Monday 26 April 2010

Beauty and the Beast

Visited Hengistbury Head with the family yesterday and saw nothing of note, so was tempted to return early this morning as a Subalpine Warbler had been found a few hours after we left. First stop though was the Natterjack Toad pond - empty yesterday but I reasoned it was more likely to be occupied early morning. Found one toad crawling outside the enclosure after its noctural exertions - note the yellow stripe on the back. Then made my way to the Wick Ditch where the Subalpine Warbler (top) eventually showed reasonably well, singing and calling frequently.

Sunday 18 April 2010

Mad dogs and Sand Lizards...

Please ignore yesterday's post about mythical Sand Lizards: they do appear to exist after all - found 2 males today after 4 more hours of searching in Wareham Forest. These stunning creatures appeared in the heat of the mid-day sun to a melancholic soundtrack of Woodlark and Willow Warbler. Also saw my first Wheatear, Whitethroat, House Martin and (later at Stanpit Marsh) Garganey of 2010 today.

Reptile Hunting in Wareham Forest

Wareham Forest had probably warmed up too much by midday when I arrived hoping to see Sand Lizard. Heard several 'probables' rustling throught the grass, and saw some people who had seen several earlier, but no sightings for me unfortunately. However, my first Smooth Snake (above) was a great surprise and a huge bonus - quite a pale specimin, and a beautiful one. Common Lizard, several Dartford Warblers and Tree Pipits also seen.

Canine Canford

An impressive movement of dog's bowels over Canford Heath this morning, with evidence of at least one under every bush. Also a few Dartford Warblers and Roe Deer showing themselves, at least until the canine invasion picked up pace. Plenty of singing Siskin, Willow Warblers and Great Spotted Woodpeckers around too. No sign of any Sand Lizard, which I am increasingly convinced are mythical, having failed to find any in two years of searching. Refreshingly, there were much better behaved dogs and owners in Baiter Park later this afternoon, where a calling Whimbrel flying over was the first of the year for me and a 'lifer' for my 6 year old son. A good 'cycle tick'!

Sunday 11 April 2010

First Redstart of 2010

A family day-out in the New Forest didn't produce the anticipated Dartfords and Woodlark on a colder than forecast day, but at least three male Common Redstart (above) were singing on the margins of Denny Wood.

Back to Brownsea

Our second trip to Brownsea within a week was rewarded with fine weather. I was surprised to find a female Long-tailed Duck (right) on the lagoon - not unusual in the harbour in winter, but very unusual on the lagoon. No Med Gulls today, compared to 30+ the previous weekend, but a Yellow-legged Gull present, along with a couple of Spotted Redshanks, moulting rapidly to summer plumage, Greenshank and a few Black-tailed Godwit.

Friday 9 April 2010

Springtime in Suffolk

A more leisurely return to Suffolk with the family this week involved a couple of visits to Minsmere to enjoy excellent views of the reedbed specialities, all from the Island Mere hide - Marsh Harrier (over the hide), Bittern (in front of the hide) and Bearded Tit (almost under the hide and too close to photograph). Perhaps the most impressive part of the visit though was the cacophony from the Black-headed Gull colony, audible from the car park. Also a Spoonbill present on the scrapes at one point. Plenty to dull the disappointment of a second (un-successful) attempt to see the long-staying Pallid Swift at Kessingland, which must have left the day before we arrived. Such a great County, must stay longer next time...

Monday 5 April 2010

Nuts about Brownsea

Red Squirrels were very much in evidence today on Brownsea in the woodland, by the heath and by the Villa on the nature reserve. This one was very precocious, taking peanuts from visitors and posing for photographs on the path.

Brownsea Waders

Some very obliging Black-tailed Godwits, a couple of Spotted Redshank and a Greenshank on the Lagoon on Brownsea today, plus over 30 Mediterranean Gulls. Our first trip of the year, bright and surprisingly warm out of the brisk wind, particularly in view of the forecast. A Red Admiral by the Villa was my second butterfly of the year - a Brimstone at Tarrant Rushton back in March being the first.

Saturday 3 April 2010

Radipole Warblers

A rainy bank holiday weekend provides an opportunity to drop the family off at Sealife in Weymouth and grab a couple of hours around Radipole. A few Willow Warblers (above), Cetti's Warblers and plenty of Chiffchaffs singing today during some foul weather. Also a Sedge Warbler deep within the reedbed but not showing. Conditions for photography less than perfect though a couple of shots were passable despite hand-holding a long lens in the near dark and sheeting rain!

Oycs in the Park

I have lived in Poole for a couple of years now and the best thing about it is the ability to walk out of the front door and within 10 minutes be watching Avocets, Godwits, Egrets and Redshanks in Holes Bay. A 10 minute walk in the other direction brings me to Baiter Park, where it is always a treat to see Brent Geese and Oystercatcher so close to home - this one was hanging around the lake in Poole Park with Black-headed Gulls.