Sunday, 26 February 2012

Dipping & Diving

Blandford Forum is a market town on the River Stour in Dorset. Last Monday I spent a few minutes standing on the new bridge over the river and could not believe the wealth of wildlife. I was within walking distance of a Morrison's and a busy carpark yet a kingfisher was sitting in a tree watching us whilst we were watching the otters.
 It is a well known urban site for otters ... even more so now it has been featured on 'Winter Watch'.  We were only there a few minutes when we spotted this one feeding near the bank.  It posed for a few shots then teased us by pretending it was swimming closer but dived every time my camera was focussed.  Suddenly a Black Headed Gull swooped in and screamed for re-enforcements and the otter had to swim for cover. 

A few minutes later we were watching a male swan lovingly mimic his mates movements until her tail went up and he was able to show the world how much he cared!
We were in Hampshire to see the Dark-eyed Junco -

Dark-eyed Junco

only the thirty-eighth recorded sighting for Britain so
quite a rare bird.  We made our way to the Hawkhill
Enclosure in the New Forest and joined a small group
of birders.  There were plenty of Chaffinches and
Reed Buntings and Common Crossbills ... but no
Junco ... until  we arrived!  If only it was always that
easy!  He is a first winter male who should be in an
American forest right now but somehow endured
the long flight and has been drawing the crowd since Christmas.

Then it was off to see the Spanish Sparrow.
Spanish Sparrow
I saw a number of these last October on Fuerteventura ... a long way from Calshot.  This one was in the middle of a housing estate.  A young woman had been feeding the birds and noticed a strange sparrow.  It is a stunning bird.  He looks magnificent in his breeding plummage .  Such a shame.
Before heading home on Wednesday we took a two hour detour to see a Common Yellowthroat. The rain began as we crossed the toll bridge into Wales.  We found the field and joined thirteen birders prepared to brave the elements for a view of this little North American warbler.  We waited two and a half hours in the wind and horizontal rain.  We had dipped out so we headed home.  It was a disappointed man who drove me back.  He is even more disappointed now because I found this blog from a man who saw the bird just thirty minutes after we left!  


Dale Farm Guest House, Dibden
We stayed in this cosy 18th century farm house at Applemore Hill near Southampton.  Surrounded by beautiful gardens and woodland it is a lovely, peaceful place to stay if you are planning a trip to the New Forest.

Old bridge at Blandford Forum

Common Buzzard

River Stour Blandford


Robin in the New Forest

Photographs copyright Andy Mason

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