9th – 12th February – Holton Lee, Southampton and Christchurch   Leave a comment

On the 9th I had a ringing session at Holton Lee with trainee ringers Ali and Kevin and had a repeat session on the 11th with John. On both occasions we ringed between 40 and 50 birds, mainly Blue and Great Tits but with more interesting species such as Great Spotted Woodpecker (3), Nuthatch (4), Marsh Tit, Siskin and Goldfinch. There has been a notable increase in Robins recently with 10 trapped on the 11th, presumably as a response to the cold weather. We are already getting some good data, for example a Great Tit ringed at Lytchett Bay in 2006 was retrapped at Holton making it at almost six years old. It has been bitterly cold on these morning and it is hard to keep your fingers from freezing. We make every attempt to minimise the time the birds are in the net and process them as quickly as possible in these conditions.

I have ringed a few Nuthatches before, but four in one day!

A male Siskin was a nice addition to our ringing totals

Marsh Tits seem to be following Willow Tit into local extinction. Once common at several sites around Poole, they have declined greatly in recent years.

Most afternoons, either Amber, Kara or both call round after school, sometimes with their friends. Whilst I like to think they have a strong desire to visit Grandad, I’m sure its the attraction of our telly that is uppermost.

Kara and her friend Jade making themselves at home.

Although I did get flight views of Southampton’s juvenile Glaucous Gull on the 31st, I have been keen to get good views and if possible photographs of it. As Ewan and I dipped last Sunday afternoon, Margaret and I decided to get to Royal Pier early as it has been leaving the area about 0930 each morning. We met up with her friend Angela from Southampton, who does some birding but has never seen a Glaucous, at 0830, only to find that today the bird had decided to fly off at 0820! Apart from a few Great Crested Grebes and a Kingfisher the only notable sighting was of a Grey Seal feeding just off Mayflower Park. We later tried the mud flats at Redbridge for the Glaucous to no avail. Angela was meeting someone else at 1100 and I wanted to head back to Christchurch where a Long-tailed Duck had been seen, so we went our separate ways.

In Grey Seals, the distance from the tip of the nose to to the eyes is the same or more than the distance from the eyes to the back of the head. In Common Seal the former is shorter than the latter.

Also Grey Seals have broad, widely spaced nostrils unlike the slit like nostrils of Common Seal.

At Christchurch we headed for Mudeford Quay but couldn’t locate the Long-tailed Duck in spite of a mirror calm sea. This species is regular in winter to Dorset in very small numbers, but this year has been conspicuous in its absence. We then stopped at nearby Fisherman’s Bank in Christchurch Harbour as a Spotted Sandpiper, a different individual to the Lyme Regis bird, was found there recently. It was proving elusive but we got flight views as it headed into a hidden creek. This normally is a very rare vagrant from North America but this winter there have been four in the South-west of England alone. The remnants of a hurricane brought unprecedented numbers of American waders to our shores last autumn and some have remained through the winter.

We walked round to Stanpit Marsh where I managed to get good flight views of a Jack Snipe, a species I have been trying hard for recently. We then received a phone call from my friend and Stanpit regular, Paul Morrison, to say he had just had, of all things, a Glaucous Gull fly by Fisherman’s Bank in the direction of Mudeford. We hurried back, picked him up and drove back to Mudeford Quay  but in spite of intensive searching there was no sign. This bird was relocated by others in the afternoon and was shown, after prolonged views, to be an Iceland Gull, a species with identical plumage phases to Glaucous which can only be differentiated on structural grounds. We had had a rather low hit rate this morning, but I was very pleased to get a good view of a Jack.

As I didn't get a photo of a Jack Snipe in flight I have included a shot of one we trapped when wagtail ringing last autumn.

Later the family joined us for dinner and I spent most of the evening compiling this blog, only to accidentally delete the entry as I was attempting to upload it, hence the delay!

In the evening Janis, Amber and Kara joined us for dinner.

Posted February 13, 2012 by gryllosblog in Uncategorized

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