hose field, and onto the shore, thence northwards back home to Passage Lane in Warsash. A most enjoyable three and a half hours to cover the six and a half kilometres in good weather albeit towards the end of the morning before the temperature really stepped up a notch or two.

Right from the very start a good selection of birds including Blackbird, Robin, Great and Blue Tits, Wren and Carrion Crow.  The upper, northern, end of the horse field behind the hedge on our left held a flock of twelve Canada Geese plus a single foraging Whimbrel. Whilst we also found Woodpigeons, Magpies and Herring Gulls on the field to our right we must more deferred to the left as Richard found the first of two Egyptian Geese seen on the field.  Looking further back cross the field a distant Little Egret and a pair of Mallard.

Whimbrel Numenius phaeopus

Meanwhile, back on the right-hand field, a quartet of Shelduck and then a Stock Dove resting aside the large nest box, but probably being used this year by the Stock Doves.  In the nearby bushes and trees both Song Thrush and Greenfinches.

Egyptian Goose Alopochen aegyptiaca

Time for the walk along the southern end of the main horse field and which produced more Blackbirds and a couple of Song Thrushes.  Further away we could see a number of Carrion Crows and the departing pair of Egyptian Geese. As we observed a couple of barn Swallows we stopped near the open area to the right of the very wet track to find a first Bar-tailed Godwit of the year and on the far pylon it was just possible to see one of the Raven pair at their nest site.  Posing on a post near the open stable on the far corner  Pied Wagtail.  As we returned to the lane, we also discovered the pair of Wheatear that had been recently reported.

Bar-tailed Godwit Limosa lapponica

So on down the lane towards the shore noting a hovering Kestrel, yet another Song Thrush, a couple of Blackcap and a Dunnock.  Looking for a possible Stonechart, we found our first Whitethroat of the year with a singing male atop a bush at the back of the meadow on our right.

Whitethroat Sylvia communis

The tide now within a couple of hours to high tide so limited exposed beach area but, nevertheless, seven Oystecatchers counted along with a few Herring Gulls.  So on to the Meandering Pool, finding another Whitethroat on the way, where we found four Black-tailed Godwits, a pair of Avocets and a Little Egret.

Whitethroat Sylvia communis

Then it was on to the Scrape where a score or more Black-headed Gulls were in residence along with a number of Shelduck, a pair of Little Grebe plus the same number of Gadwall and a Coot.  Right at the back we found  up to a dozen sleeping Black-tailed Godwits.  Nearby a lone Jackdaw and then the arrival of the two resident Mute Swans.

As we set off along the shore towards Warsash, a trio of Linnets were flitting around and then the first of two singing Sky Larks. In the distance a small flock of Starlings.  Once past the Spit we were able to find the resting remains of the wintering Brent Geese with a final count of fifty individuals.  Also mainly Herring but also Black-headed Gulls along with a few more Oystercatchers.

Oystercatcher Haematopus ostralegus

Finally, walking up towards Strawberry Fields we noted a total of five gull-like birds resting on small boys in the mouth of the Hamble River. A concentrated study with only bins to hand soon convinced me that the head markings were all wrong for Black-headed Gulls; these were terns.  Common Terns?  Nagging doubts crossed my mind looking at the back of the heads which seemed to bear the hallmarks of Sandwich Terns and only really confirmed once back home and able to take an enhanced look at the record photos, noting not only the back of the head but the black legs, etc so confirming my suspicion; these were Sandwich Terns.  A most enjoyable morning ion good company and now getting quite warm so time for a swift pint at the "Rising Sun" before heading home to sort out recovery of my car which we had left at the far end of the village!

Distant Sandwich Tern Sterna sandvicensis

Birds seen:

Brent Goose, Canada Goose, Mute Swan, Egyptian Goose, Shelduck, Gadwall, Mallard, Little Grebe, Little Egret, Kestrel, Coot, Oystercatcher, Avocet, Bar-tailed Godwit, Black-tailed Godwit, Whimbrel, Black-headed Gull, Herring Gull, Sandwich Tern, Stock Dove, Woodpigeon, Skylark, Barn Swallow, Pied Wagtail, Wren, Dunnock, Robin, Wheatear, Blackbird, Song Thrush, Cetti's Warbler, Whitethroat, Blackcap, Chiffchaff, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Magpie, Jackdaw, Carrion Crow, Raven, Starling, Greenfinch, Linnet

Wheatear Oenanthe oenanthe

Bar-tailed Godwit Limosa lapponica

Distant view of Raven Corvus corax at nest site

Song Thrush Turdus philomelos

Whitethroat Sylvia communis

For the latest news follow the Axarquia Birds and Wildlife Facebook page for more photos and comments and the opportunity to share with the wider birding world.

Wednesday 26 April 2023

Rambla de Almanzora & Vera Playa

Wednesday 26 April

Numbers may have lower than usual but some great birds seen by Dave and his Arboleas Birding Group during their visit to the Rambla de Almanzora and Vera Playa.  The many small waders my seem "everyday" out in southern Spain but so common back here in the UK.  Looking forward to catching up with such delightfuls as Red-rumped Swallow, Little Stint, Nightingale, Serin, Iberian and Woodchat Shrikes and many more.

Rambla de Almanzora & Vera Playa: Wednesday 26th April

Having to drop a friend off at the Overa hotel to pick up the airport shuttle bus, I delayed birdwatching by a quarter of an hour.  I picked up Juda at the Ballabona services and headed straight to the "ford" parking area above the Almanzora rambla.  Alan's & Trevor's cars were already parked there, but no sign of them. We assumed correctly they'd walked up to the sewage works.  Juda and I hung around the vehicles in case anyone else turned up.  ( Albert was due to come, but I later got a message from him to say he was on the way but didn't feel well so turned around.  Hope he's feeling better now!)  Whilst we were waiting we birdwatched a flight of Cattle Egret, Spotless Starlings, a Moorhen, Goldfinch, House Sparrow and a Chiffchaff.  We listened to a Nightingale.

Alan and Trevor returned having seen Common Sandpiper, Black-winged Stilt, Red-rumped and Barn Swallow, House Martin, Blackbird, White Wagtail, Magpie and Woodpigeon.  There were Common Pochard, Mallard and Little Grebe on the large pool.

Black-winged Stilt (PHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)

We made our way to the beach where we struggled to find anything.  Juda eventually spotted 2 Cormorants fishing in the harbour entrance.  A Yellow-legged Gull flew over.

We moved onto the embankment overlooking the estuary.  Birding was not helped by a cyclist and walker near the waterside.  Alan spotted Ringed and Kentish Plovers, Redshank and Grey Plover. Also seen were Coot and Mallard.  We heard a Cetti's Warbler.

Little Ringed Plover (PHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)

After a cup of coffee in the "Shark" cafe, Villaricos, where I added a Common Swift, we headed for the dual carriageway opposite the Consum supermarket behind Vera Playa.  We were joined by Jacky.  The usual Moorhen were in and around the shallow water by the first stop.  Also there were two Curlew Sandpipers asleep with two of the three Wood Sandpipers seen.  Alan added a Little Stint.  There were only a few Greater Flamingos and a similar number of Whiskered Terns.  Also seen were Little Grebes, Black-headed and Mediterranean Gulls and Little Egret.  Alan spotted an Avocet which was harassing a Yellow-legged Gull who dared to fly too close to its presumed nest site.  I spotted a Glossy Ibis flying away.  As we drove off a Kestrel flew across our path.

Curlew and Wood Sandpipers (PHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)

We next stopped at the 2nd viewing platform opposite the water park.  The water surface is beginning to be covered in duckweed.  We did see Coot with chicks, White-headed Ducks and a single Gadwall. Jacky later saw a Shelduck at the 1st viewing platform.

White-headed Duck (PHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)

We ended up with 42 species.  Good weather but a tad windy at the estuary.  A small group but good company.

The photos of the Black-winged Stilt and Little Ringed Plover were taken a couple of days ago in my local rambla.


For the latest news follow the Axarquia Birds and Wildlife Facebook page for more photos and comments and the opportunity to share with the wider birding world.

Tuesday 25 April 2023

Acres Down, New Forest

Coal Tit Parus ater

Tuesday 25 April

A very early start and arriving in the car park at Acres Down near Minstead in the New Forest there was a bright sun in a clear blue sky but, as well as being very calm, it was bloomin' cold with the temperature struggling to reach 2C and only around 7C when I eft nearly three hours later.  Lots of walking but very few birds to be seen albeit lots of calling and singing.  Upon arrival no shortage of either Blackbird or Robin and a few Wrens, Blue Tits and many more Chaffinches.  The occasional Woodpigeon movement and then the yaffle followed by the bird crossing the track low down as the Green Woodpecker disappeared to my right.

Continuing on down to the two trees favoured by the resident Lesser Spotted Woodpeckers I spent much time observing the local area but no sight o sound of the target bird for the morning, and the whole reason for arriving so early.  I did return to the same area twice more during my circular walk with a couple of diversions but nothing found.  However, whilst in the are I di find a resting Stock Dove and then the first of at least  half-dozen Song Thrushes, the latter, along with the Blackbirds, busy collect worms, etc to feed a hungry brood.

Song Thrush Turdus philomelos

Making my way along a grassy, and very muddy, glade through the trees I came across my first of two Mistle Thrushes and then, stopping in an opening, saw a Sky Lark and heard two Cuckoos, one to my right and the other to my left.

What look like a recently fledged Mistle Thrush Turdus viscivorus

Towards the end of my walk I eventually found the local Chiffchaffs along with a Great Tit and a few Blackcaps.  A Coal Tit was busy feeding in the small trees in front of me and continued as I struggled to get my camera out in time and try and get a clear view of the bird.  Back at the car and everything stored, including my camera but not the bins, I decided to climb the 100m track up a steep incline to see what could be seen from the top. Lovely view over distant trees but probably not the summit at the end of this track from where, potentially, Goshawks and Honey Buzzards can be seen low over the trees.  On the other hand, I suddenly had a pair of Marsh Tits feeding on the buds of the trees in front of me.  Both well exposed and lovely to see these delightful little tits feeding naturally rather than feeding on a hanging feeder.  But the camera was in the car!!

The friendly Coal Tit Parus ater

Birds seen:

Stock Dove, Woodpigeon, Cuckoo, Green Woodpecker, Sky Lark, Wren, Robin, Blackbird, Song Thrush, Mistle Thrush, Blackcap, Chiffchaff, Marsh Tit, Coal Tit, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Chaffinch.

For the latest news follow the Axarquia Birds and Wildlife Facebook page for more photos and comments and the opportunity to share with the wider birding world.

Sunday 23 April 2023

Warsash: Wormans Lane and Shore

Saturday 22 April

A dull and cloudy, but still, start to the day and with rain promised by mid to late morning, I was out of the house by just after 7.30 to visit nearby Workmans Lane. However, a stop just over half-way in Hook lane to take the forest track next to Bridge House to explore, for the first time, the wooded area and adjacent common. Lots of Robins and Wrens along with Blackbirds and Woodpigeons and by the time I had completed an extended circuit I had also added Blue and Great Tits, Chiffchaff, Blackcap, Magpie and Jackdaw.  No shortage of Carrion Crows and then a Great Spotted Woodpecker.

Magpie Pica pica

Continuing on to park at the top of Workmans Lane, I prepared myself for a circular walk taking in the lane down to the shore, along the shore to to the Scrape and then retrace my steps along the shore to take the track back up to Cowes Lane and so on to the car.  And the good news, the weather even brightened up a little and no rain. No sooner had I stepped out of the car than I was recording both Magpie and Woodpigeon before the first of many Robins.  Within a hundred metres I had added Chiffchaff, Great Tit, Blackbird and a pair of Canada Geese that flew overhead to settle in the horse field behind the hedge which also revealed more Carrion Crows.  Stopping to find the singing Blackcap above me I was surprised, and delighted, to also find a pair of Jays.

One of the two Jays Garrulus glandarius

Stopping a little further on down the lane I had first a Blue Tit then a pair of Shelduck and a nearby cock Pheasant in the meadow to my right and grazing in the  middle, seven Roe Deer.

Roe Deer Capreolus capreolus

Time to take the entry track to the horse field on my left as a short diversion and walk to the far end of the initial track and back.  Both Greenfinch and Song Thrush were singing in the tree to my right and now five Canada Geese and about a dozen Carrion Crows grazing on my left.   Then looking at the large, distant pylon I could see the pair of Ravens that had made their nest on the lower extension.

Song Thrush Turdus philomelos

back to the lane and down on to the shore finding a lovely, posing Wren whilst holding the camera with a dead battery!  A pair of Mallards were on the small pond at the end of the lane and with the tide only half-way in I was able to record a number of Herring and a single Great Black-backed Gull. On the shore a single Redshank but many Oystercatchers along with the gulls on the temporary gravel island just off the shore awaiting its "drowning" as the tide continue on its inward journey.  Checking closer I also noted up to ten Brent Geese in the immediate area and a departing Heron.

Avocet Recurvirostra avosetta

next the walk along the shore to the Meandering Pool where I immediately found a single Black-tailed Godwit and Avocet.  At the back of the water a pair of resting Teal and a lone Little Egret. Reaching the far end I then added a pair of Gadwall and noticed that the Avocet had also relocated to this end.

Black-tailed Godwit Limosa limosa

So on to the Scrape where a pair of Mute Swans awaited me along with a dozen Shelduck, a quartet of Black-tailed Godwits, very many Black-headed Gulls and a pair of Little Grebe.  Above me a singing Sky Lark and a quartet of Linnets moving around the gorse bushes.

Red Fox Vulpes vulpes

Making my way back towards the Meandering Pool I had the chance to observe a pair of Sky Larks both on the ground and in the air and then a male Wheatear resting on a small shrub.  Beautiful!  And then a Fox, almost certainly a dog Fox judging by its size and condition. Finally, moving through the tress and on up to Cowes Lane, I found Blackcaps and then a single Dunnock as I walked past the houses and back to the car.

Wheatear Oenanthe oenanthe

Birds seen:

Brent Goose, Canada Goose, Mute Swan, Shelduck, Gadwall, Mallard, Teal, Tufted Duck, Pheasant, Little Grebe, Little Egret, Heron, Oystercatcher, Avocet, Black-tailed Godwit, Redshank, Black-headed Gull, Herring Gull, Great Black-backed Gull, Woodpigeon, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Sky Lark, Wren, Dunnock, Robin, Wheatear, Blackbird, Song Thrush, Cetti's Warbler, Blackcap, Chiffchaff, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Jay, Magpie, Jackdaw, Carrion Crow, Raven, Starling, Greenfinch, Linnet.

Black-tailed Godwit Limosa limosa

Little Grebe Tachybaptus ruficollis

Oystercatchers Haematopus ostralegus, Herring Gulls Larus argentatus and Brent Geese Branta bernicla

Cock Pheasant Phasianus colchicus

Distant Raven Corvus corax at its nest site

Robin Erithacus rubecula

Shelduck Tadorna tadorna

Sky Lark Alauda arvensis

Song Thrush Turdus philomelos

Wren Troglodytes troglodytes

For the latest news follow the Axarquia Birds and Wildlife Facebook page for more photos and comments and the opportunity to share with the wider birding world. 

Friday 21 April 2023

Pennington Marshes and Acres Down

Song Thrush Turdus philomelos

Thursday 20 April

The sun shining brightly in a clear blue sky with not a cloud in sight as I arrived at Pennington Marshes car park at 8.40.  On the other hand, the strong easterly wind made the current temperature seem even colder at 8C, especially when most of the morning was spent walking along the sea wall next to the Solent immediately opposite the relatively nearby Isle of Wight!  But, in the end, an enjoyable morning which produced 46 species before moving on to Acres Down near Minstead in the New Forest which produced a further six species, and the temperature had now risen to 16C.

As soon as I arrived I recorded Chaffinch and Greenfinch and above me a Sky Lark. Walking on down the lane to the large pool on the right I found Lapwing, Coot, Tufted Duck and a Great Crested Grebe and as I walked back to the car both a first Meadow Pipit of the morning and the first of a number of Woodpigeons.  Then it was the path down to the coast and the sea wall alongside the Solent.  During the walk both Magpie and Carrion Crow along with the first of very many Wrens.  In a pool to the left a few Mallard and a pair of Gadwall along with the first of the scores of Canada Geese.  Soon it was regular sightings of both Blackbird and Linnet before the large water on my right produced a Mute Swan and many Shoveler along with Black-headed Gulls.  By now the Cetti's Warblers were in good voice with the occasional sighting.

Heading east against the strong wind I checked out the water just inland form the sea wall and found a first Curlew along with a number of Avocets and a pair of Oystercatchers. Retracing my steps to head off towards Keyhaven I picked up a heron as I approached the "jetty" and then noted the number of Avocets and Black-headed Gulls on the main water I had passed on the way t the sea wall.  A Pied Wagtail flew across the track and before reaching the sharp right turn a couple of Barn Swallows flew in from the Solent.  On the sea wall below me just  single Turnstone to be seen.

Mainly Shelduck Tadorna tadorna with Black-headed Gulls Larus ridibundus

Much time was then spent between the mud flats on the seaward side if the wall and the large pool on the other side where many birds were to be seen.  On the former not only a couple more Curlew and at least three Redshank but a quartet of Dunlin playing host to the single Curlew Sandpiper.  In the meantime, a small number of Ringed Plovers were running around and feeding during their frequent stops.  The pool on the land side of the wall held a very large number of Shelduck and before the walk was completed a total of 56 had been counted.  Lots of Black-headed Gulls and many more Avocets.  Other ducks consisted of Shovelers, Teal and Tufted Ducks.  Again, many more Oystercatchers and a few Lapwing and Coots plus a number of Canada Geese and a pair of Mute Swans.  Having just found a distant Little Egret and another Barn Swallow, as I was about to move on three Brent Geese arrived on the water.

Dunlin Calidris alpina
But with a Curlew Sandpiper Calidris ferruginea (at back)

Continuing on along the wall as I approached the inlet to the "harbour I stopped to check the pair of Herring Gulls alongside a Great Black-backed Gull as a Lesser Black-backed Gull flew past.  Then it was out onto the old Pennngton Lane for a walk back to the car past a small wood.  Here I was able to record Robin, Chiffchaff and Blackcap before staring in amazement at the two Jays perched in a close-by tree on my right.  Camera to hand but the bird obscured by the twiggy branches.  A couple of Dunnocks were feeding n the track in front of me and almost opposite the lake on my left another couple of Meadow Pipits and a Greenfinch plus more Chaffinches

Greenfinch Carduelis chloris

Looking up I found a distant circling Buzzard and then, having deposited the scope in the car, took a second walk back to the sea wall following the western, rather then eastern, track.  This gave me chance to check the many bushes for, unsuccessfully, a first Whitethroat of the year but I did find Song Thrush and Wren along with a posing Greenfinch.  Back to the car and almost there when twenty-five Black-tailed Godwits flew directly over me.

Song Thrush Turdus philomelos

With the extra layers removed now that the temperature was rapidly rising and no longer exposed to the strong wind, I drove through Lymington and Lyndhurst to Minstead where arriving at Acres Down around 1.30 pm I intended to see if I, too, could find the resident Lesser Spotted Woodpeckers. Setting off down the forest track I soon found plenty of Robins, Blackbirds and Wrens then a Song Thrush busy collecting food to feed its young.  Lots of Chaffinches and the occasional Great Tit when, having met a Bob Wiltshire from Dorset who told me exactly to look for the woodpeckers, I settled down to take a detailed look at the area.  He was right when he informed me that the best time was early morning and that soon the Lessers would be out of site, etc.  

Wren Troglodytes troglodytes

Whilst studying the particular tree we did notice a soaring Buzzard overhead and then heard our first Cuckoo of the year.  Atop a nearby tall tree a Blue Tit was feeding and behind me a pair of Goldfinch. Next a walk through the nearby trees where I found both Woodpigeons and a couple of Stock Doves. Back to the "Woodpecker Tree" and more Chiffchaffs and Blackcaps before heading back to the car park where not only two more Song Thrushes but a Bullfinch.  A great day's birding and now all I need is a clam, dry morning next week for a return visit.

Blue Tit Parus caeruleus

Birds seen:

Brent Goose, Canada Goose, Mute Swan, Shelduck, Gadwall, Mallard, Shoveler, Teal, Tufted Duck, Great Crested Grebe, Little Egret, Heron, Buzzard, Coot, Oystercatcher, Avocet, Ringed Plover, Lapwing, Curlew Sandpiper, Dunlin, Black-tailed Godwit, Curlew, Redshank, Turnstone, Black-headed Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Great Black-backed Gull, Herring Gull, Stock Dove, Woodpigeon, Cuckoo, Sky Lark, Barn Swallow, Pied Wagtail, Wren, Dunnock, Robin, Blackbird, Song Thrush, Cetti's Warbler, Blackcap, Chiffchaff, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Jay, Magpie, Carrion Crow, Chaffinch, Greenfinch, Goldfinch, Linnet, Bullfinch.

Wren Troglodytes troglodytes

Greenfinch Carduelis chloris

Distant Linnet Carduelis cannabina

Song Thrush Turdus philomelos

For the latest news follow the Axarquia Birds and Wildlife Facebook page for more photos and comments and the opportunity to share with the wider birding world.