West Hampshire and East Dorset, Heaths and Coast, 23 November 2013


Bar-tailed Godwit, Poole Harbour, Dorset, MJMcGill

Sanderling sunset, Sandbanks, Dorset, MJMcGill

Sanderling, Sandbanks, Dorset, MJMcGill

Six of us (Roberta, Jeanne, Ruth, Colin, Keith and myself) travelled down south with Bob and Neil making their own way and meeting up with us. Two Red Kite were seen on the way after we made a second stop (first at services) in the New Forest at Slufter’s Inclosure. There had been a Parrot Crossbill seen on and off during the week. Soon after arriving a flock of c12 Crossbill flew over and alighted in tree tops, they did not show for long but neither did they have a Parrot Crossbill with them. Searching the woods produced at least three Great spotted Woodpecker and more brief Crossbill views. Time up we headed to Keyhaven and enjoyed a variety of birds including the Brent Geese flocks, not so many as had been here of late and no sign of the Red-breasted Goose. This bird, I found out later, had moved to Pennington Marshes along with most of the Brent. It was sunny which helped as a cold breeze  was coming from the north. Turnstone, Little Egret and Rock Pipit were all very tame. In the marshes Grey Plover, Black-tailed Godwit, Dunlin, Ringed Plover and Shelduck were all seen.

We decided to head for Poole Harbour to try our luck at this rich birding site. Crossing via the Sandbanks ferry we managed to leave Roberta on shore (most went for a loo break when waiting for the ferry to arrive). It is not a problem as they are regular and a short hop. Whilst waiting we had a party of Sanderling and c6 Shag. I think I had a Slavonian Grebe but the huge outbound ferry caused it to dissapear. Re-united we park up and walked across the heath to view the harbour. A Dartford Warbler scolded us but only showed briefly for some, it continued to call but I think the cold breeze kept it low. The harbour was busy, plenty of Red-breasted Merganser, Great Crested Grebe, Wigeon, Shelduck and Brent Geese, lots of waders and a few scarcer birds. Great Northern Diver and Eider were notable but we were all keen to see the visitor from North America…a juvenile Surf Scoter feeding with Goldeneye. Most of the group walked the shore whilst I moved the car to a pick-up point. I did see a female Dartford Warbler in flight when heading across the heath to meet them.

Back across on the ferry and we were enjoying an amazing sunset along the Sandbanks road. A flock of Bar-tailed Godwit and Sanderling fed among the Black-headed Gulls until the tide fully flooded them out. Magic stuff, the cameras were all out to record the moment. A swift dash across town, I was glad I knew my way around Poole as we were soon enjoying a mega flock of Spoonbill at Holes Bay. A good end to the day.

A flock of 27 Spoonbill in Holes Bay, Poole
Just caught up with them at dusk, the sun had gone down.

Spoonbill flock, Holes Bay, Dorset

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