Wednesday 14th December 2021

I stopped near the Crop Strip field hoping for a Brambling. Ian had seen them here in the past, there have always been plenty of Chaffinches when I walk along this stretch. There’s no place to park here and so I would give it until the next car came down Warren Lane. I got out of the car and amazingly one of the first calls I heard was the wheezy buzz of a Brambling. It flew over several times, I didn’t see it as it was 7:45am and still pretty dark. Frustratingly by the time I had set up my sound recorder the bird had moved on.

Alan had seen a Hawfinch around Black Water House on Saturday and earlier in the year he had seen several others in this area. As I walked past the duck pond a Hawfinch flew over from the Bee Eater tree direction. I lost it as it headed towards the Droveway. I scanned the trees from several different viewpoints at several times during the day but no luck. It seems that there might be a very small population here with some food source attracting them.  

Wren photo by Ian Williamson

From the Reedy Ditch there was a good count of 18 Black-tailed Godwit feeding with a similar number of Curlew on Wigeon Fields.

A dark looking diver was sat out off Mary Monts. It was on the verge of being too far away to identify. The bill was held up tilted and it flew with an exaggerated vertical movement of the head. Undoubtedly a Red-throated Diver and a juvenile given the dark dusky head and neck. The only other sea based highlights were five Razorbill between the Sailing Club and Mary Monts and a male Eider heading west.

While I was sea-watching a Dartford Warbler called from the brambles and a couple of Green Woodpeckers were calling from the Pullen area.

Green Woodpecker

On the way back to the car several Siskin were calling as they headed over the Wedge Field. As I arrived at the Sailing Club I could see a large group of Spoonbills on the marsh. There were 14 altogether, you can just about see them all in this photo. This is the only site in Hampshire which regularly records more than 10 Spoonbill.

Spoonbill

The tide was 2.6m which was still high enough to ensure that the waders hadn’t dispersed too far although you’re never very close whatever the state of the tide. There were plenty of Ringed Plover, Dunlin and Grey Plover and nine Knot was good to see. Most of the high winter WeBS counts of Knot are from further east at Lepe.

Approximately 50 Linnet flew over the Saltmarsh towards Warren Shore. I keep listening out for Twite although they are a major rarity in Hampshire now. The juvenile Peregrine was sat on one of the signs on Gull Island, paler patches on the head and nape give away its age. It looks like a female from the large size. She was still there over an hour later when I returned to the car. It’ll be interesting to see if she is driven away by the adults.

Stonechat photo by Dimitri Moore

A colour-ringed Curlew appeared on the saltmarsh on a raised section. I’ve sent the record away for more information although I’m not confident that I could have accurately recorded the colour combinations. I attempted a digiscoped iPhone shot, pretty awful but at extreme distances probably preferable to the camera.

colour-ringed Curlew

One of the eagles put up the wildfowl from the Venner area and the Greylags settled on the marsh, there were 199 altogether.

White-tailed Eagle
Wigeon

I returned to the Reedy Ditch later in the afternoon hoping to get a Brambling call recorded and to see if I could re-locate the Hawfinch. No luck with either although I did find a calling Marsh Tit. Most of the Marsh Tits I’ve seen at Needs Ore have been along this short stretch of Warren Lane between Black Water House and the Paddock.

Marsh Tit
Marsh Tit calling

Eagle update – Adam has been in touch with Steve Egerton-Read at the White-tailed Eagle project. He confirms that over the last month there have been 13 different eagles on the Beaulieu River with a maximum of 8 on one day! It seems that four eagles have settled on the estate – G393 (our 2019 male), and 3 of the 2021 birds G547, G814 and G818.

White-tailed Eagle photo by Brain Fairbrother
White-tailed Eagle photo by Ian Williamson

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