Sunday 23 April 2023

Catching up

After my first Swineham patch tick for 18 months in the form of a pair of Mandarin Duck on 17th March, there were still almost 2 weeks of the month left to add to the non-motorised year list. Sand Martin on the 18th was 13 days earlier than last year but still expected, whilst the Alpine Swift/Surf Scoter double from the following day (recounted in my last post) were much more unexpected, and required a fair bit more effort. 

Hoopoe, Harman's Cross, 2nd April

Hoopoe, Harman's Cross, 2nd April

A difficult bird to photograph without some kind of trash in the shot!

Hoopoe, Harman's Cross, 2nd April

Mute Swan, Swineham

Another little purple patch at Swineham on 25th added Garganey, Merlin and Swallow. A fruitful day at Durlston on 26th produced nothing spectacular but Black Redstart, Razorbill and my first Wheatear of the year were great to see, as was Ring-necked Parakeet, ticked on a detour home via Studland. This brought the year list to 146 at the end of March, respectably ahead of 141 and 143 on the same date in 2021 and 2022 respectively. 
Shoveler, Swineham, 25th March

Pied Wagtail, Studland, 25th March

Drake Garganey at Swineham, 25th March

One of the ever exotic Ring-necked Parakeets at Studland, 26th March

April is traditionally the second best month of the year for year-listing (after January) and it got off to a flier with a local-ish Hoopoe just 9 miles away at Harman's Cross. This bird emerged as a rumour on a local Facebook group before being skillfully tracked down by Rob Johnson. It's chosen location - a farm come scrap-yard/landfill site - looked more like a place where tractors go to die than prime Hoopoe habitat. The landowner told us that the rusting hulks leaking oil and piles of construction waste containing lord knows what provided excellent wildlife habitat, so we politely promised to let the RSPB know. An unringed Osprey at nearby Middlebere was chalked onto the year list the following day.
Razorbills at Durlston, 26th March

A watchful Kestrel at Durlston, 26th March

A Durlston ledge packed with Guillemots, 26th March

A message from Durlston's sponsor, George Burt

Unusual view of a Durlston Black Redstart in a tree, 26th March

The Bank Holiday weekend provided the opportunity to reprise last year's 50 mile trundle to Maiden Newton, my closest regular spot for Dippers, and although patience was required, they did not disappoint. Two days later the legs had recovered enough to twitch a proper rarity: Black-crowned Night Heron at Iford, for which an early start was rewarded with good views of not one but two birds perched and in flight. 

First Wheatear of the year at Durlston, 26th March

Rock Pipit, Durlston, 26th March

Peregrine at Durlston, 26th March

This Barnacle Goose turned up at Swineham on 4th April and immediately hooked up with the local Egyptian Goose flock

Barnacle Goose, 4th April

From there I headed north to Blashford via the badlands of Matchams where every park home seemed to be guarded by a wrought iron fence and a pair of plaster-cast lions. The reason for visiting the Lakes was the hope of seeing a drake Ring-necked Duck which had been there the previous day. On arrival, it became clear that it had moved on, but my first Scaup of 2023 (a species seemingly absent from Poole Harbour this winter) and a pair of Little Ringed Plover made up for that.

Stock Dove, Swineham, 4th April

Little Egret, Swineham, 4th April

Dipper, Maiden Newton, 7th April

Dipper, Maiden Newton, 7th April

Dipper, Maiden Newton, 7th April

With a week off at Easter a number of commoner migrants were added as the month progressed but it took my second ride of the year to Portland on 13th to add trickier species like Little Owl and Ring Ouzel, plus Pied Flycatcher and Great White Egret on the way back. A family trip to Bristol at the end of the week off provided some respite from all this pedalling (800+ miles so far this year) and a rare opportunity to indulge in some 'brown' birding in the car on the way there and back - but more on that in my next post.

Scaup, Blashford Lakes, 9th April

Night Heron, Iford, 9th April

Night Heron, Iford, 9th April

Night Heron, Iford, 9th April

Night Heron (second bird), Iford, 9th April