Friday, 4 September 2020

Portland Bill - 4th September

I have been neglecting this blog somewhat of late in favour of entering my records onto eBird, I have now got as far back as 1990 with a few years from the 1980's left to input to complete my UK birding data. Thats almost 30 years of data now on eBird and its a fantastic resource for exploring my historical records. I can now see with a few clicks how many, for example, Pomarine Skua I have recorded at St. Catherine's Point, what my peak day for the species was, my earliest and latest dates, whether I have photographed it etc. I would encourage any birder to commence using eBird and start adding their current and historical birding data. Anyway, I intend to start adding my birding days to this blog once more but perhaps in a slightly more abridged way.

Today I had a survey in Dorset and so headed to Portland Bill for a few hours first thing. I started the morning with a quick scan of Ferrybridge but it was fairly quiet with few waders, best were six Sanderling and 15 Dunlin. My eBird checklist can be seen here.

I then headed to Portland Bill and parked in the main carpark, the wind was firmly in the west with heavy cloud and a few spits of rain and I wasn't particularly optimistic for seeing many birds.  While having coffee it became evident that there was a steady westerly movement of Siskin and Swallow. I then headed up the west cliffs recording further Siskin, Grey Wagtail and Yellow Wagtail overhead but there were few migrants in the bushes. I cut east across the island and birded the Top Fields area where there were good numbers of Wheatear and three Whinchat. I then cut down through Culverwell to the observatory and back, via the Observatory Quarry, to my car. In total I recorded 79 Swallow and 18 Siskin moving west and 24 Wheatear and three Whinchat in the fields - fairly respectable totals for a couple of hours birding. My eBird checklist for the morning can be viewed here. Portland Bird Observatory's account of the day can be viewed here.

Wheatear - Top Fields, Portland Bill

Wheatear - Top Fields, Portland Bill

Whinchat - Top Fields, Portland Bill

The local Stonechat are looking decidedly scruffy - West Cliffs, Portland Bill

Remarkably I have never photographed Carrion Crow before - Top Fields, Portland Bill

Sunday, 2 August 2020

Pennington Marsh - 1st August

Sarah was heading to Cheltenham for her sisters 40th birthday party, this was ladies party and so I decided to ehad to Pennington Marsh for a few hours in the morning. I walked out past Fishtail to Keyhaven Lagoon and then back east to Jetty Lagoon. The tide was high but there were remarkably few waders present and very few migrants in the bushes. The highlights were a single Common Sandpiper and 34 summer plumage Dunlin on Fishtail Lagoon and the flock of Eider, now numbering 24, showing well off Butts Lagoon.

My eBird checklist for the visit can be viewed here.

Common Sandpiper - Fishtail Lagoon, Pennington Marsh

Dunlin - Fishtail Lagoon, Pennington Marsh

Eider - off Butts Lagoon, Pennington Marsh

Caspian Tern at Fishlake Meadows - 28th July

News of a Caspian Tern showing well at Fishlake Meadows, less than five minutes from my house at 17:00 made me drop what I was doing and head to the site immediately. I was convinced that the bird would have flow by the time I arrived so I was pleased to arrive at the southern view point to see the bird hawking back and forth over the open water. The bird showed well, occasionally very well before heading off site to the south-west at around 17:45. This bird was first found yesterday at around 12:30 before it flew west at 13:00 it then appeared at the reserve on a further for occasions before being finally seen later in the evening on 28th.

Also present here were three Great White Egret. My eBird checklist can be viewed here.

Sunday, 19 July 2020

Pennington Marsh - 18th July

My birding has been at a very low ebb of late, the Covid-19 lockdown saw my birding turn to a deskbased project to enter my bird records into eBird, a project to which I have become somewhat addicted, adding UK records from back as far as 1987 and now having entered my foreign trips and their associated photos back almost to 2010. Its truly fantastic to have my records, photographs and sound recordings all at my fingertips in one place rather than scattered through various notebooks and digital forums (such as this blog); although I still have a fair way to go to completion. eBird will now be my main forum for recording my sightings with a summary added to my blog.

The current Bearded Vulture in the Peaks of Derbyshire had me planning a twitch, but on the day before my planned visit I had heard that some selfish idots had pitched themselves on the cliff above the birds roost thereby detering it from coming in that evening, in addition the weather forecast was not favourable with fog and drizzle and so I cancelled. I have to say my motivation to drive four hours and then walk another 1.5 hours or so was fairly low since I have seen the species on multiple occasions arround the World and, at times, almost within touching distance.

Come the 18th July the weather forecast was good and I decided I would be more modest in a birding outing and so headed down to Pennington Marsh and walked a familiar loop out past Shoveler Pools back west to Keyhaven Lagoon and back east along the seawall before finally checking Efford Lagoon. Given that it was mid-July I had not expected a great deal but it was nice to be out on such a fine sunny morning. I arrived at 06:30 and as the tide was coming in and high at 11:07 I expected a few waders. Four Greenshank flying north over the car park on my arrival was a good sign but thereafter the wader highlights were a meagre 45 Dunlin, four Turnstone, 12 Ringed Plover and five Little Ringed Plover. There was, for example, not a single Black-tailed Godwit to be seen. There were no wildfowl, save for Mallard and Shelduck to be seen although two Goosander on the sea were somewhat of a surprise. The only hints of some migration were a single Yellow Wagtail flying west and a 1st year Wheatear along the coastal path. I headed home at just before 09:00 pleased with my mornings birding despite the lack of an obvious highlight.

My eBird checklist for the morning can be viewed here.

Little Egret fishing on Jetty Lagoon - Pennington Marsh, Hampshire

Little Ringed Plover on Fishtail Lagoon - Pennington Marsh, Hampshire

Juvenile Redshank on Fishtail Lagoon, these juvenile birds are responsible for a lot of claims of Wood Sandpiper at this site in July - Pennington Marsh, Hampshire

Oystercatcher with an Annelid Worm - Pennington Marsh, Hampshire

Friday, 17 July 2020

Lunar Hornet Moth - 11th July

I had long wanted to see one, or both, of Lunar Hornet Moth or Hornet Moth and so when the new LUN pheromone lure became available I was keen to try it having heard reports that it was very effective. My lure arrived on the day I was heading up to our cottage in the Cotswolds so I hastily packed it and my other lures and traps and set-off. I set the lure in the trap at 09:00 and waited, all morning there was nothing and then, just after lunch, a stunning fresh Lunar Hornet Moth in the trap. Their resemblance to Hornet's is truly remarkable. With the introduction of the LUN lure we are certain to find that this species is far more common and widespread that is realised.

Lunar Hornet Moth - Cowley, Cheltenham

Lunar Hornet Moth - Cowley, Cheltenham

I trialed a few other lures over the week we were at the cottage but was only successful in catching Orange-tailed Clearwing.

Orange-tailed Clearwing - Cowley, Cheltenham

Tuesday, 2 June 2020

Acres Down - 2nd June

I had a couple of hours wandering around the woodlands and heathland at Acres Down this morning. I parked in the main carpark and walked west along the main track through the woodland. It seemed fairly quiet at first but then distantly I heard a singing Wood Warbler and gradually got closer to this bird until I was underneath it. I spent the next hour with this stunning bird as it showed down to around 10m and sang nearly constantly. These are certainly the best views I have had of this species, one that is declining rapidly in the New Forest. After the woodland area I wandered onto the heathland south of the car park where the highlights were a Woodlark gathering food, Spotted Flycatcher (my first of the year) and a distant male Goshawk perched in the tree tops.

My eBird checklist can be viewed here, this list includes additional images and sound recordings.

Wood Warbler - Acres Down, New Forest

 Wood Warbler - Acres Down, New Forest

Wood Warbler - Acres Down, New Forest

Wednesday, 20 May 2020

Pennington Marsh - 15th May

After eight weeks of Covid-19 lockdown I had set aside a few hours to visit Pennington Marsh. It was a fantastic still and sunny day but with an early morning frost and a chilly north-east wind blowing. I walked a loop around Fishtail, Butts and Keyhaven Lagoon with a short wander along the first section of the Ancient Highway.

At Efford Lagoon a pair of Great Crested Grebe were displaying and Whitethroat and Reed Warbler chattered from the ditches and scrub. A Cuckoo called from the back of Efford and then later from the Brambles on the Old Tip where I saw the bird investigating brambles probably hunting for caterpillars. This bird regularly calls with a slightly odd three note 'cuk-cuk-oo'.

Fishtail Lagoon was alive with birds, there are currently around 15 pairs of Avocet nesting on the lagoon and many now have chicks and so the parents are actively and noisily defending them against possible threats including the local Lapwing. A pair of Little Ringed Plover fed around the waters margins and eight Black-tailed Godwit slept in the shallows. A flock of eight Whimbrel accompanied by a single winter plumaged Bar-tailed Godwit flew east along the shoreline, I got the impression that these might have been late passage birds moving through the site.

I wandered out to Keyhaven Lagoon but there were few birds, I spent some time watching a pair of Common Tern, the female perched on a fence post and the male fishing over the lagoon and returning to the female to feed her small prawns. A pair of Little Tern began hunting on the lagoon but the Common Tern objected to this and rapidly chased them away.

I left the site just gone 09:00 after a lovely mornings walk.

My eBird checklist for the morning can be viewed here.

Avocet - Pennington Marsh

Avocet - Pennington Marsh

Avocet - Pennington Marsh

Avocet - Pennington Marsh

Redshank - Pennington Marsh

Common Tern - Pennington Marsh

Common Tern - Pennington Marsh

Common Tern - Pennington Marsh

Little Egret - Pennington Marsh