Archive for October 2011

Friday 28th and Saturday 29th – Lytchett Bay   Leave a comment

In the late afternoon Shaun, Bob and I met at the north side of Lytchett Bay in an attempt to trap Pied Wagtails at roost. It was a beautiful evening and after setting up we watched 500 wagtails being chased by a Sparrowhawk. Also three Marsh Harriers come into roost and a small and apparently tailless lark was seen distantly but remained unidentified. After dark a Short-eared Owl flew low overhead and a Water Rail just missed the net.



We trapped some 45 wagtails and 13 Reed Buntings but the big surprise was this Jack Snipe that flew into the net beside me whilst I was extracting wagtails.



The seldom seen and seldom ringed Jack Snipe

The first to be ringed at Lytchett in what Shaun calls 'the modern era' i.e. since he has lived in Dorset.



On Saturday 29th Shuan, John Dowling and I made an early start and went to Durlston in the hope of ringing some Redwing, however on arrival it was clear that it was too windy on the coast, in spite of the fact there wasn’t a breath of wind in Upton. We decided to return to Upton and ring at Lytchett Bay. In retrospect we wished we had just furled the wagtail nets last night and continued there this morning.

By 0815 we were set up near the waterworks, we had a modest morning with some 22 new birds but although we didn’t catch any Redwing we did catch three migrant Song Thrushes and a Cetti’s Warbler.



With Dartford, Cettis is are only resident warbler, although it makes short distance movements. Blackcaps and Chiffchaffs are also seen in winter but undoubtedly involve different birds to those pressent in summer.

To most birders Cetti's are more often heard than seen, anouncing their presence with one of the most strident of all bird songs.



Most birds are docile in the hand, Song Thrushes however are the exception.



We are currently undergoing high spring tides....

... which means the concrete block we use for a ringing base gets flooded!

Posted October 29, 2011 by gryllosblog in Uncategorized

Friday 28th October – Durlston   Leave a comment

At last a break in the weather and a chance to get back to Durlston for another ringing session. Visible migration continues unabated and most of our modest catch of 32 birds were Goldfinches but also included a lovely first year male Yellowhammer.

The big surprise of the morning was this Woodcock that had hit a nearby window and then had been brought to the Visitor Centre. It was clearly stunned but otherwise seemed in good health. After a couple of hours we were able to release it and it flew to a nearby copse.

The view from most of the park is southwards out to sea or east to the Isle of Wight, but from the northern edge of the garden there is this great view northwards towards Ballard Down and Old Harry. Bournemouth seafront can be seen in the distance.

Posted October 29, 2011 by gryllosblog in Uncategorized

October 25th – 26th – Lytchett and Holes Bay   Leave a comment

Much of the last two days has been spent recovering from a catastrophic failure of my computer. With 30% of my music and all of my e-mail contacts and old e-mails lost and several well used programs not working, I have some way to go.

I did manage to get out to Lytchett Bay yesterday and Holes Bay today. The maize has been cut at Lytchett and the finch flocks are now no longer concentrated in the weedy edges making ringing unfeasible. Crows have arrived in big numbers making the area ‘corvid heaven’ The usual waders were in the Bay, the best being a flock of 10 Avocets.


With the maize cut, the finches are no longer concentrated on the margins.



Corvid heaven




Today at Holes Bay, Wigeon were numerous with at least 400 present, along with good numbers of Curlew, Redshank and Black-tailed Godwits, also present were three Shoveler.




Eutrophication from the sewage outfalls has caused these algal mats across Holes Bay



With many birds deep in the channels and into the light, birding conditions were not ideal......



.... and then it tipped down with rain.

Posted October 26, 2011 by gryllosblog in Uncategorized

Monday 24th October – Weymouth and Portland   Leave a comment

Too windy for ringing, I decided to go to Weymouth and Portland to try and see a few of the scarce migrants that have been seen in recent days.

This Snow Bunting was found in the Army Bridging Camp last week. It is very tame and can be seen down to a few feet through the wire fence. However it can go missing behind a small wall for short periods, as I found on my first visit this morning. Snow Buntings are regular winter visitors to eastern Britain (mainly from Iceland) but very few are seen in Dorset each year.



The Bridging Camp adjacent to the Fleet.



Snow Bunting



This confiding bird was photographed through the boundary fence of the camp



This is a species I have seen in Iceland, Norway and Siberia, but most of my British sightings have been from coastal Norfolk.



At nearby Ferrybridge a large flock of about 1500 Brent Geese had gathered. I had just got onto the rare but annual Black Brant when the whole flock was flushed by dog walkers. Black Brants are the eastern form, breeding in the Arctic from the east of the Taimyr Peninsular to Western Canada and are considered a full species by many, although the taxonomy of the Brent goose complex needs more study (one form, the so-called Grey-bellied Brent, has not even been formerly named).


Part of the Brent Goose flock at Ferrybridge



After being flushed, most of the flock headed up the Fleet.



I later visited Portland Bird Observatory, where in the gale force winds few birds had been seen on land or sea, however I did get directions to a Yellow-browed Warbler, a scarce but regular autumn visitor from Siberia.



Lancridge, the sheltered north-west corner of Portland.




Yellow-browed Warbler ........




...little bigger than a Goldcrest, these birds fly enormous distances between Siberia and wintering grounds in South-east Asia ......




...and as this picture shows are highly energetic and mobile.




Posted October 24, 2011 by gryllosblog in Uncategorized

Sunday 23rd October – New Forest anniversary walk   Leave a comment

Five years ago Margaret and I independently joined the Nexus organisation in the hope of meeting some new friends and widening our social horizons. Through a newsletter article called ‘icebreakers’ we exchanged details and communicated for a while by e-mail and phone. On 25th October 2006 we met for the first time for a walk (in pouring rain) by the river at Beaulieu and dried out in the local tea rooms. The rest as they say is history. Where possible we return at this time of year to visit Beaulieu and call in at the same tea room.

We have also been following the coast path eastwards through Hampshire. Today we set off from just east of Lymington, however the coast path diverts inland, not reaching the sea until Hythe. We hiked 8 miles ending at Beaulieu and will do the Beaulieu to Hythe section another day.

The route is mainly along lanes but passed some picturesque spots...




..... like Sowley Pond

Much of the area is taken up with large private estates, hence the lack of footpaths.




Eventually you reach the old ship building site of Buckler's Hard....




..... and follow the Beaulieu River......




... through ancient woodland....




.... to the charming town of Beaulieu.




After the obligitory visit to the tea rooms we returned to the car by taxi.

Posted October 24, 2011 by gryllosblog in Uncategorized

Friday 21st October – Durlston   Leave a comment

Another productive morning at Durlston with a similar number and variety of species to yesterday. The scale of the Goldfinch migration is just stunning.

For anyone interested in following the vis mig, take a look at Trektellen  a site that documents the migration from all over western Europe. For Durlston specifically see

A cloudier and warmer start to the day compared to yesterday.

This pair of Bullfinches was a nice find

Redpolls have a complex taxonomy. The British breeding form is Lesser Redpoll but another four forms belonging to at least two species occasionally occur.

Redpolls can be aged on the shape and appearance of the tail feathers. Adult on the left, first winter on the right.

This pale Chiffchaff with green edging to the remiges caused lively debate. It is presumably of eastern origin, but not from as far east as the form tristis which has a wing bar and no olive colouration whatsoever.

A 'standard' Chiffchaff trapped later the same day.

Posted October 22, 2011 by gryllosblog in Uncategorized

Thursday 20th October – Durlston   Leave a comment

 A cold and frosty dawn was followed by a glorious morning. It took a while for the vis mig to get going but soon flocks of Goldfinches, Redpolls and Siskins were on the move.

We had a successful morning with over 70 birds ringed, the commonest being Goldfinches.


Dawn breaks behind the astronomical observatory.


You don't need an astronomical telescope to see Jupiter and its four large moons. This is the sort of view you can get with a birding telescope at the moment. Photo from the internet.


Eventually the sun broke the horizon, its warming rays were most welcome.


Adult Goldfinches have a red rather than orange face. The red extends just behind the eye in adult males and they have darker nasal hairs and a slightly longer bill.

In the afternoon Carol Grieg, Kevin and I set up the nets in a disgustingly smelly reed bed ride at Lytchett Bay. We caught a good number of Pied Wagtails and Reed Buntings at dusk which were ringed and roosted in a nearby garage and returned to the Bay at dawn for release. Three Marsh Harreirs also roosted at Lytchett Bay.

Garage ringing. Shaun and CarolrRoost ringing Pied Wagtails and Reed Buntings.


Posted October 21, 2011 by gryllosblog in Uncategorized

Wednesday 19th October – Stanpit, Christchurch.   Leave a comment

Much of the day was taken up with dealing with my faulty PC, eventually diagnosed as a defunct hard drive.

I did manage a mid morning trip to Stanpit to see a Red-breasted Goose. Although this species probably occurs annually in the UK, this is a very rare vagrant to Dorset and some previous records may have involved escapes from captivity. Being a first year bird and arriving with Dark-bellied Brent Geese from their shared breeding grounds on the Taimyr Peninsula, this bird fulfills all the criteria for a wild bird.

This is a rare goose in world terms with a global population of under 40,000. The majority fly south from the Taimyr to a staging post on the Caspian Sea before heading to the Black Sea coasts of Romania and Bulgaria.

Wintering Red-breasted Geese - Bulgaria. Photo from the internet.


Red-breasted Goose, Stanpit


Red-breasted Goose - Stanpit


Also on show was a Dartford Warbler on Crouch Hill, whilst a Peregrine put all the waders to flight.

Dartford Warbler - Stanpit. Severely depleted after last winter, Dartford Warbler numbers may be increasing after this years warm, dry spring.


Peregrine - Stanpit


Posted October 21, 2011 by gryllosblog in Uncategorized

Wednesday 19th October   1 comment

I am having problems with my PC.  I have a new laptop which I am sending this message from but don’t think I have any photo editing softwear available on it as yet.

Apologies if blog postings are erratic or absent until I get the problem with my PC fixed.


Posted October 19, 2011 by gryllosblog in Uncategorized

Tuesday 18th October – Accommodate.   Leave a comment

As I have no birding or ringing news from today I thought I would publish a poem written by our grand-daughter Amber. She was 13 when she wrote this entirely of her own accord!


Accommodate the poor.

Comfort the lonely.

Confront the evil.

On the way to a greener world.

Memorise the blood of wars.

Memorise the victories by sharing.

Only if we could be good.

Damn us all for being greedy.

All of us have sins, so let us turn over a new leaf.

Everywhere we look it is black, but soon to be green.

Amber Jonsson, Spain June 2010 - about the time of her 13th birthday

Posted October 18, 2011 by gryllosblog in Uncategorized