Tuesday 14 January 2014

Doing things by halves

Still haven't managed a full day's birding yet this year, just a couple of half-days, and this weekend, despite plans to do a grand tour of Poole Harbour, I only made it half way around that as well. Some good birds though especially as the half I did check out was the highly developed northern shore.

Purple Sandpiper, Sandbanks
Purple Sandpiper, Sandbanks

First stop was Poole Park where Swan Lake, haunt of a Ring-billed Gull a few winters back, was playing host to precisely no swans, but instead a Scaup, a scarce but regular winter visitor to the Harbour but not often seen among the Park's regular Tufties and Mallards. A Kingfisher also skulked in the bushes, occasionally scudding across the lake but not catching the light which was notable by its absence.

Juvenile drake Scaup, Poole Park. A bit of an ugly duckling, to be frank.

Vermiculations (lovely word) can just be seen on the pale patch on the Scaup's back.

Nearby Baiter Park held a few Med Gulls, a couple of hundred Oystercatchers and 300+ Brent Geese, all the Dark-bellied flavour. A stiff breeze was helping to keep some of the usual jogging/ barking/kicking/screaming sources of disturbance at bay so there was plenty of time to pick through them looking for rarer sub-species, of which I could find none.

Ranks of Brent Geese joined by ranks of Oystercatchers on Baiter.
Juveniles can be identified by pale fringes to the feathers on the upperparts.

I'm still under Doctor's orders to not carry 'anything heavier than a kettle' (?) so it's a choice between camera or scope at the moment. My decision to leave the scope behind no doubt contributed to my failure to find a lingering Black-necked Grebe at Longham Lakes in a detour from the harbour shore. I later discovered it was still there. Plenty of these in the Harbour in winter but difficult to see them close so it was worth a try.

Sanderling: what a charmer.

Barwits can often be found along Shore Road.

No matter, there was just time to get down to Sandbanks before a dash home to the touchline to cheer on son George and his team mates in the Sunday afternoon fixture (a hard fought draw with rivals from west Dorset, followed by bitter recriminations about dodgy refereeing decisions etc. Honestly, I don't know where they get it from).

Purple Sandpiper, Sandbanks.
Rock Pipit was also feeding near the ferry slipway.

I was determined to leave plenty of time for the Purple Sandpipers which can often be found on the ferry slipway but, weak soul that I am, it ended up being a bit of a rush as I was distracted on the way there by small flocks of Sanderling and Bar-tailed Godwits on the high tide at Shore Road. So many birds, so little time. That's Poole Harbour for you.

Purple Sandpiper

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