About Me

I am a novice to birding and have become interested since walking Frank our dog, a cross Flat Coat / Springer around Hastings Country Park and the surrounding area, I realised the little brown birds weren't just sparrows.

Saturday, 22 May 2010

The New Forest Revisited

On the 7th March this year we visited the New Forest in search of the Goshawk and were rewarded with good views of a displaying pair, this time we were in search of Honey Buzzard. But firstly we stopped in a mature woodland on the Boulderwood Arboretum Drive near Lyndhurst for Redstart and Wood Warbler and got we soon had good views of the Redstart but not the Wood Warbler
From here we drove to the other side of the A31 to an area known as Godshill south east of Fordingbridge.This area is a vast heathland with woodland interspersed and here we trecked up to a ridge and waited and waited for a Honey Buzzard many Buzzards appeared but alas they were always  common
Whislt scouring the skies there were birds flitting around the gorse bushes we were in hope of a Dartford Warbler but each time they turned out to be Stonechats

Paul shouted out a think I've heard a Dartford, Jan calls out over there, something flits between the gorse and the hunt is on to find it, eventually one comes into view and then its mate obviously finding food for their young as they kept dissappearing into a bush and then emerging and flitting around the gorse again and returning to the same place.

Dartford Warbler
As we continued walking along the ridge a couple more pairs of Dartfords were seen, this is encouraging as not one has been seen in Sussex yet this year, Still no sign of the Honey Buzzard only a few more common ones but we did hear and see my first Garden Warbler. As we headed back to the cars the temperature rising to 20deg. C. a large bird of prey appeared from nowhere right above our heads and without the Bins I could tell it was a Red Kite  totally unexpected but a great sight. From here we moved on to another wood near Fritham this time to try for the Wood Warber, taking a break for lunch and listening hard no luck but the distant Cuckoo came nearer and eventually we saw him flying through the trees.

After lunch making our way back to the cars we found a common Lizard basking in the sun and a couple more Stonechats sitting on top of Gorse bushes - from here we went onto Acres Down (where we saw the Goshawks in March). The temperature was about 20 deg. C. above that of last time and we took shelter under a tree. 

Continual skanning of the skies only produced common Buzzards but for the hour we spent there we had other birds to watch, firstly this Meadow Pipit
Meadow Pipit
and then we noticed a pair of Redstarts flying to and from a hole in a tree,obviously feeding their young

Redstart flies in with food   

Redstart flies out again

Still no sign of a Honey Buzzard
So we set off for the wood at the bottom of the hill to try for Wood Warbler again, searching through the woods not far from the car park Paul hears a call we cross a stream through a bog following the call and eventually there he is,we all mange to get good views and Alan gets this pic.

and then this one

Wood Warbler
Another superb days birding and 3 more species to the list all warblers but the Honey Buzzard
has still to come.

Sunday, 16 May 2010

Rye Harbour

This week my trip out was around Rye Harbour LNR on a fine and sunny but early morning. Having been round various partsduring the week walking the dog I wanted to look a bit closer with the scope.

First stop was at the Wader Pool. The usual gulls, Oystercatchers, Redshanks and a few Avocet were feeding and with closer inspection six Dunlin, a couple of Grey Plover and Bar Tailed Godwits were also seen together with a few Ringed Plover.
Ringed Plover
Next stop was at the corner of the track where last year the Wheatears were nesting but although there was no sign of them around the old nest site but this male was on a post near by.
Male Wheatear
With nothing on the sea and low tide I went on to the Ternery Pool, the water levels are dropping slowly creating more room on the islands for the Terns

The Black Headed Gull chicks have started to hatch.
From here a quick look on the Quarry with not much to report I set for the Barn Pools, passing along Narrow Pit a couple of Cettis called and a call I was not familiar with but after talking to a couple of birders turned out to be a Nightingale and was heard again on my way back. On the Barn Pools I counted 30 +
It was time to head for home as the grass needed cutting, but a qhick stop at the Viewpoint on Castle Water turned up Sedge and Reed Warblers. A look in the close tree hoping for a Turtle Dove led me to a fine Hobby who watched me watching him for a good 10 minutes before flying over the reed beds catching something and perched back in the tree but this time out of sight.

Hobby watching me watching him

Sunday, 9 May 2010

Old Lodge

Another early start to meet up with Paul in Ashdown Forest at 7.30am but surprisingly it only took 65 minutes to get there as it was a Sunday.The forcast was for the drizzle to clear and it to be a nice day but still cooler than average for the time of year.

It didn't take long to find our first specimen a female Crossbill.

Our target to find my first Redstart and should be found by its song similar to that of a Chaffinch but totally different, within 5 minutes Paul had heard one, the trouble now was to see it. There it was on the ground for 2 seconds and then up in a tree and out of sight. At least I had seen it. As we continued along the trail we heard another and this gave good views but dissappered before too long. 

Next Paul shouted a Wood Lark over there on the log and we all managed to get our scopes onto it but unfortunately the long grass blurred this picture.

But in the next breath he had found a Tree Pipit singing at the top of a tree .
We didn't know which one to look at, but both stayed around long enough to get good views.
2 New species to my life list. Today was looking good already and it wasn't 9am yet. As we walked around the reserve we saw a further 3 male Tree Pipits displaying with their parachute actions, A Marsh Harrier was seen in the distance, things then went quiet for a while until a Crossbill was heard which turned out to be a juvenile asking for food. We heard a couple more Redstarts deep within the trees but then one appeared at the top of a fir and this time stayed long enough to get this pic.
It was only 10.30 had completed the trail and seen more than what we had hoped for, so we all agreed to head off to Arlington Resevoir to try and twitch the Red Rumped Swallows seen there yesterday.
With a dozen or more birders along the dam we were hopeful but there must have been over a hundred or more hirundines over the water so what was the chance of seeing them? What luck they were flying low along the dam wall right in front of everyone but far too fast to get the camera in the scope so a a few pics were attempted with just the camera, in fact just over 100 taken and finally I got something worthwhile.
It looks like a swallow with a tint of orange

Here it is enlarged and a bit more below
On the way home I stopped off at Herstmonceux Church in search of the 2 Common Cranes reported yesterday but I was pushing my luck they had moved on.  Another good day with 3 new species to my list.

Saturday, 8 May 2010

An early evening at Pannel Valley

This evening's dog walk was along the canal to the scrape but this time I  took the scope hoping to get a better view of the Little Ringed Plovers now I new where to look. along the canal Reed Buntings, Reed Warblers and Sedge Warblers were singing in the sedge and I heard my first Cuckoo of the year at last.
A Hobby flew up from a bush next to the canal and headed off for Carter's Flood.

At the scrape the usual ducks Shoveler Shelduck Tufted Gadwall and Mallard and the Little Ringed Plover was sitting on eggs. Across the scrape 14 Avocets were feeding a single Common Sandpiper and 2 Common Terns were taking a break.
Sadly the windows in the hide are all locked and the photos are taken through glass.
Our last reward of the evening was a Marsh Harrier flying low over the valley as I left the hide for home.

Saturday, 1 May 2010

Purple Herons

Today was to be another sea watch but with the unfavourable weather conditions in that south westerly breezes were forcast and we wanted south easterly the event was cancelled. But with reports of there being 2 Purple Herons at Dungeness the temptation was too great and so arrived at 9.00am with ground wet from the overnight rain. A quick walk round the reserve to the Dengemarsh hide, passing plenty of Reed Buntings, Reed Warblers and Sedge Warblers, Swallows and Swifts overhead. From the hidewhich was quickly filling up there was 2 nesting Sandwich Terns on the raft, a Ruddy Duck, Great Crested Grebes and Cootes, a Grey Heron flew over. Some one shouted Purple Heron as one flew from around the ramp to the cottage at the back of the pit landing in thick reeds out of sight. Good views (showing off its yellow neck and legs against the dark body). After waiting 15 minutes I decided to carry on round the trail and found a couple of Wheatears.

A half hour look on the sea turned up a flock of 20 Common Scoter and something I couldn't recognise like a gannet but with long dark grey wings, white long neck like a divers.

As I had plenty of work I should be doing in the fine weather I headed for home but did a detour along Dengemarsh road in case i got a better view of the Purple Herons, glad I did as on the bridge a dozen or so birders were there and within 5 minutes of arriving the pair flew out of the reeds flew for a 20 seconds or so and then dropped back into the reeds, one appeared to edge forward and so could get a glimpse of it standing, it then turned round and went out of sight. Another new one to my list. now standing at 187 life, 175 this year.