Saturday, 25 March 2017

Pennington Marsh - 25th March

I was longing to get out birding as Spring is starting to feel like it is setting in and so after dropping Tobias at school in Lymington I headed to Pennington Marsh for a short walk. I stopped at the corner of Lower Pennington Lane where I had a coffee and scanned the marshes. There were a few Teal and Wigeon hanging on and small numbers of Brent Goose while singing from the willows were at least two Chiffchaff while overhead there were two House Martin, my first Hirundine of the year. Lapwing were displaying, what a fantastic sound they make, and I could see a few birds incubating within the grassland.

A wander to Efford Lagoon produced 15 Tufted Duck, a single Ruff and around 30 Pied Wagtail while gulls included Great Black-backed, Herring and around 75 Black-headed Gull.

A walk onto the seawall and there was a biting west wind blowing so I hurried towards Fishtail lagoon picking up a Slavonian Grebe, eight Pintail and small numbers of TurnstoneDunlin, Grey Plover and Black-tailed Godwit. At Fishtail Lagoon a 1st summer male Marsh Harrier flew east and showed well flushing many of the Teal and Wigeon and at least three Snipe from the Lagoon. Best of all though were four Bearded Reedling busy nest building, two of the males showed very well along the reed edge and I spent some time enjoying these fabulous birds.

Bearded Reedling - Pennington Marsh

Bearded Reedling - Pennington Marsh

Bearded Reedling - Pennington Marsh

Bearded Reedling - Pennington Marsh

Lapwing - Pennington Marsh

Lapwing - Pennington Marsh

Lapwing - Pennington Marsh

Lapwing - Pennington Marsh

Lapwing - Pennington Marsh

Oystercatcher - Pennington Marsh

Oystercatcher - Pennington Marsh

Oystercatcher - Pennington Marsh

Oystercatcher - Pennington Marsh

Brent Goose - Pennington Marsh

Kestrel - Pennington Marsh

Meadow Pipit - Pennington Marsh

Great Black-backed Gull - Pennington Marsh

Great Black-backed Gull - Pennington Marsh

Turnstone, just entering summer plumage with some rufous appearing 
in the scapulars- Pennington Marsh

Marsh Harrier (1st summer male) - Pennington Marsh

Sunday, 19 March 2017

Cornwall - 16th-20th March

A long weekend in Cornwall and nothing much planned, I wanted to relax after a busy time at work, watch the final matches of the 6 Nations and drink some wine! But there were a few birds to see and I decided to bird on the morning of 17th before abandoning the bins and relaxing (unless of course something good was found).  So, on the morning of 17th I was up at 06:30 and on my way to Helston where a Bonaparte's Gull (1st winter) had been present on the boating since 5th March. I arrived at the boating lake at 07:30 and there was no sign of the bird but in the southern end of the lake was a flock of around 75 Black-headed Gull and I decided that this was the obvious place where the bird would appear. I waited for 20 minutes with no luck and then decide to walk around the lake seeing Shoveler, Tufted Duck, Chiffchaff and Grey Wagtail. By the time I returned to the southern end a brief scan revealed the Bonaparte's, obvious because of its small size even at a distance. For the next hour or so I enjoyed good views of this diminutive gull as it loafed amongst the Black-headed Gull and occasionally uttered a distinctive tern like call.

On 19th a morning on the beach with Nigel, Alice, Sarah and the boys found us playing rugby - of sorts! Off shore there were three Sandwich Tern, my first migrants of the year.

Bonaparte's Gull, note the black bill, blackish wing markings and neat trailing edge to the wing. Helston Boating Lake.

Bonaparte's Gull - Compare the wing and head pattern to the Black-headed Gull in the background. To me this species is intermediate between Black-headed Gull and Little Gull. Helston Boating Lake.

Bonaparte's Gull - Helston Boating Lake.

Bonaparte's Gull - Note the clean white underwing and bubble-gum pink legs. Helston Boating Lake.

Bonaparte's Gull. Helston Boating Lake.

Bonaparte's Gull. Helston Boating Lake.

Bonaparte's Gull - This image is roughly to scale with the Black-headed Gull below. 
Helston Boating Lake.

Black-headed Gull (1st winter) - Roughly to scale with the image of the Bonaparte's Gull above. The greater bulk and orange to red bill of the Black-headed is distinctive and obvious. While the dark tertial centres are said to be darker on Bonaparte's this is not obvious. Helston Boating Lake.

Bonaparte's Gull. Helston Boating Lake.

Bonaparte's Gull. Helston Boating Lake.

Bonaparte's Gull - Note the distinctive white underwing with neat dark trailing 
edge to the primaries and secondaries. Helston Boating Lake.

Bonaparte's Gull - Note the distinctive white underwing with neat dark trailing 
edge to the primaries and secondaries. Helston Boating Lake.

Shoveler - Helston Boating Lake

Shoveler - Helston Boating Lake

Coot - Helston Boating Lake

Coot - Helston Boating Lake

Rook - Helston Boating Lake

With time now pressing on I spent an hour on the Hayle Estuary scanning the saltmarsh at Lelant. I quickly found the three Cattle Egret reported yesterday and one of the two Iceland Gull plus a Spoonbill - quite a nice selection for such a small area of marsh. Other birds here were Bar-tailed Godwit (3), Greenshank (1), Pintail (5), Wigeon (c.150+) and Mediterranean Gull (3).

Cattle Egret (3) with Herring and Black-headed Gull - Hayle Estuary

Iceland Gull (1st winter) with Wigeon and Herring Gull - Hayle Estuary

Iceland Gull (1st winter) - Hayle Estuary

Iceland Gull (1st winter) with Black-headed Gull - Hayle Estuary

Spoonbill with Redshank and Lesser Black-backed Gull - Hayle Estuary

Spoonbill - Hayle Estuary

Spoonbill with Herring Gull - Hayle Estuary

Tuesday, 21 February 2017

Beaulieu Road Station and Romsey - 16th February

I paid a brief visit to Beaulieu road Station today in beautiful spring like conditions. There were at least two territory holding Woodlark singing along Bishop's Dyke and small groups of Siskin and Lesser Redpoll were conspicuous in the Silver Birch. The Great Grey Shrike showed rather distantly behind the main pool on Bishop's Dyke where there were also around 15 Teal in full display. These were spooked by a Marsh Harrier - the first I have seen at this site. Around the main pool there were hundreds of Common Frog in chorus - a raft of spawn had been produced measuring at least 10 square metres, I don't think I have ever seen this quantity of spawn before.

Woodlark - Bishop's Dyke, Beaulieu Road Station

Great Grey Shrike - Bishop's Dyke, Beaulieu Road Station

Marsh Harrier - Bishop's Dyke, Beaulieu Road Station

Marsh Harrier - Bishop's Dyke, Beaulieu Road Station

Back at home in Romsey two Chiffchaff were feeding on the first insects of the spring, they occasionally broke into song - spring is arriving.



Chiffchaff - Romsey