Sunday, February 24, 2019

Acres Down - New Forest

We continue to hold onto this glorious weather and oh my lordie it felt glorious today.  Even managed an afternoon kip in the sunshine that felt so comfortably warm, as I awoke, I was surprised to find that I wasn't actually at home.

What a day anyway.  It was just supposed to me a long stroll through the forest but the birdlife was really incredible.

There was plenty of activity in the woodland, a lot of birdsong including Goldcrest and the incessant jangle of Siskin always mobile overhead.


There were plenty of highlights that started with a Dartford Warbler scratching away on top of a gorse bush.  There were Stonechat everywhere, a couple of pairs getting prepared for the breeding season.

A single Lesser Redpoll called as it paused briefly within a silver birch.

We took a route round both sides of the car park at Acres Down.  It yielded much.  At least three Woodlark were warming up for Spring.  Not quite in full song, but still enough of their melodic liquid cascade that has to be up there with my favourite bird songs.


Two Common Crossbill flew over the pines, a red male shimmering in the sunlight as it flew purposefully past.

A Firecrest appeared alongside the main track not too far from the car park.  Brilliant birds.


The final treat in the warm sunshine were two Goshawk soaring distantly over the conifers in the traditional area.


Butterfly were prominant today with at least ten Brimstone on the wing along with two Peacock adding to the two Red Admiral seen yesterday.


The pub afterwards was quite agreeable too.  Spring has momentarily sprung.

Saturday, February 23, 2019

Dungeness


Go to Dungeness!  This fine weather even made Dungeness look acceptable today.  Such an enigmatic place, strange landscapes, but blessed with a varied habitat that fosters a breadth of species.  It's always good here.


The fun started 50 metres into the reserve entrance where a Great Egret (one of four seen today) was sat up on the bank of Boulderwall farm, with two Whooper Swan present by the pools, and a Tree Sparrow in the cottage car park.

Spirits were high, the sun was beating down, there was warmth in it.

Heading slowly toward the Markpeace Hide, a Goldcrest and Chiffchaff (one of three seen today) were passing through the LEO bush by the pool.

It's always a joy to see a drake Smew.  This one was particularly mobile and characteristically skittish diving regularly but seen well toward the far bank of Burrowes Pit.

There were hundreds of Cormorant here, many of them in breeding plumage, adourning a grey 'shawl' making them look quite dapper.  Also present on the pit were two female Goldeneye, and a flyby Peregrine.

Driving ten minutes over to Scotney and after a good chat with the farmer, made my way past the cattle sheds where after a brief search, located the 1st year Black Redstart as it darted in and out of a disused barn.


On the opposite side, a group of 14 Corn Bunting were chattering away along the telephone wires.



  

It was a great day - a lot of walking - particularly during a late afternoon explore walking from the Dengemarsh Road onto the reserve and back out again.  The retiring sun was particularly striking. 


Saturday, February 16, 2019

Lodmoor and Radipole RSPB

It was a bumper day down on the Dorset coast despite the change in weather.  It stayed dry despite the fog and drizzle en route.


The reserve at Lodmoor was teeming with birdlife.  Overwintering Lapwing were constantly made to swirl around the marsh with the constant harassment of the local Marsh Harrier.  Hundreds forced into murmurating with other overwintering waders such as Black-tailed Godwit and Dunlin.  Good numbers of Common Snipe were feeding along the muddy fringes.


The Lesser Yellowlegs was still present but was frustratingly mobile only settling on the path-side pools for a few minutes before flying out-of-sight into the belly of the reserve.



A Sandwich Tern was a nice surprise as it rested on the islands, congregated amongst good numbers of Mediterranean Gull.

A total of four Spoonbill were seen around the reserve with three roosting together.


This drake Ring-necked Duck was feeding in the channel adjacent to Radipole Park Drive.  Quite surprised to have got this image considering I was peering through the reeds.


The walk round the reserve was largely uneventful.  At least three Marsh Harrier were quartering the extensive reed bed that was disappointingly devoid of Bearded Tit, and the Penduline Tit that had showed itself nicely in the sunshine on Friday.

Over in Portesham, around 20 minutes from Weymouth, a group of 28 Cattle Egret were feeding together in a rather uninspiring field.  This by far my largest group seen in the UK.







Saturday, February 9, 2019

Mercer CP - Black-throated Diver

Just outside the M25 but inside the LNHS recording area, Mercer CP couldn't have felt more suburban.  A boating lake with not much wildfowl present, the juvenile Black-throated Diver was always distant as it coursed its way round the lake.

Also noted was a Kingfisher along the periphery, a Chiffchaff, small groups of Redwing and a Treecreeper within the woodland.


Sunday, February 3, 2019

Denham Quarry

Another visit to Denham Quarry on a crisp cold day but with very little to report other than a female Goosander and a female Goldeneye present on the main pit with around 50 Common Pochard and the same number of Tufted Duck.

A group of 61 Coot were congregated on one of the adjacent smaller fishing lakes which were also still partially frozen.

Plenty of Redwing were flying between the trees as were small groups of Siskin feeding on the tops of the alder.



Saturday, February 2, 2019

Belfast

This is Belfast.  A city absent from the conversations and experiences of intrepid travellers.  This is to say that I've not heard anybody speak of it.  I cannot imagine why.

It is an eye-catching city.  A short trip to see Public Service Broadcasting perform at the Limelight - my new favourite band - was a spectacular show.  Check out one of their tracks 'Spitfire' below.


The city itself is a pleasure to navigate.  Thankfully with pristine blue skies, the low winter sun illuminated the skyline and waterbodies that carry with it the poignant reflections of history. 



The Old Town Hall stands regally in the centre of the city.  An impressive building.


The Titanic Quarter, featuring the Titanic museum which is an absolute must visit.  Intelligently curated with a variety of interactive elements capturing the mind-blowing scale of the ships' construction as well as the tragic loss and its aftermath.









Never thought I would get this close to a Black Guillemot with around 15 seen around the waterways en route to the Titanic Quarter and with this couple perched on the side of a bridge.


Love a bit of street art.  This was off-the-scale!