Sunday 31 December 2023

Happy New Year

Sunday 31 December

Happy new Year One and All

The end of the year has arrived and time to take stock of what was seen and not seen; how many species recorded; favourite sightings, missed opportunities, etc.  But, especially, to think back and recall the many very happy memories meeting friends old and new, friends unable to meet these past twelve months and, for me, to remember those no longer with us and, especially, my dear birding friend from Worksop, Chris Ball.  It seems so many month since his passing and still I expected to receive those regular emails informing  me of what Chris had seen and under what circumstances and hear his comments and opinions about the birds I had recorded. I had the opportunity to meet up with my special birding friends in Spain back in June and I am determined to go north next year and make contact once again with Bryan up in Darlington.

So, to all those birders out there enjoying their birding as they visits sites old and new, may I wish you a very happy and healthy New Year with lots of good birding, many special sightings and the pure enjoyment of being out in the field whatever turns up or not.

Red-legged Partridge photographed at one of my favourite sites in Malaga Province on the border with neighbouring Granada, the woods at El Robledal.  I wonder if the Hawfinch and Nuthatches plus the odd chance of a passing Goshawk or an overhead eagle or vulture still attracts visitors.

Hope to see some of you in 2024

Bob Wright

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New Forest Birding

Goldfinch Carduelis carduelis

31 December 2023

last day pf the year and decided to take a chance on visiting the New Forest where, at least, there should be some shelter from any strong winds.  Just bout to depart and a heavy shower so a fifteen minute delay then clearing clouds and some bright sunshine as I made my way to the Minstead area on the north-western area of the New Forest.  Whilst passing the Test flood plain a handful of Little Egret, Mute Swans and Black-headed Gulls on the flooded area.  Arriving at Mark Ash Wood, no sooner had I retrieved my walking boots from the boot than a heavy shower commenced.  Rather than walking this area I had a car tour, including Acres Down, with intermittent stops where I noted good-sized flocks of Woodpigeon, Carrion Crow and Robin.

With the clouds clearing and a blue sky accompanied by bright sunshine above, I decided to make my way over to Blashford Lakes and commenced my stay with a visit to the wooded area.  Robin, Blue TitGoldfinch and Dunnock recorded before reaching the Woodland Hide where I quickly added all again plus Chaffinch, Greenfinch Siskin and Blackbird.  The arrival of a pair of Long-tailed Tits was a pleasant addition.

Long-tailed Tit Aegithalos caudatus

On down to the Ivy South Hide noting the dozen Mallard on the water to my right plus a passing Herring Gull.  Lots of ducks to be seen from the hide including many Wigeon and Shoveler plus Gadwall, Pochard, Mallard and Teal.  Lots of basking Cormorant but just the one Great Crested Grebe.  A few Herring plus a single Lesser Black-backed to add to the resident Black-headed Gulls. And on this occasion many Coot on this water.

A few of the hundreds of ducks on Ibsley Water including Wigeon Anas penelope and Pintail A.acuta

Calling in once more on the Woodland Hide produced a Nuthatch then on to the Ivy North Hide where in addition to Mallard, Gadwall, Wigeon and Coot a single male Goosander was noted.  And no sooner had I seen the Goosander than a Kingfisher flashed past the hide.

Male Goosander Mergus merganser

Finally, across the road to the Tern Hide overlooking Ibsley Water where I found hundreds of ducks plus a large number of Coot and a half-dozen Cormorant.  Mainly Wigeon, Pintail and Shoveler but also a few Mallard and good number of Tufted Duck.  I did not see any of the four Goldeneye presently in residence but did see the pair of Goosanders.  Just the one Grey Heron and a single Canada Goose noted.  Leaving the water I mad my way along the lane to the small hamlet and found a large flock of Jackdaw plus a single Rook and a quintet of House Sparrows.  A couple of Woodpigeon and I was off across the narrow lane to Fritham and its Eyeworth Pond.

Grey Heron Ardea cinerea

Just a thirty minute stop at Eyweworth Pond having seen the single Carrion Crow as I approached.  Fourteen Mallards on the water and a resting Heron on the far bank.  With so much food on offer (I wonder who puts this out each day?), the small birds soon arrived once I had parked up and had my camera ready for whatever put in an appearance.  In addition to a few House Sparrows and Dunnocks, I recorded Robin, Nuthatch, lots of Chaffinches and plenty of Blue, not so many Great and both Marsh and Coal Tits.  But not forgetting the Great Spotted Woodpecker that put in a brief appearance.

Coal Tit Parus ater

Birds seen:

Canada Goose, Mute Swan, Gadwall, Wigeon, Mallard, Shoveler, Teal, Pintail, Pochard, Tufted Duck, Goosander, Great Crested Grebe, Cormorant, Little Egret, Heron, Coot, Black-headed Gull, Herring Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Woodpigeon, Kingfisher, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Dunnock, Robin, Blackbird, Long-tailed Tit, Marsh Tit, Coal Tit, Nuthatch, Jackdaw, Rook, Carrion Crow, Starling, House Sparrow, Chaffinch, Greenfinch, Goldfinch, Siskin.

Blue Tit Parus caeruleus

Gadwall Anas strepera

Goldfinch Carduelis carduelis

Long-tailed Tit Aegithalos caudatus

Marsh Tit Parus palustris

Nuthatch Sitta europaea

Goldfinch with Nuthatch

Nuthatch about to be "bombed" by an arriving Blue Tit

Robin Erithacus rubecula

Male Siskin Carduelis spinus

Make and female Siskin Carduelis spinus

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Saturday 30 December 2023

Pennington Marshes, Lymington

Friday 29 December

having had a twenty minute rest from the morning's visit to Titchfield Canal, I was in the car and off to Lymington to visit the nearby Pennington Marshes, arriving just on 1.30pm, and noting the over-flying Buzzard a I approached the site. Still dry and with broken cloud and a low, penetrating sun I mad my way from the parking space at the end of Lower Pennington Land across the reserve to the Solent coast.  The flooded fields to my left held at least 350 resting Golden Plover along with hundreds of Lapwing and a few Canada and Greylag Geese. The occasional Carrion Crow was feeding nearby.

Golden Plovers Pluvialis apricaria (above) and Lapwing Vanellus vanellus nearer to the camera

Stopping at the first pond to the left of the track I noted the quartet of Gadwall along with a pair of Mallard, single Redshank and a foraging Pied Wagtail. A couple of nearby Magpies as I continued on down to the coast and the a large flock of sixty plus Linnets swirling around in front of me and making use of the local bushes. Once at the shore, time to note the lone Turnstone then look inland and see many more Lapwing plus many Teal, sheltering in the sun and away from the increasing wind, plus a large number of Wigeon. Even the resting Redshank looked out of place. Far away in the distance I could see a quintet of Spoonbill to add t the single individual that had been at the back of the flooded field.  Nearer tome, a couple of Oystercatchers.

Redshank Tringa totanus enjoying the sunshine

Retracing my steps and on past the approach track along the sea wall I stopped to check the large water on my right.  Mainly Shoveler and a few Coot plus a few Mallards. The final water before the sharp turn to the right not only held  small number of Tufted Duck but also a visiting Scaup.

Shoveler Anas clypeata

So to the final pool before turning inland to make my way back to the car.  Many more birds on this water including Wigeon, Shoveler, Mallard and Pintail plus Coots and a large number of Brent Geese.  No shortage of Black-headed and even more Herring Gulls.

Pintail Anas acuta with a quartet of Shoveler A.clypeata below

Once on the higher ground I could look back at the water and see the departing small flock of Golden Plover, note the number of Lapwings and even find a couple of resting Shelduck. As I mad my way along the track off to the right I noted the large flocks of both Golden Plover and Lapwing in the air.

Golden Plover Pluvialis apricaria flock on the move
Likewise, a few of the Lapwing Vanellus vanellus flock

Once scope and rucksack off-loaded into the car I took a short walk down the continuing lane, closed to vehicles, and noted a good number of Herring Gulls on the lake to my right.  Stopping to check out the rear, now close to me, large pool I had seen from the sea wall I found many flighty Black-headed Gulls and, immediately in front of me, a Heron plus many Lapwing, Teal, Coot and Brent Geese, etc.

Heron Ardea cinerea and friends

Birds seen:

Greylag Goose, Brent Goose, Canada Goose, Shelduck, Gadwall, Wigeon, Mallard, Shoveler, Teal, Pintail, Tufted Duck, Scaup, Heron, Spoonbill, Buzzard, Coot, Oystercatcher, Golden Plover, Lapwing, Black-tailed Godwit, Redshank, Turnstone, Black-headed Gull, Herring Gull, Woodpigeon, Pied Wagtail, Blackbird, Magpie, Carrion Crow, Linnet.

Lapwing Vanellus vanellus

Greylag Geese Anser anser

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Titchfield Canal

Firecrest  Regulus ignicapilla

Friday 29 December

Quite a dramatic start to my my early morning visit to Titchfield Canal with Richard Osman.  Arriving at 9.15 we found three police cars in the small car park and an ambulance on the interior road in front.  By the time we had changed into wellington boots for the wet walk, the police and ambulance crews were returning from somewhere down the canal path with their casualty to place in the ambulance.  Suddenly we had a circling air ambulance, which certainly moved all the birds off the first water, and eventually the helicopter landed on the bowling green.  (Pretty sure that will have gone down well with the bowling club!)  Meanwhile, Richard and I set off on our walk and as we were checking the Bridge Street floods we heard the ambulance departing, with or without the patient we do not know.

A few Carrion Crow and Woodpigeons to join the Robin the car park but no sign of the resident Barn Owls.  On the main flood water to our left we watched a flock of Feral Pigeons descend onto the distant power lines whilst on the water itself many Pintail and accompanied by Coot, Mallard and Mute SwansLapwings at the edges plus a resting small flock of mainly Black-headed but also a handful of Herring Gulls.  A couple of Magpies flew past and as we approached Posbrook Floods a couple of resting Heron plus both Blue and Great Tits.  The local Jackdaws seemed very active with at least forty individuals in the mobile flock.

The main flood water seemed full of bird life with a great number of Black-headed plus more Herring Gulls and the main duck being a large flock of Wigeon.  In addition many Teal and Shoveler plus more Pintail and Mallards.  Not so many Tufted Duck on this occasion but no shortage of Coot and even a a quartet of Gadwall.  Three Cormorants noted before finding the small flock of Canada Geese. On a grassy island a couple of cock Pheasants.

Mainly Black-headed Gulls Larus ridibundus with Shoveler Anas clypeata in the background

The trees on the canal bank produced a small number of Long-tailed and more Blue Tits before the passing Blackbird. However, sight of the morning was the busy little foraging Firecrest deep down in the shrubs at the water's edge.  Very active and most difficult to keep up with the bird, especially when fully exposed.

The ever active Firecrest  Regulus ignicapilla

Back to the car park to take a walk round the back of the buildings when the sudden heavy rain, preceded by a beautiful rainbow, arrived and necessitated us taking immediate shelter where we could find it.  When the rain eventually eased up, after about fifteen minutes, we made our way back to Warsash.

Birds seen:

Canada Goose, Mute Swan, Gadwall, Wigeon, Mallard, Shoveler, Teal, Pintail, Tufted Duck, Pheasant, Cormorant, Heron, Coot, Lapwing, Black-headed Gull, Herring Gull, Rock Dove, Woodpigeon, Robin, Blackbird, Long-tailed Tit, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Firecrest, Magpie, Jackdaw, Carrion Crow, Starling.

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Wednesday 27 December 2023

Warsash and Solent Shores

Tuesday 26 December

After all the excess food and excitement of Christmas Day, Boxing Day arrived with a change in the weather.  Still cloudy but dry and not a breath of wind, perhaps the lull before the storm with bad weather and all sorts of warnings re the expected change to be found on the morrow.  So, after lunch, and the need for some healthy exercise, Jenny and I took a mid-afternoon walk down to the nearby harbour and then along to the Spit to continue on to the Meandering Pool and back which, pleasingly, coincided with the low tide and we all know how quickly the water disappears following the double full-tide.  A Black-headed Gull on the lamppost as we left the drive and passing the slipway a Pied Wagtail

A few of the very many Wigeon Anas penelope

Once on the coastal path up to Strawberry Fields not a lot of birdlife, other than a handful of Brent Geese, a few Black-headed Gulls and the odd Redshank on the shore but a Robin crossed the path in front of us and away in the distance the first Carrion Crow.  Approaching the School of Navigation pier both Woodpigeon and Carrion Crow in the neighbouring trees followed by a pair of overflying Magpies. Moving on a Heron flew over us and out to the water line and very little else to see until we reached the lee side of the now almost empty basement of the Spit.  Here, almost a hundred resting Wigeon and  and the occasional Oystercatcher.  However, a pair of Cormorant were seen flying up the Solent and into the mouth of the Hamble River.

Distant Oystercatchers Haematopus ostralegus

Reaching the Scrape more Wigeon at the back along with a small number of Pintail and a quartet of Teal. Along with the few Mallard a single Moorhen was foraging on the island. Looking up we found the "Baker's Dozen" Canada Geese as they flew over honking away to each other. Nothing else to see on the walk and just a single Black-headed Gull on the Meandering Pool.  However, making the return walk a look out to the Solent found no end of resting Black-headed a few Herring and a single Great Black-backed Gull. Very many feeding Oystercatchers plus a few Redshank, Dunlin and even a handful of Sanderling.  A couple of Curlew were a pleasant addition and ere long we were back on the final path in front of Strawberry Fields where a Blue Tit put in an appearance to take the final tally for the afternoon up to 23 species.

Great Black-backed Gull Larus marinus

Birds seen:

Canada Goose, Brent Goose, Wigeon, Mallard, Teal, Pintail, Cormorant, Heron, Moorhen, Oystercatcher, Sanderling, Dunlin, Curlew, Redshank, Black-headed Gull, Herring Gull, Great Black-backed Gull, Woodpigeon, Pied Wagtail, Robin, Blue Tit, Magpie, Carrion Crow.

Pintails Anas acuta

Teal Anas crecca and Mallard Anas platyrhynchos

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Sunday 24 December 2023

Hayling Island Oyster Beds

Sunday 24 December

A horrible, cloudy , dull ay with a hint of worse to come.  Blow staying n the house so I headed off to Hayling Island to visit the furthest eastern point at Sandy Point overlooking the sea.  Rough!!  With the horrendous gale even the Black-headed Gulls and Carrion Crows were taking shelter on the grass on the land side of the sea wall.  No chance at all of raising the scope to check the sea so immediately gave up and drove back to the car park at the southern end of the Oyster Beds adjacent to the "Billy Line" track.

Curlew Numenius arquata

The tide now well on its way out revealing a number of Brent Geese, Oystercatchers, Carrion Crows and Black-headed Gulls.  Checking with the bins, whilst try to seek some shelter from the very strong wind, I also added both Curlew and Redshank.

Little Grebe Tachybaptus ruficllis

Continuing on northwards to the main water I was pleased to once again find the long-staying female Long-tailed Duck.  At the far, northern, end of this water a trio of Little Grebes before checking out the remaining emptying pools where I found 28 Shelduck along with more Brent Geese, Curlew and Redshank.

Shelduck Tadorna tadorna

Finally, back on to the old railway track for the walk back to the car with some shelter from the wind which produced 7seven Woodpigeon and five Magpies.  Almost a the end of the trail when a Blackbird crossed from one side to the other and was quickly followed by a half-dozen Goldfinches.  Once back in the car and ready to depart, a final check on the exposed mud and not only more resting Black-headed Gulls near the water's edge but also a single Mediterranean Gull.

Redshank Tringa totanus

Birds seen:

Brent Goose, Shelduck, Long-tailed Duck, Little Grebe, Oystercatcher, Dunlin, Curlew, Redshank, Black-headed Gull, Mediterranean Gull, Woodpigeon, Blackbird, Magpie, Carrion Crow, Goldfinch.

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Blashford Lakes, new Forest

 Friday 22 December

A few of the hundreds of Pintail Anas acuta

Early departure with Richard Osman to spend the morning in the New Forest at Blashford Lakes reserve.  Dry but still windy and Sun trying t make an appearance through the broken cloud. On site at Ibsley Water and much good birding including Firecrest, Kingfisher, Great White Egret and Ring-necked Duck.  The lake was still very full covering all the islands and water quite choppy but still holding hundreds of Shoveler, Wigeon and Pintail plus scores of Tufted Duck, Mallard and Teal.  Even a single Goldeneye but only a couple of Great Crested Grebes to accompany the dozen or so Cormorants.  Two Great White Egrets and a single Heron plus scores of Coot made up the rest of the birds.  On the neighbouring land just the one Blackbird and a couple of Egyptian Geese.

Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo

Leaving the water to make our way across the road to the man reserve we encountered Great and Blue Tits, Chaffinch and Robin as we made our way towards Ivy North Hide.  Approaching the final path a small flock of Long-tailed Tits in the trees in front and then the first sight of the water which held a good number of ducks, mainly Wigeon and Gadwall but also both Mallard and Teal.  A few basking Cormorant and Black-headed Gulls as a couple of Woodpigeons flew over.

Working our way through the trees to the Woodland Hide we stopped to watch the large flock of feeding Siskins at the tree tops and also noted a handful of Lesser Redpoll.  Once inside the hide, initially very quiet until the Blue and Great Tits arrived to feed along with Goldfinches, Chaffinches and Greenfinches.  A couple of Dunnock were foraging on the ground where they were joined by a male Blackbird.

As soon to the Ivy South Hide passing the water on our right which held a score of Mallard.  On the lake itself many Wigeon and Gadwall along with Mallard, Teal and a pair of Great Crested Grebe.  A Kingfisher flashed past the hide and then time to also note both more Cormorants and Black-headed Gulls.

Shoveler Anas clypeata and Wigeon Anas penelope

Time to move on but having returned to the car we took a short walk across the road to the track leading away to the main road and Goosander Hide.  The, atop the small rise, we stopped at the bench and enjoyed listening to the calling Firecrests before catching a very brief glimpse as one flew away to  neighbouring pine tree.  Driving down to the house at the bottom of Ellingham Drove, first a handful of Carrion Crow followed by the first of two Magpies to be seen as a Song Thrush crossed the road in front of us and then a couple of Jackdaws.  Up to ten Pied Wagtails feeding in the last field on the left and on the roofs of the houses in front a large flock of Feral Pigeons and a couple of Starlings.

Male Tufted Ducks Aythya fuligula

Our final stop was near the ford at the north-eastern corner of Poulner lake where we left the car to take the footpath alongside the southern shore of Linbrook East Lake.    Mute Swans, Wigeon, Gadwall and Mallard as we made our way tot he far end to find the small flock of Tufted Duck and their, in their midst, the lone male Ring-necked Duck that appeared a few days earlier and has now been seen by many local birders.

Ring-necked Duck Aythya collaris

Birds seen:

Mute Swan, Egyptian Goose, Gadwall, Wigeon, Mallard, Shoveler, Teal, Pintail, Pochard, Ring-necked Duck, Tufted Duck, Goldeneye, Great Crested Grebe, Cormorant, Great White Egret, Heron, Marsh Harrier, Buzzard, Coot, Black-headed Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Herring Gull, Stock Dove, Woodpigeon, Kingfisher, Pied Wagtail, Dunnock, Robin, Blackbird, Song Thrush, Long-tailed Tit, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Firecrest, Magpie, Jackdaw, Rook, Carrion Crow, Starling, Chaffinch, Greenfinch, Goldfinch, Siskin, Lesser Redpoll.

More Pintails Anas acuta on Ibsley water

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