Thursday 22 February 2018

Buzzard on a stick

Every year we make at least one journey to the New Forest; the main purpose being a search for a Lesser Spotted Woodpecker. Unfortunately our quest has only once returned a single sighting, lasting just a few seconds, with no photographs. So to say optimism was high would be economical with the truth.  Spirits were lifted however, just after entering the Forest proper we came across a Buzzard on a branch. Not really significant to most birders I know, but on our travels we see quite a few and invariably the cameras are in the back of the car, in fact probably not out of their cases. So when we spotted this specimen Martin skilfully reversed the car and we were able to prepare and make a slow approach with cameras at the ready.  The resulting pictures are not spectacular but at least they are better than previous attempts. Of course the end result was that we got a little closer and the bird decamped. 

I did a similar exercise on Mull a couple of years ago, driving along the narrow roads, chasing Buzzards along the utility poles. I noticed one habit the birds had was to evacuate when you approached - this was no exception. Oddly the bird wasn't bothered by passing cars or lorries, just humans. On Mull they had the habit of taking off, circling round the car and landing on the pole behind, they must have known that you can't do a U turn on those roads.

Next up was the LSW venue with the expected result, just a few half-hearted drummings at long distance and a very loud Great Spotted Woodpecker drumming and calling. Plenty of Stock Doves mobile in the tree tops to provide some distraction, lots of calling too - much nicer than a Wood Pigeon's efforts. 

On to Blashford via several car parks where we stopped to listen, sadly the forest was rather quiet. So too was Blashford but I did manage to record some Scarlet Elf Cups, Sarcosypha coccinea,  well past their sell by date and during the winter I carry only one lens so they were recorded at great distance using the 300mm - I didn't even consider taking the 1.4 extender off - getting lazy.

The frogs in these parts have been pretty busy - spawn everywhere.

Eyeworth Pond at Fritham was the next venue, always good for some camera exercise. Same old subjects but a great opportunity to get close to some common birds in good surroundings. Just a bit of care and you can get shots without sunflower seeds or peanuts in the frame. Interesting to watch the behaviour of some of the birds when they are in close proximity to one another.

Coal Tit

Coal Tit

Marsh Tit

Marsh Tit

Marsh Tit

Some years ago the Mandarins here were flighty and reclusive, hiding amongst the trees on the island and far bank. Now they come and join the Mallard flock to be fed by the visitors - amazing what a handful of sunflower seed can do.

The onset of spring was obvious with the Mandarins - more males than females being one of the problems I guess. One individual was in full ceremonial dress, chest pumping, head bobbing and much grunting - all to no avail as the female he was displaying to was in fact a Mallard.

Pomp and Circumstance - full breeding regalia

This time we left the Forest with cameras at the ready, normally we find a Buzzard on the way back to the main road. Today, however, it was a pair of Mistle Thrushes that caught our attention and they were happy to come close.