Tuesday 30 December 2014

Eat your heart out, Minsmere

When I started buying books about 'where to watch birds', the authors always recommended Minsmere or Titchwell as great places to go to see Bitterns, Marsh Harriers, Bearded Tits, Avocets, Spoonbills and the like. True, but not as satisfying as seeing them all a short distance from home, as is now possible for me on a good day in Poole Harbour. Today was one such day: it started at a beautifully frosty Swineham, which, goaded by my recent slating of it no doubt, delivered handsomely with a Bittern, a Marsh Harrier, a pair of Beardies and a bonus couple of Jack Snipe. We ended the day with a family stroll around a bird-filled Holes Bay, and a dramatic sun setting behind Avocets, Spotted Redshanks and a pair of young Spoonbills very close to the footpath. One of my best birding days of 2014 (others to be reviewed shortly in the barely-awaited 'review of the year' post).
Male Bearded Tit on a frosty reed head at Swineham. Wow.

Female Bearded Tit. This pair fed just yards from the path for about 20 minutes.
I was insufficiently quick on the draw to catch a Bittern dropping into the reeds in front of me on arrival at Swineham but managed a record shot as it flew away into the light when disturbed by a dog later in the morning.
Two Jack Snipe flushed as I walked out to Swineham Point - contrary to textbook form, rather than plopping down after a short flight, this one did a wide circle around me allowing for a few flight shots.
Compare to this Common Snipe, which has a more prominent white trailing edge to the secondaries, a longer bill and longer wings.
Mute Swan in the frosted fields of Bestwall
Female Stonechat on an icy fence at Bestwall
And a male on the same
Avocet in Holes Bay
Curlew, Holes Bay
Little Egret, Holes Bay
Pintail viewed from the concrete bench at Upton Country Park
To the blog-reading couple who hadn't seen Spoonbill when we met at the concrete bench - I hope you saw them as well as I did on the way back. And Happy New Year!
Both immature birds, told by their pink bills and black in the flight feathers.
The Spoonies were just yards form the path by the PC World drain outflow - a good day for close encounters.
Spotted Redshank - one of 2 in Holes Bay
Teal, Holes Bay

Other normally camera-shy wildlife was also spotted around Holes Bay

Sun setting on waders and ducks in Holes Bay
Oh, and a Black-necked Grebe from yesterday at Studland. Yet more quality birds from the Poole Harbour collection.

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