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

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Thursday, 5 January 2012

A windy day spent birding in HAMPSHIRE - LGRE DIARY NOTES


The period of stormy weather continued its trail of destruction today with winds gusting up to 77 mph in the south of England and over 100 mph in Scotland (Isle of Bute). Although mainly dry and clear, temperatures struggled to reach 9 degrees C in the brisk westerly - and often felt much colder.

Chris Holt and I decided on a day out today and targeted Hampshire as our destination. Despite the weather, we were fairly pleased with our results........


We arrived in Church Lane at 1020 hours, at the same time as some heavy rain. Fortunately, the CATTLE EGRET and 2 Little Egrets were readily visible from the metal gate on the right just yards from the church and we were able to obtain views from the comfort and shelter of the car. This is the bird previously present for many months on Thorney Island and was in full winter plumage.


A short way away was Bedhampton but with seriously strong winds hampering viewing and the tide high, our visit was brief. A total of 6 BLACK-NECKED GREBES was located, along with 2 Little Grebes, 1 Great Crested Grebe, 100+ Dark-bellied Brent Geese, 12 Common Shelduck, 8 Eurasian Wigeon, a pair of Pintail, several Oystercatchers and a few Eurasian Curlews


Our main reason for choosing Hampshire as an excursion was the continued presence of a wintering DARK-EYED JUNCO, first photographed by novice birdwatchers on 26 & 30 December 2011. The bird, initially seen in the car parking area, had relocated to an open clearing just 80 yards NW of the main parking area and pines, and with the subsequent seeding of an area by helpful local birders, was frequenting where several pine trees had fallen in the last two days.

Despite the horrendously windy conditions, the gathered crowd of 35 were able to eventually enjoy quality and substantial 'scope views as the bird perched up in one of the fallen pines for no less than 9 minutes. Prior to this occasion (at around 1300 hours), sightings had been very brief and basically in flight, as the bird moved with up to 10 Reed Buntings and a single male Chaffinch the 90 yards between the two fallen pines in the clearing. It appeared to be a fairly drab first-winter bird.

The car park is situated just north of the B3055 at SU 350 020 and has ample space. Unless seed is scattered in a more open area, the bird is likely to remain extremely elusive. After we left at 1315 hours, the bird was not seen again today - the grass and understorey where it is feeding not being generally visible. I suspect, like most New World Sparrows and Juncos in Britain, it is a ship-assisted vagrant and will remain until the spring.

Other than the main target bird, the pinewood at Hawkhill Inclosure produced nothing more than a Common Treecreeper and 7 COMMON CROSSBILLS.


Viewing from the South Hide, the drake FERRUGINOUS DUCK was present with 48 Northern Pochard just west of one of the north bank hides, mainly sleeping. Other wildfowl present included an impressive 130 Gadwall, 400 Wigeon, 13 Shoveler and 25 Tufted Duck.

Neighbouring ROCKFORD LAKE held 33 Mute Swans

There was no sign of the colour-ringed adult Great White Egret in the area - not at Spinnaker, Roach, Rockford or Mockbeggar Lakes


It was barely possible to birdwatch at Ibsley Water as the wind was so fierce. Consequently, we failed in our quest to find either the redhead Smew, 86 Goosander, Black-tailed Godwit, Caspian Gull or Yellow-legged Gulls. Of note were 1,027 Coot, 303 Wigeon, 23 Shoveler, 6 PINTAILS and 144 Lesser Black-backed Gulls.


Alas, no sign of the wintering party of 5 Bewick's Swans just one herd of 103 Mute Swans and an additional 6 birds nearby.


Birded here from 1530-1610 hours and managed the tail-end of the evergreen HAWFINCH roost. Five birds came in, a couple conveniently perching at the tops of the trees before diving into thick canopy cover and out of view. Fortunately, they were typically vocal, announcing each arrival with a loud ''tick''. Marcus assured me of some outstanding winter numbers, peaking at 44 in December 2011 and 28 early January - the highest numbers of roosting Hawfinches anywhere in the UK.

In addition to one really 'beautiful' bird that happened to pass by, other species noted included a BRAMBLING, MARSH TIT, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Coal Tit, 9 Chaffinches and an extremely confiding European Robin that took biscuit crumbs from my hand

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