Needs Ore Patch Blog

Thursday 22nd October 2020

After a few wet and windy days it was still fairly cool and breezy this morning. Siskin were flying over east as I headed down to the beach. Turnstone, Curlew, Grey Plover and Oystercatcher were dotted along the shoreline although there didn’t seem to be much on the sea. I was pleased to relocate the Dartford Warbler in the same group of gorse bushes near the beach fence line and with a lovely male Reed Bunting nearby.

Plenty of Skylarks were moving and some were singing. A handful of Swallows drifted overhead and then straight out towards the Isle of Wight. The immature male Marsh Harrier drifted over the reeds at the back of Black Water and a Spotted Redshank swam right in front of De L’Orne hide. Nearby one of the Peregrines sat preening on the bank overlooking the Estuary Scrape.

Most days I see a pair of Goldcrests trying to keep up with the Long-tailed Tit flock and this time the male flashed his amazing orange crown to his mate. A Sandwich Tern was plunge diving off the pontoon before resting on the nearby buoy. There have been three in recent days, perhaps they will spend the winter here.

Sunday 18th October 2020

I arrived just before a high spring tide and so headed over to De L’Orne hide to see what was roosting on the Estuary Scrape. There were 75 Curlew including a colour-ringed bird with yellow over red on the right tibia. Unfortunately it was roosting on one leg and stubbornly refused to reveal it’s left leg. This Curlew is from a foreign ringing scheme but without the left leg ring information it isn’t possible to pin it down further, I’ll have to keep an eye out for it on future visits.

I also noticed a smaller wader with the Dunlin. It was facing directly away from me with its head tucked away. Eventually it woke up and started to feed and I could see it was a Little Stint. The Dunlin all flew off but the stint remained. I took some video and was able to see pale tramlines confirming this bird as a juvenile. A good record for Needs Ore and my second in a fortnight. I heard a Green Sandpiper but couldn’t locate it.

Little Stint

After a coffee I headed down to the beach to try and relocate yesterday’s Black-throated Diver, unfortunately no luck. It was flat calm and quiet with three Great Crested Grebes the only birds I saw on the sea. 20 Swallows drifted over east and I heard a Dartford Warbler calling, another good record for Needs Ore. I think it is the first since the Beast from the East killed them off 2.5 years ago. I finally tracked it down in the gorse bushes south east of the Pullen hide, near the beach fence.

There was only one Chiffchaff today and no visible passage of thrushes or finches. As we’re heading into Black Redstart time of year I thought I would finish off with a walk around the point. It was a bit of a long shot as there haven’t been any here for a few years now. I got out of the car and scanned the fence posts near the sluice gate and amazingly a Black Redstart popped up into view! A great finish to a brilliant day.

Black Redstart

Saturday 17th October 2020

From the car I walked down to the beach, it was clear that there was a passage of finches. Along with Linnets, Goldfinches and a smaller numbers of Chaffinches I recorded at least 100 Redpoll and 50 Siskin all flying east. Unexpectedly, a group of seven Redpoll settled in a birch tree allowing me some extended telescope views. House Martins and Swallows were also heading east, at least 50 of each.

Bird of the day was an early Black-throated Diver, probably a juvenile, which I watched from the beach gate as it drifted east on the tide. The full breasted profile, horizontal dagger-like bill and greyish head and neck sides were obvious. Red-throated Diver is a slighter bird, paler necked and usually holds its bill up tilted. Great Northern Diver shows a blacker head and neck with a dark half collar and it’s head is lumpier often with a white surround to the eye. Perhaps the most striking and diagnostic feature, however, was the isolated white rear flank patch which was visible throughout. This is the rarest diver to occur in Hampshire and this record is the 2nd earliest Black-throated Diver to have been seen in Hampshire in nearly 30 years.

Black-throated Diver
Black-throated Diver

With a late morning high tide of 4.0m I headed over to the Estuary Scrape and had good counts of 170 Lapwing, 60 Ringed Plover, 50 Dunlin and 39 Shoveler. One of the Peregrines powered along the estuary fence line before swooping up to perch on one of the yacht masts where he remained for at least 20 minutes. While in Black Water hide a female Merlin dashed over the reeds before heading over to the point. A Knot roosting at high tide from Shore Hide was the first I’ve seen at Needs Ore.

A flock of noisy Long-tailed Tits moved down the bushes along the point with a pair of Marsh Tits and four Goldcrests following in their wake. Nearby four Rock Pipits flitted between the Warden’s Hut and the boats around the Clubhouse. The number of Brent Geese had increased significantly since last weekend with at least 200 in the river entrance and a pair of Raven honked overhead as they drifted out towards the Isle of Wight.

Sunday 11th October 2020

A Merlin dashing over the fields near Black Water was the highlight today. The male Common Scoter remained off shore although distantly, almost mid channel. I saw only one hirundine all day, a single Swallow. The Wheatear remained at the point and again it was the only one I saw. Nearby two Clouded Yellows paused regularly to nectar on late flowering Thrift. Other lingering migrants included at least 10 Chiffchaffs. 55 Lapwing roosted on the Estuary scrape and a female Marsh Harrier drifted over Inchmery while both Peregrines were perched up surveying the marshes. A Rock Pipit called from its vantage point on the Sailing Clubhouse and a pair of Raven drifted over.

Clouded Yellow

Saturday 10th October 2020

Having seen the 1st winter Wilson’s Phalarope on Fishtail Lagoon I headed over to Needs Ore. The highlight was one of the first birds I saw, a lovely Firecrest in oaks opposite the gate to the Pullen Hide, associating with a mixed flock of Long-tailed Tits and Goldcrests. The sea was fairly quiet other than a group of four Eider close in shore. The number of Chiffchaffs was down to around 10 and I only saw one Wheatear during the five hours. It definitely felt like we were heading into winter and the first returning Brent Geese, twenty of them, off the point, added to the wintery feel. Two Marsh Harriers were quartering over the Black Water, a female and an immature male. There were three Greenshank from the Estuary Hide and I also heard but didn’t see a Spotted Redshank from there. The three Sandwich Terns remained, fishing off the point.

Marsh Harrier

Monday 5th October 2020

A walk through the scrub and bushes beyond Pullen hide produced lots of calling Chiffchaffs and there were still good numbers of Swallow passing through, perhaps 100 and half a dozen Wheatear feeding along the tideline. Later, I watched an immature male Marsh Harrier quartering over the reed beds adjacent to Black Water and a Yellow Wagtail called as it flew over. The main highlight today was watching a Little Stint fly onto the Estuary Scrape. I managed to watch it for 10 minutes but it was fairly flighty throughout and soon left strongly to the west. Six Greenshank were also feeding around the edge of the scrape. A pair of Rock Pipits landed close to me on the pontoon before leaving to explore the sailing clubhouse. The male Common Scoter was again seen drifting close in shore out from the cottages.


Tuesday 29th September 2020

I explored the south west bushes to start with and was rewarded with a very close Short-eared Owl quartering around the pool near Mary Montagu’s house. A Spoonbill drifted high overhead towards Black Water. An impressive passage of hundreds of House Martins and Swallows included the odd Sand Martin and a Sedge Warbler at the edge of the reed bed near the Pullen hide was an increasingly unusual record for the site. Two Wheatear lingered along the beach and 20 Chiffchaffs were very vocal including several who were singing. I had reached the hides before Ian rang to say that there was a male Common Scoter close in shore off the beach. I returned to the beach gate and had great views as it drifted east. Waders around the hides included 12 Greenshank, 3 Spotted Redshank and 3 Green Sandpiper. A wander around the point produced a stunning Merlin first seen perched on distant fence posts before powering towards me chasing Linnets and Meadow Pipits and then flying straight over my head. Insects included a Clouded Yellow drifting west along the beach, several pristine Small Coppers, a perched Migrant Hawker and several Common Darter.

Migrant Hawker

Saturday 26th September 2020

An obvious passage of at least 40 House Martins with lots of vocal Chiffchaffs and an obvious movement of Redpoll including a flock of 10 on the ground which I was able to get in the scope. Several newly arrived Wheatears with around 6 in total and a vocal Marsh Tit accompanied me on my walk around the bushes and trees west of the Pullen hide. A pair of Peregrines were seen from the Estuary hide with one of them sitting on the fence posts and the other on the ground in the flooded fields. Five Spotted Redshank were swimming together out from Black Water hide and they included a juvenile bird. A very showy Water Rail ran across in front of Black Water hide and several Sand Martins hawked over the water. 15 Curlew were feeding close by up on the bank north from Venner hide. A Field Grasshopper near the sluice gate where there was also a pair of Kingfisher and a Red Kite drifted over Inchmery.

Green Sandpiper

Tuesday 22nd September 2020

A large scale movement of Siskin and Swallow. Also a few Redpoll overhead. Newly arrived were 90 Wigeon and 190 Teal. A Hobby dashing down Warren Lane was a surprise and a Spotted Redshank right in front of me from Black Water Hide where I also heard Bearded Tits. A lovely Whinchat at the start of the diagonal bridge field and a scoped Yellow Wagtail on the ground near the bridge.

Tuesday 15th September 2020

I purchased my new permit on Monday 14th September and headed down for my first visit to Needs Ore since 1996! Highlights were 2 Yellow Wagtails calling as they flew over, 2 Green Sandpipers and a Wall Brown butterfly nectaring on Hawkbit at the start of the Walking Trail.