We are Tony, Mark and Steve, three wildlife enthusiasts who met up whilst serving in the Royal Navy. This Blog will be a record of our collective birding and wildlife watching exploits. Mainly in and around the county of Hampshire, but occasionally farther afield.
Spent a pair of hours walking around Hook with Warsash this morning. With most open water frozen it was no surprise to see good numbers of Wildfowl in the harbour. Approx 100 Brent Geese were grazing on seaweed on the harbour mud, and there were large numbers of Teal and Wigeon on the water, sheltering behind the spit. One of the Brent Geese was sporting colour rings which I assume is one of the Farlington ringed birds. I have submitted the ring data and will update the blog if and when I receive a reply. The links were rather quiet save a few flocks of Canada Geese. Walking up towards Beam Cottage I had Mistle Thrush, Green Woodpecker and a Stonechat in the Little Owl field, no sign of any owls though. Half a dozen Redwings were feeding on Cherry sized Hawthorn berries near the sub-station. Hook park was quiet other than a few Blackbirds and Starlings.Quite glad to get back to the car and get the heater on.Dark Bellied Brent, (blue A on left, lime green 8 on right), Hook Hbr, 29 Nov 2010Wigeon, Hook Hbr, 29 Nov 2010Stonechat, Beam Cottage Field, 29 Nov 2010Bridge House Pond provided a patch of unfrozen water for this Pintail…!
I left the Sanderling to their Limpets and walked back to the car. Near the harbour entrance I came across a small flock of Starlings feeding on some scattered seed. The sun was catching the birds nicely, showing off their iridescent plumage. A few birds were actually singing on and off, no doubt getting practice in for spring. Again as with the Sanderling the results were very pleasing but still early days. So far so good though. Particularly pleased with the open mouth shot.Starling, Eastney, 24 Nov 2010Starling, Eastney, 24 Nov 2010Starling, Eastney, 24 Nov 2010
After the boating lake I popped down to the Fort Cumberland area of Eastney. Unfortunately the nice weather had brought out the majority of the Southsea Dog Walking Brigade, but eventually I found a quiet spot a few hundred metres down from the Hayling Island ferry. As I parked the car I had three Eider fly into Langstone Hbr; as I was getting my camera ready they flew back out and headed west along the front. As I walked along the shore towards the pier I saw a party of 29 Sanderling feeding on the tide line. I walked past at a distance then came back along the beach with the sun behind me and sat down and waited. Sure enough within ten minutes or so a few had made their way along the beach to my position. A perfect trial for the camera.Sanderling, Eastney, 24 Nov 2010The Sanderlings were busy feeding, very effectively I might add on Slipper Limpets. I believe that Slipper Limpets originated on the other side of the Atlantic and I did hear a story that they came across on shipping especially during the war. I don’t know how true that actually is, but as most people will testify there are now literally millions along the Hampshire coast. The Sanderlings polished off a good many but there is still plenty to go at over the winter!! Sanderling and Slipper Limpet, Eastney, 24 Nov 2010Sanderling and Slipper Limpet, Eastney, 24 Nov 2010Even diving back into the water did not save this Limpet
After around half an hour of photography, a chap approached with his faithful hound and obviously thinking I was fed up with the whole shooting match walked in-between me and the birds. A distance that was now down to around 15 foot! Needless to say the birds did not stick around to meet Rex; fortunately they just hopped around the chap and continued feeding a little further down the beach. I left them to it and headed back to the motor.Very pleased with the camera so far, especially the Sanderling shots. So much so that I ended up taking far too many shots and I have spent the best part of three hours sorting through them.Sanderling, Eastney, 24 Nov 2010
Managed to get out for a few hours this morning testing out my new 7D. The ideal spot was Southsea Castle, as I had some business in the dockyard. I was hoping for Purple Sandpipers as the tide was right but unfortunately not a single bird was present. Undeterred I just had a bimble around the area and then went down to the boating Lake and onto Eastney where I had 29 Sanderling on the beach, more on those later. Also had a small flock of Starlings at Eastney singing away in the sunshine. Again more on them over the next day or two. The initial results are very pleasing although the weather today was just perfect for photography.Pied Wagtail, Southsea, 24 Nov 2010Pied Wagtail, Southsea, 24 Nov 2010Carrion Crow, Southsea, 24 Nov 2010Herring Gull, Southsea Boating Lake, 24 Nov 2010
Spent a few hours in the New Forest this morning. The idea was to have a good walk in the late autumn sunshine that was forecast on yesterday evenings weather report, followed by lunch at Eyeworth Pond photographing woodland birds in the soft sunshine. In the end we had around twenty minutes of sun and then to shorten the day further the dog decided to cut her leg within ten minutes of the walk so lunch was taken at 10:00 in the Eyeworth Gloom. Conditions were not too bad as I parked up at Cadman’s Pond. Due to the fact it was not raining I took advantage of the place being quiet and put out some seed in the car park. Within 5 minutes I had numerous Birds coming down to the food. Chaffinch by far was the most common closely followed by Blue Tits. Great Tits and Nuthatch also made an appearance. However, the bird I was after was Brambling and I am glad to say that after twenty minutes I had two birds in the Holly Tree near the car. They appeared much more nervous than the Chaffinches and never came down to the food, (at least not whilst I was there). During the brief walk I did have several small flocks of Fieldfare overhead and one larger flock of Redwings. Like I said I took an early lunch at Eyeworth and managed a few more shots but by this time rain was coming through the windows so I decided post coffee to head home and book a visit to the vets.Brambling, Male, Cadman’s Pond, 12 Nov 2010Brambling, Female/Juvenile, Cadman’s Pond, 12 Nov 2010
Interesting to note the pecking order of the birds at the NF car park feeding stations. As you would expect the smaller Tits give way to all, the Great Tit and Chaffinch are about equal status but all give way to the Nuthatch. A Robin did stand up to one and both birds ended up scrapping on the floor, but the Robin quickly left the scene. Nothing larger visited so the Nuthatch ruled the roost. That said as I left Cadman’s Pond two donkeys entered the car park and began to feed on the seed and needless to say the Nuthatch caved in.Marsh Tit, Eyeworth Pond, 12 Nov 2010Nuthatch, Eyeworth Pond, 12 Nov 2010Keep an eye open for that pesky Nuthatch
Spent a few hours before work walking around the Brownich area this morning. I was hoping for the Lapland Bunting and Water Pipit and I headed off at 10:45 with the latter. I initially walked along the cliffs from Hill Head towards the ‘The Admirals House’ at Brownich. As I walked I was continually passed by migrating Woodpigeons, I would estimate around 1500 birds headed west. The majority about 500 metres inland from the cliffs, passing over Thatcher’s Copse. That said with my counting estimations it was probably nearer to 4000. Woodpigeons heading west over Thatcher’s Copse, 10 Nov 2010
Starlings were also on the move in good numbers. Pied Wagtails were another feature of the walk; c200 were busy feeding in the field immediately to the west of Thatcher’s Copse along with many Meadow Pipits, Linnets and Skylarks. I then got around to the fields to the south of Thatcher’s Copse. Again Pied Wagtails dominated, with 50-100 feeding in the recently ploughed field. Skylark and Meadow Pipits were again present in smaller numbers along with half a dozen Reed Buntings. The Water Pipit was with a group of Meadow Pipits a little distant but it did stand out with its larger size, paler colour and more prominent wing bars. I would have liked to have studied the bird a little longer but a Black-headed Gull dropping in among the pipit flock scattering them in the process put paid to the plan. Hopefully I will get down there again in the next few days for a more extended viewing period.Pied Wagtail, Brownich, 10 Nov 2010Dark-bellied Brent Geese, Brownich, 10 Nov 2010 (not often seen from above)Reed Bunting, Brownich, 10 Nov 2010
Recently I received feedback on another four colour-ringed Mediterranean Gull (two adult and two 2nd-W) that I spotted at Hook with Warsash on 3 Sep 10. The birds were amongst a flock of 235 on the foreshore immediately West of Solent Breezes.
Mediterranean Gull BW(3V99) ringed as a pullus at Antwerp, Belgium in May 2006. Life history as follows:
Aug 07 Pas-de-Calais, France
Jan 08 Baixo Alentejo, Portugal
May 08 Vendée, France
Jun 09 Vendée, France
Jul 09 Manche, France
Oct 09 Folkestone, Kent
Mar 10 Vendée, France
3 Sep 10 Hook with Warsash, Hants
Mediterranean Gull GW(R13U) ringed as a pullus at Pas-de-Calais, France in Jun 09. Life history as follows:
Aug 09 Manche, France
Oct 09 Radipole Lake RSPB
Jul 10 Pas-de-Calais, France
3 Sep 10 Hook with Warsash, Hants
Oct 10 Radipole Lake RSPB
Mediterranean Gull GW(3KK0) ringed as a pullus at Oost-Vlaandera, Belgium in Jun 03. Life history as follows:
Jan 04 Coruña, Spain
Jul 04 Bembridge, IOW
Jan 05 Coruña, Spain
Apr 05 Oost-Vlaanderen, Belgium
May 05 Bouches-du-Rhône, France
Jun 05 Ryde Sands, IOW
Apr 07 Titchfield Haven, Hants
Jul 07 St Helen’s, IOW
Mar 08 Titchfield Haven, Hants
Jul 08 Badminston Gravel Pit, Hants
Feb 09 Coruña, Spain
Apr 09 Badminston Gravel Pit, Hants
Nov 09 Pontevedra, Spain
3 Sep 10 Hook with Warsash, Hants
Mediterranean Gull BW(E172) ringed as a pullus at Antwerpen, Belgium in Jun 09. Life history as follows:
Aug 09 Seine-Maritime, France
Dec 09 Pas-de-Calais, France
Jul 10 Keyhaven Marshes, Hants
3 Sep 10 Hook with Warsash, Hants
As per my last entry on the life history of colour-ringed Mediterranean Gulls that I had seen, none of the birds were reported in the UK between November and February.
This morning I took a stroll around Brownwich and Chilling in the autumnal sunshine, aware that Lapland Bunting and Brambling had been reported from the path that leads from Thatchers Coppice to the cliffs. Mid-way down the path I met up with Dan H and three other ‘birders’ who were busy scoping the fields for something other than Pied Wagtail, Meadow Pipit, Linnet or Skylark.
Lapland Bunting had already been seen earlier in the day, along with Water Pipit, Redpoll, Brambling and Woodlark, all in the immediate area. Consequently, I setup my scope and thought I’d join in for a little while. I didn’t have to wait long before I heard the call of something different that I presumed to be Lapland Bunting. I looked up to see seven LBJs fly over and disappear behind the hedge. Confident of what I had heard I asked Dan if there had been Lapland Bunting amongst them. He confirmed my ID and stated that all seven birds were Lapland Buntings!
I ‘twitched’ Lapland Bunting at Farlington Marshes in September, where I enjoyed very good views of three (probably four) birds feeding. At the time I thought it unlikely that I would see three Lapland Buntings ever again in the UK. How wrong I was. Although I only had a brief view of the flock as the birds flew overhead, I was very pleased to pick out the call. A little later I bumped in to Simon I who mentioned that the count of seven Lapland Bunting might actually be a Hampshire record.
Other highlights included the sheer number of Wood Pigeon heading West and five female / 1st-winter Common Scoter on The Solent.
I will get round to the tail of the Partially albino Blackcap in a mo but first my latest ringing adventure. I met up with Trevor Codlin and Izzy at Manor Farm Country Park. Trevor has been ringing here for over ten years and tells me that he has ringed over 800 House Sparrows as part of his RAS project, retrapping adults for survival. This is a great site with a variety of habitats.
Hopefully this will give me plenty of practice ringing the more common British species instead of those pesky Grasshopper Warblers that we seem to get all the time at the Haven
We rang for about 6 hours and had 88 birds including 10 Long tailed tits and 5 Linnets.
Linnet, Manor Farm Country Park, 6th November 2010
And now the story, we were ringing at the Haven on the 18th September 2010 and it was one of the mornings when the general public were allowed to watch the ringing process.It was rather busy with a lot of birds so I was on permanent extraction duty constantly moving round the nets.In the jetty net I came across a Blackcap and after removing it from the net and holding it in the ringer’s grip noticed some white feathering on its cap.I mentioned this to Barry and Trevor when I got back to the ringing area and set off around the nets once again.When I returned I was confronted with some friendly ribbing about the bird, how had I not noticed the full white wings and back, to be honest I still can’t understand how I missed this stunning plumage.
Blackcap, Titchfield haven, 18th Septemeber 2010
Note to self, pay more attention
Very glad to say that Ralph Hollins, as always was very helpful and got back to me regarding the Leucistic Canada Goose. It turns out several people had reported the bird to Ralph for his Havant Nature notes website diary; a cracking website with a superb account of all things wild particularly in the east of the county and one I have been viewing for over 8 years when the word blog was not even thought of! As it happens one of the ‘several’ people who reported the bird to Ralph was me back in the October of 2003. If I actually kept some decent notes I might be useful. Thankfully we have people like Ralph and Richard who are a little better on the notebook front. Anyway I have cut and pasted Ralph’s reply and pasted it below underneath the Goose shot.Leucistic Canada Goose, Ranvilles Lane, 3 Nov 2010
My records include a report from you of a leucistic Canada Goose among a flock of 300 seen by you at Brownwich on 16 Oct 2003 (Trevor Carpenter saw it there on Oct 19 and Kevin Stouse saw what was probably the same bird at the IBM Lake on 3 Sep 2003 while John Shillitoe had an ‘albino’ at Titchfield Haven on July 23 and Trevor Carpenter had a white bird at Titchfield Haven on Jan 9 that year). Also in 2003 John Clark reported one he called ‘Whitey’ at Tundry Pond at Dogmersfield near Fleet on Dec 22 which I believe had been thereabouts for some years
In 2004 Richard Carpenter had an ‘albino’ at Titchfield Haven on Dec 17, Bob Marchant had a leucistic bird at Hook on Nov 23 and Nov 7. In early 2004 a white bird was at Fareham Creek on Feb 2 and Feb 11, and you saw it at Titchfield Haven on Jan 28
The flock at the Haven had a white bird with it in Nov 2005 (but that may have been a different species) and Mike Cutts had an ‘albino’ near Titchfield village on Oct 19 while a white bird was seen at Farlington on Oct 12. Kevin Stouse saw a white bird with a dark eye (not pink for albino) at the IBM Lake on Aug 16 and Richard Carpenter had one at the Haven on May 25
The bird was still at the Haven in 2006 and 2007 though I don’t have your record for that year (I do have a note in July that year saying that the Worcestershire Cricket Club had trained two sheep dogs to herd Canada Geese off their Cricket Ground)
My current database only goes back to 2000 but my memory includes a regular white bird seen in the Fareham/Portsdown area back in the mid 1990s. As I recall that one was much whiter than your current photo (you could only just see the faintest hint of colour differences where the plumage changes from black or brown to the white of the chinstrap).
Many Thanks Ralph for taking the time to reply. A link to Ralph’s nature notes can be found below.