Dawn Marsh Harrier

Dawn Marsh Harrier

Sunday, 8 March 2015

Happy Hunting in Hants

Of course when I say "happy hunting" I mean enjoying finding and watching birds and not that other nonsense. The forecast was for a warm fine day so the main objective was to hopefully see Goshawks in the New Forest. A 06.00 meet up with Sharpy meant we had time to fit some general birding in before the Goshawks woke from their slumber and took to the skies, so we started off at Shatterford. We'd seen Dartford Warblers here on a previous visit and a year tick in the shape of these pocket sized, bulbous headed, mad eyed beauties would make a perfect start to the day. The trouble was, despite the springlike forecast, the wind was blowing a hooley. Not ideal for seeing Dartfords sitting up, nor for Goshawks come to that. But if you don't look you don't find.

I've got a lot of faith in the old adage "if you're looking for Dartfords, look for Stonechats." It wasn't long before we found our 1st pair of Stonechats braving the wind and perching up attention seeking like they do.

And it also wasn't long before we heard the harsh rattly calls of Dartfords coming from the undergrowth around them. A few teasing glimpses as they hugged the vegetation. following the Chats before one finally perched up briefly on a bush. Needless to say it chose to sit up where we were viewing straight into the low morning sun; at least that's my excuse for the grainy photos below.

We figured that there were at least 3, probably more Dartfords associating with 2 Stonechat pairs in the vicinity.

As we reached the edge of the forest we were greeted by a very carefree Treecreeper which had been Sharpy's bogey bird for his 2015 year list, so he was happy with that.

A distant Peregrine drifted across the heath as we headed around Bishops Dyke.

I told you it was distant

It was now mid-morning and quandary time. Was it worth going 'Goshawking' in an ever strengthening wind? The decision was to head for Pennington Marshes for a wander in the hope that the wind might abate in the afternoon. There's always a nice selection of birds to be found at Penninigton, and today was no exception. A Green Finch welcomed us with a serenade as we got out the van. I didn't have the heart to tell him it was a nasty,wheezy noise as after all, its the best he can do.

The usual array of Gulls, Ducks and Waders were all present and correct and spring was in the air as Lapwings displayed and "pewitted" in the sunshine like there was no tomorrow.

The ever handsome Pintails gave nice views as they dabbled close to the bank.

"Uuum - Nice pin!!!"

Next year tick in the bag was a striking  Ruff, of which we encountered several along the way. Always a pleasure.

Followed by another year tick with a group of 5 blissfully sleeping Spoonbills out on the mud.

This one gave us a flash of his spoon for all of 2 seconds before it all got too much for him,

....and he went back to sleep.

Rock Pipit

A Rock Pipit did a decent rock impression as we started to head back and a pair of Red Breasted Merganzers were on the sea.

As we neared the car park a Black Tailed Godwit was showing very close on one of the pools.

It appeared to be still celebrating Ireland's lucky win over England in the Rugby as it proudly sported the Tricolor on it's legs. But Sharpy has since done a bit of research and discovered that this bird was ringed in Iceland as a juvenile. I'm sure there will be more on this at http://sh4rpysbirding.blogspot.co.uk/

Well it was now early afternoon and the wind had indeed eased quite a bit, so Acres Down went in the sat nav and Goshawks were back on the agenda. As we made the climb to the raptor watch-point it was evident that it was still fairly blowy away from shelter but definitely not as bad as it was earlier. A pair of Woodlark were a welcome distraction as we neared the watch-point.

We were encouraged by seeing 6+ Common Buzzards and a couple of Kestrels within a short while of getting our scopes up. Raptors were flying. And we'd probably been there less than 20 mins when we got our reward. It was distant but it was a Gos. 

Again, I told you it was distant.

So, another fabulous day in the wilds. 76 species in total and 4 year ticks - Dartford Warbler, Ruff, Spoonbill and Goshawk. Roll on next weekend.

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