Thursday, 24 February 2011

Highway 61 Revisited - Bob Dylan

Not so much Highway 61 as the B3078, but that didn't really fit, as the road we revisited today. Fellow birders David Tissington, Will O'Connell and I set out this morning, under a cloudy sky, little chance of rain and about as warm as it's been so far this year, with a set itinerary of birds that we would like to see.

By about 09-30 we arrived at Ibsley Bridge where both my companions were keen to add Bewick's Swan to their 'year lists' but Mute's were the only Swans on view. Via the back roads we headed for Fordingbridge, and more particularly Perry Farm between Alderholt and Ashford in pursuit of Cattle Egret. It wasn't surprising that there too we met with a 'blank' as not only was there a bird scarrer in operation intermittently, but also a fusillade of what appeared to be a Pheasant shoot. There were however c3 Little Egrets at the site described to be holding the Cattle Egrets but an hours wait was enough, so we headed, via Sandy Balls caravan park and the Fighting Cocks pub, to the Goshawk watch point in the New Forest. This is over the Dorset border into Hampshire so the c3 Goshawk and c5 (of a reported c16) Hawfinch could not be added to our home county list, but both were additions to our year lists. In addition there was this brightly coloured Beetle, which I believe to be

Carabus nitens but with only time for a cursory look at the Field Guide this may not be true. I would welcome some help on this one from any Entomologists among the readership. Will already had one new 'life bird' under his belt (the Goshawk, but unfortunately he didn't see the Hawfinch) as we headed for Eyeworth Pond and the prospect of a second. We immediately clapped eyes on

c7 Mandarin Ducks but all were distant and most in their favoured refuge under the trees on the central island.

However, that didn't last long as it is the half term school holidays so several children were here armed with bread and corn

which soon had c9 males and

c5 females

with some seemingly pair bonding, closing to within shooting range.

Busily clicking away Doug and Christine Knibbs (whom I didn't know) approached me and asked if I was Peter Baker? I told them I could be Peter Green or Paul Baker and they probably, quite rightly, settled on the latter. Turned out they recognised from this Blog (something that couldn't have pleased me more) but did suggest maybe they need to get out more often. It was great to meet you lovely people today, and I will be sure to mention this to Danny Fox the landlord of The Pulpit Inn on Portland the very next time I see him.

It isn't an infrequent question to be asked "what do you see in birding" which, if I could bring the asker to this very spot, it would only take half an hour to 'see' what! This feeding post is always alive with birds, all common, but that's what it's all about to me as each dashes down, collects a seed or a nut that as quickly as it appeared seeks refuge in a tree or bush. These include:-

Blue Tit

Chaffinch and

Marsh Tit but this is by no means all. This done it was decide to do our 'revisit', taking in as we went so some recently blooming

Periwinkle, before approaching the

Cattle Egret site again. THEY WERE BACK!

but still a little flighty, but magnified they can be see among the accompanying Little Egrets. Being so close it would have been foolish not to try once again for the

Bewick's Swan of which c3 where seen with a herd of easily 100+ Mutes

while at Ibsley Bridge there were a further half dozen. I doubt there is anyone travels this far without calling into the fantastic Blashford Lakes Reserve and there we encountered

a couple of Grey Squirrels,

Scarlet Elf Cup fungi,

several Greenfinch,

just c2
Brambling plus a

full squadron of Siskin. There were also Lesser Redpoll, Nuthatch, Green & Great Spotted Woodpecker and more.

Sometimes places just pay off when they are 'REVISITED'!

finally, I would like to welcome both Nertisha / Lyn and Barbara from Burton Bradstock (by the sea) as 'Followers'. Guess you must be enjoying the read and will continue to do so, look out for the 'silly hat' and stop to say hello when you see me!

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