Friday, 15 November 2013

What a beautful day

Taking the chance of a. some decent weather, b. a gap in the diary, I had another trawl down to the South Coast. First stop was Brands Bay, near Poole. There has been a surf scoter lingering around in the sheltered bay for a week or so (in fact it was there last weekend when I was in Weymouth, but family duties meant I couldn't nip across!!). The dawn was stunning if a bit nippy. Almost flat calm, blue skies, perfect for sea-watching. The bay is a sheltered tidal lagoon between Poole, Sandbanks and Brownsea Island. It was clear there were a lot of birds around - my first goldeneye of the Autumn, grebes, at least 3 great northern divers, loads of mergansers (is it me or are there a lot more of them around now?), brent geese and a smattering of waders including dunlin, knot, oystercatcher, redshank, curlew and turnstones. Also, although it took a bit of finding, the one lone surf scoter. It was quite distant but you get the main id features - large bill and characteristic white spots on the side of the head. Nice, as it's a lifer as well. On the way back to the car there were a good number of Dartford warblers chasing each other, and the stonechats, around on the heath.

After this I had the excitement of a trip on the Sandbanks ferry and a short hop along the coast to Lepe CP where there was a long-staying lesser yellowlegs (shame it wasn't a greater!!). Although not a lifer I've only seen one before, at Port Meadow on Oxford with Derek two years ago, so a good bird. I had to get there the old fashioned way by using maps as the sat nav battery had died, which added a bit of interest. When I got there I was greeted by about 5 blokes with cameras and 'scopes leaving and sharing "not been seen all morning" . It was about 12 so that was a 5 hour no-show. Never to be put-off I walked down to the pools where it liked to hang out and set up the 'scope. 5 other souls were sticking it out. After 45 minutes of watching a redshank, two oystercatchers, a med gull and not a lot else it felt like time to leave. The bloke next to me was literally packing up his gear as his parking ticket was running out. Then another birder about a hundred yards away with a different angle on the pools called across - it has just flown in!! Quick dash and there it was. I watched if for about an hour together with about 20 others, most of whom were those who had left earlier!!! It was feeding vigorously but never that close to us, so the photos are not brilliant. You can see all the features though - mainly the bright yellow legs, the strongly marked back, straight medium length bill and a nice eye-ring. All this together probably makes it a winter plumaged adult rather than a juvenile.

Finally, and almost unnoticed by the hordes, a green woodpecker was feeding almost beneath our feet.

So, with two weeks of sabbatical left to go that takes me to 221 of the year and adds another one to get me to 324 on my life lift. Norfolk on Monday, so I hope my luck holds!!