Monday 31 January 2011
We moved on to Keyhaven in beautiful light and biting wind to look for Lapland Buntings but could find none in a brief search - the presence of this guy (top - male Sparrowhawk) may have explained their absence. A large and mobile flock of Brent Geese and this single Little Egret gave some opportunities for flight photography.
Sunday 30 January 2011
Sunday 23 January 2011
A wintering Common Sandpiper (right) was the other highlight, patrolling the rocks on the east shore of Holes Bay. A small flock of Goldeneye, including 2 drakes, were also on the open water, and passerines were represented by Rock Pipit (below), Grey Wagtail and a singing Reed Bunting.
Wigeon and Teal are still present in good numbers, among the many birds which seem to have become relatively accustomed to the stream of joggers, fishermen, cyclists and others who use the waterside path.
Thursday 20 January 2011
Monday 17 January 2011
Sunday 9 January 2011
Monday 3 January 2011
Moving clockwise around Poole Harbour, several small flocks of Black-necked Grebe and a couple of Common Scoter graced Studland Bay. Despite failing light there was just time to catch up with a small flock of White-fronted Geese - 18 by my count - mingling with Greylags at Bestwall RSPB before a much smaller flock of tetchy children insisted on returning home.
Sunday 2 January 2011
Saturday 1 January 2011
Lesser Kestrel - poor views of my first tick of the year but an enjoyable 'smash and grab' trip to Suffolk with Paul Welling in any case; Oriental Pratincole - I was a bit casual about this one, leaving it several days before realising 'bloody hell, it's an Oriental Pratincole'; Marmora's Warbler - I was on holiday in France when this turned up, but squeezed it in on an early morning trip to Wales before my return to work; White-tailed Plover at Rainham Marshes, Essex - dashed off to see this after work, but could have waited and seen it subsequently on any of its UK tour dates; Quail - finally catching up with my often-heard but never seen bogey bird. I waited for ages, then two came along at once; River Warbler - was blown away by the power of its song, all the more special as it kept us waiting until near dark before revealing itself; Arctic Warbler - eclipsing bad memories of a fruitless, chilly, four-hour wait in the Cot Valley to not see one - another trip with Paul Welling; American Bittern - seen at the 2nd attempt after the first was scuppered by delayed return sailing of Scillonian III.
Although I photographed all the above with varying degrees of success, the Oriental Pratincole was undoubtedly the most photogenic. Other rarities which performed well for the camera this year included: Subalpine Warbler - a singing male at Hengistbury Head in Dorset - my pictures of this bird were published in both Birdwatch and Birding World; Spotted Sandpiper on the Exe in Devon - this juvenile was flushed by micro-lights and other photographers before settling and allowing a close approach; Solitary Sandpiper at Seaton Black Hole Marsh in Devon - great views of this mega-rarity; Glossy Ibis at Christchurch Harbour in Dorset - probably the most approachable bird of the year; White Stork at Wareham in Dorset - almost as tame as the Glossy Ibis; Pectoral Sandpiper on Portland, Dorset - a juvenile in the unlikely location of a housing estate lawn; Green Heron - the confiding juvenile which graced the Lost Gardens of Heligan in Cornwall; Red-flanked Bluetail - the first and best rare bird seen on the annual family holiday to Scilly this year; Pied-billed Grebe at Hollingworth Lake in Greater Manchester - the furthest I have travelled this year, this obliging bird swam in front of the hide shortly after I entered.
Other British 'firsts' for me this year included four reptiles (native Sand Lizard and Smooth Snake plus introduced Wall and Green Lizards), and an amphibian (Natterjack Toad).
Resolutions for 2011? With the kids now old enough to turn their own TV in the mornings, I should be able to spend a bit more time birding within walking distance of home - tried this the other day and saw Black-tailed Godwit, Rock Pipit, Chiffchaff, Woodcock and Snipe within spitting distance of Poole's urban centre. It's also traditional to give something up, so I'm giving up reading Birdforum - if I want bitchiness and unsubstantiated rumours I can go to work. Tolerance should also feature in resolutions, so perhaps I'll try to be more tolerant of dog-walkers. But not too hard...