Saturday, 30 April 2011

You still 'ere II?

As the end of a fortnight's holiday approached I realised I hadn't left Dorset so indulged myself with an out of County trip today. An earlier attempt to photograph the Oriental Turtle Dove wintering in Oxfordshire ended dismally (see post of 20th March 2011) so news that Steve Akers was opening up again this morning presented a good option. I was the first visitor to arrive at 0730, four others joined us for morning coffee, and the bird arrived on cue at 0737. It came to feed on the bird table for 5 minutes at about 0800 and then returned to a perch in the shade until we left at about 1000. Steve's hospitality was still very warm after all these months, and he confessed that he did not quite know what he would do when the bird finally leaves. The collection from visiting birders for Birdlife Malta now runs to several thousand pounds.

Tuesday, 26 April 2011

Dorset Dolphins

A few more shots from our recent chance encounter with Bottle-nosed Dolphins off the Dorset coast:

Monday, 25 April 2011

Uneventful boat trip...

...until this pod of Bottle-nosed Dolphin turned up. Taken from the regular boat from Poole to Swanage on a family day out. Spectacular.

You still 'ere?

No sound of yesterday's Nightingale or sign of Garganey at Upton Country Park this morning, but nearby at Hatch Pond fourteen Waxwing were still present. Lucky workers at Poole Council offices in Stinsford Road have been able to admire these birds in the alders outside their office window, but today the birds were commuting between a birch tree and this berry-bearing hedgerow.

They eventually headed off to the west, presumably in search of a supermarket car park or industrial estate somewhere else. Not sure how many are left in the country but it doesn't sound like there are that many left.

Interesting how faithful they have been to this area for so much of the winter and early spring, and how the numbers at the same site seem to fluctuate as birds come and go.

Another Nightingale...

After yesterday's success with Nightingale (see post for 23 April), the last thing I expected on the walk from home on Poole Quay to Upton Country Park today was a singing Nightingale. But as I approached the viewing screen on the west side of Holes Bay, a short blast of unmistakable song gave its presence away. I wasn't able to get a look at it, but put the news out and others did manage to see and hear it later. A pair of Wheatear, Raven (pictured) and Stock Dove added further interest, and in a return visit in the evening a drake Garganey (bottom picture) was also present.

Sunday, 24 April 2011

Dorset Nightingales

Although I have heard both Nightingale and Thrush Nightingale in Dorset before I haven't actually seen either, so headed to White Nothe this morning to look for the former. About 6 males were singing on arrival but it took a couple of hours of patient watching of the dense coastal scrub to actually see one (pictured distantly through heat haze). The local Yellowhammers were more obliging, posing against a background of gorse covered hillside.

Saturday, 23 April 2011

Brownsea fliers

Good light and co-operative subjects provided opportunities for flight photography on Brownsea today. From top: Med Gull, Sandwich Tern, Shelduck.

Brownsea Waders

A good selection of waders were on Brownsea Island lagoon this morning including a small flock of Knot (left), 2 of which were unusually close to the Macdonald Hide, a few Grey Plover, 10+ Greenshank, 30+ Black-tailed Godwit, Dunlin, Redshank, Turnstone and the ubiquitous Oystercatcher. Med Gulls included 2 -3 pairs of adults and half a dozen 1st or 2nd winter birds. Sandwich Tern numbers were approaching 100 and a few Common Terns were also back.

The Black-tailed Godwit (bottom picture) were feeding just off the causeway to the Macdonald Hide - difficult to photograph through the screens, but a missing board in one screen near ground level not only provided a good view of the birds, but a good low angle to shoot from.

Thursday, 21 April 2011

Not exactly 'night' heron

My third attempt to photograph the Bournemouth Night Heron today paid off as it walked into the sunshine at about 10:00 after spending a couple of hours in the shade. I first saw it in near darkness on Tuesday and it was roosting in trees on the far bank of the Stour yesterday, so I was hoping it would come out in the sun today on its favoured island. The bird's finder was also present and after a long wait we decided to walk away and come back 5 minutes later to see if it could be persuaded out of the shadows. This seemed to work and the bird showed very well, but never entirely unobscured, to a small crowd. A pair of Egyptian Geese also gave a flyover (middle picture), a site tick, I'm told, for the Stour Local Nature Reserve. Kingfisher (bottom picture) were also constantly moving up and down the river.

Skylarks and Sedgies

After success with the Night Heron last night I had another look this morning en route to Hengistbury Head, but the bird was a fair bit further away, roosting in a tree on the far bank of the Stour. Still a good view though as it nodded off in the branches. Like every other day this week, Hengistbury was fine and bright, and a Skylark on the golf course allowed an unusually close approach. Heading for Wick, a newly arrived Sedge Warbler was extremely vocal - and visible. Other migrants were few in number thought Whitethroats were ubiquitous and a single male Whichat was my first of the year.

Wednesday, 20 April 2011

Hengistbury highlights

A few more images from early morning visits to Hengistbury Head this week. From top: Dartford Warbler, Stonechat, Whitethroat, Blackcap.

Tuesday, 19 April 2011

Night Vision

I contrived a family trip to the beach at West Bexington earlier today in the hope of seeing the Night Heron present for a couple of days. There was no sign so we returned home for an easter egg hunt and some garage clearance. As the light faded news came through of another on the outskirts of Bournemouth, so after a 20 minute drive and a brisk 10 minute walk I was adding another good bird to my Dorset list for the 4th time this month. An excellent record in Dorset's amazing run of spring rarities. Also had a picture published in Birdwatch magazine today (the Durlston Bluetail) which made up for driving over my favourite sunglasses while parking the car!

Hengistbury Head

A glorious morning on Hengistbury Head with plently of birds to photograph: from top, Wheatear, Sand Martin, Whitethroat, Stonechat.

Sunday, 17 April 2011

Get the bunting out...

The third good bird in as many days was at Longham Lakes today in the form of a male Ortolan Bunting. Feeding in thick vegetation alongside the path it was close but difficult to see well except when it hopped up to pick one of the many thousands of horseflies in the area off a leaf or poked it's head up to scan around, as for this shot.

Thursday, 14 April 2011

Little beauty

A 1st winter Little Gull at Longham Lakes was the second good bird seen on a short visit on the way home tonight (see earlier post). It was also my first of the year and, on checking my records, the first I have seen in 3 years of living in Dorset. Dwarfed by nearby Black-headed Gulls, it gave a brief fly-around before settling back on the water.

Garganey at Longham

I located the pair of Garganey reported at Longham Lakes today within minutes of arriving as they hugged the edge of the eastern-most lake. A jogger with dog accessory flushed them (see flight shot) but fortunately they re-settled near the bank in the south-east corner of the lake where the top picture was taken.

Flight shot practice

Half an hour to spare before a meeting in Swanage was spent practising flight shots of passing Fulmar at nearby Durlston Country Park. Never as easy as you think...

Monday, 11 April 2011

Mandarins at Cannop

The resident Mandarin Ducks at Cannop Ponds were wary first thing this morning when mist shrouded the water. Returning later they seemed to have warmed up and became very approachable. My first Tree Pipit of the year was also seen just across the road from the ponds.

Sunday, 10 April 2011

Forest Spring

Visiting Nagshead RSPB is always a highlight of a visit to the parents in the Forest of Dean. As well as seeing the parents, of course. Only one Pied Flycatcher was back on territory and I could find no Redstarts despite many being reported on the south coast in recent days. Too early for Wood Warbler, but not for Cuckoo, with one being heard and seen from New Fancy View. Back at Nagshead, Blackcap (top) and Chiffchaff (below) were in full song.

Friday, 8 April 2011

Short-tempered Lark

Another Dorset tick this morning with a pre-work twitch for the Short-toed Lark present for several days on Portland. While staying mostly on the ground this bird didn't hang about, motoring between the furrows of a ploughed field with visible impatience.

Stonechat in song

Male Stonechat singing on Portland this morning: