Bewick’s Swan – Harbridge, Hampshire

Bewick’s Swans regularly winter in the Avon Valley near Harbridge in Hampshire. This year there was only 1 in amongst the 200 or more Mute Swans and with an appointment at Stourhead I decided to make a slight detour via Harbridge. 

I arrived and began to scan through the groups of Mute Swans. As it was raining I stayed in the car and viewed through open windows. It was not until the final fields on the North West side of Harbridge that I finally picked out the slightly smaller yellow-billed Bewick’s Swan.

By now the rain had started to fall heavily and as I would be looking in the direction of the rain my binoculars and telescope would be unusable within a few seconds. 

I set my tripod up in the driver’s seat with the window down slightly. I just about managed to get some decent views although it was a very awkward position to sit in and my sketchbook still got a thorough soaking through the open window. 

Bewick’s Swans are the smallest swans in the UK and spend the winter here arriving from Siberia in late autumn. Most winter in East Anglia and the Severn Estuary but some make it down to Hampshire. 

Comparing it to the Whooper Swan the Bewick’s Swan is smaller and has more black and less yellow on its bill. 

Bewick’s Swan brings my year list to 124.

Pink-footed Goose – Lower Test Marshes, Hampshire – 20th January 2019

Pink-footed Goose is a rare visitor to Hampshire and so when one was seen with Canada Geese at Lower Test Marshes I made the short 10 minute drive from home. I parked in the layby on the Redbridge Flyover and started to scan towards the pylons. 

Pretty soon I picked out the flock of 80 or so Canada Geese and the smaller Pink-foot was with them. The short dark neck and small head were obvious and there was a subtle pink band across a small dark bill. 

This brings the year list to 125.

Bolderwood, Blashford & Eyeworth Pond, Hampshire – 25th January 2019

A day out with Dad and a few year tick targets. We headed first to the Canadian War Memorial near Bolderwood and eventually had good telescope views of a pair of Crossbills in the tree tops. We also heard several Redpoll before seeing them in flight. 

Next stop was Blashford Lakes and we tried Ivy Lake hide first. We had great views of Cetti’s Warbler and Water Rail but new for the year was a lovely skulking Bittern. We had almost given up when Dad found one lurking in the reeds, virtually motionless. It took a while for me to get onto it. I also had Treecreeper nearby but unfortunately no sign of Brambling in the Woodland Hide. 

On the way back in the afternoon we dropped into Eyeworth Pond to see the very obliging Marsh Tits which were being tempted down to several tree stumps where bird food had been scattered. 

Five year ticks for the day (Crossbill, Redpoll, Bittern, Treecreeper and Marsh Tit) and so I ended the day on 130 for the year.

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