Tuesday, 27 April 2010

Back to Some Dedicated Birding

With nothing remotely like an unusual bird in the cemetery on this clear, still, sunny morning, it was quickly on to Radipole where, apart from a Common Sandpiper plus half a dozen Swifts things were equally quiet. Good then that I had arranged to meet Jo Lawrence on the car park at 07-00 and zoomed off to the east of the county. First stop was the Waddock Cross Watercress Beds, in the hope of a tardy Green Sandpiper, but the only thing less plentiful than watercress were the birds themselves. Major clearance operations were underway there with all but 2 of the beds devoid of cress, while a couple of the farm hands hand spread lime, just c2 Pied Wagtails fed in one of the pits.

Marsh Tit

Spirits lifted as we got out of the car at Oakers Wood to be met by a cacophony of bird song, but all far too familiar. Lesser Spotted Woodpecker remained absent, despite checking last years nest site, as did Wood Warbler but Blackcap were singing everywhere, a Coal Tit was carrying food accompanied by a Mistle Thrush in good voice. An estimated half dozen Nuthatch were present plus singles of Marsh Tit and Siskin, but it was already time to move on.

Yellowhammer with Stonechat

A singing male Yellowhammer greeted us at Great Plantation, a year tick for me, while the c2 birds that dived for cover seemed worth a longer investigation. c2 Woodlark were recorded for our efforts, while before leaving we also saw or heard a couple of Goldcrest and c2 Tree Pipit.


There was a single Kestrel as we scanned Hartland Moor, and what looked every bit like a pair of distant Ravens. Jo was well impressed with the habitat here as we walked down to the National Trust cottages recording a couple more Tree and a few Meadow Pipits, Whitethroat, Sedge & Reed Warbler, c2Little Egret, with loads of Chaffinch, Robin and Wrens.

The National Trust cottages at Middlebere.

These are holiday homes that can be rented, but probably more expensive than a deckchair?

Part of the flock of Black-tailed Godwit

There was some human and dog activity close to the cottages, but it's always worth approaching with caution in the hope of an Owl. Not quite stealthily enough, we flushed a Barn Owl from its perch on the barn door but did get a decent view. In the hide, birding took a real upturn as the first bird we saw was an Osprey (my first of the year, and I might say "at last"), followed by Spoonbill, Redshank and maybe as many as 200 Black-tailed Godwit. On the near bank a lone Bar-tailed Godwit was already feeding on the falling tide, soon to be joined by the flock of its close cousin and finally we picked up another Common Sandpiper on the distant shore.

Returning by retracing our tracks, we found a small group of Swallows now feeding above the houses with one occasionally perching in a Hawthorn bush. I don't remember seeing this behavior before, and if I have it must have been a long time ago.

Two views as we walked the Middlebere track back to the tarmac road.

Looking back towards Poole Harbour, over lush grazing pasture and reed-bed.

Ahead lies the continuation of the grassland and reeds, looking towards Hartland Moor.

My dentist was poised for a 12-45 appointment but we considered there was enough time to pop over to Ovens Hill where we quickly located a single male Dartford Warbler (year tick) before returning to Weymouth.

Dartford Warbler

The GB Year List currently stands at - 163 with 152 of these recorded in Dorset.