As of 10 November 2015, a total of 430 species have been recorded this year

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Sunday, 23 January 2011

HAMPSHIRE delights of the day - LGRE


A mainly cloudy day with a cold northerly wind, with temperatures struggling to reach 9 degrees C.

I devoted today to birding in Hampshire - mainly with the view of seeing a few target birds. It was pretty much successful, although I failed in my quest to find four on the wintering Northern Grey Shrikes in the New Forest........


The adult winter RING-BILLED GULL first discovered in November 2003, was showing extremely well today - spending most of its time on the Boating Lake. It was standing amongst the 100 or so Black-headed Gulls, 8 Common Gulls and the odd Argenteus Herring Gull on the grass and allowed approach to within 20 feet. I took full advantage and had a very detailed look. It was in full winter plumage with its lightly streaked crown and hindneck (the streaking actually being very dark brown) and was only slightly larger than the Common Gulls but with a much thicker bill and longer legs.

The iris was distinctly pale (whitish-lemon at very close range) with a very prominent red orbital ring, with a greenish-yellow bill dominated by a thick black sharply demarcated subterminal band. The upperpart grey was very pale and no different in shade to many of the adult Black-headed Gulls, whilst the black primaries were typified with white spotting - the spots diminishing in size towards the longest primary. The tertial fringes were narrow and pale. This was one confiding rare bird.

The Boating Lake itself harboured 46 Mute Swans (including two first-years), with an adult MEDITERRANEAN GULL showing well and a flock of 130 Common Starlings feeding on the grass.

Neighbouring Haslar Creek yielded a different adult MEDITERRANEAN GULL (incidentally both birds sporting partially black hoods and well-developed bills), a Little Grebe, 2 Atlantic Great Cormorants, a Common Redshank and 85 Dark-bellied Brent Geese.


The adult RED-BREASTED GOOSE first discovered last Thursday was still present this morning and showing well. It was consorting with 1,269 click-counted Dark-bellied Brent Geese in the crop field west of Lower Brownwich Farm and Brownwich Pond at SU 517 036 and was best accessed from the Thatcher's Copse car park in Meon (SU 529 037). It was a very bright individual and was perhaps a returning bird - a regular wintering individual that reappeared successive winters in Sussex and Hampshire up to 2008. It was certainly not either of the two recent South Devon Exe Estuary birds - both present today - nor any of the 5 in Suffolk but with up to 19 at large in Britain, one can never be sure of its origin.

Although there was no sign of the Bittern on Brownwich Pond (just drake Tufted Duck and Coot), the mile or so walk did yield 4 Continental Song Thrushes just north of Lower Brownwich Farm, as well as a British Song Thrush, several Common Blackbirds and 6 Redwings. The copse produced Robin, Blue Tit and Great Tit.

Nearby Sandown Stables held 2 Common Magpies whilst just as I approached the Meon Shore, a WEASEL ran across the road carrying a tiny Shrew in its mouth.

Offshore of the Haven Beach were a raft of 63 Great Crested Grebes on the Solent, with 7 dark immature COMMON EIDERS and 18 Red-breasted Mergansers. I could not find either of the two Greater Scaup.

On the Meon River upstream of the bridge, a large flock of gathered Aythyas included 39 Northern Pochards and 73 Tufted Ducks. A single adult MEDITERRANEAN GULL was amongst the Black-headeds.


I then had abortive attempts at three different wintering Northern Grey Shrikes - one of which (at Holmsley Inclosure) being seen earlier in the day. I also failed in my attempts to find Dartford Warbler - presumably struggling after the second severe winter in a row.


The first HAWFINCHES began arriving at the roost from 1515 hours and despite the noise and disturbance, a further 13 were picked up coming in during the next half hour. As usual, they dived into the evergreens pretty sharpish, but five different birds did perch long enough on top of the firs to allow some excellent 'scope views to be obtained. Not much else was noted other than 16 Chaffinch, 5 Greenfinch, 9 Siskins, 2 Goldcrests and a Jay.


I arrived too late to search for the wintering Northern Grey Shrike here (which had been seen today at Bishop's Dyke) but did enjoy nice views of an adult male HEN HARRIER, a male Eurasian Sparrowhawk and 5 Goldcrests. Most intriguing were three flocks of BOHEMIAN WAXWINGS - 40, 23 and then 7 - all flying west in the last hour of daylight and presumably flighting to roost in Denny Wood. I have never ever discovered a Waxwing roost.

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