1st – 2nd February – various dips   Leave a comment

With the cold spell upon us and morning temperatures as low as -6 I have been looking out for birds associated with cold weather movements. As there has (yet) been no snow there hasn’t been noticeable movements of Fieldfare and Redwing, but I hoped for some good waterbirds as fresh water lakes elsewhere froze.

One area that has proved excellent in cold weather is north-east Holes Bay, as warm water outfalls keep it ice-free. I had a good bash around there on the morning of the !st hoping for a Smew or, in particular a Jack Snipe along the margins, but to no avail. Jack Snipe is a regular, but elusive winter visitor that is usually only seen when flushed underfoot and last year I the only ones I saw were ones trapped for ringing. There were plenty of gulls, waders and wildfowl to search through, so the visit had its rewards.


Waders, ducks and gulls at Holes Bay


In the afternoon I decided to have a look at Coombe Heath at Arne where a Short-eared Owl has been seen recently. This has been a good year for this species, probably because of a vole population explosion in their breeding grounds, but so far I haven’t connected with one. It was bitterly cold at this exposed location but the views were wonderful. The tide was still out and the flocks of waders that often fill Middlebere Channel were distant, even so, over 300 Avocets could be seen near Round Island.

Coombe Heath, Arne looking eastwards Harbour mouth. Brownsea and Green Island are visible and to the centre right, the chain ferry at the Harbour mouth can be seen.

Coombe Heath looking southwest towards Hartland Moor


On the morning of the 2nd I headed for Lytchett Bay n hoping for Jack Snipe. I trudged around the frozen ‘far fields’ and along the Turlin shore and flushed about 15 Common Snipe but no Jacks.

Much of Lytchett Bay was frozen this morning including the margins of the salt water areas.


In the afternoon I heard that there were two Great White Egrets outside the visitor centre at Radipole in Weymouth. I departed as soon as I could but I didn’t get there in time as they had flown before I arrived. After a walk to the North Hide to check that they hadn’t doubled back, I headed for Lodmoor where a Long-billed Dowitcher had been seen. Very likely one of the birds that was around at the start of January, this bird had also flown but I did get some compensation in the form of a Bittern in flight.

At Radipole even this Grey Heron was sheltering from the cold wind and there was no sign of its big white relatives.

The Hooded Merganser was still at Radipole. This bird was first seen as an exhausted first year and gave rise to hopes that it might be a genuine vagrant from America, however it has stayed for several years and is widely considered an escape. It belong to a group of ducks called sawbills, and you can just see the serrated edge of the bill in this photo.

Posted February 3, 2012 by gryllosblog in Uncategorized

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