The day began with -4 temperatures and a hard frost. I made sure plenty of food was available for my garden birds before I left. I met with nearly everyone in Whitminster and we set off with only one more to pick up and to stop at a service area in readiness for birding.
The Hawkshill Inclosure was our first birding stop, largely due to the presence of a Dark-eyed Junco, a North American visitor. A large group of birders had gathered at the clearing but we were distracted by the calls of Crossbills all around us. These stocky finches gave views to eye level, fed on the ground, were singing and displaying in the sun. Excellent viewing of this top notch bird. The junco showed to all on a few occasions either on the fallen trees or on the ground, it perched in full view for a while. It’s slate grey head, neck and upperparts contrasted with the whitish-pink tinged billed and white underparts. A pleasing bunting like bird, certainly at home with counterparts. The Reed Bunting flock that had gathered at the same site numbered over 30. A Mistle Thrush sang, it was a good place to be, still, frozen white but sunny.
Moving on, a straw poll saw us heading for the nearby Spanish Sparrow, arriving at Calshot, most had either seen the bird via the kind folk who had it on their back garden feeders or headed for the “Spanish Sparrow Cafe”. The village hall were selling charity fund raising Tea, cake and rolls. For those that wanted to see the bird, they all had great views so we were soon back on the beach of Calshot spit. The tide was on the way in and on the sea were 2 Great Crested, 2 Little and 2 Black-necked Grebes. Waders were moving into the saltmarsh creeks with large roosts of Oystercatcher and smaller numbers of Dunlin, Turnstone, Black-tailed Godwit, Grey Plover, Redshank and Dark-bellied Brent Geese. A few Rock Pipit, Linnet and Reed Bunting visited the beach. Huge container ships passed by, perhaps used by the junco and sparrow?
We departed the site and headed back to what turned out to be a very quiet heath near Beaulieu road station, a few distant Stonechats, flover Siskins and Fieldfares were all we could muster despite checking a couple of spots. Time to head to Sandbanks, the entrance to Poole Harbour. Arriving here the wind had picked up from the east so the sea was choppy and wind eyewatering. More Brent Geese and waders were seen and parties of Red-breasted Merganser but highlights were two female Eider and two Razorbill as well as Shags.
Moving to the bay as the tide dropped a flock of feeding Bar-tailed Godwit, half a dozen Mediterranean Gulls, three Sandwich Terns, a couple of Goldeneye. The sun was setting so it was time to check out Poole Park on the way home. I have not mentioned every bird seen, it was an interesting day, calm, cold and sunny to begin with and overcast and windy by the afternoon but provided some good birding.