Great Grey Shrike South of Shatterford Bottom, New Forest and Hawfinch at Blackwater

   This afternoon I had a very enjoyable afternoon in the New Forest with Mrs T and the girls.  We arrived at Shatterford car park late morning and took an anti-clockwise stroll around the heath.  Once we reached the high ground at the eastern edge of Denny Wood we had our first of several sightings of the Great Grey Shrike.  The bird was perched at the top of one of the many birch trees surrounding a fairly large patch of water at SU343053.  Although distant all four of us got to see the bird through the scope before it flitted off. 

   Unfortunately the bird didn’t show itself while we ate our pack lunches on one of the wooden bridges along the path that skirts North of Denny Lodge Inclosure.  However, a Grey Heron, Little Egret, three Mallard (2 male) and two Lapwing were present on the patch of water.   As soon as we continued our walk though the Great Grey Shrike reappeared in another one of the birch trees that follow the stream a couple of hundred metres North of the path.  For the next twenty-five minutes we were treated to the bird perching conspicuously between short flights as it flew back and forth along the line of trees.  The Shrike was still showing at 1345 when we headed back towards the car.  

   The second stop was Blackwater Arboretum were I hoped to add Hawfinch to my year list.  Although it cost me a round of ice creams from the van in the car park I was in luck.  The first two birds appeared at 1527 in the oaks on the northern perimeter of the arboretum.  They flew in to the fir trees with at least another four individuals by the time we left at 1620. 

   Due to the forest looking particularly stunning in the evening light we took the long route back to the M27 and the ‘rat race’ by taking in Bolderwood Arboretum Ornamental Drive, Broomy Plain, Fritham and Brook.  It was a very pleasant end to the day that included two ‘lifers’ for the girls. 

Good Birding,

Tony T   BSc (Hons) Geosci (Open)

  

      

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Reply

Marsh Tit in Botley Wood

Had a quick stroll around Botley Wood this afternoon. Had the usual feeding flocks of small birds including a couple of Siskin and Goldfinch flocks. As I watched a particular Tit flock I saw this Marsh Tit feeding in a nearby tree. Marsh Tit, Botley Wood, 28 Feb 2009From the above image a hint of a pale wingbar can be seen. I know that some Marsh can show this panel. This is one of the main identification features for the Willow Tit which I saw yesterday, so it pays to be careful.Marsh Tit, Botley Wood, 28 Feb 2009

Steve Copsey

Rookesury, Raptors and Willow Tits

We arrived at the wind turbine at around ten o’clock. The weather was quite clear so we were hopeful of plenty of Raptors. This soon turned out to be the case especially regarding Buzzards. Within a few minutes we had four birds behind the turbine.

This carried on for the next four hours or so. Difficult to be precise with numbers but we estimated maybe 35-40 buzzards during the period. Red Kites were also in the area, but to a much lesser extent. In the region of 5-10 birds were seen. A couple relatively close to the west but the majority were over Pilot Hill to the east. The much hoped for Rough Legged Buzzard failed to show. We were debating whether or not the bird seen in the New Forest the day before could be ours re-locating. Never mind that’s birding for you. Tony was a bit miffed as this was his third attempt. Not one to miss an opportunity we soon had a text from Mark enquiring about the mental state of Tony “Triple Dipper” Tindale. However we did connect with the local Willow Tits down the road. We had a few calling birds and had decent views of three individuals. One particular bird showed the pale wing panel quite clearly. What we did not expect was a calling Tawny Owl in the middle of the afternoon. A single Brimstone and 2 Red Admiral were also seen in the woods.

Red Admiral, Netherton Bottom, 27 Feb 2009

From Netherton Bottom we dropped down into Rookesbury Mill at Andover. We knew from Joe Stockwell’s HOS postings that a Drake Scaup was present at the site; fortunately the bird was showing well on the main pond. Cheers Joe.

Scaup, Rookesbury Mill, 27 Feb 2009

As usual the Scaup was associating with the Tufties on the pond. A female of which was showing a little white on the face. The Drake Scaup did seem to stay closer to her than the others. 3 drake Pochard were also on the main pond, with a good count of 23 Gadwall, 13M 10F, on one of the smaller ponds.  On the way back round to the car we had a single Goldcrest feeding in a Buddleia bush and a Great Crested Grebe on the water.

Goldcrest, Rookesbury Mill, 27 Feb 2009

Great Crested Grebe, Rookesbury Mill, 27 Feb 2009

Steve Copsey

White-fronted Goose (x4) at Tundry Pond, near Fleet, Hants – pastures new

   Today I was back in Hampshire and able to spend the day birding in the North of the county with Steve who had yet another day off from work.  The plan was to spend an hour or two at Tundry Pond and then try our luck at connecting with the Rough-legged Buzzard at Faccombe with the option of stopping off at Rookesbury Mill, Andover on the way home.  

   We got to Tundry Pond at 0745 to find a few Tufted Duck, a Great Crested Grebe and a pair of Gadwall on the water and a mixed flock of geese feeding in the surrounding grass fields of Dogmersfield Park that included the four reported White-fronted Geese, seven Egyptian Geese and a Barnacle Goose.  A local Basingstoke birder also pointed out a Little Owl in the lower branches of one of the park’s oak trees.  

White-fronted Geese at Tundry Pond Friday 27 Feb 09.  Photograph by Steve Copsey. 

White-fronted Geese at Tundry Pond Friday 27 Feb 09.  Photograph by Steve Copsey. 

Egyption Geese at Tundry Pond Friday 27 Feb 09.  Photograph by Steve Copsey. 

   The western end of the pond beyond the bridge turned out to be more productive than the main body of water.  There we spotted a second pair of Gadwall, three Mandarin (two male) and a first winter male Goosander moulting in to its adult plumage.  The several Coot that were present were also worthy of a mention.  The white trailing edges of their wings were clearly visible in flight as they squabbled and chased one another around the pond in disputes over territory.   

First winter male Goosander at Tundry Pond Friday 27 Feb 09.  Photograph by Steve Copsey. 

Coot at Tundry Pond Friday 27 Feb 09.  Photograph by Steve Copsey. 

   During the walk back to the car we heard a second Little Owl calling nearby and saw our first Ladybird (a 7-spot) of the year.       

Egyption Geese at Tundry Pond Friday 27 Feb 09.  Photograph by Steve Copsey. 

   The very pleasant drive through the stunning countryside to Faccombe also turned out to be eventful.  First a male pheasant came ever so close to flying through the open driver’s door window to join us.  Then five minutes later Steve performed an emergency stop and left his gearbox on the road as he reversed back up the road to point out a Yellowhammer on a roadside hedge.  He assured me that he checked his rear view mirror before slamming on the anchors and performed the manoeuvre and stated that it was another Hampshire 2009 tick! 

Good birding,

Tony T   BSc (Hons) Geosci (Open)

Hunting Owl at the Haven

After work today I decided to have an hour or so down the canal path with the dog. I could not believe it could be as quiet as yesterday, for about an hour I was wrong. I did a loop up through the Posbrook farm fields and I did not see a single small bird.

Yellowhammers used to be seen here every visit, but not for the last few years. Skylarks usually show well here but again not a single individual. I dropped back to the canal at Hammonds Bridge and looked through the various gates into the Haven.

Robin, Titchfield Haven, 26 Feb 2009

Other than a pair of Robins and a few Wrens all remained quiet so I headed back towards Titchfield. A few minutes later a familiar sight of the Haven flew into view.

Barn Owl, Titchfield Haven, 26 Feb 2009

Barn Owls are always cracking birds to see. I was only saying a few days back that I hope to get some flight shots later in the year. I did not realise it would be so soon.

Barn Owl, Titchfield Haven, 26 Feb 2009

The bird hunted over the adjacent fields to the canal and I spent about half an hour watching before the bird caught something and headed off with it.

I felt a little sorry for gripping Mark off with this bird as he still needs it for his year list, but I am sure it will be on there soon enough. Hope to get more shots as the season progresses.

Kestrel, Titchfield Haven, 26 Feb 2009

As I walked back to the car I passed this Kestrel, his mate (I assume) was busy hunting in the next field. Also seen on the return were two Buzzards circling high over the reserve.

Steve Copsey

Slip Sliding away down the canal

Spent a few hours this afternoon down the Titchfield Canal path with Mark. The path is now a lot drier that it was a few weeks ago, but still ‘wellies’ are a good idea. Unfortunately Mark has no wellies, but more on that later. We found a few dead fish on the path that had been swept onto it where the canal had broken its banks. The Little Egret above was just picking up an easy meal. The canal was actually very quiet, not helped by the dull overcast conditions. We had a look for the Water Pipits and the Siberian Chiffchaff that Dan Houghton found but as is often the case we double dipped. The only birds of note were a couple of pairs of Stonchats, these appeared to be paired up and at least one of the males was in full song.Stonechat, Titchfield Canal, 25 Feb 2009The most entertaining aspect of the afternoon was Mark trudging through the floods in his desert boots!! At the start of the trek I was assured of their waterproofing capabilities. By the end I was in stitches, actually laughing out loud as he told me how much water ingress had taken place.Wellies are for girls……..Titchfield Canal, 25 Feb 2009.

I have to confess I was hoping he would have a ‘little’ slip so I would get a good action shot, but true to form he battled through. The little mudhound attempting to trip Mark is Snipe. Not as keen on the conditions as the name would suggest.

Steve Copsey

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Reply

Spotted Redshank with Greenshank Bonus

After the Hayling Glaucous, Mark had to get into work. Fortunately I was not required till the afternoon. With time to spare, I drove the short distance over to Emsworth to check on the Spotted Redshank. Many thanks to Brian Fellows, one of the HOS members who reported that the bird was seen yesterday in company with an equally confiding Greenshank. This proved to be the case today.Spotted Redshank and Greenshank, Nore Barn, Emsworth, 24 Feb 2009

Both birds stayed in close proximity of one another for the hour or so I was at the site. Usually the Greenshank tended to follow the Spotshank but occasionally the roles were reversed.Spotted Redshank, Nore Barn, Emsworth, 24 Feb 2009Greenshank, Nore Barn, Emsworth, 24 Feb 2009As usual the site had its daily dog walkers. I counted 11 during the time I was there. Several dogs went into the water and the Spotted Redshank showed no alarm whatsoever. The Greenshank did seem a little more tentative but appeared to take its que from the Spotshank and remained alert but carried on feeding.Only when the mudhound below careered through the scene did the birds flush. The dog moved on and the birds were back feeding in the stream within a minute.Many of the people strolling through the area including the dog walkers had noticed the birds over the last few days, and stopped to chat. A few asked me if it was a male and female of the same species.I think several left thinking I was spinning them a line, when I told them the birds were not related, as they were convinced the birds were an item as they followed each other around.Spotted Redshank and Greenshank, Nore Barn, Emsworth, 24 Feb 2009Apologies for the number of images but I could not leave any of them out.Steve Copsey

Glaucous Gull at the Oysterbeds

Popped down to Hayling Island early this morning with Mark so we could jointly dip on the Firecrest in the area. Location location location!! Before we left the island we walked around the Oysterbeds to check for the Black-necked Grebes, we found 11 quite some distance out but relatively easy to see in a very calm Langstone Harbour. There were also good numbers of Mergansers and Goldeneye in the area. As we entered the main beds we had a total of 40 Mediterranean Gulls on the islands. As we walked round for better views Mark picked up the 2nd winter Glaucous Gull that has been doing the rounds.Glaucous Gull, Hayling sland Oysterbeds, 24 Feb 2009The Med Gulls showed little concern with the visitor, however the Black-headed Gulls present were not at all happy and several birds were continually dive bombing their northern relative.Steve Copsey

Dipper along River Calder, Lochwinnock, Renfrewshire

   On Saturday I spend a few hours at the RSPB’s Lochwinnoch reserve which is located to the southwest of Glasgow and easily accessible by train from Glasgow Central.  I was not expecting to see anything too exciting but I did hope to connect with Dipper and / or Whooper Swan.  The main objective for the day was to simply spend a few hours out of the flat in the fresh air. 

 

   My first port of call was the visitor centre, 500m from the railway station, which overlooks Aird Meadow and Aird Meadow Loch as well as a nearby feeding station.  The well stocked feeding station was full of activity with scores of Chaffinch, numerous Blue Tit, House Sparrow, Great Tit, Long-tailed Tit, Coal Tit, etc continually flitting to and from the feeders.  A visit by a male Great Spotted Woodpecker and a single male Reed Bunting to the feeders provided additional interest. 

   Of greater note was the presence of Goosander and Goldeneye on the loch in the distance.  Although the upstairs viewing platform provides a better vantage point the wildfowl on the loch are best seen from the two hides located on the eastern side of Aird Meadow Loch.  From the first of these I counted six Cormorant, 23 Goldeneye (10 male), seven Goosander (2 male), nine Pochard (7 male), six pair of Tufted Duck and several Teal.  On route I had another sighting of a male Great Spotted Woodpecker that hammered what appeared to be a peanut into a crevice of a tree trunk and a very obliging Treecreeper – one of my many favourite species of bird. 

 

   After a second spell of watching the feeders at the visitor centre I walked down the road towards the village to look along the River Calder for Dipper.  Although a scan of the river from the footbridge with ‘the mark one eye ball’ turned up a blank a scan with the binoculars immediately resulted in a sighting of a Dipper.  The bird was stood on a partially exposed rock that protruded from the water upstream from the bridge.  After a couple of minutes stood bobbing on the rock it flew low across the water’s surface and dropped into the river.  Although it initially remained partially visible the bird eventually ducked its head down and disappeared beneath the surface.  Unfortunately that was the last I saw of the bird. 

   As for Whooper Swan a local birder informed me that they could currently be seen in fields adjacent to Glasgow Airport.  That was where a few weeks ago I had noticed c30 Swans in a field between the River Clyde and the airport during the final approach of the aircraft I was in.  I suspected that they were Whooper Swan but it wasn’t possible to confirm their identity at the time.  Next time though I’ll have my binoculars at the ready and hope the aircraft again lands from the northeast.    

Good birding,

 

Tony T  BSc (Hons) Geosci (Open)

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Reply

Blashford Bittern and Shrike at the station

A cracking day out at Blashford and the New Forest on Sunday in company with members of the Royal Naval Birdwatching Society, ably accompanied by the Army Ornithological Society. Myself and Mark arrived early at Blashford so we nipped across the road to check out the Ibsley flood meadows. More than happy to find eight Bewicks Swans in the fields including a couple of first winter birds. Upon our arrival at Blashford we bumped into Bob Chapman near the visitor centre feeders.

Siskin and Redpoll, Blashford Lakes, 22 Feb 2009

He was showing particular interest in a possible Mealy Redpoll on the Niger feeder. I did take a few shots but so far I have nothing conclusive. If any more comes from it I will put more information out. After meeting up with the rest of the Army and Navy lads we headed straight for Ivy north hide. Hoping to see at least one of the regular Bitterns at the site. We were not disappointed, almost immediately we picked up one bird in the well flooded reeds.

Bittern, Ivy Lake, 22 Feb 2009

We enjoyed great views as it moved its way around the small patch of reeds. Everyone in the hide enjoyed good views, no mean feat as there was close to twenty five people present at the time! The Woodland hide was next on the route and again we enjoyed good views of the reserves specialities. Numerous Redpoll and Siskin were busy feeding these were heavily outnumbered by the local Chaffinches. At least two Brambling were also present.

Lesser Redpoll, above Brambling, below, Woodland Hide, 22 Feb 2009

We then popped over to view Ibsley water. We were soon struck by the numbers of Black-tailed Godwit around the lake. I think a conservative estimate would be around 800 birds. The pair of regular Black-necked Grebes were very active as were a number of displaying Goldeneye. A single male Goosander was also nice site to catch up with.

Just after noon we decided to head over to Beaulieu Road Station, hoping to catch up with the Shrike I dipped on a few weeks back. Today our luck was in. After meeting several birders we headed down to Denny Wood on the main track and then headed west for a few hundred metres. After about twenty minutes one of the chaps present got on the Shrike and although distant we all obtained decent views.

Great Grey Shrike, Denny Wood, 22 Feb 2009…..I know it’s small.

It followed the usual pattern of Shrike behaviour, regular perching atop one of the small tress interspersed by sudden drops to the swampy ground. A great bird and a Hampshire first for me.  As the afternoon wore on we drove up to Blackwater Arboretum and managed to catch up with a few more Redpolls and a couple of the expected Hawfinch.

Mark in Hawfinch hunting posture

Hawfinch, Blackwater Arboretum, 22 Feb 2009

Also bumped into Mark Rolfe and Tony (sorry can’t remember your second name). I seem to bump into Mark most weeks which works well for me as we always share local knowledge, his been a lot more knowledgeable than mine!!

Steve Copsey

Raptor Fest at the Haven

A brief two hour walk along the canal path with my wife this afternoon turned out to be a real Raptor Fest. There was a real Spring feel in the air for the first time this year. The resident Barn Owl was a nice early bird to see; hopefully I will get the chance to shoot some hunting shots this breeding season. A female Kestrel then followed hunting close to the Posbrook floods. A Carrion Crow behaving like a raptor was next; not quite sure what the bird was attempting to do but it was chasing and diving on feeding woodpigeons, following Sparrowhawk-like a particular woodpigeon into a nearby patch of scrub, grabbing for, but missing the bird.

We then sat down for a brew and almost immediately all the Teal and Wigeon in the nearby fields erupted into flight. As I stood up I could see the Havens wintering female Marsh Harrier over the reedbed.

Marsh Harrier, Titchfield Haven, 21 Feb 2009

At one point she flew out of sight and lots of squealing followed but a few moments later she was back in the air with nothing obvious to show for her efforts.

A great bird in a great setting.

I then settled back into my brew and we could then both hear the mewing of a common Buzzard. We looked up to see two high birds spiralling over the reserve. We then saw a smaller third bird; this was a little closer and upon inspection turned into a Peregrine Falcon.

I could see yet another bird even further away than the buzzards. I think it was a distant Sparrowhawk but I was by no means certain. As usual the Posbrook floods held plenty of wildfowl, Inc c150 Wigeon with smaller numbers of Teal, Pintail Gadwall and Shoveler, in addition to a pair of Mute Swans. Robins Wrens and Blue Tits were all in good voice in the canal side scrub.

Mute Swan, Titchfield Haven, 21 Feb 2009

Steve Copsey

 

Long-eared and Short-eared Owl at Farlington Marshes

Heading back from Faccombe we discovered that the Rough-legged Buzzard had shown well from the usual viewpoint some 45 minutes after we had left.
Tony was heading back to Scotland tonight so our time was precious and we wanted to see the Long-eared owl at Farlington Marshes which had been located at the weekend.
Arriving at the carpark we could see a group of birders looking towards the bushes. I had a good idea where the bird could be found after some excellent directions on the HOSlist forum, these were not required as the bird was pointed out to us straight away.

View into the bushes, Farlington Marshes, Hampshire 18th February 2009
Arrow showing LEO location, Farlington Marshes, Hampshire 18th February 2009
Long-eard Owl, Farlinton Marshes, Hampshire 18th February 2009
As we chatted to some of the regular Hampshire birders, all those present and some people just out for a walk, managed to get good views of the bird.
The next hour was spent along the stream with just the common species but we were a little luckier with the Brent flock where Tony soon located the Black Brant.  A Barnacle Goose was also present.  We ended the day looking out across Langstone Harbour towards North Binness Island.  Eventually a single Short-eared Owl showed for a couple of minutes before heading off high towards Hayling.
Mark C.
  

Willow Tits near Faccombe

Tony T and I decided to head for the north of the county to try for the Rough-legged Buzzard.  The forecast for the day had been good visability but we arrived at the wind turbine to find low lying dense cloud.  We decided to try for Willow Tits hoping that the cloud would clear during the morning.  We headed back to where the road turns off for Faccombe, we parked up and walked along the lower road which winds towards Netherton. 
Netherton Bottom near Faccombe, Hampshire 18th February 2009
We strolled slowly along the road checking the Hazel copse for signs of tit movement. In total, after an hour, we had at least three individual Willow Tits, a single Marsh Tit, a Treecreeper and various other woodland passerines.
We headed back to Faccombe with the cloud still lying low and decided our best bet would be to walk down into the valley.  We parked in the village at the church and headed along the footpath.  We met a birder who had seen the bird fly north but alas after a further hour we still couldn’t locate the bird.  Common Buzzards were frequent and a large group of thrushes were moving through the trees. our only other find was a few Bramblings amongst the finches in the treetops.
Mark C.

Pink-footed Geese overhead at Marsden, West Yorkshire

   Yesterday morning (Saturday 14 Feb 09) after leaving the bed and breakfast well fed and watered Mum and I went for a drive across the nearby snow covered moors to see a bit of the local area before calling back in on family.  

The moors West of Huddersfield 14 Feb 09.  I’m sure there must be a Grouse there somewhere.

   At Marsden we stopped to take a stroll  along the tow path of the Huddersfield Narrow Canal to see the north-eastern end of Standedge Tunnel (5698 yards).  On route at approximately 1000 c120 Pink-footed Geese were first heard and then spotted flying overhead in a westerly direction in typical v formations.  We were both thrilled to witness what was a completely unexpected event and five minutes later we were treated to another flypast by c120 Pink-footed Geese flying West that I assumed to be the same flock.  A little later I heard Bullfinch and Great Spotted Woodpecker calling and we soon managed to pick out the birds (both male) in the canopy of some nearby trees. 

Lock 42 Huddersfield Narrow Canal 14 Feb 09.  I was too busy enjoying the spectacle of c120 Pink-footed Geese flying overhead to actually take a photograph of them.  However, this is where we saw them from! 

   Back at home this morning Robin, Starling and Blue Tit were busy finding nesting material.  The Robin has again taken to building a nest in the ivy covering garden wall and the other two species have taken up residence in purpose built nest boxes.  Unfortunately, last year the Starlings didn’t actually breed but hopefully I will have greater success this year. 

   Highlights of a walk along the shore at Wicor this afternoon included: a summer plumaged Great Crested Grebe, two singing Song Thrush, two separate flocks of 40+ House Sparrow and a Sparrowhawk East. 

Good birding,

Tony T   BSc (Hons) Geosci (open)

  

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Reply

Grey Wagtail on the canal

Had a couple of visits over the weekend to the canal path at Titchfield. Primarily to look for the Water Pipits that have been seen in the area. Unfortunately I dipped on the Pipits on both visits. The Posbrook Floods which now cover twice the normal area held plenty of Wildfowl. c150 Wigeon were the main duck, followed by Teal. There were also double numbers of Gadwall, Pintail and Shoveler. Black-tailed Godwits and Lapwing were both present in good numbers.

The star bird for me however was Grey Wagtail, I see them down the path quite often but yesterday’s bird was a confiding individual more concerned about feeding in the damp pasture than of me.Grey Wagtail, Titchfield Canal Path, 14 Feb 2009From the white throat I would say the bird was a female, although it could be a young male coming into breeding plumage.Steve Copsey