Tree Sparrow ‘dip’ at Titchfield Haven.

Friday 18th April 2014.

Distant Sanderling on the shoreline by the Solent early this morning.

A male Tree Sparrow was reported all day yesterday at Titchfield Haven, on the Hants Birding website and my friend, John Goodall was very interested in going for it. To be honest, I was making arrangements to go down to Southsea Seafront for a seawatch, but to get such a good year tick, in Hampshire as well, persuaded me to meet John at the Farlington car park at 7am. Isn’t it crazy that when I was a teenager, Tree Sparrows were everywhere and now, I literally have to ‘twitch’ one!

This unusual looking female House Sparrow was present instead of the star bird.

While waiting for John in the car park overlooking Langstone Harbour, I picked up an adult Lesser Black-backed Gull on the mudflats nearby. Also, a Greenshank was wading by the creek near the Eastern Road Bridge; both birds I pointed out to John when he arrived. Earlier this week, a flock of Little Gulls was seen flying along the Hilsea Lines nearby!

This 'ringed' Stock Dove came down to feed among the Wood Pigeons below the feeder near the Hide.

We arrived nice and early at the seafront in front of Titchfield Haven and quickly checked the Solent for anything moving. The only birds of note were a small flock of Sanderling flying along the shoreline, until they rested on the beach. It was low tide within the Solent, but we couldn’t find anything of note resting on the sea. A pair of Little Terns were later seen in the morning here. Walking down to the small Garden Hide, just behind the Centre, we noticed it was locked. We were joined by Keith Maycock, who we chatted to as we waited patiently in the garden, hoping the Tree Sparrow might pop up with the resident House Sparrows, which were using the nest boxes on the Centre. Apparently, the Tree Sparrow was actually seen on the boxes yesterday afternoon and by the nearby pond.

I found this Double-striped Pug within the Cemy perched on a Horse Chestnut.

By 8.30, there was still no sign but a fellow birder reckoned he saw it on the feeders in the garden, looking through the thick vegetation of the hedge in front of us. We tried are luck looking through the hedge, but to no avail. He also told us that there was a pair of Garganey on the Posbrook Floods. Fortunately, one of the Reserve Staff opened up the Hide for us shortly afterwards, and so grabbing a decent seat, we waited patiently for the bird to show. This Hide was either made for midgets or simply for the kids for educational purposes, as the windows were very low down! Before long, it was packed with a total of 6 people in it!

One of two adult Med Gulls flying high over the Cemy. I think it is only the 3rd time I have ever seen this species over my local patch.

We waited for at least an hour for the Tree Sparrow to show, but the bird did not reappear for us. John had to leave for home around 9.30am and so we had to call it a day. There were plenty of the common passerines using the feeders and a Stock Dove even came down to feed below the feeder. So, disappointed, we made our way back to the car, but we did get some nice views of a flock of around 40 Turnstone within the small inlet by the road. Three Black Swans were also in the small inlet, a species soon to be added to the British List, I believe?

Horse Chestnut 'spikes' blooming nicely in the Cemy.

When I got home, a good hearty breakfast made up for the disappointment of dipping on the ‘Spadger’ and so I took Scruff for a walk around Highland Road Cemetery. To be honest, though the weather was excellent, I was a little disappointed. There were no migrants but there were a few interesting sightings. A pair of calling Med Gulls flew high over, heading west and at least 2 Jays were present, flying from tree to tree. No sign of the Green Woodpecker today though, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t there though as most of the trees are in full leaf now.

My first Scarlet Pimpernel of the year, growing in the Cemy.

I got a text from Geoff Farwell while I was there that he was enjoying a spot of lunch at a wood near the village of Dummer, while watching a pair of Willow Tits. Very nice. I found a Double-striped Pug perched on the bough of a Horse Chestnut, which was a nice surprise. I had one in the garden this morning while watering the plants; the only macro moth to be found after putting my moth box on last night. It is very disappointing for moths so far this year in the garden. Elsewhere in the County this morning, a Red-rumped Swallow was found near the Caravan Park at Pennington Marshes. Wow! What else will be found today?

Whimbrel over Thorney Island.

Tuesday 15th April 2014.

The Roe Deer grazing in the fields south of the footpath.

Before my last appointment in Nutbourne today, I had time to take a stroll to the Little Deeps on Thorney Island. The high pressure over the southern half of the UK is set to continue as we were blessed with a blue sky and bright sunshine. However, though I was in a shirt, it was a little cold when the wind blew in. It was low tide within Emsworth Harbour around 4pm, so I was hoping for a possible Whimbrel lurking near the tideline.

Chiffchaff in the brambles and nettles along the footpath.

The walk along the footpath west next to the paddocks held the usual birds. Robins, Wrens, Goldfinches and Dunnocks all in reasonable numbers. A pair of Chiffchaffs were skulking in the brambles within the Horse Paddocks (although a tad overgrown but drying out nicely). Overhead, up to 5 Swallows were giving chase to one another while searching for aerial insects to feed on, but none posed long enough for me to grab a photo.

Grey Heron flying over the Little Deeps.

Looking over the fields to the south, there was nothing perched on the overhead wires, bar a single Wood Pigeon, but a Roe Deer was seen grazing in the south west corner of the field. A pair of Common Buzzards were mewing high overhead but no other raptors seen today. From the seawall, I walked south towards the Little Deeps. Cetti’s Warblers showed well, albeit very briefly as they sang with gusto from their perches. Greenfinches were in double figures along the footpath while deep within the reedbeds, at least 2 Sedge Warblers could be heard singing their scratchy songs. No sign of any Reed Warblers though. A couple of Long-tailed Tits were seen exploring the brambles near the harbour wall.

A little old Wren blasting out his song by the Paddocks.

On reaching the wooden seat overlooking the Little Deeps, I sat down and watched everything going by. There were at least four Bearded Tits seen within the reedbed in front of me; popping up now and then and flying across the reedbed. A couple of Grey Herons passed by closely and circled to the north over the Horse Paddocks. Within the harbour, the only waders seen were Oystercatchers but I did hear some Greenshank somewhere further south.

The Fox staring at me near the main road.

On the way back, a Fox grabbed my attention as I neared the main road. The animal was walking away from me, but when I made a whistle, it stopped dead and looked right at me! (see photo). I was just about to get into the car, when I heard the distinctive whistle of a Whimbrel and sure enough, one flew high over heading east towards Chichester Harbour. A nice year tick.

My first Whimbrel of the year heading east over the Island.

Stone Curlew trip to North Hampshire.

Monday 14th April 2014.

Hares in one of the fields. Over 30 of these were seen this evening!

I was asked on Saturday night at the Bordon Birders dinner whether I would like to take a trip to north Hampshire to hopefully see the Stone Curlews. Mike Wearing and Doug Yelland were making the trip for Monday night and of course, how could I refuse. Obviously, I cannot put out the name of the exact site for obvious reasons, but the last time I saw a Stone Curlew was on an unsuccessful ‘twitch’ in Suffolk to see the Lesser Kestrel several years ago!

Doug and Mike ready for a good evening.

The weather was just perfect for the long drive up to north Hampshire (Doug kindly done the driving) with a clear, bright sky and virtually windless. I was warned beforehand to take plenty of warm clothing as the temperature can drop considerably in the evening out in the countryside. After coming out of a village, we found the right road to go through to one of the well-known sites for the Stone Curlews. We soon came across a few Hares within a roadside field and so took a few photos of them. However, this was to be one of at least 30 Hares seen this evening. An extraordinary number, to say the least. In fact, it was going to be a good night for mammals!

Some of the Hares were close to the roadside, giving us some excellent opportunities for photography.

After some good Hare photos, we also caught sight of a superb Red Kite which perched high up in a tree close to where we were parked (see photo). Good numbers of Red-legged Partridge were in the fields, along with Pheasants, as we kept our eyes peeled for any stray Stone Curlews. Blackcaps were singing in the roadside copses and Yellowhammers were flying up in front of us as Doug negotiated the well-worn road ahead of us. He then drove to a good site overlooking a field which, apparently, held a couple of birds. A couple of people were already there and told us that a pair of birds were in the set aside within the middle of the field but out of view. Nearby, we counted a total of 8 Wheatears in the same field (which were year ticks for Mike and Doug) as well as more Hares and RL Partridges.

The Red Kite perched on top of a tree near the car. Photo taken by Doug Yelland.

After a short while, we retraced our steps and parked up back along the road where Mike and Doug had been before on a previous trip. We had a spot of lunch here and while waiting, I took a photo of what I thought was a Common Buzzard. When I checked out the photos later on the computer, the raptor was in fact a female type Marsh Harrier! In my defence, it was a little distant. Another Red Kite flew over the hill in the distance also. Climbing a hill, with Rape fields either side of us, we soon reached the summit as dusk was falling.

Well, that was a complete surprise! This Common Buzzard was actually a female type Marsh Harrier!

By now it was around 8pm and I got busy scanning the countryside all around us, which was prime Downland. A couple of Lapwings were seen in the field and then we picked out more Hares in the distance. I mentioned before about how good a night it was for mammals, as Mike picked up a Roe Deer in the distance. A couple of Rats were seen on the way home in the headlights and Rabbits were everywhere. A Shrew of some sort, ran across the road ahead of us too!  Before, dusk finally fell, we saw a flock of around 11 Swallows flying north, low over the fields, which was a nice surprise.

The full moon rising over the countryside.

By 8.30pm, our first Stone Curlews began calling, albeit distantly. We stood next to a sheep field, complete with plenty of lambs running around. As it gradually grew darker and the light beginning to fade, we realised that the Stone Curlews were calling from three different areas, but all remained quite distant and we knew we were not going to see them. There was a superb full moon making the area brighter than normal, but unless a bird flew over, we resigned to the fact that we were not going to see any.

The moon rising over the Rape Fields.

To compensate, a superb Barn Owl flew around us several times and even perched on the fence posts nearby; but again, too dark to get a decent photo. But that really rounded off a superb evening as we walked downhill back to the car to the sound of Stone Curlews in the background. Birding heaven!

At the end of the day.............

Some interesting photos I have been sent recently.

Monday 14th April 2014.

Jim Walker emailed over some photos of the Southsea Castle Purple Sandpipers with his new Olympus camera he recently purchased.

A superb image of a flapping PS on the rocks at Southsea Castle.

Small Tortoiseshell in the sunshine. Again, taken by Jim.

What on earth? This photo of a Starling with a deformed beak was taken by Mike Wearing within his back garden. The bird certainly looks in good condition and therefore has is coping well with the bill.

This drowned large female spider (I do know what it is, but I have to trawl through my blog to find the name of it) was found one morning in Scruffs garden bowl over the weekend.

The 'All Birders' dinner at the Seven Stars, Stroud last Saturday evening. From left to right: Mike Wearing, Doug Yelland, Steve Mansfield, Alf Smallbone, Richard Ford, Denise Murray, Andy James, Steve's wife, myself and Bob.

Great Grey Shrike and Willow Tits in the New Forest.

Saturday 12th April 2014.

The Great Grey Shrike near Denny Wood this morning.

I spent the morning at Beaulieu Road this morning, deep within the New Forest. My goal was to see the long staying Great Grey Shrike which was inhabiting the Birches just south of Denny Wood. I was in luck as I got to see the bird well and also a bonus of a pair of Willow Tits within Denny Wood. The weather looks settled over the weekend with a large ridge of high pressure over the south coast and light winds, which will certainly help all those migrants making their way to our shores.

Male Stonechat on the heath. At least a six were seen this morning.

I arrived around 7.15am, but already, there was a crowd of birders present ready for a long walk in this superb area. Fortunately for me, they took the walk across the heath to Denny Wood, but being by oneself was short lived as a group of three people had 7 dogs between them, all off the lead and charging across the heathland. Surely, its time there should be signs up for dog walkers about birds nesting on the heath? I’m sure there used to be?

One of many male Redstarts seen today. This one was in Bishops Dyke.

Letting them pass, I waited for them to get a good distance as I watched a delightful male Stonechat perch on a small pine close by. The female bird wasn’t too far away either. Overhead, a Siskin flew over and by the railway line to the east, several Willow Warblers were in song. As I neared the first bridge, a strange call caught my attention. I couldn’t put a name to it so I went over to investigate. Unfortunately, the bird then stopped calling as I neared and that was the last I heard of it. Shame, as it was certainly something very interesting. It was like a quick four note call then descending on the last note.

Female Wheatear near Denny Wood.

More Stonechats were seen on the heath and a Cuckoo was heard somewhere over by Denny Wood. A male Wheatear was seen perched on a sprig on the heath as I neared Bishops Dyke. More Willow Warblers were singing in the Silver Birches and then I heard at least two singing male Redstarts as I entered the woodland. One of the birds was conveniently perched high up on a tree and showed very well, totally oblivious of me standing below. Another couple more Redstarts were seen, all males, within Bishops Dyke and a Crossbill was also calling somewhere deep within the woodland.

The Great Grey Shrike in the clearing just south of Denny Wood.

Exiting Bishops Dyke, I took my first cup of coffee from my flask and watched for whatever was around. A Common Crossbill flew high overhead calling as it flew towards Denny Wood. A Mistle Thrush also flew over and then a fine Hawfinch flew over, landing in trees within Denny Wood. That good spell was bettered when I finally caught sight of the Great Grey Shrike, perched on a tall Birch. I was hoping to get a good view of it through the camera as I walked stealthily across the heath (thankfully, I was wearing my wellies!). Nearing the bird, a Common Snipe flew over and began ‘drumming’ right over my head. Amazing.

Singing male Willow Tit within Denny Wood.

Nearing the Shrike, the bird flew to another Birch as I got a couple of reasonable photos of the bird. I didn’t want to disturb it too much and so made my way back to the main footpath leading to Denny Wood. I soon came across four more Wheatears (2 males and 2 females) near the footpath and another pair of Stonechats and reaching the small bridge, I had another coffee. From the small bridge, I picked up both Willow Warbler and Chiffchaff in the same tree, nearby. Another male Redstart was seen in a tree close by and a Meadow Pipit began displaying over the heath. The Cuckoo could be heard distantly in the east but, frustratingly, still not visible. A second calling Cuckoo was heard somewhere within Denny Wood.

I found this Common Lizard scurrying around the undergrowth within the wood.

Entering the woodland, a pair of Treecreepers were checking out the base of a tree, while at least two more male Redstarts were seen flying about in the tree canopies. A male Reed Bunting was also close to the entrance. I soon heard the distinctive nasal call of a Willow Tit and found a pair of birds searching for food nearby, within the trees. The male then began singing vigorously to its partner as she continued searching for food. I cannot recall ever seeing Willow Tits in Denny Wood and I am not sure it would be a good idea in putting the news out on the Hants Birding website? I’ll check later on this issue. Yes, more Redstarts were seen in the woodland; all singing males, with at least four more seen. That surely must be in double figures by now? A Green Woodpecker and good numbers of Stock Dove were within the woodland but no sign of any Bramblings which were reported yesterday. While stopping to listen to what was calling within the woodland, I heard the rustle of leaves and the cause of it was my first Common Lizard of the year, scurrying around an old fallen log.

I found this attractive moth on Yew Tree Heath while unsuccessfully finding Dartford Warblers. I have had it confirmed that it is a Common Heath - a new moth for me.

Making my way across the heath back to Shatterford Car Park, only a male Reed Bunting, a pair of Stonechats and a soaring Common Buzzard were seen. I was hoping for my first Dartford Warblers of the year but that’s when my luck run out. Never mind, two very good year ticks today and a good variety of birds seen. John Goodall text me to say he had a good couple of hours at Farlington Marshes this morning with House Martin, Swallow, Sedge Warbler, Whimbrel and a Ruff all present today.

Sedge Warblers showing well on the Ponds.

Friday 11th April 2014.

A male Sedge Warbler finally giving himself up in the brambles by the Ponds.

It was the turn on Milton Reclamation Ponds again today after I had finished around 4 hours of paperwork and admin. A bright afternoon beckoned with no sign of rain forecasted for today and tomorrow, I would expect a lot of migrants to be arriving to the UK. A quick look in Birdguides revealed that yesterdays Pied Billed Grebe had left Rutland Water in Leicestershire, but a Eurasian Crag Martin had been found at Flamborough Head; a well-known area for turning up rarities any time of the year. Fortunately, I have seen both species in the UK, albeit a very long time ago now.

This male Blackcap was one of three singing here today.

Milton Reclamation Ponds had a lot less excitement to offer, but you never know what could be around the corner! At least I did get to see the Sedge Warblers today with at least 3 singing males showing well from the brambles beside the Ponds. A Common Whitethroat was reported today at Hook with Warsash and a singing Garden Warbler at Woolmer Pond, so there must surely be something exciting at the Ponds?

I couldn't resist taking a photo of this close Goldfinch on the brambles.

After parking the car and walking across the busy Eastern Road, I checked out the first Pond to the north first of all and it all kicked off with a flyby Sand Martin overhead heading north. A small group of 3 Swallows flew by next and it looked as though there was a passage of Hirundines going through this morning. At least 7 more Swallows were seen passing through including one right over my head and even when I got home, three flew over my Southsea garden.

Swallow heading north over Milton Common on my arrival.

As well as the Sedge Warblers, at least 3 singing Blackcaps were present as well as 2 Willow Warblers and 1 singing Chiffchaff. No Whitethroats, though, which was disappointing. The tide was working its way out and on the shoreline, the two Brent Geese were still present drifting on the tide. I did hear Sandwich Terns calling some way out in the harbour but failed to pick them up. A Harbour Seal was seen poking his head out of the water several times as he swam into deeper water.

A view from the Willows looking south along the Ponds.

The usual pair of Gadwall and Tufted Duck were on the Ponds and up to four Little Grebes were seen. A Rat crossed the main path, but was too quick for Scruff to notice, for he surely would have given chase to it. Butterflies were abundant with Small Tortoiseshell, Comma, Peacock and my first Green-veined Whites of the year, near the Willows. A couple of Linnets flew over and good numbers of Greenfinch were present in the brambles. Cetti’s Warblers were calling everywhere, but not so showy today.

My first Green-veined White of the year.

Comma butterfly on a damp patch of mud.

I liked this beautiful head shot of this male Tufted Duck.

Common Tern and Marsh Tit on year list.

Thursday 10th April 2014

My first Common Tern of the year over Ibsley Water.

I spent most of the day in the New Forest area, seeing clients and of course, a spot of birding just couldn’t be helped. Blashford Lakes was on the cards, as some interesting birds were noted yesterday and to round it off, a quick visit to Eyeworth Pond. The weather looked good today with sunshine and light winds, so no coat and in fact, no jumper. Terrific.

Drake Gadwall in front of the Tern Hide at Blashford Lakes.

As well as the usual Canada and Grey Lag Geese, there were at least 8 EgyptiaN Geese present around the fringes of Ibsley Water.

My day kicked off with a check of the moth box in the back garden. Moth numbers have gone back to single numbers again with just one Early Grey and two Light-brown Apple Moths. However, it was the song of a Willow Warbler that grabbed my attention, as the bird was feeding in next doors Holly Tree, until flying off north. Apparently, there was one almighty fall of Willow Warblers on the south coast as I found quite a few today and even when I got home at 7pm today, there were two in the back garden!

A close up of the Adder near the Lapwing Hide. What a gorgeous creature.

On the way back from the Lapwing Hide, the Adder had uncoiled itself in the warm sunshine.

After my first appointment, I made my way to Blashford Lakes, kicking off with the Tern Hide first of all. I passed a fellow birder from in the car park who told me that very little was here. Just goes to show that you shouldn’t take what people say as Gospel. From the Hide, my first Common Tern of the year was seen sat on the spit with Cormorants and a couple of Gulls. But one of the Cormorants flapped its wings and put up the Tern. It was later seen fishing over Ibsley Water several times during my stay.

My first Speckled Wood butterfly of the year.

A small flock of Sand Martins flew up from the sunken bush near the spit and flew off east and on the water, pick of the wildfowl were the three Goldeneye; still present at the far side of the Lake (a drake and two females). Yesterday, a drake Green-winged Teal was present, seen from the Lapwing Hide, but there was no sign of the bird with just one lone Eurasian Teal trying its hardest to be American! There was also a possible American Wigeon here last week but it looks as though it was a hybrid. Good numbers of Great Crested Grebes were seen on the water, with many pairing up doing their courtship displays. The vast majority of wildfowl present were Tufted Duck, although a few Shoveler and Wigeon were present.

This Song Thrush allowed me a close approach near the Woodland Hide.

An elderly couple came into the Hide and sat next to me. Before long, the lady next to me found a smart male Wheatear sat happily on the spit. Nearby, three Egyptian Geese were dozing in the sunshine, while several more were seen around the Lake. There was no sign of any Little Ringed Plovers (groan) but a small flock of four summer plumaged Black-tailed Godwits were on the west side.

My first Marsh Tit of the year at Eyeworth Pond.

I wanted to try my luck from the Lapwing Hide and so I took the long walk to the Hide to hopefully relocate the Green-winged Teal. Willow Warblers, Chiffchaffs and Blackcaps were abundant along the footpath and there was also good numbers of butterflies present, which included Peacock, Speckled Wood (first of the year) and Brimstone. As I was nearing the Hide, I noticed someone with a camera pointing towards the ground. As I met up with him, he pointed out my first Adder of the year, all coiled up and so, after a nice chat with the guy, I made my way to the Hide.

Three of the eight drake Mandarins on Eyeworth Pond.

I never had my scope with me and though I saw the Common Tern in the distance, all was rather distant and so I retuned back to the car and then headed off to the Woodland Hide. I had met some ladies in the Lapwing Hide earlier who told me that a male Brambling was seen from the Woodland Hide today, therefore I wouldn’t mind looking at one of these in Spring plumage. Blackcaps must have been everywhere and I even saw a female bird with the male singing its heart out to attract the bird.

Willow Warbler by Eyeworth Pond.

I didn’t go inside the Hide (a lot of kids around today) as I watched from the fence. From here, I checked among the Chaffinches for the Brambling, but there was no sign of the bird. A couple of Nuthatches were seen well as well as a couple of Great Spotted Woodpeckers. My first Orange Tip butterfly was seen flying past me but wouldn’t settle on the ground long enough for a photo. But plenty of Brimstones and Peacocks on the wing.

I took this photo of this Bumble-bee collecting nectar from this flowering Willow by Eyeworth Pond.

Before I headed off to Romsey, I took a quick detour to Eyeworth Pond. I tried earlier this year with John Goodall to year tick the Marsh Tits here but failed, but I was a bit luckier today. Arriving around 4pm, I was first treated to a small flock of 8 drake Mandarins on the Pond. Though some will consider them as ‘plastic’, they certainly are a smart bird. By the bushes, there was plenty of activity with Blue Tits and Nuthatches coming down to search for food. Then, after a short wait, a couple of Marsh Tits came down and showed well until flying into nearby trees. This rounded off my trip here perfectly and so I headed off to Romsey for my last appointment for the day. Click below for a video of a singing Blackcap at Blashford Lakes.

Blackcap in song at Blashford Lakes.

Cuckoo heard and several Hirundines on Thorney Island.

Wednesday 9th April 2014.

Peacock butterfly along the footpath.

After my appointment in Nutbourne, West Sussex, this afternoon, I took a stroll over Thorney Island to see if I could pick up a Sedge Warbler and whatever else that might have flown in near the Horse Paddocks. This is always a good spot for the Sedge Warblers, but there was none in song here this afternoon during my hour walk. At least the sun was out and the warmth of it was nice on my back when I made my way back to the car. I only strolled up to the Little Deeps as I had only an hour to play with but there were a few birds of note seen.

Remains Blackbirds egg, found along the footpath.

I didn’t have my camera with me, so all my photos were taken from my iphone plus I was using the wife’s binoculars too! As soon as I stepped out of the car from the end of Thornham Lane, a Sand Martin flew over and then a pair of Swallows. Things looked good. A Common Buzzard flew high over the fields to the south as I crossed the road and walked west along the footpath leading to the seawall.

Looking green and lush along the footpath.

The footpath held the usual birds, but a couple of Chiffchaffs were seen and a singing Blackcap was also present, though heard only. Surely, the first Whitethroat must be just days away? Cetti’s Warblers were in full voice throughout the area with at least 5 singing birds in the area. A couple of Peacock butterflies were seen along the footpath and on the ground, I found the remains of a Blackbird egg (see photo). In the flooded paddocks to the north, there was a young Moorhen walking around, but quickly ran into cover when I neared.

Common Storks-bill growing at Woolmer Pond.

At the end of the footpath, a male Reed Bunting popped out and posed nicely on a bramble by the seawall. However, the photo of it taken from the iphone was rubbish. Groan! From the seawall, I noticed the tide was out within Emsworth Harbour but there were quite a few waders feeding by the creek, which included around a dozen Redshank, a single Curlew, several Oystercatcher and a single Greenshank. Still no Whimbrels around yet, but it won’t be long before they turn up in numbers.

Dog Violets growing at Woolmer Pond.

Just before I got back in the car, I heard the distinctive call of a Cuckoo way in the distance. Despite searching the overhead wires in the distance, I couldn’t locate the bird and so took a quick drive to Eames Farm, from where I was sure where the Cuckoo was calling from. Unfortunately, there was no sign of the bird but at least four more Swallows were seen over the fields.

There is some interesting birds in Hampshire today, which included a drake Green-winged Teal on Ibsley Water, Blashford Lakes & the long staying Long-billed Dowitcher at Keyhaven Marshes.

Ring Ouzel and Redstart at Woolmer Pond.

Tuesday 8th April 2014.

Common Buzzard flying overhead over Woolmer Pond.

Migrants are coming through in numbers now and today was no exception. A few days after I was at Woolmer Pond last week, a male Ring Ouzel was found in the scrubby field north of the Cottage and fortunately, it was still present this morning at the same location, along with a male Redstart in the Cottage garden. I was working in Bordon all day today and so, after finishing with my last client, I took a drive there to hopefully, view the birds.

Brimstone butterfly on the footpath.

From the car park at 2pm, a Crossbill flew over, calling in doing so and both Willow Warbler and Blackcap were in full song beside the main footpath. A Chiffchaff also joined in with the other warblers. I couldn’t find anything of note on the Pond itself, but the water level seemed even higher than last Friday? A gorgeous Brimstone butterfly flew down to take the nectar from a flowering Dandelion on the footpath.

Willow Warbler by the car park.

On reaching the area looking north to the Firing Ranges, a fellow birder said he had seen the Ring Ouzel briefly before I got here and after a lengthy wait, after watching a Woodlark singing high overhead, I took a stroll around the Cottage garden. There was no sign of this morning’s Redstart, but a flock of around 20+ Lesser Redpolls were present along with a few Siskin. A Chiffchaff was seen flitting around the branches on the tall Oak within the garden but little else of note. A male Reed Bunting was seen perched on a bramble until flying off south. I rejoined the chap I met earlier and waited again for the bird to pop out.

The Red-legged Partridges near where the Ouzel was located.

I moved further down the footpath to see if I could get a better view and then I wished I didn’t as the bird popped out of cover very briefly, but the other chap saw it. He couldn’t hang around too long and made his way home while I remained to hopefully see the bird. After around 15 minutes, I decided to walk up the track leading to the ranges. A pair of Red-legged Partridges were feeding in the area where the Ouzel was last seen along with a pair of Green Woodpeckers. A Common Buzzard flew overhead but harassed by Crows in doing so. Walking back from whence I came from, I caught sight of a large thrush flying over the scrub and a hint of a white breast band was seen. I was sure this was the Ring Ouzel.

Male Reed Bunting behind the Cottage.

I waited patiently for the bird to reappear, then after around 20 minutes, within the tussock area with a Gorse bush nearby, the Ring Ouzel popped out briefly a couple of times, but too quick for me to get a decent photo. I suppose I had to be content with that viewing, but it least it was a year tick. I was just about to make my way back to the car when a Sussex birder turned up and asked me where the Ouzel was last seen. I pointed out the area where to look and something interesting grabbed my eye. It was a male Redstart; possibly the same bird as earlier reported? It was in a small Silver Birch perched nicely, but still a little distant for a photo; but my first of the year nonetheless, and a real bonus. Then, all of a sudden, the Ring Ouzel popped out again and the Sussex birder was a very happy bunny! We had a good long chat until I said I had to make my way home.

The male Blackcap singing near the car park.

By the car park, both Willow Warbler and Blackcap were showing well and both in full song to round off a nice trip here. The moth box only had just the one moth in it this morning – an Early Grey. Grumble!

Swallows and Sand Martins over Posbrook Floods.

Sunday 6th April 2014.

View from the gate overlooking the floods.

After the quiet walk around Highland Road Cemetery earlier today, I noticed that the weather had improved slightly and with Hirundines present over Posbrook Floods this morning, I took a drive to the village of Titchfield to, hopefully, see some for myself. My wife had gone shopping and so I took the opportunity to grab a bit more birding this weekend.

Grey Heron and Gulls on the floods.

Parking up in the small car park just south of the village, I was enveloped in the sound of singing Blackcaps, Chiffchaffs and a host of our more common songbirds. Both the Blackcap and Chiffchaff were seen as I made my way to the path leading south adjacent to the canal. However, the footpath looked like a quagmire and so I decided to join another birder (who I have seen before but cannot put a name to him, sorry) by the gate overlooking Posbrook Floods. I had a quick conversation with him as we both were looking for the Swallows and Sand Martins seen earlier. He had seen a flock of Sand Martins over the south of the reserve earlier today.

Same birds on the floods. I had a drake Garganey here this time last year. I missed the one reported here a few weeks back.

After 10 minutes, he left but I remained to scan the area for the next hour or so. The south-westerly was a little keen and cool, but it wasn’t too bad as I watched the Black-headed and Mediterranean Gulls preening and flying around the Floods area. Among them, a pair of Gadwall, a single drake Eurasian Teal and several Mallard were seen. Waders included a summer plumaged Black-tailed Godwit and several Oystercatchers, but no Little Ringed Plovers lurking around on the edge of the pool.

Common Buzzard soaring overhead from the gate in overcast conditions.

A Grey Heron was stealthily feeding in the creeks while at least 4 Little Egrets were also busy searching for food. A Willow Warbler was heard several times singing deep within the copse just north of the floods and overhead, the occasional drifting Common Buzzard was joined by a male Kestrel which was busy displaying with quivering wings to a prospective female.

After around 15 minutes, I finally clocked my first Sand Martins of the year. A flock of around 20 birds were feeding high up around a mile away over the reserve and through the scope, I could clearly see they were Sand Martins but I couldn’t find a House Martin among them. After a few minutes, a pair of Swallows flew in among them and soon made their way a little nearer, but still too far away to grab a photo. At least I had two more year ticks under my belt. The Martins were seen on and off for the rest of my trip here but the Swallows remained faithful to an area above the trees to the east of the reserve.

All the Gulls over the Floods soon took flight and wondering if a raptor had put them up, I checked all the Gulls for anything unusual. I was in luck as a 1st winter Little Gull was seen flying among them, although took a little hassle from some of the Black-headed Gulls. After I put my sighting on the Hampshire Birding site, I noticed it or another bird was seen flying over the North Scrape on the Reserve later in the day. A Jay flew out of the Copse and headed west over the fields and into the trees to signal my hour was up and so made my way back home.