Saturday 15 April 2023

New Forest Birding

Robin Erithacus rubecula

Friday 14 April

Just a few spots of rain as I got into the car and once the door closed the heavens opened and it absolutely poured down!  And it stayed that way, as with friend Richard Osman, I drove over to Fritham and Eyeworth Pond on our way to Blashford Lakes.  It looked very much as it would be a morning of birding from the car and just the one hide at Blashford.

Approaching Eyeworth we recorded carrion Crow and Jackdaws then, approaching the Eyeworth Pond at the bottom of the hill, a Green Woodpecker flew across the front of the car.  Still wet as we sat in the car noting the quartet of male Mallards on the water and feeding in front of us a number of Chaffinches plus a few Blue Tits and a lone Dunnock. As we set of to take the back road to Fordingbridge a couple of Blackbird and  handful of Starlings.  Before our final destination we turned off the main road and across the river towards Harbridge where there was extensive flooding which, in turn, lead to us finding fifteen Mute Swans along with a quartet of Canada and a trio of Greylag Geese.  Turning the car in front of the manor house we stopped to check the other side of the road and found a couple of Magpie, a pair of Lapwing and a cock Pheasant.  Four Mallards were resting on the flooded grass. Lots of Rooks around the rookery as we approached the turn to Blashford Lakes.

Dunnock Prunella modularis

Once at Blashford Lakes we parked in the main car park in front of the Tern Hide and with the rain almost ended made our way into the hide to settle down and see what might be on and around the water.  Not so much the many Tufted Duck but immediately on front of us to the left a pair of resting Black-headed Gulls and to the right, also on posts, a couple of Common Tern.  Later, a third individual was to join them.  The terns were near a small gravel island which also held a pair of Gadwall as well as more Tufted Duck.

Common Tern Sterna hirundo

Meanwhile, feeding over the water, hundreds of Sand Martins plus a number of Barn Swallows and at least a handful of House Martins.  This drew our attention to the many gulls towards the back of the water, mainly Black-headed and Herring but also a few Lesser Black-backed Gulls.  Further back, majestically sailing left, was the recently-arrived Black Swan that eventually left the water to rest with  couple of Canada Geese.  Continuing a search around the far end we found a few Magpies on the grass along with a couple of Jackdaw and above the far trees maybe a dozen Rooks from the nearby rookery.

Very distant Black Swan Cygnus atratus but note also the Swallow and Sand Martin

Concentrating on the far left side of Ibsley Water, first a number of Shoveler and a quartet of resting Cormorant then a single male Wigeon.  Only two Egyptian Geese showing.  It was while studying the nearby Tufted Ducks that we eventually found the long-staying Scaup. There were surprisingly few Coot on the water.

Tufted Ducks Aythya fuligula

Time to move over to the main reserve and exiting the hide we discovered that the rain had stopped and it was looking a little brighter, and even had some occasional hazy sunshine before finally departing. As son as booted up ready to walk to the three hides we were inundated with bird song and had soon identified, and seen, Blackbird, Chiffchaff, Song Thrush, Blue and Great Tits along with Wren and a first Blackcap.

Great Tits Parus major with a Greenfinch Carduelis chloris

The Ivy North Hide produced very little with just the odd Tufted Duck and Mallard albeit we did record a departing Heron as we left.  Then on to the Woodland Hide where, as we approached the external feeder, we noted that there were many Siskin about.   A look over the fence produced Greenfinches and then on into the hide to see more Greenfinch, Goldfinch, Chaffinch, Siskin, Robin, Dunnock and both Blue and Great Tits.  To our left a Great Spotted Woodpecker was bust drumming away.  As we were leaving, finally a view of the long-singing Coal Tit.

Male Greenfinch arduelis chloris

Water levels seemed very high as we entered the Ivy South Hide to reveal just two Cormorant and a few Black-headed Gulls along with about a score of Tufted Duck.  Also present two pairs of Great Crested Grebes. Time to head back towards the car park at a final visit the Woodland Hide produced a Nuthatch and both Starling and carrion Crow were noted.  Starting off on our way home we did even find a single individual of that now rarity, the House Sparrow!!  A great morning's birding, despite the inclement weather, that finally produced 49 species.

Female (front) and male Siskin Carduelis spinus

Birds seen:

Greylag Goose, Canada Goose, Mute Swan, Black Swan, Egyptian Goose, Gadwall, Wigeon, Mallard, Shoveler, Tufted Duck, Scaup, Pheasant, Great Crested Grebe, Cormorant, Heron, Coot, Lapwing, Black-headed Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Herring Gull, Common Tern, Woodpigeon, Green Woodpecker, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Sand Martin, Barn Swallow, House Martin, Pied Wagtail, Wren, Dunnock, Robin, Blackbird, Song Thrush, Blackcap, Chiffchaff, Coal Tit, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Nuthatch, Magpie, Jackdaw, Rook, Carrion Crow, Starling, House Sparrow, Chaffinch, Greenfinch, Goldfinch, Siskin.

Goldfinch Carduelis carduelis (and below with Goldfinch)

Male Greenfinch Carduelis chloris

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