26th – 28th April – a big fall that we missed, a well travelled car and great birds in the New Forest   Leave a comment

Friday 26th was clearly going to be a great day for spring migrants. The southward passage of a front overnight would be bound to bring migrants down, the only question would be whether it would still be raining at dawn. The only question was where to go, Portland? Durlston? or stay local and go to PC World drain? Shaun was free and wanted to go ringing, but he along with Paul and Kevin had to be at work mid-morning (how I wished I could have worked flexitime during my career), so we opted for PC World. We had another reason for this unusual choice, we were all surprised by the large number of migrants there last Friday and we wanted to find out if this was a regular feature.

Unfortunately it was still raining at dawn and it was 0630 before we put the nets up. Then we thought that it was all a bit of mistake, there were no birds! However after 90 minutes or so quite a few migrants arrived, and quite a nice mixture too, Blackcaps, Common and Lesser Whitethroats, Sedge Warbler, Garden Warblers, plus Willow Warblers and Chiffchaffs were all trapped, some 27 birds in total. On the other hand, at Portland, the rain had cleared by first light and over 150 birds were ringed in the first hour and a half. This confirms what we suspected, the fall occurred on the coast, our birds were ones that filtered inland and so arrived from about 0800. The high numbers we saw the previous week might have been migrants that were grounded for several days by bad weather and had concentrated in the sheltered PC World drain waiting for the chance to move on.


Lesser Whitethroat is a relatively scarce spring migrant. Strangely the entire European population migrates to and from Africa via the Levant. So some of the birds we saw in Israel a few weeks ago could have been on their way to the UK. Israel gets more foreign recoveries of Lesser Whitethroats from the UK than anywhere else.


A bit of a handful: ringing has shown Woodpigeons to be largely sedentary with a few recoveries in France and Ireland. However there is a large overhead movement through coastal Dorset in early November involving a few hundred thousand birds, the origin of these remains unknown.


Eleventy one thousand and eleventy one miles – time for a new car?


On Saturday 27th Nick Hopper found a Yellow Wagtail at Holton Lee that appeared to be of the Spanish race iberiae. I popped down in the evening and found about 5 Yellow and 20 Pied Wagtails but they flew over to the Lytchett side of the river and never gave good views on the ground. I stayed until dusk and saw or heard my first Swift and Cuckoo of the year.


On Sunday 28th Margaret and I went to the New Forest looking for goodies like Goshawk, Redstart and the Wood Warbler shown here. This summer visitor is seldom seen on migration, having longer wings than it’s relatives it seems to be able to fly direct to its breeding grounds without a refuelling stop.


… but the highlight was this Lesser Spotted Woodpecker drumming high on a dead bough. This bird has greatly declined in recent years. Last year whilst trying for a big year list I made over 20 visits to the New Forest or Wareham Forest searching for this bird and all I managed was to hear a few snatches of drumming.


Whilst in the New Forest we heard that a male Golden Oriole that had been seen at Pennington marshes the previous day was still there ……


… the views were distant but through the scope the bright yellow bird sitting in a bright yellow bush looked fantastic. Although Golden Orioles can appear obvious in flight once amongst the leaves they effectively disappear. This is even truer for the green females.

Posted April 28, 2013 by gryllosblog in Uncategorized

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