Friday, December 28, 2007

Anser Birding Dorset and Hampshire 14-16 December 2007 trip report

Purple Sandpiper at the Sandbanks Ferry, Dorset, 15 December 2007 MJMcGill


16 December 2007 Another boat trip, the ferry across to Studland and we tried again for divers. None were found in the large swell but 3 Velvet Scoter, 10 Common Scoter, 10 Black-necked Grebes, 25 Mediterranean Gull and other assorted birds that we had seen were present. Whilst waiting for the ferry I saw another Black-necked Grebe in Shell Bay, the 4-5 that we saw later from the boat meant that this was the most BNG's I have ever seen in one day in the UK. I reckon there must be over 30 in the area! A quick drive back to the Poole Harbour bird boat and we were aboard and ready for the cruise. Highlights were the 9-10 Spoonbill, numerous close flight and floating views of Red-breasted Merganser, Black-necked Grebe, Guillemot and Goldeneye but the fly past pair of Long-tailed Duck (adult male and female) and three on the water were the pick of the bunch. A great way to see the birds but on this day also a very cold one. The boat did a few sail pasts of the Brownsea Island lagoon to see the waders close up, a Peregrine was seen and a couple of Raven ending a good trip. It was time to head back home so we stopped at Ibley Water, Hants to add a few more birds and did just so to take the group tally to over 100 species, another search for the eagle in better weather again ended without a sighting but I think we were all pleased with the good birding.
15 December 2007 We began along the Poole Harbour shore road approaching Sandbanks and added a wonderful variety of birdlife to our trip list. The rising tide had pushed up a large flock of Bar-tailed Godwit with one in full breeding plumage, a flock of Dark-bellied Brent Geese also fed and 7 Knot, Turnstone, 2 Ringed Plover, 2 Mediterranean Gull, grebes and mergansers were also seen from here. At the ferry we watched 3 Purple Sandpiper down to a few feet and crossed to Shell Bay where we found 4 Black-necked Grebe with 4 more in Bramble Bush Bay where a single Common Scoter joined the other duck. From the Studland car park we located a Velvet Scoter and more brents, conditions were rather extreme, very cold with a strong wind straight into our faces making it very hard to stop our eyes watering. A collective decision was made to head for Portland Harbour and the Weymouth area, we changed plans a few times on this trip to get the best birding out of it. At Ferrybridge on the Fleet we searched through a large flock of brent and found a Black Brant and 2 Light-bellied Brents among them. The former was rather aggressive and could be picked out on it's bullish behaviour. At least 6 Mediterranean Gull were also present. In Portland Harbour we tried to find some sheltered water near the island where Shag and Cormorant, Mergansers and a couple of brief auks were seen but we could not find any divers ( I learned later that they were all on the other side near Sandsfoot). A quick look from Chesil Cove and 4 Velvet and 50 Common Scoter were seen distantly on the sheltered sea. Time was slipping away so we tried Radipole Lake RSPB for Bittern with no luck but called in for Grey Heron for the trip list and t-shirt buying, this was a good move, 4 Bearded Tits showed brilliantly. A final fling at Lodmoor RSPB/Weymouth Bay and we then headed home to Bournemouth's Alum Chine where the guests were staying.
14 December 2007 Four of us left for Dorset and Hampshire and headed onto a rather exposed and windy south coast. A search for the White-tailed Eagle in Hampshire en-route was unsucessful due to poor visibility. A few Little Egrets were noted en-route along the chalk streams but it was not until we arrived at Upton CP and Holes Bay in Poole Harbour that the birds began to flow. A short stop to appreciate Red-breasted Mergansers and Goldeneye next to the road was enjoyed especially as we never left the warmth of the car. A variety of woodland/parkland birds were seen but the flock of 126 Avocet, 400 Black-tailed Godwit, 2 Spotted Redshanks and numerous other waders and wildfowl kept us busy. A short transfer the the heaths of the Arne Peninsula and the still conditions and patience gave us good views of Dartford Warbler . We plumped for a views of Marsh Tit on the RSPB feeders as the are becoming harder to see in many places we also passed a number of tame Sika Deer before getting in place to wait for a dusk Hen Harrier. We did not see any harriers but learned that one was hunting just a fifteen minute walk away. We did however see a number of commoner species whilst waiting. This concluded our first day.

Atmospheric, dusk BeardedTit/Reedling or Babbler at Radipole Lake RSPB
15 December 2007

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