Sunday 30 July 2023

Blashford Lakes, New Forest

Ruddy Shelduck Tadorna ferruginea

Sunday 30 July

Lovely clear skis at 7 but by the time I setoff for the New Forest after breakfast it had rather clouded over. Making a very short stop at Eyeworth Pond where I found it rather damp and short of any bird life save for single Starling, Mallard, Blackbird and a few Woodpigeons, I continued on to spend a couple of hours at Blashford Lakes just north of Ringwood.  However, not just cloud now but a steady, very light drizzle so quickly into the Tern Hide with scope but camera left in the car.  Once settled in along with four fellow birders the light was very poor and save for a nearby couple of Tufted Duck and a number of Coot, all the bird life would appear to be either on the water beyond half-way or resting on the distant islands.  Time indeed, to make use of the scope albeit before moving over to the main site the light had improved.

Once moving away from all the Coots and a number of Tufted Duck I quickly found a a regular supply of Great Crested Grebes on the water at the back and then took  closer look at the distant islands.  Despite the poor visibility, very easy to pick out the numerous Lesser Black-backed and Herring Gulls along with a small number of Cormorant.  On, but mainly behind, the islands almost thirty Mute Swans.

Every no and again a single Mallard plus a few Egyptian Geese but scanning left from the islands I came to scores of resting/feeding geese on the grassy banks.  Mainly Egyptian but also a score or more Canada Geese along with a pair of Greylags.  Another handful of Greylag Geese were also found on another small island. It was on this last island that I also found a small number of Black-headed Gulls and a pair of Common Sandpipers.

Common Sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos

Meanwhile, much nearer to the hide, a Grey Wagtail was working a nearby shore and then a Snipe.  Another Mallard was recorded as two new birders entered the hide and were determined to find the Ruddy Shelduck that had been present for over a week and last seen on Wednesday by the birder sitting next to me. Much searching and within ten minutes the good news that the bird had been spotted at the back of a distant island hiding behind the resting gulls.  Thankfully, the light had improved a little and constant watching with the scope for at least ten minutes finally produced the result for me as the Ruddy Shelduck moved past an opening between the resting gulls.  My first sighting for at least three years.  To round off the session both a Magpie and Carrion Crow also alighted n the same island for a little foraging.

Snipe Gallinago gallinago

Moving over to the main reserve I mad my way to the Woodland Hide to take stock of the small birds making us of the feeders. As I approached a Jay flew away into the near trees along with both Great Tit and Robing. Once settled alone inside, lots of Blue and Great Tits along with a small number of Greenfinch and Chaffinch plus a couple of Goldfinch.  A single Nuthatch put in an appearance and before moving on I also found a Robin and three Dunnock.  Rising from my seat I also noted the newly-arrived Blackbird.

Nuthatch Sitta europaea

Looking over the water from the South Ivy Hide all was very quiet save for the departing pair of Gadwall.  But a closer look at the floating nesting platforms resulted in a pair of adult Common Tern and at least four youngsters on two of the nesting sites. A quick walk through the woods to the Ivy North Hide where three more Gadwall were recorded then back to the car as the few rain drops decided to become more of a steady light soaking! 

Common Tern Sterna hirundo

Once in the car a short drive along the lane the hamlet of Ibsey where, eventually, I found not only the "missing" Woodpigeon but also a pair of Collared Doves, a quartet of House Sparrows, a few Jackdaw and more Carrion Crows, so resulting in a final tally of 36 species for the morning.

Birds seen:

Greylag Goose, Canada Goose, Mute Swan, Egyptian Goose, Ruddy Shelduck, Gadwall, Mallard, Tufted Duck, Great Crested Grebe, Cormorant, Coot, Snipe, Common Sandpiper, Black-headed Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Herring Gull, Common Tern, Woodpigeon, Collared Dove, Barn Swallow, Grey Wagtail, Dunnock, Robin, Blackbird, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Nuthatch, Jay, Magpie, Jackdaw, Carrion Crow, Starling, House Sparrow, Chaffinch, Greenfinch, Goldfinch.

NOTE: All photographs from personal library of past sightings

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Saturday 22 July 2023

RSPB Newport Wetlands

 Friday 21 July

RSPB Newport Wetlands from the hide looking west

Travelling to Barry in Glamorgan so that I can attend an aged aunt's funeral in the morning, I decided to leave a little earlier than necessary so that I could make a first visit to the RSPB reserve at Newport Wetlands.  A fist visit and coinciding with a receding tide so only limited rather hundreds of metres of mudflats! Lots of reeds and all looking green and fresh and despite leaving Warsash in warm sunshine dark clouds were gathering in Wales and a light breeze, so no sighting of either the local Bitterns nor the resident Bearded Tits.  Just under two hours wandering around the site and finally recording 25 species; all seemed very quiet other the the family of well-grown Moorhens on the pond in front of the Visitors Centre and at least a dozen Mallards on the main "river," where I had hoped to locate both of the above missing species, and from the opposite side of the bridge I could see a pair of Mute Swans.

Setting off to complete an anti-clockwise circuit, once at the lighthouse views of the Severn Estuary produced a number of Black-headed and Herring Gulls along with four Curlew and a single Whimbrel.  At the water's edge a quartet of Shelduck and  maybe a score or more Dunlin. A lone Common Tern was moving upstream low over the exposed mud.  Behind me above the reeds and on the shore a couple of Carrion Crow.

A distant Curlew Numenius arquata foraging on the shore

Eventually reaching the sole hide on the reserve all that could be seen were four Little Grebes.  Close by and observation post overlooking the main lake revealed the Mallards seen on the outward journey and another Little Grebe.  A second Little Egret put in a brief appearance whilst a male Kestrel moved slowly over the reedbed.

Continuing on I was entertained by a small flock of Barn Swallows over the field to my right and then the wooded path back towards the Visitors Centre.  First a distant Song Thrush to match the male Blackbird I had seen on the way in and then the first of two Robins looking suspiciously like moulting juveniles with the first signs of their red breasts. 

Song Thrush Turdus philomelos with young to feed

Once back at the Visitors Centre to pack everything away I noticed that alone Grey Heron had dropped in to forage in the shallow waters of the pond. a quartet of Canada Geese were resting on a small island and that the feeding station in the reeds off to the right was hosting a cock Pheasant.  No sooner had I noticed the partly concealed Pheasant than I became area of the half-dozen juvenile tits landing in the neighbouring trees; almost all Blue but at least two Great Tits.

Visitors Centre pool complete with a quartet of resting Canada Geese Branta canadensis

Leaving the site a couple more Robins and then a pair of resting Collared Doves followed by a single Woodpigeon.

Moulting Robin Erithacus rubecula

Birds seen:

Canada Goose, Mute Swan, Shelduck, Mallard, Pheasant, Little Grebe, Little Egret, Heron, Kestrel, Moorhen, Dunlin, Whimbrel, Curlew, Black-headed Gull, Herring Gull, Common Tern, Woodpigeon, Collared Dove, Barn Swallow, Robin, Blackbird, Song Thrush, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Carrion Crow.

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Wednesday 12 July 2023

 Wednesday 12 July

So, certainly good weather for the last Arboleas Birding Group meet before the summer break and if travelling back to the UK don't expect the same high temperatures!  Reading about your exploits always brings back wonderful memories of my almost twenty years in Spain and not forgetting the number of occasions on which I have been able to join the group.  For me, last Friday saw me back in Warsash on Southampton Water following a seventeen day cruise along the Norwegian coast up to North cape and then beyond, well into the Arctic Circle to spend a day on Spitzbergen.  Nevermind "land of the midnight sun," what about all those too rare birds that we might see that appeared by the score - or more.  Eider Ducks nesting in large colonies on grass at the side of the road, Arctic Skuas and Terns, Snow Buntings and Purple sandpipers plus the large Glaucous Gulls.  Loads of Fulmars and Kittiwakes but no sign of a Polar Bear!!

But, then again, Black-eared Wheatears, Hoopoes, Bee-eaters, Woodchat Shrikes, etc. and as for Griffon Vultures!  Certainly seemed to be a great day and, like Dave, wish all members a happy and restful summer break so that you come back refreshed and ready for the new Autumn arrivals.

Sierra de Maria   -   Wednesday 12th July

Our final trip out before the summer break, we're heading for the Sierra Maria where it will be a lot cooler than the forecasted 40c nearer the coast.  Juda came round to my house and we then went to the Overa Hotel where we were picking up Neville.  We missed each other for about twenty minutes as he thought I'd be in the truck, but was in the Insignia due to better comfort and air conditioning!  We got to Maria town without seeing any birds in the zone!  In town we logged House Martin, Common Swift and House Sparrow.  We arrived at the La Piza forest cafe just after Richard, Peter and Trevor.  I'd bought peanuts to refill the bird feeders.  As we drank our coffee we observed Chaffinches, a Collared Dove, 5 Jays, Blue, Great and Coal Tits, Crossbill, Mistle Thrush and Blackbird coming down to feed from the feeders, eat from the cafe supplied stale rolls or drink from the small concrete lined pool.

Jay (PHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)

We headed for the loop . I led the way with Juda and Neville in my car followed by the others in Richards' car.  From the start of the loop, through the forest area and across the agricultural zone we only added a Thekla Lark.  As we stopped by the village a charm of Goldfinches flew off from some thistles.  Richard spotted some Barn Swallows.  Things improved as we made our way along the track.  I spotted a juvenile Woodchat Shrike perched with some Rock Sparrows.  Carrying on we added Magpie, Woodpigeon and Hoopoe.  Juda then saw a hovering Kestrel followed by a Little Owl standing on a building.  Trevor also saw it from the car behind.  We had a flurry of Black-eared Wheatear sightings.  Also seen were some Carrion Crows.  We stopped by the cliff face.  In our car we missed the Bee-eater seen by the others, but found one or two on the distant dead tree.  We didn't add anything at the cliff face so carried on and were given good views of a perched Roller on a power line.

Black-eared Wheatear (PHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)

There was nothing new seen at the hamlet.  The water trough provided a White Wagtail.  We headed for the shade of the La Piza forest cafe and lunch.  Seeing more of what birds we'd seen earlier we added Crested Tit and two Great Spotted Woodpeckers who showed well on the feeders.

Great Spotted Woodpecker (PHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)

The temperature was a "cool" 29C.  We'd clocked 29 species in what turned out to be a very enjoyable day out.  More was to come.  Juda spotted three Griffon Vulture en route to Velez Blanco.  It was 43c when I got home!  Thanks everyone.  See you next in September!

Regards, Dave

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Tuesday 4 July 2023

Kristiansund, Norway

Tuesday 4 July

Our penultimate destination Norway, the lovely small town of Kristiansund.  One of the first off the ship when it docked at 8am meant that we could be on the free island-hopping ferry to visit the other three parts of this lovely, ancient town.  We called and alighted at the three docking stations to explore what was on offer before returning to the main town where the ship was moored, a journey of just 18 minutes had we stayed aboard the ferry.  And our reward?  Lots of nesting, resting and flying Kittiwakes.

Kittiwakes Rissa tridactyla at nest site

We had already had a visit from one of the local Common Gulls in search of food on the deck and were to see more from the above ferry.  

Common Gull Larus canus

Once back it was an exploration of the old town then the top of the hill to climb the observation tower giving fabulous views of the surrounding area before walking on down the the park with its three lakes.  Here we found both Common and Herring Gull along with almost a score of Mallards.

Herring Gull Larus argentatus

Amongst the trees a noisy Magpie plus a couple of Blackbirds, then a Great Tit, Wren and a few singing ChiffchaffsHouse Sparrows in the town along with a number of Feral Pigeons but as the ship sailed away a Hooded Crow crossed on front of the bow quickly followed by a pair of Oystercatchers.  And, of course, a few Common Gulls and Kittiwakes to see us on our way just after 3pm.

Kittiwakes Rissa tridactyla

Birds seen:

Mallard, Oystercatcher, Black-headed Gull, Herring Gull, Kittiwake, Rock Dove, Wren, Blackbird, Chiffchaff, Great Tit, Magpie, Hooded Crow. House Sparrow.

Herring Gull Larus argentatus

More Kittiwakes Rissa tridactyla

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