18th – 19th March – Christchurch, Blashford and the New Forest.   Leave a comment

We had a fairly quiet day on the 18th, clearing away after yesterday’s gathering and relaxing a bit. In the morning Janis, Kara and Amber came round to wish Margaret a happy mother’s day and in the afternoon I did the WeBS count (the monthly winter coordinated wetland bird survey) in Holes Bay. Most of the migrants have gone, there were no Wigeon, Avocets or Goldeneye and much smaller numbers of Shelduck Teal, Dunlin, Godwits and Redshank. This is the last count until the autumn.

L-R: Amber, Margaret, Kara and Janis

On the 19th I visited River Way recreation ground in Christchurch where a pair of Garganey had been seen on the River Stour. Although I saw a Garganey back in February (also on the River Stour, but upstream north of Wimborne), it was on a very early date for this spring migrant, seemed to be paired with a Mallard and was probably the same bird that was hanging round with a Mallard at Longham last year. I thought the Christchurch birds must have moved on as I walked up and down the riverbank to no avail, but just as I was about to leave, the pair of Garganey flew out from overhanging vegetation, landed on the far side and slowly swam back, giving great views.

The River Stour at Christchurch.

At first I thought the only bird I would get to photograph was this Moorhen.....

.... until this wonderful pair of Garganey was seen!

Garganey are the only duck that are exclusively summer visitors to Europe and used to be called Summer Teal.

The female is superficially like a female Teal, but differs in its striped face with a pale loral spot, longer bill, slightly longer bill and lack of green speculum.

Later I headed for Blashford Lakes. Normally Bramblings are regular at the feeders, but not this year, so I was pleased to see a couple in with the Chaffinches. They probably had been wintering in France or Spain and were stopping off on route to their breeding grounds in Scandinavia.

A female Brambling

This male Reed Bunting joined the Chaffinch flock.

Yet another Nuthatch photo.

It looks like this Buzzard has replaced most, but not all of the secondaries and none of the primaries. Moult in big raptors is complex and can take several years to complete.

The wood was full of singing Redpolls, Blashford has to be the best place around here to see this species. Redpoll taxonomy is complex, with five or six races being squeezed into two or three species. Arctic Redpoll is a rare vagrant to the UK, Lesser Redpoll is a regular breeder and passage migrant whilst Mealy or Common Redpoll is a scarce visitor that sometimes arrives ingood numbers in irruption years. A  Mealy Redpoll was supposed to be present but it wasn’t as well-marked as some that I have seen. The trouble with redpolls is that the most obvious characteristic, overall paleness, seems to form a continuum from dark Lessers, through variable Mealys and paler Arctics, to the little snowballs of an hornemanii Arctic Redpoll.

A male Lesser Redpoll, compact, dark without obvious white braces.

Upper bird: Is this a male Mealy Redpoll? It is slightly larger and more slender, paler overall, with whiter wing bars, paler pink breast but is not as frosty as some that I have seen.

I was told by the warden of an area around Anderwood in the New Forest that was good for Lesser Spotted Woodpeckers, a bird I have only heard this year. Thinking I was on a roll, I headed there but had no luck, its what I call a ‘Meat Loaf morning’ – ‘two out of three ain’t bad’!

No Lesser Spots but great views of this Roe Buck.

Note the antlers are fully grown but still 'in velvet'

Posted March 20, 2012 by gryllosblog in Uncategorized

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