Coming Soon – Estonia blog

Wood Cow-Wheat (Melampyrum melanosum)

Wood Cow-Wheat (Melampyrum melanosum), Laelatu wooded meadows, Estonia, 12/6/15 (Dominic Couzens)

I have just been fortunate enough to visit Estonia for a few days. The flowers, as well as the birds, mammals, butterflies and dragonflies, were amazing. More details to follow soon.

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Book Now for Summer Trips

My remaining programme of summer trips is outlined below. The trips are open to all, but please e-mail to make a booking. For more information on each trip, click under its entry in Events.

10.30am-4.00pm unless stated otherwise. £15 per person per day. Bring packed lunch. Book early – places limited.

Tuesday 19th May – New Forest off the Beaten Track
Redstart, Wood Warbler, Firecrest, Hawfinch maybe.
Thursday 4th June – Marsh Common, Stockbridge
Warblers abound here, Water Vole.
Friday 19th June – Selborne, Hampshire FULL
Historical setting, variety of normal birds, butterflies.
Friday 10th July – London Wetland Centre (+ entrance fee).
If we get group rate (12+ people) entrance fee is £9.85 (no gift aid), concessions £7.34 (no gift aid), WWT members free entry.
Ducklings, chicks, coffee!

Special trips for small groups only. £25 per person.
10.30am-4.00pm. Bring packed lunch. Book early – places limited.

Thursday 21st May – Cheesefoot Head and Old Winchester Hill, Hampshire FULL
Corn Bunting, Yellowhammer, Lesser Whitethroat.
Tuesday 14th July – “Raptor Rapture”, New Forest
Hoping for Honey Buzzard, Goshawk, Hobby.

£8 per person per trip (price rise). Open to all. Please book.

20th May – Dancing Ledge
Chance of Puffin, Linnets, Whitethroats.
3rd June – Tarrant Rushton Airfield
Corn Bunting, other downland stuff.
24th June – Blashford Lakes, Ringwood
Loads of warbers, waders.
1st July – Middlebere, Wareham
Waders, Dartford Warbler
8th July – Stanpit Marsh, Christchurch
Returning waders such as Whimbrel.

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New Factsheets

I have been working on some new factsheets for this website. Do take a tour around them. Did you know that Scops Owls often migrate in families and that Red-legged Partridges double-clutch? If not, have a look at free bird factsheets.

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Wildlife and Travel Blog

Bat-catching on an English autumn night

There are many joys to mammal-watching, but one is undoubtedly a tendency to do peculiar things. Take visiting a cave on a September dusk and placing long nets outside it, and then waiting, chatting in the gloom in the hope that furry animals with wings will fly into the mesh. Take sitting down with bat in gloved hand, extracting measurements by torchlight, fiddling with calipers and fine spring scales, checking the bats’ teeth and private parts, in a manner suggesting that this is normal life. It isn’t normal, but it is classic mammal-watching. While the world sleeps, we have adventures. Continue reading

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Garden Surprise

17 May 2014
There are many advantages of playing football in the garden with your children. However, one that I had never thought of was to look up and see a Common Crane circling over to the north – but that’s what happened today. Sorry, the shots aren’t up to much, but it was quite a moment.

Common Crane, Ferndown, 17 May 2014 (Dominic Couzens)

A similar reward for good domestication happened a few years ago. On this occasion I was putting the bins out and happened to hear a Pied Flycatcher in the back garden! That was the first record of several that have turned up here in August.

Meanwhile, another shot of today’s visitor. Incidentally, we also had a Slow Worm on the lawn.


Common Crane, Ferndown 17 May 2014 (Dominic Couzens)

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A Great Summer of Birding

Why don’t you join me on one or two of these terrific field trips this summer? They are open to all, but places go quickly. The quickest way to reserve a place is to e-mail me on You will need to make your way to the meeting place (see Events)

DAY TRIPS (10.30am-4pm) £15 per person (please pre-book)

Thursday 8th May – Pulborough Brooks, West Sussex

Thursday 15th May – Farlington Marshes, Hampshire

Friday 23rd May – Titchfield Haven, Hampshire

Friday 13th June – Devil’s Punchbowl and Thursley Common, Surrey
You can pay £7.50 for each section or come to both.

Friday 27th June – New Forest off the Beaten Track

Tuesday 8th July – Medmerry, West Sussex

Friday 18th July – Selborne, Hampshire

SMALL GROUP TRIPS (10 or less), 10.30am-4pm, £25 per person, please pre-book

Thursday 5th June – Stodmarsh, near Canterbury

Tuesday 17th June – Martin Down and Garston Wood, Wiltshire/Dorset

Thursday 3rd JulyLangford Lakes, Wiltshire

Tuesday 22nd July – Raptor Rapture, New Forest

£7 per person per session. Please pre-book if possible (but spaces likely)

7th May –  Longham Lakes, Ferndown, Dorset
14th May –  Radipole Lake, Weymouth
21st May –  Swineham, Wareham
4th June – Mark  Ash Wood, New Forest
11th June – Badbury Rings
18th June – Blashford  Lakes, Ringwood
25th June – Tarrant  Rushton Airfield (north of Wimborne)
2nd July – Lodmoor,  Weymouth
9th July – Arne
16th July – Blandford (for Otters, Kingfishers and lunch!)

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Penduline Tit at Longham Lakes

Penduline Tit, juvenile, Longham Lakes, Dorset 27/11/13

As of yesterday, there is a Penduline Tit at Longham Lakes, on the bulrushes at the southern end, on the edge of the small pond.

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The Crossley Blog Tour

Welcome to day 9 of the Crossley Blog tour. The idea of this tour is to publicise the new Crossley Guide to Britain are Ireland, written by Richard Crossley and myself. We are very excited, because we think it is revolutionary, and personally I’ve already been very excited by the response, especially of people I have been teaching in the field.

Don’t take my word for it. Instead follow the Blog Tour and see what others have thought – details below.

Meanwhile, here’s the front cover:








And here’s one of my favourite pages, the MEDITERRANEAN GULL:


The page captures the essence of what many perceive to be a tricky species to identify, and there’s no doubt that gulls terrify many birders. However, when you see all the images together of a bird, even a gull such as a Mediterranean Gull, you perceive the features – bruise around the eye, heavy bill, blood red legs and broad, blunt wings – almost without thinking. Hopefully, it will work for many:

This post is part of the Crossley Blog Tour, so to find more reviews and articles please follow the links to other bloggers. Tomorrow it’s:

For a chance to win a signed copy of this fantastic book please visit:

If you wish to see a list of contributing bloggers please visit:

Finally, if you have any questions for either Richard Crossley and me then we are holding a live video call on November 21st on:

The Crossley ID Guide
Britain and Ireland
Paper flexibound. £16.95. ISBN:9780691151946
304 pages. 300+ colour plates. 250 maps.

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Long-eared Bat (Dominic Couzens)

Brown Long-eared Bat, Hurn, Dorset, 28/09/13 (Dominic Couzens)

There’s nothing quite like a good autumnal dose of bat-box checking. Last Saturday I enjoyed a trip to Hurn (near Bournemouth International Airport) to see what was lurking in their boxes. As it turned out, a lot was. The Brown Long-eared Bat was a first for the site, and it’s always fun to see these “ears with bats attached” as Chris, bat-ringing trainee, commented. The other boxes were pretty much replete with Soprano Pipistrelles, of which there were about 10 in all. This species has the distinction of

Soprano Pipistrelle (Dominic Couzens)

Soprano Pipistrelle, Hurn, Dorset, 28/09/13 (Dominic Couzens)

being Britain’s smallest bat, usually very slightly more minute than the Common Pipistrelle, but both could fit in a matchbox as long as their wings were closed. Jan Freeborn, from the Dorset Bat Group, was delighted when we found a re-trap (a bat previously ringed), again the first from here. Meanwhile, we had a discussion about distinguishing the two almost identical Pipistrelles. Apparently they have different wing venation, and the Soprano Pipistrelle has several bodily parts that are orange or yellow, at least in the breeding season. One is the buccal glands, in the mouth, but for reason of decorum I will leave the others, dear readers, to your imagination.

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Autumn’s Upon Us, the Birding is Great

…so why not book a birding session with me in the next few months? All are welcome, but please pre-book by e-mail.

FULL DAYS (10.30am-4pm) £15 per person.

Tuesday 8th October – Pagham Harbour

Friday 18th October – Calshot Spit, Hampshire

Tuesday 22nd October – Tundry Pond and Greywell, Surrey/Hampshire FULL

Tuesday 29th October – Hayling Island, Hampshire

Friday 15th November – West Wittering, West Sussex FULL

Tuesday 26th November – London Wetland Centre, London

Friday 6th December – Slimbridge, Gloucestershire

Tuesday December 17th – Wisley Gardens and Papercourt, Surrey


FULL DAYS (10.30am-4pm)WITH MAXIMUM 10 PERSONS  £25 per person

Tuesday 19th November – Finches in the New Forest  FULL

Tuesday 10th December – Gulls Galore (Weymouth, Dorset)


DORSET AND HAMPSHIRE WEDNESDAY MORNINGS (10.00am-12.00pm) £7 per person

9th October – Ham Common, Hamworthy
16th October – Blashford Lakes, Hampshire
23rd October – Swineham area, Wareham
6th November – Sandbanks, Poole 
13th November – Arne, near Wareham
20th November – Maiden Newton, Dorset
27th November – Durlston Country Park, Swanage

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