Saturday, 16 September 2017

The American Search

On Tuesday  12th September I had arranged to take my son to RSPB Radipole to see if we could get is first sighting of a Bearded Tit. Just before we were about to leave I received a tweet from a fellow birder Mark Andrews informing me that a Grey Phalarope was currently on Longham South Lake. This is a bird the breeds in Iceland and the high Arctic and as role reversal with female much bright coloured and after breeding leaves all the work for the male bird to incubate the eggs and rear the chick. So being a bird I had not seen before and only the 2nd since September 2009 I delayed our departure and headed of to see the bird. It was a lovely little bird though a bit distant  and being a small bird was hard to get a shot of but I managed a couple of phone scope record shots
Grey Phalarope

Grey Phalarope
After this I shot back home picked my son up and headed of to RSPB Radipole, knowing that two rare North Amercian birds were present at Lodmoor. We got to Radipole and walked round the Buddila loop and down to the north screen hoping to pick up the beardie but this was not to be. So after a spot of lunch I decided we should go to Lodmoor to see the rare waders and we might just pick up a Bearded Tit there in the reed bed. As we arrived at the parking spot a birder was just walking back to is car so I asked it the Stilt Sandpiper and Least Sandpiper were still about, but the news was good and bad as he told me the the Stilt had just flown due to being spooked by a helicopter but the Least was still about and there was some Bearded Tits in the reed bed We mad our way through the reeds and caught a glimpse of a bird flying from stem to stem. I made my way round to the shelter by the hump were there was a lot of people so not much room. We managed to squeeze in and just about see the Least Sandpiper through the scrub! We made our way back to the reed bed,but stopped by two benches and managed to get good scope views of the Least Sandpiper which I was pleased with even though it was distant. While standing here I noticed a large crowd on the other side of the reserve . We made our way quickly to the reed bed were we waited a while to see it we could get better views of a Bearded Tit, one called very loudly then flew across the path in front of us a new bird for my son. On arriving round at the other side I inquired if the Stilt sand was still about,the answer that came back was not the on I wanted "its just flown over to the west side mate" just were we had come from! Never mind I thought as it was now time to head home I could come back in the week.

Friday 15th I went down to Lodmoor in the morning hoping to catch up with the Stilt Sandpiper. But that was not to be as I was told it had just flown again! to the middle as of the reserve, like others spent the next two hours looking and hoping it would show. In the mean time I  had very nice views ( much better than Tuesdays sighting) of the Least Stint a very interesting bird it was nice to see it next to Ringed Plovers and Dunlin which looked rather big against the stint.
As the other sandpiper was  not showing I headed off to Portland were I got some nice views of my 1st Wryneck a wonderful well camouflaged bird in the grass bank to the right of the obs quarry. But no Buff Breasted Sandpiper as asking around it had not been seen since early morning. So back to Lodmoor and still no Stilt Sandpiper, apparently after 5hrs one of the birders there told me., at this point I decided to go back to Longham Lakes for the early in the morning I had a tweet to tell me a Little Stint was showing. Arrived at Longham in the late afternoon and with some luck it was  still there and with the least still fresh in my mind if was good to see the Litter Stint and compare the details. Both look different but the same if you get what I mean . The legs were strikingly different  with the least having a pale straw looking colour the the legs and the little dark/ black legs and the least having a brighter richer colour to the upper parts than the little . A White Wagtails and Yellow made for a nice distraction at Lomoor.
Record phonescoped shot of a Wryneck

Wednesday, 5 July 2017

Something Different

A Budding Moth-er

I have been meaning to do a blog about Something Different but never seem to have find the time before now.
Back at the earlier part of June I commented on some very nice pictures of moth on my Twitter feed and stated that moth trapping would be something I would like ago at one day as it seemed very interesting . 
 Little did I know that little sentence would lead me down in to a very absobing hobby, I started off thanks to a fellow Twitter follower and Dorset bird Mark Andrews ( Thank you Mark) you kindly lent me is Skinner Moth Trap and some small pots and a field guide. He came over one evening to show me how to set everything up and just looking through the field I was surprised how nice some of the moths looked. While sitting in the garden talk moths Mark spotted a moth on the house was under the bench , Mark quickly potted up the moth and showed me how to use the field guide and my first garden moth was a very worn and faded Green Carpet.
Robinson Light trap

The light that started it all
Faded Green Carpet
  So on the 10th June I set up the light and went to bed wondering what will be in the trap I woke up early on the Sunday excited to see what I had caught over night . There was not many which was not a bad thing for my very first go which helped as I I was not over whelmed with trying to find the IDs in the book. These were Riband Wave, Treble Brown Spot,Willow Beauty,Bee Moth and Heart and Dart.
After this I could hardly wait to set up the light again specially after reading through the field guide and looking at all the wonderful moth with in. So on the 14th June it was back out in the garden for the night and once again I had that exciting feeling of what will the night yield. 
It is amazing what I have discovered that is or could be flying round the garden on any given night.
Heart and Dart

Willow \beauty
From those first few nights I was totally hooked on moths and whated to get myself a light trap so once again I put out Tweet asking if any body would know were I could get hold of a second moth trap from as I was very interested in obtaining one. Twitter can be a wonderful place at times as it was not long before I had a reply back from  Nature Of Dorset ( Peter ) stating that he had a trap if I would like it, after a few emails late I went of to Peter's and picked up and wonderful moth trap.
Thanks to Peter I have also enjoyed many new moths in this trap. Thank you Peter, Iam  certainly enjoying the the light trap.

Since starting this wonderful hobby I have so far gained 32 new species of moth for the garden and it is truly amazing to see these moth close up some of the details and colours are just a nice and perhaps a little better than some of the butterflies.
So here are a few of the moth that have been in my garden.
Barred Straw

Buff Arches

Male Buff Ermine

Buff Tip

Elephant Hawk-Moth

Plain Golden Y

Poplar Hawk-Moth

Small Magpie

Green Pug

Sliver Y

Sunday, 21 May 2017

Longham Patch 18th May 2017

While at work I was contemplating whether to go down to Portland in the evening to see if I could catch up with the Golden Oriole that was reported the day before. But news of one turning up near Corfe Castle and with the weather starting to turn for the worst, I decided not to go to Portland as I thought the bird had moved on and it was not wise to travel after work in the pouring rain just for a may be there bird.

 On the way home from work it chucked it down and I began to wonder if the weather had grounded any birds at Longham. I arrived at the lakes round about 18.00 hrs and soon found the Bonaparte's Gull on North Lake after take a few pictures and a video of the bird as it is quickly moult in to its summer black hood. I moved on up along the causeway and round South Lake hoping for some new birds but everywhere seemed very quiet and it did not bode well with the Ducks canoeist group just about to go on the water. At this point while on the west side of the lake I noticed to little ducks swim out of the reeds and to my surprise it was a wonderful pair of Garganey and male and female. For those that read my blog and do not know about these wonderful little ducks. They are roughly the  (37-41cm) same size Teal perhaps a little bigger.  They are a rare  summer migrant from sub-Sarharan Africa with less than a hundred or so pairs that arrive to breed. It was very nice to see a pair together as I have only seem males by them selves and a lone female at this little inland wet land site in May expect last year when I either missed them or which I think is most likely one never turned up.

Male Garganey

Female Garganey

Grey Wagtail

This Garganey now puts me on 95 species seen at the site and what a nice little duck one of my favourite ducks.

Sunday, 14 May 2017

Longham Patch 13th May 2017

I do not now how past springs have been at Longham ,but I am  having a very good spring this year.
Last year doing the Patch Work Challenge i finished the year on 96 species, by the end of the first quarter this year (January - April ) I was on 89 species with 63 of those species found in January alone.
Though April - May top the bill with finding  a Nuthatch my first for the site, then finding a wonderful male Whinchat followed up with two lifers with the Bonaparte's Gull and Red-rumped Swallow . One stunning Dunlin in summer/breeding plumage.
Then today I find a lovely Bar-tailed Godwit, still in its winter/none breeding plumage on the large island in South Lake. My first for the site and looking through the Bird List and Past Records on Dominic's web site it looks to be only the 2nd record since 1st May 2007.
I am really getting in to this patching watching now and as I sit here typing this I am wondering what if any birds I could be missing at the site,and I am missing some good birds to at my other favourite place Lytchett Fields,but I feel I am becoming part of Longham Lakes and want to be there all the time, the wife thinks I am daft and becoming obsessed but who cares birds are just wonderful and exciting . What will the Autumn passage bring?

Bar-tailed Godwit 2nd record in 10 years!

Thursday, 11 May 2017

Longham Patch May 7th

Just a short Blog this time as I did not have any time to go birdwatching on the week of the 6th-7th May.
Saturday I spent most of the day doing  D I Y stuff and running round shops for various items and in the late afternoon and all evening spent my time in the Poole A&E department with my wife.

Getting late home from the hospital Saturday night I slept well and was up late on Sunday morning not expecting to do much, expect for doing a large water change on my 4 foot fish tank I was having a lazy morning. That was until I had a Tweet from Darran Jones ( Thanks Darran) a rival ;) birder/competitor of the Patch Work Challenge were we both  have a go at seeing as many birds we can at Longham Lake Darren is catching me up slowly but I do have the advantage of being able to get to the site more often and have a scope, though Darran does take some very nice picture and the are a lot better than my efforts.
So when I read is tweet I dropped everything and said to the wife I am going to Longham I have just got to go! As there are certain birds I would like to see at Longham and read 3 Black Terns resting on a buoy on South Lake that was it I was off like shot.
I quickly arrived at the lake and scanned from the slipway  and found one of the Terns flying around, see Darran and other birds on the west side of the lake I hastily made my way to them  were I had very good views of the Terns resting and hawking over the lake, a few record shots were taken so I made my way along the causeway  were I saw the long staying Bonaparte's Gull again on North Lake getting harassed by the Black-head Gull.
Black Tern

Black Tern showing a black head and smokey grey upper parts

Black Tern- black under parts contrasting with the smokey grey under wing
Thanks to Darran tweets these Black Tern brings me up to 93 species for the site this year..

Monday, 8 May 2017

Longham Patch May 5th

Dropped in to Longham Lakes after work this afternoon . Lots of shifts hawking over the causeway whizzing past at eye level and close at times. Then high I head shifts screaming as they do so looked up expecting a Hobby,  but there was not one about it was a very large group of swift easily c 200 birds. The best way I can explain what it was like is like this a large dark mass like when you see a large herring ball  on the documentary programs.  All the birds were travelling in a west ward direction it as spectacular. On the south side of the island two Shelduck we're  a sleep, but the best bird of the afternoon was a wonderful Osprey that came in from the southeast over south lake. It was harassed by the gulls so turned drifted over Samuel's Wood and looked like it was following the river going south southeast? I was quite excited to see an Osprey over Longham Lakes a site first for me but at the same time I was annoyed with myself for leaving my SD card of the Slr in the laptop after down loading the recent pictures I took of the Bonaparte's Gull, which was still on north lake in the north west corner of the lake.

All the above picture of the Bonaparte's Gull were taken om 3rd May

Sunday, 30 April 2017

Longham Patch 22nd/26th/ 27th April 2017

What a few days it as been at my local patch Longham Lakes, the patch is a in land wet land on the south coast ( for those that do not know the place) comprising of two large lakes the North Lake and South Lake with a causeway running east to west between the two and gravel paths going round both lakes, at the west side is the river Stour and Hampreston meadows.
On the 22nd I arrived late at 10.40 at the lakes on a cloudy but with sunny spells hoping for a Wheatear or some migrant that might of dropped in over night. It did not take me long to find 3 Egyptian geese resting on the east side of the large island in South Lake. Walking up the causeway I flushed 3 Common Sandpipers, stopping at the gap in the willow scrub to look over the north side of the island two of the Sandpipers were on the exposed shoreline. I had a pleasant walk round south lake with Blackcap, Whitethroat and Chiffchaff singing but did not locate anything new and reaching the start of the causeway I paused for a moment. As it was a very nice day and the cloud cover was almost gone I decided to walk back up the causeway and go round the North Lake. That was a very good dession to make as I arrived at the western side of the lake I looked over Hampreston Fields scanning the fence posts and ground for Wheatears or Yellow Wagtails. I noticed a small bird flitting about between fench posts and a patch of bramble, I was expecting it to be a Stonechat but through the binoculars the bird did not fit for a Stonechat. So I got the scope fixed on to the bird and it was a wonderful male Whinchat,these are very rare spring migrants for the patch and I believe it is only the 10th one and the first since 2014.

Male Whinchat
 On the 26th April while at work I checked the BirdGuides app just to see what was about just before going back to work after my lunch break, only to read a Bonaparte's Gull! had been seen a round the north west corner of South Lake so I was kicking myself for not checking the app at the beginning of my lunch break as Longham is only a 5 minute drive depending of traffic from my place of work.
The rest of the afternoon I was thinking do I wait until tomorrow or shoot over after work. 4.30pm could not arrive quick enough and I phoned the wife that I would be late in for tea as I had made up my mind to go after work.Arriving in the car park my heart sank a little as it was empty so I thought the gull had gone, but luckily there were to birders sat on a bench on the west side of South Lake . We searched and searched but not having my scope or my best binoculars with me I was finding difficult with birds out in the middle and towards the south side of the island. Lucky one of the birders had picked up the bird and kindly let me have a view, so I got my 1st distance view of my 1st Bonaparte's

All day on the 27th I was hoping that the bird would stay until the weekend as I knew I was unable to make my usual Friday afternoon trip. Getting home after work I kept mulling over whether to go back and see if I could obtain a better view of the gull. So after tea I decided that's it I have got to go and boy was that great decision .Arriving to find the car park almost empty apart for a couple of angler's cars I  made my way up the causeway scanning North Lake as I went and half way up the causeway I stopped  and scanned again with the binoculars , I said to myself is that the bird so I got the scope fixed on to it and yes a wonderful view of the gull. I managed to get a very ropey phone scoped record shot of the bird just before it lifted off the water and watched fly towards me and dropped down behind some reeds. At this point Two birders (Terry Elbon and Mike Gibbons) arrived and I told them gull was just behind the reeds, we moved a little to the right to get a better view along the edge of these and the gull was sitting on one of the small artificial floating islands giving very good views. While the bird was sat on the island I managed again to get a couple of record shots of the bird but the light was not great. An angler started putting in some bait and the the Black-headed Gulls that were settled on the water lifted off and the Bonaparte's joined them give spectacular close flight views.
ropey record shot of Bonaparte's Gull

Bonaparte's Gull on the island

Bonaparte's in poor light
 While the gull was flying a round with the Black-headed Gulls we all lost sight of it and started searching the sky and speculating whether it had gone off to roost somewhere , when Mike Gibbons shouts out Red-rumped Swallow hawking over the causeway, it them promptly flew towards the three of us. Tweets were sent out and slowly a few birders joined use to see the spectal of the Red-rumped Swallow wizing about hawking over the causeway at eye level at times The Red-rumped Swallow is an over shoot from Southern Europe were it comes to breed after spending the winter in tropical Africa . With the many Swallows, Sand Martins and a House Martins along with a couple of Swifts it was not long before a Hobby shot through cuasing a stir. What a carzy, exciting wonderful evening it was with one bird from North America and the other from Southern Europe. It was great to be part of it all.

Sand Martin