Saturday 15 February 2020

Ferruginous Duck, Abberton Reservoir

The plan this morning was to visit Abberton Reservoir at first light and hopefully find the reported Fudge Duck early and then return home before the predicted heavy rains and winds arrived.
Of course, it didn't go exactly to plan. Upon arrival, we began scanning the body of water between the two causeways, scanning through two large flocks of Pochard failed to deliver the target and after several lengthy scans, we only managed to find a Great White Egret a single drake Goldeneye and a Kingfisher of any note. We switched our attention to the main reservoir and added several Goosander and Goldeneye, a pair of Scaup two distant Long-tailed Ducks and a female Tufted Duck that had a hideous looking nasal ring.

There was still no sign of the Fudge Duck so we drove round to Layer Breton causeway and began the search again. We added two Whooper Swans two redhead Smew and two more Great White Egret to the days total but still couldn't find the main target.

We had been searching for four hours and decided to return to Layer De La Haye causeway and give it a final scan. After scanning through the small flocks of teal and Mallards that were emerging from the thick tangles of waterside branches the Fudge Duck suddenly appeared out in the open! There was just enough time to get decent scope views before the bird took flight and headed towards the large rafts of Pochard and Tufted Duck near Layer Breton causeway. We drove back around and managed brief views of the bird before it again disappeared out of view.

Saturday 8 February 2020

Hoopoe: Badminston Lane, Hampshire

After positive news yesterday of the continued presence of the Hoopoe, we made the two-hour drive along the M25 and M3 and were parking up by the horse paddocks along Badminston lane in Southampton shortly after 8am. Initial scans of the paddock failed to produce any sign of the Hoopoe, mainly due to the presence of a guy tending to the horses. 

The horse paddock

In previous days the Hoopoe could be quite wide-ranging and several birders began wandering off along the tracks hoping to locate it. We remained by the paddocks and were rewarded twenty minutes later when the Hoopoe flew in. It stayed for less than one minute and then flew off. We managed to re-find it along the track but it quickly took flight again. While searching for the Hoopoe we watched three Woodlarks displaying overhead for another addition to the year list. We decided to return to the horse paddocks and wait it out. This proved a wise move as the Hoopoe eventually reappeared and this time happily fed among the short-cropped grass close to the horses.


Keyhaven Marshes was only thirteen miles away and we were soon parked up by the sea wall car park along Lower Pennington Lane. We took the main path and found a single Spoonbill on Fishtail Lagoon, unfortunately, it took flight and headed over the far bank of trees towards Keyhaven Marshes. After walking the sea wall to the end of the path we managed to find the Spoonbill resting at the far edge of the marsh.

Fishtail lagoon


Sunday 2 February 2020

Ring Ouzel: Pitstone Hill, Bucks

We only had the morning for birding today, so we stayed within an hour of home. Pitstone Hill was our first destination. An overwintering Ring Ouzel had been in the area since late December and this morning we arrived at first light and found the bird perched up in a tree before leaving the car park. It then spent the majority of its time searching for earthworms among the damp grass.

Ring Ouzel

We left after a couple of hours and headed for the aquadrome in Rickmansworth. The free car park was very welcome and something of a rarity in itself these days. Stockers Lake is the largest of a series of three lakes and also the furthest lake from the car park. Scoping the lake from the causeway we managed to pick out our target, a single male Red-crested pochard. 

Cassiobury Park was now only four miles away and with Little owl having eluded us in January we were quickly on site. The car park allows a free two-hour stay but you still need to obtain a ticket from the machine to qualify. We had no idea which area of the park the Little Owls favoured, But several of the trees close to the car park looked good and sure enough, a single bird was spotted within minutes.

Little Owl

Our last stop was to Tyttenhanger GP hoping to locate the local Tree Sparrows. The recent rainfall made the walk to the feeding station heavy going and wellingtons should have been the order of the day. After reaching the area we could hear the Tree Sparrows but locating them proved more difficult. Eventually, a flock of ten birds flew from deep within the hedgerow and then a single bird dropped onto the feeder.

Feeding Station at Tyttenhanger GP

An enjoyable and productive morning birding, with four sites, visited and four new additions to the year list. All within an hour of home.