Wednesday 27 March 2024

Cabo de Gata with the Arboleas Birding Group

Wednesday 27 March

Dave and his Arboleas Birding Group back at my favourite site in Almeria and although disappointing numbers, probably as a result of the recent bad weather, no doubt lovely to see their first Woodchat Shrike of the year, something I'm not going to see back here in the UK! As for the much reduced number of Greater Flamingos, possibly a result of the prolonged drought over the past nine months or more?  Probably no consolation to say that the rain continues to rain in Warsash.

Cabo de Gata & Rambla Morales: Wednesday 27th March

The forecast for the Almeria region was sunny with clouds and high winds.  They were not wrong!

Paul and I headed south on the A7/E15 towards Almeria and came off at the Retamar turn off.  Between there and the first hide on the Cabo de Gata bird reserve we logged Collared Dove, House Sparrow, Blackbird, Magpie and Jackdaw.

Even with the recent rains the water level was as it had been.  As I wrote up the beginning of the list, Paul scanned the waters in front of us.  He found a single Avocet and numerous Black-winged Stilts hunkered down to our left.  On the wider stretches of water there were Greater Flamingos, but not in the numbers of previous visits.  I found a sheltering Grey Heron on the shrubby causeway.  Also seen were Yellow-legged Gulls and a few Mallard.  On the far right there was a small flock of gulls.  I identified both Audouin's and Black Headed Gulls.  Paul found a Kentish Plover.  I caught a glimpse of a flash of white from a distant bush.  Sitting there was our first Woodchat Shrike of the year.  It was still there on view when Trevor and Val arrived.  From our location we could see how rough the sea was.  I saw a couple of adult Gannets passing by quite close to the beach. We were then joined by Peter (2) and two of Kevin's friends from Holland, Kees (pronounced case) and Leo.  I'd met Kees in the past.  On their way in they had seen Kestrel, Spotless Starling and Hoopoe.  I checked the rocky causeway and added Grey Plover, Redshank and Black-tailed Godwit.  Val spotted an Iberian Yellow Wagtail. 

Non-feathered rollers hitting the beach

After a coffee in Cabo village we made our way to the second hide.  The rollers (waves!) were breaking on the beach.  We saw more Gannets.  We trudged to the hide.  The only addition to the list was some pink tinged Slender-billed Gulls  En route to the public hide we saw some Greenfinch.  We found most of the birds seen from the hide were in shelter.  Paul found seven Black-tailed Godwits.  We added some Shelduck and a single Cormorant.  Val spotted a very windswept Little Egret under our noses.

Windswept Little Egret (PHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)

We next headed along the beachside track to the Rambla Morales.  One of the sand drifts across the track caused a bit of concern, but we all got through it ok.  There was a single Oystercatcher at the estuary end.  We headed down towards the hump.  There was a large flock of swimming Black-headed Gulls.  On the far reed line there was another Oystercatcher, some Black-winged Stilts and a diving Little Grebe.  That was it apart from a Crested Lark on the way back to the motorway.

Black-winged Stilts, Oystercatcher and Little Grebe (PHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)

We ended up with a slightly disappointing 31 species, but it was nice to see at least one or two incoming migrants.  Great company as usual.
Giving best wishes to David Green and Tom Senior.

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Monday 25 March 2024

Hook with Warsash Nature Reserve

Northern Wheatear Oenanthe oenanthe

Sunday 24 March

A bright, sunny and mainly clear morning, albeit with a strong cold wind, when collected by friends Richard and Adria o attend the morning meet of the Hampshire Ornithological Society's (HOS) walk around my local Hook-with-Warsash Nature Reserve starting at the top of Workmans Lane.  A final total of 18 members set off through the parkland to the woods behind having already recorded Blue, Great and Long-tailed Tits, Blackcap, Chiffchaff and Wren.  No sooner were we under way than we had our first Woodpigeon and Magpie along with a Greenfinch.  A handful of Long-tailed Tits were feeding in the trees in front of us and away to our right I was able to point out the two Red Kites above the trees. Then, not so much the Robin but the Firecrest that was working its way along the hedge to our left before we then also recorded a Goldcrest up ahead of us.

Long-tailed Tit Aegithalos caudatus watching me watching it!

Once walking through the trees we heard both Green and Great Spotted Woodpeckers plus the sight of more Chiffchaffs and a second, female, Blackcap. The first of a few Blackbirds put in an appearance before we crossed the road and took the path down to the shore to reach the concrete block at the Spit for a rest and chance to take stock the choppy waters of the Solent (Southampton Water) and the inland side of the Spit at high tide.  A Herring Gull flew over and we noted the dozen resting Oystercatchers before also seeing a couple of Black-headed Gulls.

The Scrape

Time to walk on down to the Scrape but stop to watch the ascending Skylark with its beautiful song before noting the resting Black-headed and three Herring Gulls.  On the nearest island a couple of Oystercatchers and Moorhen before the pair of Gadwall headed off for the left-corner of the water to join a small flock of Teal and two Wigeon.  On the platforms at the back a Cormorant on the left box and a pair of Shelduck on the right box.  behind the small island to our right a lone, feeding Little Grebe and a passing Mallard.  Overhead, apart from a few passing Black-headed Gulls, a couple of Carrion Crows.

Gadwalls Anas strepera with Black-headed Gull and Moorhen

Moving through the gorse are we found not one but two Northern Wheatears followed by a pair of both Stonechat and Linnet.  Finding the second Wheatear as it moved across the ground we also discovered a feeding Meadow Pipit. meanwhile, at the back beyond the hedge and into the neighbouring field at least eight resting Curlew.  Then it was on to the Meandering Pool which produced a Little  Egret, pair of Mallard and a passing Heron.

Stonechat Saxicola torquatus

Having stopped at Chilling Head for our picnic lunch during which a few members noted the small flock of Sanderling flying southwards along the shore, we made our way up the path to Workmans Lane to enter the Horse Fields via a very muddy track.  During the walk up a couple of Rock Doves and a lovely Long-tailed Tit feeding in the trees at the top of the path.  Lots of Carrion Crows and Jackdaws on show but also a couple of Rooks.  To our right we found a solitary Egyptian Goose and at the top of the track, well as far as we could go without swimming in a muddy pool, the sight of a few Pied Wagtails away to our left along with a Meadow Pipit.  No sign of the resident, breeding Ravens this morning but the pond at the back held a number of Canada Geese plus a single Coot.  On the other hand, immediately in front of us a flock of at least an hundred Starlings feeding between bushes and the feet of the horses.

Egyptian Goose Alpochen aegyptiaca

Birds seen:

Canada Goose, Egyptian Goose, Shelduck, Gadwall, Wigeon, Mallard, Teal, Little Grebe, Cormorant, Little Egret, Heron, Red Kite, Moorhen, Coot, Oystercatcher, Curlew, Black-headed Gull, Herring Gull, Rock Dove, Woodpigeon, Green Woodpecker, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Skylark, Meadow Pipit, Pied Wagtail, Wren, Robin, Stonechat, Northern Wheatear, Blackbird, Blackcap, Chiffchaff, Goldcrest, Firecrest, Long-tailed Tit, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Nuthatch, Magpie, Jackdaw, Rook, Carrion Crow, Starling, Greenfinch, Goldfinch, Linnet.

Distant, concealed Chiffchaff Phylloscopus collybita

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Friday 22 March 2024

RSPB Pagham Harbour

Friday 22 March

Resting Black-tailed Godwits Limosa limosa

Following a morning's walk around Chichester and its cathedral, there was time for a slight diversion on the way back to Warsash to call in at RSPB Pagham Harbour for 45 minutes between the light showers, with a passing Buzzard overhead as we approached the reserve. Dull, poor light but, nevertheless, a good number of birds on Fleet Pool.  Lots of Shoveler and Teal along with six Shelduck and a quartet of Mallard.  Also present at least fifty Black-tailed Godwit, thirty Avocet, a Curlew and a departing Snipe.  Gulls were mainly Black-headed on the water along with a single great Black-backed Gull plus a handful of Herring Gulls on the grass to my right.

Black-tailed Godwit Limosa limosa in summer plumage

Beyond the water a pair of Mute Swans were resting on the grass and a Magpie and Carrion Crows along with a score of Woodpigeon were also noted.  Behind the hide there was no shortage of seed available in the feeding station which attracted Robin, Dunnock and both Blue and Great Tits. I had already recorded Blackbird, Wren and Goldfinch as I walked towards the hide.  A lone Chaffinch was singing atop the tree to the side of the small pool.

Dunnock Prunella modularis

Taking the anti-clockwise circuit back to the Visitors Centre via the river and woodland trail I found a pair of Moorhen on the water plus a single Wigeon.  A lone Lapwing rose from a ditch and disappeared over to the far side.  Just before tuning into the trees I noted the lone Little Egret behind the grassy bank to my right.

Curlew Numenius arquata

Once back at the Visitors Centre plenty of Great Tits on the feeders plus a few House Sparrows and a male Chaffinch.

Avocets Recurvirostra avosetta 

Birds seen:

Mute Swan, Shelduck, Wigeon, Mallard, Shoveler, Teal, Little Egret, Buzzard, Moorhen, Avocet, Lapwing, Snipe, Black-tailed Godwit, Curlew, Black-headed Gull, Herring Gull, Great Black-backed Gull, Woodpigeon, Wren, Dunnock, Robin, Blackbird, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Magpie, Carrion Crow, House Sparrow, Chaffinch, Goldfinch.

Avocets Recurvirostra avosetta

Black-tailed Godwits Limosa limosa

Resting Black-headed Gulls Larus ridibundus with three Shelduck Tadorna tadorna

Curlew Numenius arquata

Distant Great Black-backed Gull Larus marinus

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Sussex Birding

Thursday 21 March

A day out at the Weald and Downland Living Museum just north of Chichester proved both most enjoyable and informative.  Not only the museum but the birds noted in the grounds, fields and woods during our four hour stay.  Starting with the birds on the pond once inside, Mallard, Coot, Moorhen alongside Carrion Crow and Jackdaw we were all set to add to the list as jenny and I walked between the various old buildings.. Everywhere we went we found an accompanying Robin and looking beyond the site to the nearby fields soon added numerous Woodpigeons and Rooks plus the occasional Pheasant and a Magpie.

Robin Erithacus rubecula

Moving into the wooded part f the site we quickly added Blue and Great Tits along with Chiffchaff, Wren, Song Thrush, Blackbird and a couple of Green Woodpeckers. Amazing to think we had recorded eighteen species by the time we departed.

Song Thrush Turdus philomelos

Birds seen:

Mallard, Pheasant, Moorhen, Coot, Woodpigeon, Green Woodpecker, Wren, Robin, Blackbird, Song Thrush, Chiffchaff, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Magpie, Jackdaw, Rook, Carrion Crow, Chaffinch.

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Wednesday 20 March 2024

Rambla de Almanzora & Vera Playa

Wednesday 20 March

Interesting morning for Dave and his Arboleas Birding Group  which, in the end, turned out to be quite productive.  How long ago since I saw a quintet of Little Stints and yet to see my first Little Ringed Plover of Barn Swallow back in the south of the UK. I might need to pop over to nearby Hayling Island to see how the breeding colony of hundreds of Mediterranean Gulls are settling down to bring back happy memories of my twenty years in Malaga province!

Rambla de Almanzora & Vera Playa: Wednesday 20th March

Being on my own and having to use my truck as the comfortable car was in for service and ITV, I headed out early to go to the Rambla de Almanzora.  I joined it just past the Desert Springs golf complex.  At the first weir the pool held a Moorhen and a Mallard.  A Yellow-legged Gull and a Cattle Egret flew by.  Further along I stopped opposite any of the shallow pools that looked interesting.  I found Green and Wood Sandpipers on one with Little Ringed Plovers.  Also seen were Yellow Wagtail and Water Pipit. There were a few Black-winged Stilts and numerous Shovelers.  I passed the ford, passing the reed bed when a Hoopoe and Magpie flew by.  I made my way to the Consum dual carriageway where I picked up Phil and Sue.  They had seen Barn Swallow and Common Swift.  En route to the parking area we added Jackdaw and Collared Dove (a posh pigeon!)  Whilst the others arrived we saw Woodpigeon, Chiffchaff and Phil got a Serin.  We were joined by Richard, Peter 1 & 2, Trevor, Kevin and Troy.  The latter two did the sewage works walk, but didn't add to the list.
We made our way to the beach.  There were a couple of Cormorants on the harbour rocks.  Peter 2 found some Spotless Starlings on the tower.  Phil added a Sandwich Tern. I spotted a pod of 3 or 4 Dolphins which were lovely to see.

Little Ringed Plover (PHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)

We moved to the far side of the estuary. The number of birds was very disappointing.  We had a Coot and a Little Egret.  Richard and Peter 1 saw a Kestrel as we left.

We adjourned to the Tiburon cafe in Villaricos village.  Suitably refreshed, we made our way to the dual carriageway opposite the Consum supermarket behind Vera Playa.  Phil immediately found 5 Little Stints and a Kentish Plover where the Moorhens hang out.  The usual Greater Flamingos were there together with Shovelers, Little Grebes and a few Common Pochard.  Richard added a Blackbird.  I drove the truck to the far side of the hump.  Phil and Sue walked and saw a Sardinian Warbler.  Kevin spotted about a dozen Shelduck resting on the opposite water line.  Phil found a Ruff.  There was a raft of about 15 Mediterranean Gulls on the water.  Peter 1 had a glimpse of a Marsh Harrier before it landed in the far reeds. 

Five Little Stints (PHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)

We moved round to the end viewing platform opposite the Aguaparc.  There were a few White-headed Ducks.  I spotted a Red-crested Pochard resting in the reed line.  A Marsh Harrier gained height at the far end of the salina and then headed off towards the Almanzora estuary.

We ended with 41 species.  Lovely weather and company. 
Hope David Green feels better soon.

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Tuesday 19 March 2024

El Fondo Reserve with David Elliott-Binns

Glossy Ibis (PHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)

El Fondo  -  Monday 18th March

Gilly was arriving at Alicante airport at about 14.30, so I left home early, getting to the El Fondo bird reserve Information centre car park at about 12.  En route from the motorway I logged Collared Dove, Crested Lark and House Sparrow.  The car park was virtually full, including a couple of coaches.  Sitting having a coffee and two cheese scones, I scanned the shallow waters in front of me.  I could see Greater Flamingos, Glossy Ibises, Moorhen, Coot and Black Winged Stilts.  I moved around to the Information Centre observation area.  The viewing area was littered with small backpacks.  I assume the primary school was on a day out prior to Easter holidays.  Picking my way through the assault course, I scanned the enclosed pond.  Presumably due to the noise from the kids might be the cause for the lack of birds.  I did manage to see a Red-knobbed Coot and a Purple Swamphen.

Purple Swamphen (PHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)

I moved round to the wooden walkway.  I checked the shallow waters in front of me.  I counted 110 Glossy Ibis and some Greater Flamingos . I also saw Little Grebe and Little Egret.  As I made my way to the observation platform I saw more Red-knobbed Coots.  I heard Cetti's Warbler.  I had distant views of three Marbled Ducks. I found an Iberian Yellow Wagtail. The Black Winged Stilts had begun to nest.

Iberian Yellow Wagtail (PHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)

I moved to the far hide as the next one was full.  Here I found some Shelduck, a Mallard and another Marbled Duck, which thrilled a Spanish birding couple who hadn't noticed it.  I retraced my steps to the other, it now being empty.  I added Red-crested Pochard and Cattle Egret to the list.  As I walked back to the car a Woodpigeon flew over.  The last bird on the list was a Linnet perched on a roadside fence en route back to the motorway.

Distant Marbled Ducks (PHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)

El Fondo always produces good birds.  Also a lot are not fazed by humans on the walkway that they come very close.  The nesting Black-winged Stilts were 5 metres away.

Nesting Back-winged Stilt (PHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)

Another additional bird photo from my back garden....A Black Wheatear.

Garden shot of Black Wheatear (PHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)

Would also like to mention David & Myrtle Green. They celebrated their 62nd Wedding Anniversary yesterday. I'm sure you'll join me in sending them best wishes!
David & Myrtle Green celebrating their 62nd Wedding Anniversary

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Friday 15 March 2024

Lower Hamble River

Friday 15 March 

Just a short pause outside the house to let the final shower cease and dry weather take over before taking a walk up the Hamble River to the conservation area and back with friend Richard Osman.  Cloudy and lots of standing water on the footpath but no lack of birds albeit in small numbers.  No sooner at the waterside that a core of Black-tailed Godwits accompanied by a handful of Dunlin, Oystercatcher, a  few resting Brent Geese and a lone foraging Turnstone.  Many more Brent Geese as we worked our way up river and also additional Dunlin and Oystercatchers.

Black-tailed Godwit Limosa limosa

Once past the ferry pier the first Curlew and Redshank and then a score of Knot and a dozen Grey Plover at the water's edge. On the meadow side of the path a Greenshank and then we were amongst the remaining Wigeon and a half-dozen Teal. At the back the first of four Shelduck seen during the walk and a lone Little Egret.  More Herring than Black-headed Gulls at first although more of the latter towards the conservation area.

Greenshank Tringa nebularia with Wigeon Anas penelope behind 

On the water itself a Cormorant was seen flying down towards the confluence with Southampton Water and not far off shore a fishing Black-throated Diver and, a little nearer to the shore, a lone Great Crested Grebe.

Great Crested Grebe Podiceps cristatus

Once at the conservation area the first of three Carrion Crow came to rest on the hulk to our right and making our way back down river we recorded both Rock Dove and Magpie with a single Woodpigeon atop an electricity pole near the car park.

Birds seen:  

Brent Goose, Shelduck, Wigeon, Teal, Great Crested Grebe, Black-throated Diver, Cormorant, Little Egret, Oystercatcher, Grey Plover, Knot, Dunlin, Black-tailed Godwit, Curlew, Redshank, Greenshank, Turnstone, Black-headed Gull, Herring Gull, Rock Dove, Woodpigeon, Magpie, Carrion Crow.

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Thursday 14 March 2024

Sierra de Maria with the Arboleas Birding Group

Wednesday 13 March 

fabulous weather and fabulous birding for this week's Arboleas Birding Group's visit to the Sierra de Maria.  An early Woodchat Shrike, Great Spotted Cuckoo and Barn Swallow would confirm spring is well and truly on its way.  Then, of course, lots of great sightings to please all participants and help make such  wonderful day's birding.  Amazing how you take for granted the birds seen in Spain and then realise, try as you may, you're very unlikely to see many of the species back in the UK.  Even a Red-legged Partridge is becoming a challenge nevermind such exotics as Short-toed Eagle and Griffon Vulture.  And o for the joy of a Woodchat Shrike! Feeling most envious.

Sierra de Maria  -  Wednesday 13th March

Beautiful weather and scenery with the snow-topped Sierra de Maria (PHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)

After Richard and Juda had arrived at mine, I drove them in Richard's car up the motorway towards the Sierra de Maria.  Once we had passed Velez Blanco our list began.  By the time we'd reached Maria we'd seen Woodpigeon, House Sparrow, Mistle Thrush and Spotless Starling.  Leaving the town we added Greenfinch and Blackbird before we got to the La Piza forest cafe.  As Juda and I replenished the empty bird feeders Richard noted Coal Tits and Chaffinches waiting for us to finish.  As we had our coffees, we were joined by Trevor, Val and Phil who had seen a Jackdaw en route.  News had got out that the feeders were full.  We saw Crested, Long-tailed, Blue and Great Tits.  Richard saw a Jay.  I found a Robin.  A female Crossbill came for a drink. The Collared Dove was interested in the bread pile.

Jay (PHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)

We convoyed along the loop.  We only saw Chaffinch and Carrion Crow in the forest.  Once we got to the fields we added Crested Lark, Magpie and a Calandra Lark doing a display flight.  As we parked up outside the village a pair of Mallard flew by.  Moving on we saw Thekla Lark, Black Redstart and a large flock of Linnet.  Next was a White Wagtail and a pair of Hoopoe.  As we reached the ruined building on the left, I spotted a Little Owl on a rock pile.  We saw another two further along.  The Red-legged Partridges had paired up.  A charm of Goldfinches settled on the dead thistles.  A Raven flew by.

Red-legged Partridge (PHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)

A number of Carrion Crows were seen, I added a Stonechat as we reached the reeded brook . We were amazed to see a male Marsh Harrier glide by.  Reaching the cliff I spotted two Black Wheatears on top. A Kestrel flew off. Stock/Rock Doves were beginning to check out nest holes . I didn't know this, but apparently the difference between a dove and a pigeon is that in the South West of the UK a dove is "more posher" than a pigeon! Ummmm?  Val was first to hear a distant Red-billed Chough.  I found some distant Griffon Vultures.  Moving on I spotted a bird flying across afield, landing on the side of a tree.  An Iberian Green Woodpecker.  In the tree behind it was another one seen entering a nice hole.  

Iberian Green Woodpecker (PHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)

As we passed the farm buildings Richard saw a couple of Northern Starlings with a group of Spotless cousins.  En route to the hamlet we saw another Little Owl.  I added a Barn Swallow.  Moving on to the water trough there were a few White Wagtails.  Richard thought one was dark enough to be a Pied. Trevor found another Barn Swallow.  Carrying on, I saw a raptor to our left.  Our first Short Toed Eagle of the year. Behind it were more Griffon Vultures. 

Distant Short-toed Eagle (PHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)

We returned to the La Piza forest cafe.  As we ate our lunch (Yes, the lamb chops were delicious!) we saw many of the previously seen birds.  Phil added a male Blackcap.

Long-tailed Tits (PHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)

Having done a recount, I can confirm 45 species.  Great weather, birding and company!
An additional photo taken in my back garden a few days ago attached.

Great Spotted Cuckoo
(PHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)
in rear garden!

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Tuesday 12 March 2024

Dorset Birding

Male Mandarin Duck Aix galericulata

Sunday/Monday 10/11 March

The original plan was to spend Sunday morning at RSPB Arne before working our way back o Poole harbour for our overnight having also visited a few of the sites around Lytchett Bay on the final journey.  Come Sunday a sail over to Brownsea Island on the ferry or a cruise round the greater harbour before working our way back to Warsash with a possible visit to Blashford Lakes to check if the Bittern was still present as we passed through Ringwood.  What could go wrong?  Almost everything evidently.

Leaving home in time to arrive at RSPB Arne by 10 o'clock we were welcome by a noisy group of Jackdaws and the occasional Carrion Crow to commence an anti-clockwise tour of the reserve in dry, overcast skies but neither rain nor wind. The initial feeding station was very active with many Blue and Great Tits, Chaffinches and Siskins plus the occasional Goldfinch and foraging Robins, Dunnocks and Blackbirds.  Heading up and through the trees before dropping down to the Shipstal shoreline we added Woodpigeons and then the sight of a fifty Oystercatchers and a lone Curlew.  Further out a relatively nearby Red-breasted Merganser with a further five in deeper water.  Working round to get a closer view and a photograph we were most disappointed to have a pair of jet skis come closer inshore and drive everything away. All that was left were a pair of Herring and Black-headed Gull.  At that point a flock of seventy Brent Geese flew past and headed further into the harbour.

Poole Harbour from Shipsal Hide with Brownsea Island just visible extreme right at top

Moving on round to the Shipstal Hide we noticed another pair of Red-breasted Mergansers on the open water and then distant views of Wigeon and the Brent Geese in front of us.  Using the scope we found a pair of Avocet plus Dunlin, Redshank, Curlew, Black-tailed Godwit and Canada Geese. To the far left a party of seven Cormorant were preening and bathing and the nearby Heron flew away and past me to the delight of others present in the hide, and also revealing a distant Little Egret. Time to make our way back to the Visitors Centre and car park to complete the circuit.  Passing through the Big Wood a distant Green Woodpecker and then the heavens opened leaving us to cover the final fifteen minutes in drenching rain and so leaving us to try and recover over a hot coffee and cake.

Brent geese Branta bernicla with a Shelduck Tadorna tadorna

With the rain lasting a wetting 75 minutes no point in any more birding so made our way back to Poole harbour and our hotel where we were able to check-in early and change into dry clothes. So much local flooding with very high water levels and many Mute Swans making use of the new facility.  Indeed, even a walk along the harbour quayside revealed scavenging Herring Gulls checking the fish boxes and a dozen Turnstone looking for scraps on the quayside.

Awake very early on Sunday morning and away from the hotel before 7.30 to visit the Turlin Bird Screen overlooking Lytchett Bay but, in the event, very disappointing even though attending at the recommended high tide. As I arrived a Black-headed Gull flew over and there were Starlings resting on the nearby houses.  Walking to the screen a number of House Sparrows, Blue Tits and Chaffinches were in the bushes and a little further away both Carrion Crow and Magpie.  From the screen away to my left twenty resting Oystercatchers which were joined by a dozen Redshank and even further away a handful of Shelduck. A Blackbird few past and looking at the opposite bank I could make out a small number of Wigeon along with a pair of Canada Geese and a Mallard.  making my way back to the car a few Woodpigeon were recorded.

Cock Pheasant Phasianus colchicus with two hen Pheasants

So on to Lytchett Bay View to the eat of the bay.  Much the same as the first stop but immediately in front of me two Snipe upped out of the reeds to lass in front of me before dropping out of sight to the right. A handful of Blackbirds plus Great Tits along with a closer view of a Little Egret and, returning to the car, a Collared Dove.  

Teal Anas crecca with a couple of Black-tailed Godwit Limosa limosa

Taking the advice of a local birder who joined me in time to see the Snipe, I decided I would drive on round to the top of the bay so that I could walk through Lytchett Fields to Rock Lea View. More flooded roads on the way and then a walk along the lane to Lytchett Fields, seeing both Dunnock and a lovely singing Song Thrush, where I stopped to both look at the flooded field with bird life at the back a a feeding station to my left alongside the hedge.  A dozen or more Brown Rats feeding on the dropped seed below the feeders (and some where very large indeed!) but seemed not to bother the feeing birds.  Mainly Blue and Great Tits but also a few Chaffinches and more Reed Buntings than I had seen for many a month.  On the other side of the field near the flood water, a small flock of Teal along with a dozen Redshank, Black-tailed Godwit and Little Egret. Also present on the field Blackbird, Carrion Crow and Woodpigeon but, right in front of me, a (true) pair of Pheasants possibly sizing up a potential nesting platform.  So on tot he final short walk to the Rock Lea View platform.  A Mallard on the water in front of me along with a resting Cormorant and a lone Lesser Black-backed Gull. More tits, Blackbirds and Robins as I made my way back to the car for the journey back to the hotel.

Song Thrush Turdus philomelos

Back at the hotel so that we could check out by 9.30 and head of to the Quayside only to discover that there are no harbour cruises and the Brownsea ferry does not recommence until next Saturday!  So a drive into Bournemouth and then on down to Christchurch and a visit to Stanpit overlooking the harbour.  Horrendous flooding on the Avon in this area so more Mute Swans about and mainly Black-headed Gulls and Wigeon seen at Stanpit.

Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus

Time to move on and pay a visit to Blashford Lakes which was less than a dozen miles away.  Having passed the active rookery with its colony of Rooks as we approached, straight to Ivy North Hide but no sighting (or sound) of the Bittern today.  On the water plenty of Wigeon along with Shoveler, Mallard, Teal, Gadwall and Tufted Duck. Also present, Great Crested Grebe, Cormorant, Moorhen, Canada Goose, Black-headed Gull and Carrion Crow.

Pintail Anas acuta

Moving on down through the trees to the Woodland Hide I was surprised by the number of Siskins to be seen along with both Blue and Great Tits, Chaffinch, Greenfinch, Goldfinch, Blackbird, Robin and Dunnock.  Even both a Chiffchaff and a Long-tailed Tit present.  Then, observing the pair of Collared Doves as we made our way back to the car, it was over to Ibsley Water to check what might or might not be present.  Hundreds of Pintail along with scores of both Shoveler and Tufted Duck plus a few Cormorant and a small number of Lesser Black-backed Gulls.  A Pied Wagtail was seen on the bank to my right and then, upon leaving the water, both Jackdaws and Rock Doves.  Finally, driving away form the site a pair of Stonechat on the moor as we headed eastwards through the New Forest.

Mandarin Duck Aix galericulata (female left)

Chance for one last stop at Eyeworth Pond where we found no less than seven Mandarin Ducks, five male and two females.  Just the one pair of Mallard and a lone Moorhen but plenty of Blue and Great Tits along with a number of Chaffinches and a Dunnock.  A pair of Canada Geese were at the back of the water and nearby both Blackbird and Carrion Crow. As we were about to set off for Warsash and home a Marsh Tit visited the feeding station and we said our final goodbyes with the sight of both Rock Doves and Starlings so giving a final tally of 55 species for the two days.

Blue Tit Parus caeruleus

Birds seen:

Brent Goose, Canada Goose, Mute Swan, Shelduck, Gadwall, Wigeon, Mallard, Shoveler, Teal, Pintail, Tufted Duck, Red-breasted Merganser, Pheasant, Great Crested Grebe, Cormorant, Little Egret, Heron, Moorhen, Oystercatcher, Avocet, Dunlin, Snipe,  Black-tailed Godwit, Curlew, Redshank, Turnstone, Black-headed Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Herring Gull, Rock Dove, Woodpigeon, Collared Dove, Green Woodpecker, Pied Wagtail, Dunnock, Robin, Stonechat, Blackbird, Song Thrush, Cetti's Warbler, Chiffchaff, Long-tailed Tit, Marsh Tit, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Magpie, Jackdaw, Rook, Carrion Crow, Starling, House Sparrow, Chaffinch, Greenfinch, Goldfinch, Reed Bunting.

Greenfinch Carduelis chloris with Siskins Carduelis spinus above

Male Siskin Carduelis spinus

Female Siskin Carduelis spinus

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