Brown Noddies at Mars Bay and Waterside

The main focus of the next few days and the primary aim of this expedition was the geotagging of Sooty Terns in a joint venture with Ascension Conservation. However, Mark C is writing a paper on this subject for the 2016 Sea Swallow so not wanting to steal his thunder that is where I’ll leave it. See link below for Sea Swallow archive.

Sea Swallow

One of the secondary aims of the expedition was the continuing study of Brown Noddies which I’m glad to say are on the increase at both Mars Bay and Waterside. The study involved the catching, ringing and re-trapping of birds across both fairs. Measurements, weights and blood samples were then taken and these biometrics (hope that’s the right term) will be used to add to a growing database on the species.

Brown Noddy Incubating 1, Mars Bay, 15 Jan 2016

Incubating Brown Noddy, Mars Bay, 15 Jan 2016

Brown Noddies 1, Waterside, 18 Jan 2016

Brown Noddy Pair, Waterside, 18 Jan 2016

First of all we used GPS devices to map out where the Brown Noddies were nesting. This mapping information was passed to Ascension Conservation for future use as well as being used to find the birds in due course for our study. Below are a few images of the birds when found.  I’ll show the study work in the next entry or two.

Brown Noddy 1, Mars Bay, 15 Jan 2016

Brown Noddy, Mars Bay, 15 Jan 2016

Brown Noddies 1a, Mars Bay, 19 Jan 2016

Brown Noddy Pair, Mars Bay, 19 Jan 2016

Brown Noddy 3a, Waterside, 23 Jan 2016

Brown Noddy, Waterside, 23 Jan 2016

Brown Noddy 1, Mars Bay, 19 Jan 2016

Brown Noddy, Mars Bay, 19 Jan 2016

Brown Noddy 3, Mars Bay, 15 Jan 2016

Brown Noddy, Mars Bay, 15 Jan 2016

Brown Noddy 1, Waterside, 18 Jan 2016

Brown Noddy, Waterside, 18 Jan 2016

Brown Noddy 2, Mars Bay, 19 Jan 2016

Brown Noddy, Mars Bay, 19 Jan 2016

Steve C

Ascension Frigatebirds Hunting at Mars Bay

As I mentioned in an earlier post, one of the easiest ways of finding out where the newly hatched chicks are located in the Sooty tern colony is to see where the Ascension Frigatebirds are hunting. They have a particular taste for the youngest chicks and up to thirty at a time can be seen over the colony.

Ascension Frigatebirds hunting over the Sooty Tern colony 1, Mars Bay, 15 Jan 2016

Ascension Frigatebirds hunting over the Sooty Tern colony, Mars Bay, 15 Jan 2016

Ascension Frigatebird 2a, Mars Bay, 15 Jan 2016

Ascension Frigatebird, Mars Bay, 15 Jan 2016

Ascension Frigatebird 1, Mars Bay, 19 Jan 2016

Ascension Frigatebird, Mars Bay, 19 Jan 2016

It is a constant battle for the adult Sooty Terns doing their best to protect their chicks but needless to say many are taken. The best defence for the Sootys is to time their hatching all together and swamp the colony with young birds. This way the predators will take their share but the majority of the chicks will survive. In some of the smaller sub-colonies we checked with numbers of terns much reduced, it could be seen that the frigatebirds had taken a far larger proportion of the chicks.

Ascension Frigatebird with Sooty Tern Chick 1, Mars Bay, 15 Jan 2016

Ascension Frigatebird with Sooty Tern Chick, Mars Bay, 15 Jan 2016

Ascension Frigatebird with Sooty Tern Chick 1a, Mars Bay, 15 Jan 2016

Closer crop of image above

Ascension Frigatebird with Sooty Tern Chick 2, Mars Bay, 15 Jan 2016

Ascension Frigatebird with Sooty Tern Chick, Mars Bay, 15 Jan 2016

 

Ascension Frigatebird with Sooty Tern Chick 2a, Mars Bay, 15 Jan 2016

Closer crop of image above

Ascension Frigatebird with Sooty Tern Chick 6 Mars Bay, 24 Jan 2016

Ascension Frigatebird with Sooty Tern Chick, Mars Bay, 24 Jan 2016

Ascension Frigatebird with Sooty Tern Chick 2, Mars Bay, 24 Jan 2016

Being mobbed by the adult Sooty Terns

I did not manage to photograph it, but the frigatebirds will act together whilst hunting over the colony. On several occasions we witnessed the following behaviour; where one frigatebird will drop down into the colony (whilst still on the wing) and pick up an adult bird which is shielding the chick. This adult bird is literally tossed aside and a second frigatebird follows in to take the chick. The whole incident taking around a second. Obviously not great for the Sooty Terns but a fascinating spectacle to witness.

Ascension Frigatebird 2, Mars Bay, 22 Jan 2016

Ascension Frigatebird, Mars Bay, 22 Jan 2016

Ascension Frigatebird 1, Mars Bay, 15 Jan 2016

Ascension Frigatebird, Mars Bay, 15 Jan 2016

Steve C

Sooty Tern Chick Study; Mars Bay

The morning of the 15th saw the team helping out with a Sooty Tern chick study. Lucy a PhD student from Birmingham University had been working on the fair since November ably assisted by another student Kat.

Sooty Tern Chick Study 1, Mars Bay, 15 Jan 2016

Sooty Tern Chick Study, Mars Bay, 15 Jan 2016

Sooty Tern Chick Study 2, Mars Bay, 15 Jan 2016

Sooty Tern Chick Study, Mars Bay, 15 Jan 2016

Sooty Tern Chick Study 10, Mars Bay, 15 Jan 2016

Sooty Tern Chick Study, Mars Bay, 15 Jan 2016

The study involved various evolutions, one of which was ringing certain chicks with orange darvic rings in a number of the crèches and then ringing a dozen or so other chicks in the same crèches that were associating with the orange birds with green or blue rings.  Measurements of the birds were taken at regular intervals to check on growth rates amongst other things. Also the ring letters were monitored to see if the chicks remained in the same crèche associations. All good stuff which I am sure will be written up and explained slightly better than my efforts when Lucy submits her papers.

Sooty Tern Chicks 3, Mars Bay, 15 Jan 2016

Sooty Tern Creche

Sooty Tern Chicks 1, Mars Bay, 15 Jan 2016

chicks showing pretty good camouflage, even when close up

Sooty Tern Chick Study 5, Mars Bay, 15 Jan 2016

Sooty Tern Chick, green AZ, 15 Jan 2016

Sooty Tern Chick Study 4, Mars Bay, 15 Jan 2016

Sooty Tern Chick, blue GA, 15 Jan 2016

Sooty Tern Chick Study 3, Mars Bay, 15 Jan 2016

Sooty Tern Chick, blue KL, 15 Jan 2016

Sooty Tern Chick Study 8, Mars Bay, 15 Jan 2016

Sooty Tern Chick Study, Mars Bay, 15 Jan 2016

Sooty Tern Chick Study 9, Mars Bay, 15 Jan 2016

Sooty Tern Chick Study, Mars Bay, 15 Jan 2016

Sooty Tern Chick Study 6, Mars Bay, 15 Jan 2016

Sooty Tern Chick Study, Mars Bay, 15 Jan 2016

Sooty Tern Chick Study 7, Mars Bay, 15 Jan 2016

Attempting to discover the cause of death

Steve C

Mars Bay Sooty Tern Colony Part 1

We landed early morning after a nine hour flight down from RAF Brize Norton, after checking in at our accommodation and meeting up with the conservation department staff in Georgetown we paid an introductory visit to the Sooty Tern colony at Mars bay. We had been given the news earlier that the other colony at waterside was completely abandoned this season. Not the best news to receive, but given that the two previous seasons had been very productive it was not the disaster it could have been. The colony desertion could possibly be linked to the 2015 El Nino weather patterns which have caused strange weather patterns globally.

Sooty Tern 6, Mars Bay, 14 Jan 2016

Sooty Tern, Mars Bay, 14 Jan 2016

Sooty Tern 8, Mars Bay, 14 Jan 2016

Sooty Tern, Mars Bay, 14 Jan 2016

Sooty Tern 9, Mars Bay, 14 Jan 2016

Sooty Tern, Mars Bay, 14 Jan 2016

The good news is that Mars Bay did hold good numbers of Sooty terns. Obviously I had no reference to work from but the chaps who had seen previous seasons did say the birds were covering smaller areas than on some previous visits. That said there was still 1000’s of birds present.  I would have estimated maybe 30-40,000 birds, but I could be off the mark.

The colony is effectively made up of many sub-colonies. Where you have areas with chicks that are just about fully grown and nearly ready to fledge. Ranging to birds incubating eggs and even large areas of birds that are just arriving and prospecting potential nesting sites. The areas with recently hatched chicks are quite easy to identify from distance as these are the areas where the Ascension Frigatebirds tend to hunt over.

Sooty Terns 1, Mars Bay, 15 Jan 2016

Sooty Terns, Mars Bay, 15 Jan 2016

Sooty Tern with Egg 1, Mars Bay, 14 Jan 2016

Sooty Tern with Egg, Mars Bay, 14 Jan 2016

Sooty Tern Chick Hatching, Mars Bay, 15 Jan 2016

Sooty Tern Chick Hatching, Mars Bay, 15 Jan 2016

Sooty Tern with Chick 1, Mars Bay, 24 Jan 2016

Sooty Tern with Chick, Mars Bay, 24 Jan 2016

Sooty Tern Chick 5 -  P5 P6 , Mars Bay, 19 Jan 2016

Sooty Tern Chick – P5 P6 , Mars Bay, 19 Jan 2016

Sooty Tern Chick 2 -  P5 P6 , Mars Bay, 19 Jan 2016

Sooty Tern Chick – P4 P5 , Mars Bay, 19 Jan 2016

Sooty Tern with Chick 1, Mars Bay, 26 Jan 2016

Sooty Tern with Chick quite close to fledging, Mars Bay, 26 Jan 2016

Ascension Frigatebirds hunting over the Sooty Tern colony 2, Mars Bay, 15 Jan 2016

Ascension Frigatebirds hunting over the Sooty Tern colony, Mars Bay, 15 Jan 2016

Steve C

Ascension Island Expedition Jan 2016

I returned to the cooler climes of the UK last week following a 12 day visit to Ascension Island, as part of an Army Ornithological Society led expedition. Mark C was also on the trip; this one being his third. Over the next few weeks we will both contribute blog entries and images pertaining to the work we did whilst on the island.

Ascension Island is a small volcanic island situated in the tropical South Atlantic at -8 deg latitude. It lies approximately 1000 miles from the African coast and 1400 miles from Brazil. Together with St Helena and Tristan da Cunha it forms a British Overseas Territory. As you would imagine the weather was hot and tropical for the period we visited (as it is pretty much all year round), with only a few fleeting showers to bring any relief.

Ascension_Island_Location

Location of Ascension Island in the South Atlantic

asc

The primary objective of this, and previous expeds which have taken place every 9.6 months since the late 1980’s is the long term monitoring of the Sooty Terns that nest in two large colonies on the island. The periodicity of visits is that dictated by the breeding cycle of the birds. As well as the main focus of the Sooty Tern work we also carried out a study on some of the local Brown Noddy population and had the opportunity to visit Green Mountain, the highest point on the island at 2818 ft. Letterbox was also visited once during the visit. This is the area where Masked Boobies and Frigatebirds have now returned to the mainland to breed after the successful eradication of feral cats. We also witnessed green Turtles laying eggs on Long beach just outside the capital, Georgetown. A fantastic experience and something I had never witnessed before. Much more on all those topics along with numerous Sooty tern related entries to follow in due course.

Sooty Tern 4, Mars Bay, 14 Jan 2016

Sooty Tern, Mars Bay, 14 Jan 2016

Ascension Frigatebird 1, Mars Bay, 15 Jan 2016

Ascension Frigatebird, Mars Bay, 15 Jan 2016

Brown Noddy 2, Waterside, 18 Jan 2016

Brown Noddy, Waterside, 18 Jan 2016

Green Mountain 1

Green Mountain, 17 Jan 2016

Steve C

 

Red-necked Grebe at Hayling Island

This morning I headed to Northney on Hayling Island to look for the Red-necked Grebe that has been regularly seen in the channel between the island and the mainland.  I parked up in the empty lay by before The Langstone Hotel and walked around the shoreline to the mouth of the marina.  Although dry, the strong westerly wind resulted in me relocating in the lee of the slipway vegetation where the boat trailers provided ideal seating.  Although I got a little chilly the 2 hour wait proved well worthwhile as the Red-necked Grebe showed brilliantly from 13:00 just offshore.  After admiring it through the scope I managed a few record shots from the exposed foreshore before returning hurriedly to the slipway to warm up with my flask of coffee.  The encounter was only my third sighting of the species in Hampshire, the previous best being the Anglesey Lake individual back in December 2007.

Red-necked Grebe, North Hayling Island, Hants – 30 Jan 16

Red-necked Grebe, North Hayling Island, Hants – 30 Jan 16

Red-necked Grebe, North Hayling Island, Hants – 30 Jan 16

Red-necked Grebe, North Hayling Island, Hants – 30 Jan 16

A minimum of 26 Grey Plover on the mud flats, many taking shelter from the wind behind mounds of mud, resulted in a second Hampshire Year Tick from the visit.  Other highlights included a minimum of 5 Goldeneye (3 male) and regular Red-breasted Merganser (minimum 14 – 5 male).

Good birding,

Tony T   BSc (Hons) GeoSci (Open)

Barn Owl at Titchfield and Black Swan on Fareham Creek

This afternoon I took the afternoon off work to enjoy the sunshine.  I opted to take a stroll down the Titchfield Canal path and hoped that the Barn Owl recently reported would be ‘on show’ in the ‘owl’ tree on the western side of the canal, a couple of hundred yards south of the car park.  Fortunately the bird was ‘on show’ in the tree hollow on my arrival at 13:10, despite the ‘no show’ for a fellow ‘birder’ who I met at the car park.  However, it only stayed visible for a few minutes before dropping down and to the left within the hollow trunk.  Although it’s head could be seen for a further few minutes it then completely disappeared out of sight.

Barn Owl, Titchfield – 28 Jan 16

It was great to see the species back in the area after a prolonged absence.  In previous years I regularly encountered the species hunting the fields of Titchfield Haven Reserve and adjacent farmland during a late evening walk.  My last record from the area was back in Jun 11.

Another recent local birding highlight was a completely unexpected Black Swan on Fareham Creek beside the A32 and Town Quay.

Black Swan, Fareham Creek – 18 Jan 16

Good birding,

Tony T   BSc (Hons) GeoSci (Open)

Birding Hampshire – Iceland Gull

After some errands this morning I headed for Southsea with the hope of seeing both the Iceland Gull and any lingering Little Gulls. Stopping at the pier I headed west and searched through the hundreds of gulls but to no avail. Heading back I bumped into another birder and he said that it had been seen by the monument on Southsea Common. I shot back to the car and who should be sat in the car next to mine but another amigo, Tony T. I explained what I had been told and we both shot down to the common, we scanned from the cars and Tony picked the Iceland Gull in amongst the other gulls.

Iceland Gull Southsea 070115 143

Iceland Gull, Southsea, 7th Jan 2016

We decided to use the monument for cover to try and get better views. I waited while Tony went to put some money in the meter, which was broken. He then ran 100 metres to the next one, which was also broken, so he decided to head to the next one. I couldn’t help giggling to myself as he ran back with the ticket.  Luckily the bird was still there and we headed nearer. There were a few birders already sheltered in the bottom of the building which proved to be a perfectly suitable hide.

Iceland Gull Southsea 070115 194

Iceland Gull, Southsea, 7th Jan 2016

We enjoyed excellent views until a dog walker, who had seen us looking, decided to walk straight through the group of gulls, flushing them in all directions. We all looked at each other exasperated. We waited for them but every time a few birds settled, a dog walker would appear and they would flush again. In the end I headed off not knowing if the bird ever re-appeared this afternoon.
Mark C

Eyed Veneer (Euchromius ocellea) Micro Moth in Fareham Garden

Weather permitting I have continued to run my 40W Actinic Heath Trap overnight in my back garden throughout December.  The normal outcome has been an empty trap but I was rewarded for my perseverance on the 27th with a single Eyed Veneer Euchromius ocellea.  It is a species that is only a rare immigrant to Hampshire that originates from European / sub-tropical regions.  The record was a result of the strong warm southerly winds experienced throughout the month that have resulted in significant migrant activity along the south coast.

Despite my best efforts I was unable to identify the specimen, and consequently I had to show it to a fellow Fareham Mothing Group member.  My difficulty in identifying the species, despite the pale cross lines and prominent metallic markings, was due to the fact it is only mentioned in the introduction for the Crambidae section of my Micro Moth reference book.  However, information and images for the species is available on the Hants Moths Website.

Originating from much warmer climates the individual would have most likely perished with the first frosts.  Therefore I offered up the specimen to be set, and after it had been, I finally managed a record photograph.  Sunshine has been too much to ask for, so I used flash for the first time diffused through a folded tissue indoors.

Eyed Veneer (Euchromius ocellea), Fareham Garden – 27 Dec 15

Good mothing,

Tony T   BSc (Hons) GeoSci (Open)

2015 Favourites

Just to wish  all readers of this blog a Happy New Year. I did mean to post this yesterday afternoon but events got the better of me in the form of several White Russians. Before looking forward to 2016; a look back to some 2015 favourites.

Christ the Redeemer 2

Black Vulture (maybe), Rio de Janeiro, 3 April 2015

Varanger 6

Varanger, Antarctica, 4 Jan 2015

Black-browed Albatross 5a , South Atlantic, 23 Jan 2015

Black-browed Albatross , South Atlantic, 23 Jan 2015

Emperor Penguin 5, ad, Weddell Sea, Antarctica, 1 Feb 2015

Emperor Penguin, Weddell Sea, Antarctica, 1 Feb 2015

Blue Whale 16, South Georgia, 9 Feb 2015

Blue Whale, South Georgia, 9 Feb 2015

Macaroni Penguin 7a, South Georgia, 9 Feb 2015

Macaroni Penguin, South Georgia, 9 Feb 2015

South Georgia Pintail 11, South Georgia, 11 Feb 2015

South Georgia Pintail, South Georgia, 11 Feb 2015

Elephant Seal 3a, South Georgia, 11 Feb 2015

Elephant Seal, South Georgia, 11 Feb 2015

Commerson's Dolphin 2b, Bertha's Beach, 24 Feb 2015

Commerson’s Dolphin, Bertha’s Beach, 24 Feb 2015

Kestrel 3a, Hook Links, 6 Mar 2015

Kestrel, Hook with Warsash, 6 Mar 2015

Cirl Bunting 5a, Prawle Point, 25 Mar 2015

Cirl Bunting, Prawle Point, Devon, 25 Mar 2015

Ruff 2a, Martin Mere, 27 Mar 2015

Ruff, Martin Mere, Lancashire, 27 Mar 2015

Eastern Black-eared Wheatear 2b, Acres Down, 13 Jun 2015

Eastern Black-eared Wheatear, Acres Down, 13 Jun 2015

Rosy-breasted Lovebird, Fareham, 18 Aug 2015

Rosy-breasted Lovebird, Fareham, 18 Aug 2015. A splash of colour for the garden.

Bearded Tit 2, Titchfield Haven, 23 Nov 2015

Bearded Tit, Titchfield Haven, 23 Nov 2015

Steve C

Birding Hampshire – Penduline Tit, finally !

Today I decided to try once again for the Penduline Tits. I had tried twice previously at the Haven and once when they relocated at IBM, all to no avail. I was going to go with Steve but our timings didn’t match, so I headed down after midday. Heavy rain had been forecast so I wrapped up like a deep sea fisherman and headed for the West Hide. The birds hadn’t been seen for over an hour and the weather wasn’t getting any better so I sat there anticipating another blank. Luckily another birder picked one up over to the left of the hide. With very little reference points it took me ages to see it amongst the rushes.

Penduline Tit Titchfied Haven 301215 101

Spot the Birdy ?

The bird was quite a distance from the hide and as you can see they are superbly camouflaged. One clue was the constant seeds of the reedmace sent flying in the wind, thus giving away the presence of the bird. Here is the same image with something else added.

Penduline Tit Titchfied Haven 301215 101a

Penduline Tit, extremely well camouflaged.

We discussed within the hide the feeding habits of a Penduline Tit, whether it was feeding on the reedmace or removing the seeds to look for insects. After reading what I could online I am still none the wiser.
The bird did move along the mace heads, so some better views were had but it was still much too far away for a good shot, this combined with the gale force winds resulted in the best images being those below.

Penduline Titchfield Haven 301215 261

Penduline Tit, Titchfield Haven 30th Dec 2015

Penduline Titchfield Haven 301215 211

Penduline Tit, Titchfield Haven 30th Dec 2015

Looking at the literature I would say this was one of the females but I may be wrong.
It was great to finally catch up with this amazing little bird and well worth the numerous visits.
Mark C

112 Pintail at Hook with Warsash

A selection of images from the last two visits to the reserve. A brief visit of the 20th which was dampened; literally by the weather and the driving wind. Nice though to bump into Stan Brunton whom I have not seen in a good while. The second visit this afternoon when the weather had calmed from this morning and the sun was shining.

Teal 1a, Hook with Warsash, 20 Dec 2015

Teal, Hook with Warsash, 20 Dec 2015

Dark-bellied Brent Goose 1, Hook with Warsash, 20 Dec 2015

Dark-bellied Brent Goose, Hook with Warsash, 20 Dec 2015

As I approached the scrape today I bumped into Richard Levitt, he let me know that good numbers of Pintail where around the scrape having just counted approximately 90 birds. The ducks were quite spread out when I arrived and I could only see around 70 birds. Not sure why but the birds then became quite agitated and flushed from the surrounding cover and wet areas and alighted on the scrape. I then counted 112 Pintail now that they were more in the open. (A decent count for this site me thinks). Along with around 40 Mallard, 50 Teal, 18 Shelduck and smaller numbers of Wigeon. The birds still appeared unsettled and all of a sudden they all took to the air including c300 Brent Geese from further along the links. Quite a sight.

Pintail 1, Hook with Warsash, 24 Dec 2015

Pintail, Hook with Warsash, 24 Dec 2015

Shelduck 1, Hook with Warsash, 24 Dec 2015

Shelduck (mainly), Hook with Warsash, 24 Dec 2015

Pintail and Shelduck 1, Hook with Warsash, 24 Dec 2015

Pintail and Shelduck, Hook with Warsash, 24 Dec 2015

Dark-bellied Brent Geese 1, Hook with Warsash, 24 Dec 2015

Dark-bellied Brent Geese, Hook with Warsash, 24 Dec 2015

Pintail 2, Hook with Warsash, 24 Dec 2015

Pintail and Mallard, Hook with Warsash, 24 Dec 2015

Pintail 3, Hook with Warsash, 24 Dec 2015

Pintail, Hook with Warsash, 24 Dec 2015

Wigeon 1, Hook with Warsash, 24 Dec 2015

Wigeon, Hook with Warsash, 24 Dec 2015

Steve C

Great Grey Shrike at Furzy / Rowbarrow Bottom, New Forest

This afternoon I returned to the New Forest for the third of six monthly Winter Bird Survey visits to Furzy Brow / Rowbarrow Bottom.  Although I have participated in the survey for a number of years this is the first time I have been allocated my own particular location for the entire winter.  Standing in for unavailable individuals in the past resulted in the potential to visit areas of the New Forest I had never been to before.  It was an ideal situation given that over the last four winters I have served at sea and consequently my availability was very hit and miss.  But I was extremely pleased when the survey organiser Keith Betton offered me such a prime sight for the target bird – Great Grey Shrike.

Frustratingly, I stuck with the preferred Saturday visit in October despite the weather forecast predicting calmer and sunnier conditions the following day.  Unfortunately though it was on the Sunday that a Great Grey Shrike was spotted by Collin A in a Crab Apple Tree west of Furzy Brow, from where I ate my pack lunch the day before.  A Great Grey Shrike was then subsequently seen for several days on the other side of the railway line at Shatterford.  More recently a single bird has been seen near Milkham Inclosure north of the A31.

Today though, after numerous New Forest Winter Bird Surveys I finally connected with a Great Grey Shrike.  I encountered the bird at 14:10 south of Bishop’s Dyke at SU355042 as it flew low over the heather to perch at the top of a bush.  It then remained in the area for the following hour and fifteen minutes.  I last saw it through the scope from the higher ground above the wooden bridges as I made my way back towards the Pigs Bush car park.  The dull, grey conditions resulted in the photographs taken being no more than record images of the bird.

Great Grey Shrike, Rowbarrow Bottom, New Forest – 19 Dec 15

Great Grey Shrike, Rowbarrow Bottom, New Forest – 19 Dec 15

Great Grey Shrike, Rowbarrow Bottom, New Forest – 19 Dec 15

On the journey home I encountered a ‘murmuration’ of Starlings driving over the Redbridge Flyover.  Two flocks, each containing at least 150 birds, combined and performed an impressive aerial display above the bridge in front of me.  Despite the distraction I safely negotiated the bridge and was soon heading north along the M271.

Good birding,

Tony T   BSc (Hons) GeoSci (Open)

Colour Flagged Sanderling at Hill Head

With a day off work on Monday, Slasher and I decided to visit Titchfield Haven. The primary reason for the visit to try not to have a repeat dip on the Penduline Tits as I had on Saturday. Now; with a blog title mentioning Sanderling and not a Tit you can guess how the story ends. We dipped the Tits!

Anyway onto the Sanderling. As we were walking around to the visitor centre I picked up a number of Sanderling feeding along the high tide line near the sailing club. The tide was fully in and a couple of birds were making their way towards where we stood. Slash picked up that one of these birds was sporting several coloured rings along with a flag and asked me to take a few snaps. I dutifully did as requested and the bird can be seen below.

Sanderling 1, Hill Head, 14 Dec 2015

Sanderling, Hill Head, 14 Dec 2015

Sanderling 2b, Hill Head, 14 Dec 2015

Sanderling, Hill Head, 14 Dec 2015

Sanderling 2a, Hill Head, 14 Dec 2015_edited-1

Close up of the legs (stating the obvious I guess)

Slash rang me later in the evening to inform that he had found the bird on the web on a site called Animal Track, and it had been ringed in Hampshire by Pete Potts on the 18th Sep 2013, unfortunately it did not name a site. It has since been recorded on numerous occasions all in Hampshire between late summer and spring by various observers with numerous hits from Andy Johnson. Interestingly enough it has the location of Andy’s sightings the English Channel and Irish Sea but I think it is fair to assume that Andy has seen the bird roosting on Hayling Island, most likely at Black Point or along the beach in front of Sandy Point. The bird departs northward in spring and has not been recorded in summer, so where it actually breeds remains a mystery. This latest sighting is the first of autumn/winter 2015 so glad to see the bird has made it back to the county again.

Unfortunately the bird pictured below was the beach master and chased off other Sanderlings from its patch including the colour ringed bird. Later on in the afternoon we saw the small flock on the Meon Shore which included the ringed bird.

Sanderling 5, Hill Head, 14 Dec 2015

Sanderling, Hill Head, 14 Dec 2015

Sanderling 4, Hill Head, 14 Dec 2015

Sanderling, Hill Head, 14 Dec 2015

Sanderling 3, Hill Head, 14 Dec 2015

Sanderling, Hill Head, 14 Dec 2015

Sanderlings 1, Hill Head, 14 Dec 2015

Sanderlings, Hill Head, 14 Dec 2015

Steve C

Tawny Owl at Titchfield – third owl species in same tree hole

It was third time lucky with regard to connecting with the Tawny Owl that has recently taken up residence adjacent to the canal path in Titchfield.  It was a real treat to get a good view of a species that is normally only heard.  The sighting was a great end to a thoroughly enjoyable ‘birding’ weekend, and I should be able to look forward to more of the same now that the household decorating is almost complete.  I was particularly keen to ‘twitch’ this particular bird as, along with many other local ‘birders’, I have seen both Barn and Little Owl in exactly the same tree hole.  I was surprised to find I didn’t have any photographs of the other two species in the tree.

Tawny Owl, Titchfield – 11 Dec 15

The last time I saw a Tawny Owl during the day was back in January 2009 when Marcus W was good enough to show the three of us a roosting pair directly above a footpath at Pennington/Oxey Marshes.

Good birding,

Tony T   BSc (Hons) GeoSci (Open)