Thursday, 28 January 2016


We decided that with the weather set fair a day's birding in a westward direction would be ideal. So we set off for some of our favourite venues down in the New Forest. First up was Pennington Marsh in an attempt to locate the long staying Long-billed Dowitcher. We had nailed this bird, photographically speaking , last year and I didn't think we would improve on those records during today's visit. In fact we didn't find the bird, not surprising really as the water levels were very high and it could have been anywhere, either in the lagoons or on one of the many flooded fields.

Next was a visit to Mark Ash to find that our reliable Tawny Owl has moved home. The forest was very quiet, just a few Blackbirds, no flocks of Chaffinches to be found. Though it was nice to find a couple of pairs of Stock Doves, exactly where we saw them last year.

On to Eyeworth Pond at Fritham, always good for Marsh Tit and of course a Mandarin or two. A full supporting cast enjoyed the feed we put out and we left with hordes of Great, Blue, Coal and Marsh Tit attacking the bounty with gusto,

Then a visit to Blashford where we expected to get Goosander and possibly a Ring-billed Gull from the Tern Hide, sadly no Goosanders about but the sightings board indicated that 90+ had been counted recently. On the reserve itself, a mass of Siskins raiding the feeders which I stopped to record, Martin went on to the hide to see if he could find a Brambling, he returned hotfoot with information that the Bittern was showing well from the Ivy north hide.
When we arrived it was quite busy and during our stay became nearly full with birders hoping for a glimpse of the bird. Oddly only one window opens on this hide and there is almost a queue to occupy it, normally a photographer wanting a clear shot as the rest of the windows in the hide are glazed with the most horrendous blue glass. In the end  two birds were feeding in the reeds but as always they were hard to find and rarely broke cover.


 Not forgetting the Siskins.

We finished the day on a high note for on the way back Martin suggested another go at the Red-necked Grebe that inhabits the channel north of Northney Marina on Hayling Island. Initially we thought that we had a fourth dip on this bird but there it was in the distance - no doubts about the ID as all points were satisfied before the bird decided to make off down stream on the fast ebbing tide.

Some photos from our journey to Minster on the Isle of Sheppey for an obliging Shore Lark, shame the Richard's Pipit at Shellness wasn't in the same mood.

Finally a Firecrest at WWT Arundel that as we followed it along the fence morphed into a Goldcrest and had us fooled for a short time.....

......and a classy Stonechat from Farlington Marsh.

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