Wednesday, 16 January 2019

Eyeworth Pond and Milkham Inclosure, New Forest - 12th January

I at last had a spare weekend and so decided to head into the New Forest for a few hours. There had been a White-tailed Eagle present on and off in the Roe Inclosure/Bratley Plain area south-east of Linwood since 16th December. While the bird had been seen yesterday, sightings had become sporadic and I treated this more like a wander in a part of the forest which often produces some interesting birds with a chance of seeing the eagle rather than as a concerted hunt for the eagle.

I started in the semi-dark at Eyeworth Pond just to the north-west of Fritham. On the pond were a couple of male Goosander, 16 Mandarin Duck and two Gadwall. I wandered north-east through the woodland to the adjacent heathland at Howen Bottom and picked up half a dozen Marsh Tit and a male Goshawk circling over the heathland before it headed south towards Fritham.

Mandarin Duck - Eyeworth Pond, Fritham

After leaving Eyeworth Pond I took a slow drive south-westwards through the forest picking up a few Stonechat, Mistle Thrush and other common forest species. As I passed Janesmoor Pond I picked up a nice group of three male and a female Goosander and so, pulling into the carpark here I spent a little time photographing them. They were a little distant and the light was poor and so the beautiful greens of the males heads are difficult to see but the pinkish tones of the white feathering is apparent.

Goosander - Janesmoor Pond, Fritham

Goosander - Janesmoor Pond, Fritham

Goosander - Janesmoor Pond, Fritham

I headed on and parked in the carpark at the eastern end of Milkham Inclosure. I then walked a large loop through Milkham Inclosure and into Roe Inclosure hoping to bump into the White-tailed Eagle but it was not to be. There were good numbers of Siskin, a calling Goshawk and half a dozen Common Crossbill but it was a little slow going. After a couple of hours I headed back to the car and decided to call it a day.

Common Crossbill - Milkham Inclosure, Linwood

Common Crossbill - Milkham Inclosure, Linwood

Common Crossbill - Milkham Inclosure, Linwood

Monday, 14 January 2019

Pennington Marsh - 9th January

Tobias returned to school today after his Christmas break and I took the opportunity, after drop off, to have a quick wander at Pennington Marsh. It was a glorious sunny and mild winters day and it was a pleasure to be out and about. I stopped at the corner at Lower Pennington Lane and scanned the marshes, much of the water was frozen and there were relatively few birds but a flock of around 250 Golden Plover were resplendent in the mornings sunshine. Otherwise, there were around 18 Common Snipe, 150 Lapwing and a handful of Shoveler, Teal and Wigeon but not a lot else. I then wandered out to the sea wall where scanning to sea produced six Red-breasted Merganser and a similar number of Eider. Walking west along the seawall there were good numbers of wildfowl on the lagoons with many of the Teal and Pintail displaying in the sunshine and the Wigeon whistling away. At Fishtail Lagoon I paused and scanned the masses of wildfowl present, many of the birds seemed to be sleeping and soaking up the sunshine, a welcome break from a long series of overcast and rather chilly days. There were at least ten Reed Bunting in the bushes, the males just starting to show a hint of their summer plumage as the duller winter feather fringes wear away to reveal their brighter basal colouration which forms their breeding plumage. At Keyhaven Lagoon there were around 30 Tufted Duck and a similar number of Coot and after a bit of a scan I located the 1st winter male Scaup which has been present since 29th December. The bird was initially asleep but showing at fairly close range but after a few minutes it awoke and began to feed, the sullied flanks and pale scaling on the breast and rump/ventral area identifying the bird as a first winter. This was a site tick for me, not bad for the first visit of the year. The time was ticking on and I needed to get into the office, a quick scan of Efford Lagoon produced little but a Chiffchaff was calling and showed briefly in the car park.

1st winter male Greater Scaup with Tufted Duck - Keyhaven Lagoon, Pennington Marsh

1st winter male Greater Scaup - Keyhaven Lagoon, Pennington Marsh

1st winter male Greater Scaup - Keyhaven Lagoon, Pennington Marsh

Eurasian Wigeon - Fishtail Lagoon, Pennington Marsh

Northern Pintail - Fishtail Lagoon, Pennington Marsh

Reed Bunting - Fishtail Lagoon, Pennington Marsh

 Reed Bunting - Fishtail Lagoon, Pennington Marsh

Eurasian Bullfinch - Lower Pennington Lane Car Park, Pennington Marsh

Wednesday, 9 January 2019

Slimbridge WWT - 23rd December and 4th January

The Christmas and New Year period has been a whirl-wind for me this year with little time for birding and much time wiped out by Tonsillitis such that all I could eat for a good few days was raisins - so, low on energy, feeling rubbish and with social commitments my time in the field and time on this blog has suffered.

We were in Gloucestershire for much of the period with short visits back to Romsey and over to the Isle of Wight at New Year. I made two short visits to Slimbridge on 23rd December and 4th January. I spent much of my time in the hides along the eastern side of the reserve overlooking Tack Piece and northwards across towards the River Severn. There were huge numbers of Lapwing, Golden Plover and Wigeon on Tack Piece forming quite a wildlife spectacle. Highlights were two Peregrine, Marsh Harrier, 22 Ruff, 12 Common Crane, 103 Bewick's Swan, 85 Barnacle Goose, 112 White-fronted Goose and, a good record for Slimbridge, a single adult Dark-bellied Brent Goose.

Common Teal were in full display on the Rushy Pen - Slimbridge WWT

Some lovely views of Pintail were had, nice to see the finely vermiculated plumage up close - Slimbridge WWT

Pintail - Slimbridge WWT

Pintail - Slimbridge WWT

Pintail - Slimbridge WWT

Dunlin - Slimbridge WWT

Bewick's Swan - Slimbridge WWT

Bewick's Swan - Slimbridge WWT

Bewick's Swan - Slimbridge WWT

Bewick's Swan - Slimbridge WWT

Lapwing - Slimbridge WWT

Common Snipe - Slimbridge WWT

Pochard - Slimbridge WWT

Common Crane - Slimbridge WWT

Wigeon - Slimbridge WWT

Shoveler - Slimbridge WWT

Smew displaying in one of the collections - Slimbridge WWT

Friday, 7 December 2018

November and early-December

Well, November seems to have passed me by without seeing a single bird of any note while much of the UK seemed to be awash with rare Swift's. I have barely managed to get out due to work commitments and a general low ebb in my birding enthusiasm, this comes to me once in a while and I am sure it will soon pass, I see it as a natural cycle after which my interest will be rekindled.

A short visit to Pennington Marsh on 7th November produced good numbers of the usual wintering species. It was good to see that the Brent Goose flocks seem to have a large number of juveniles in them following a poor breeding season in 2017. There were around 250 Golden Plover on the grazing marsh at Lower Pennington Lane, my first of the winter.

Brent Goose - Pennington Marsh

Brent Goose - Pennington Marsh

Wigeon - Pennington Marsh

Wigeon - Pennington Marsh

Shoveler - Pennington Marsh

Pied Wagtail - Pennington Marsh

I did a couple of short stops at Beaulieu Road Station early and mid-month looking for the Great Grey Shrike but had no luck and saw little but for three Crossbill and small numbers of Redpoll. On 11th November Sarah, Tobias and I went for a short walk, dodging rain showers, in Denny Wood. There were few birds to be seen but for half a dozen Marsh Tit and small numbers of Redwing and Fieldfare. The forest was spectacular and at the peak of its autumnal colouration.

Denny Wood, New Forest

Denny Wood, New Forest

Denny Wood, New Forest

Fly Agaric - Denny Wood, New Forest

Fungus Sp. - Denny Wood, New Forest

On 17th November the night was very mild with southerly winds and so I ran my trap in our Romsey garden, a rare occurrence these days. I caught very little but did get this slightly worn Oak Rustic, a new species for me.

Oak Rustic - Romsey, Hampshire

On 4th December on a beautiful warm and sunny day I dropped Tobias at school and had a short walk around Fishtail, Butts and Jetty Lagoons at Pennington Marsh. There were good numbers of wildfowl on the lagoons and I spent much time enjoying the displaying Pintail with their strange squeaky calls, they really are a fantastic looking duck. The Shoveler were actively feeding deploying both their body flat to the water technique and up-ending. A single Chiffchaff was present and calling frequently. There were small numbers of Black-tailed Godwit and Golden Plover present while Lapwing numbers were probably in their high hundreds. Although the sea was millpond calm there was little to be seen, six Red-breasted Merganser, a dozen or so Great-crested Grebe and a single Eider but no sign of the regular Slavonian Grebe. It was a lovely couple of hours but I needed to tear myself away and head to work.

Shoveler - Pennington Marsh

 Pintail - Pennington Marsh

Pintail - Pennington Marsh

Shoveler - Pennington Marsh

Shoveler - Pennington Marsh

Pied Wagtail  - Pennington Marsh