28th of April 2013.

Blashford Lakes – Hampshire Wildlife Trust.

Species seen 62.

A very dull and overcast day was recently spent in the New Forest at Blashford Lakes a wildlife reserve that is run by the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust. The lakes are surrounded by grassland and willow, birch and alder woodland. Dockens Water stream flows through the reserve and a lot of the area is bounded by ancient woodland of oak and beech. 

I have to say that every one of the hides were of top quality with excellent views of either woodland or the lakes. One however did have a rather unusual and very un-user friendly door knob which made it very difficult to open!

Beginning with a visit to the visitors centre, I then made my way to the first hide in the woodland here were Great Spotted and Green Woodpecker, Brambling, Redpoll, Wren, Nuthatch, Blackbird, Jay, Magpie, Greenfinch, Goldfinch, Linnet, Siskin, Chiffchaff, Dunnock, Chaffinch, Blackcap, Blue, Great, Long Tailed, Coal and Willow Tit.

To the rear of this area was a hide looking over the Ivy Lake, here the usual ducks were seen, plus two Great Crested Grebes doing their courtship dance, which is always a pleasure to see.  Also here within the surrounding bushes was a feeding doe Red Deer.

When arriving at the Ibsley Lake hides the sky was full of Swifts, Swallows, Sand and House Martins, at one point they descended upon a bush that was clearly covered in insects, these were soon gone. At one hide there is a concrete wall with pipes full of sand where a great many of the Martins were busy going in and out. Looking out both Common and Arctic Terns were seen amongst the usual gulls and Cormorants. The final treat was a Sandpiper walking along right in front of the hide. This reserve is well worth another visit, perhaps later in the year.

13th of April 2013.

Swift Valley Nature Reserve – WWT.

Species seen 32.

Today I spent a few hours walking around my local reserve in the hope of catching sight of a number of migrants? I wasn’t disappointed, as first off was a Swallow, followed by Blackcap and a singing Chiffchaff.

As with recent visits one of the first birds of note seen was a Buzzard, souring and gliding over the trees and giving out a cry while looking for mammals or birds?

Also heard was a Kingfisher along the river Swift and it wasn’t long before I made contact with it perched on an overhanging tree branch. It was soon off along the contours of the river and away for a short while. I heard it again, and for a second time caught sight of this superb adult bird. Not long after, a second call was heard followed by another Kingfisher.  Two adults chasing along the river was worth the visit alone!

Continuing my walk the rapid movement of a Goldcrest soon had me chasing it for a shot, this poor record shot was all I managed.  

Stopping for ten minutes at the feeders, I waited to see what would drop in as usual the birds seen were Blue, Great, Long Tail and Willow Tit. A male and female Reed Bunting shared the seed fallout with a single Song Thrush, plus Blackbirds, Robins and a few Dunnock. Making a very brief visit was a Nuthatch on the feeders and a speedy Tree Creeper on one of the trees.

Overlooking the fence towards the pools were Grey Heron, Canada Geese, Mallard, Tufted Duck, Herring Gull, Coot and Moorhen.

Other birds seen were Pheasant, Kestrel, Wood Pigeon, Carrion Crow, Jackdaw, Green Woodpecker, Magpie, Wren, Redwing and Goldfinch.

 3rd of April 2013.

The Exe Estuary - South Devon.

Species seen 52.

Today leaving our campsite we passed over 300 plus Golden Plover on the pitch and putt golf course which is a good start to any days birding. Heading for Exeter, my first stop was the Darts Farm Wetlands and hide where there have been recent sightings was an American Wigeon. Unfortunately it was nowhere to be seen. I did however see Eurasian Wigeon, Shelduck, Canada Geese, Moorhen, Teal and Mallard along with Greenfinch, Wren, Goldfinch, Chaffinch and Chiffchaff in the surrounding trees. Reports of a Firecrest had me scanning all the trees in search of this fabulous little bird, sadly however it didn’t show either!
Darts Farm Bird Hide

After a while here we moved on the six miles to Exmouth, where we took a cruise down the estuary aboard a Stuart Line vessel. From here notables seen were good numbers of Merganser, Oystercatcher, Cormorant, Shag, Dunlin and Brent Geese.

The trip lasted over an hour and was most enjoyable as the sun shone all day and the weather temperature was up to 10 degrees. The skipper gave a very interesting commentary as we cruised the estuary and this also led to Fallow Deer sightings as we passed the Duke of Devon’s estate.

Once back on dry land, I made my way back to Topsham and walked down to the RSPB hide at Bowling Green Marsh. Before entering the hide I could see through the hedgerows that there was well over 200 plus Wigeon feeding on the grassed banks, once at the hide a gentleman kindly informed us that the recently sighted American Wigeon was within the large wigeon flock. It took only a few minutes to locate it and this gave me a very welcome big “tick” for the day! Other birds seen here were Mute Swan, Pied Wagtail, Teal, Black Tailed Godwit, Shelduck, Moorhen and Shoveler. On the far side of the field were two Red Foxes laying basking in the sunshine, presumably well fed as they didn’t bother any of the surrounding birds or rabbits!

Spot the Yank?

After some coffee and lunch, I headed further towards the estuary to walk along what’s called “Goats path” this is a raised path forming part of the tidal wall, here there are a good number of benches to sit and look out over the estuary. As it was low tide there were many Redshank, Bar Tailed and Black tailed Godwit, Curlew, Avocet and a lot more Shelduck. This really is a great place to stop and take in the waders at reasonably close quarters.

A great day was spent here and I look forward to booking in one of the bird watching special cruises when I’m down here at the end of the year.